7 Ways To Track Progress, No Scales Required
You’ve got a goal and you’re actively working towards it. It’s so important to be reflecting, evaluating, and tracking your progress along the way. Especially when it comes to body composition goals like weight loss.
For some people, jumping on the scales can determine whether you have a good day or a bad one. Over the years the number on the scales has been deemed an important factor that is somehow tied to our worth as humans, this IS NOT TRUE.
For weight loss goals, jumping on the scales once a week, every few days, or here or there, is not going to be an accurate representation of your progress and results. Our scale weight can fluctuate anywhere between 2-5kgs on any given day depending on so many factors – hormones, digestion, fluid retention, inflammation, and more. To demonstrate this I encourage you to weigh yourself first thing in the morning and then again in the evening.
Don’t get me wrong, scale weight can be a great data point, but it is just that… data. And to yield accurate data you are better off weighing in every day under the same circumstances and determining the average for the week, as well as noting the trends in that data.
With that being said, scale weight cannot show you what your body composition breakdown is. It can’t show you if you’ve built muscle or dropped body fat. It is only the weight of your total mass.
If you find that the scales mess with your mind and your mood (and even if you don’t) try these other ways to track your progress:
When we are working towards a body composition goal, it’s typically because we want to see change when we look in the mirror. Taking progress photos is a great way to see these physical changes.
You want to ensure you are taking your photos under the same conditions, in the morning, and in natural lighting is a great way to do it.
There are 2 easy ways to do this; get someone to take photos of you in minimal clothing of your front, side and back, if you don’t have anyone around to do it then you can set up your phone on video mode and spend 1-2 seconds in each position so that you can then take screenshots.
The frequency of your progress photos is up to you – fortnightly, monthly, bimonthly, quarterly – whatever is going to keep you accountable and motivated. Make sure to create a photo collage of your photos side by side so you can really see the changes.
Performance in Training & Fitness
When you start training and working on your health & fitness, whether your goal is solely around body composition changes or includes strength and fitness goals, it’s important to reflect, evaluate and note your progress in the gym. Whether this is lifting more weight, holding a plank or wall sit for longer, lasting longer in cardio exercises, or noticing you can move better in everyday life, it is so important to put your focus on this! It will improve your quality of life and also your relationship with yourself. Like ‘Hey, I’ve worked hard and I can do this now’.
Keep track of the weight you’re pulling in your lifts, the times you’re clocking, and the general way you feel whilst training. You can do this by journaling, keeping a program document, or reflecting at the end of every month.
Are you familiar with the classic outfit melt-down? I think we’ve all been there at one point or another. A great way to track changes in your body that may not necessarily be reflected on the scale is how your clothes are fitting. Can you fit into that cute pair of jeans you bought but were always too tight? Has your clothing size changed? And most importantly; are you feeling more confident?
Got a goal clothing size you’re aiming for? But a dress or pair of jeans in that size, and every few weeks or month or so, try them on and take note how the fit changes. It might not be a great feeling at first (when they don’t fit), but push past this and remember that you are tracking your progress. It’s not about them fitting the next time you put them on – it’s about how the fit improves. Get past the mid-thigh area this time? Amazing! It’s over your hips next? So good!! Soon, you’ll be able to do up the zipper.
When we have a body recomposition goal, we often have specific areas that we want to see change in, so circumference measurements are a great way to see where you may be yielding results.
We have a comprehensive video on how to measure yourself or have a friend measure you, showing which measurements to take and how to re-create the same point each time you measure. Watch it here.
Mood & Energy
While striving for our physical goals, we often overlook the rest of our lives and how they can be improved or are improving. It’s important to note how particular habits are improving your quality of life! Regular exercise, well-rounded and whole food nutrition, and self-care practices will have a huge effect on your mood and energy levels.
While tracking your physical progress markers, build a reflection practice of the other areas in your life (we have these sections in our weekly check-in docs for all members) – whether it is weekly, fortnightly or monthly – note down your overall mood and energy levels and you can see how they may improve over time.
Sleep is a really important health marker for us, how we sleep will tell us a lot about how our mind and body are coping with life! Sleep quality not only involves your average sleep time, but also how long it takes you to fall asleep, if you wake during the night, how you feel waking up in the morning, and what your natural sleep-wake cycle looks like.
If you have a smartwatch this will track your sleep stages for you, but if not then tracking what time you sleep and wake up, and how you feel about the night of sleep with a sleep journal beside your bed or even just rating your overall sleep levels for the week is a good place to start.
We all feel stressed in life, and the way we deal with it makes a big difference to our quality of life. Regular exercise, nutrition, and self-care practices help us to process and manage stress better than the usual autonomous way of life. Noting down how you do manage your stress is a very meaningful way to see how you are progressing and how your daily habits may be contributing to your overall health – not just physical.
You can journal, you can reflect in your check-ins, however you do it is up to you, but I encourage you to check in with yourself frequently to make sure you are looking after yourself.
As you can see there are many more ways than just your scale weight to show you are progressing, making improvements, and working towards your goals. Take one, a few, or all of these practices and implement them into your tool belt to track your progress.
Ange Drake is an personal trainer, women’s empowerment coach and fitness blogger in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. She is the director of one of the few womens’ only strength training gyms in Melbourne, 23W. Ange helps women to learn how to use strength based training, nutritional strategies and a positive mindset to transform their bodies, relationship with food and mind.
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