Non-scale victories are the best! Too often, when it comes to weight loss, we get caught up in the numbers. One day you are down a pound, the next you are up a half pound. So you avoid weighing yourself for a few days only to find out that once you do, your weight is down 2 pounds. What gives? Why does it matter? While the scale may fluctuate as much as the weather, the emphasis should be on improving your health versus weight loss (more specifically fat loss).
Progress Photos & Strength Gains
It had been a while since I posted any progress photos. To be honest, I had not taken any either. After competing in two NPC Bikini Competitions in 2014 and 2015, I decided to spend time focusing on developing myself as a personal trainer and fitness instructor. Along with this, my priorities include educating others and being a resource to those who are looking to lose fat, gain strength, improve their health, or touch their toes without feeling their hamstrings (or anxiety levels) tighten.
The following list provides opportunities for you to discover your own fat loss and weight loss progress using methods other than the scale.
Track your workouts
One of the reasons it’s so important to track your workouts is so you can improve your strength. Consider working to increase the number of reps you complete, increase the weight you lift…or both! It is also important to incorporate variety into our routine to the body does not plateau by adapting to a specific training method. It keeps you flexible, keeps you strong, and keeps you engaged. Some days I do an extended number of reps using body weight, other days I leg press so hard the plate feels like a concrete wall! I have also discovered the XBAR, a great tool that incorporates the use of resistance bands. It does not matter how you track your workouts. Use a notebook, use an app on your phone, grab a napkin and pen from the juice bar! Refer to the notes from your previous sessions and plan for progress.
Typically, I take measurements every 4-6 weeks. It is preferable to have someone else take the measurements. Keep in mind that you will have more accurate results when re-measurements are done by the same person. The following is an example of what I use with clients. You may also want to consider assessing your body composition with a DexaFit scan.
- Chest (directly under armpits, underneath arms)
- Waist (most narrow)
- Navel (belly button)
- Hips (widest)
- Thighs (center of each)
- Calves (widest of each)
- Biceps (center of each)
How are you clothes fitting, are they looser? Your body weight may stay the same but as you train, your composition will change and circumference measurements will do down, resulting in looser fitting clothes.
No, you do not have to wear a bikini or put on your underwear for these. You can, but if you choose not to, wear something that is fitted. The more you reveal, the more progress you will be able to observe. Keep the pictures to yourself or share them for increased accountability. I recommend taking the photos at the same time of day, with natural lighting. Wear the same outfit each time and take a front, profile and backside photo.
Keep in mind that as you continue working out, you are likely to experience an improved mood, better sleep, an increase in energy and improved heart health. A while back, one of my clients commented that she spent the weekend cleaning her kitchen and was amazing that she was not sore afterward. She is over the age of 60, retired and was training with me twice a week for 30 minutes. It was extremely rewarding to see how excited she was with this realization. No weight loss required.
“Megan, what are YOU doing?”
While I am usually hesitant to share my specific workout plan, diet, habits, bed time (it’s been as embarrassingly early” as 8pm)…it’s because what works for me may not work for you. If you love to run you probably would not adapt to my program very well because there is little to no running! Doing what you enjoy is a vital component to a successful weight loss program. If you have three kids under the age of 5 and need to be at work by 9am, it is less likely (though still possible) you will be able to spend an hour at the gym from 7-8am. The key is creating a routine that is attainable and sustainable. Your program should progress as you do. If you have questions or are interested in a program based on your goals and current fitness level, click here for information about online services.
This is YOUR journey and the first step is identifying a realistic goal, then creating an action plan based on your current fitness level and resources.
If you choose to weigh yourself, I recommend doing it once or twice a week. Stay consistent with the day and time so you can compare “apples to apples.” For example, weigh yourself every Wednesday morning at 7am after you have gone to the bathroom and before you have gotten dressed. Remember that your weight fluctuates on a daily basis. It will vary based on hormone levels, hydration levels, the amount of sleep you’ve had, what you recently ate, etc.
It is more important to track the changes over time, especially when using a scale. Stay sane and steer your energy in a more fulfilling and rewarding direction.