When and How To Weigh/Measure Yourself
At the end of this lesson you will have a specific plan for monitoring your weight when you start your weight loss program.
Let's get started on monitoring your weight. We recommend that you only check your weight once a week as people can get too focused on the number on the scale and lose sight of other important indicators of weight loss success, like how your clothes fit, increased energy, and healthier lifestyle. Some people, especially those with a history of eating disorders, should not weigh themself daily. But for some people recent research tells us that daily weighing can be beneficial.
Just remember that daily weighing has many variable like water and hormone distribution that can affect what you see. Measuring yourself can also be affected by belly bloating (gas in the digestive tract) and doesn't reflect actual weight loss or gain.
Scales: Different Types
You will need a reliable scale to weigh yourself when you start your personal weight loss plan.
Digital scales are easier to read than dial scales, but if you prefer to use a dial scale, that's fine too.
You could also choose to use a weight scale at the gym or at your job. The main point is that you need to identify or obtain a reliable weight scale that you can use every week.
Let's talk now about when and how to weigh yourself. You want to weigh yourself every morning, after voiding, before eating or drinking anything.
The best way to weigh yourself is with no clothes on. But if you feel like you need to wear clothes, at least wear the same lightweight clothing every time you weigh yourself. A nightgown or pajamas would be ideal.
You want to step on the scale and look straight ahead, count to three, and then look down to read the scale. You don't want to step on the scale and look down immediately.
You want to give time for the scale to measure your weight and then look down and record your weight.
Keep in mind that if you're using a bathroom scale, it should be on a hard floor, not on carpet. You want to record your weight every week.
Remember this is a very important tool in losing weight and keeping it off.
Keep in mind that day-to-day fluctuations are normal. These can result from fluid shifts, different salt intake from day-to-day, and different bowel habits from day-to-day.
You want to record your weight every week with the goal of seeing a pattern of 1 to 4 pounds of weight loss per week.
We recommend scales that measure multiple parameters so that you are not discouraged by overall body weight , because there are many variables like body water, percent fat, bone density and muscle.
Body fat scales are easy to use. You simply step on the scale, and the tool measures both your body weight and your estimated fat percentage as well as many other parameters. Such scales work with the help of sensors underneath your feet that use bioelectrical impedance.
When you step on the scale, a small electrical current runs up through your leg and across your pelvis, measuring the amount of resistance from body fat. You have to be barefoot for these scales to work.
Then, the sensors in the scale measure the level of resistance that the current met as it travels back through your other leg. Depending on the type of body fat scale you have, the information can link up to your smartphone or smartwatch, as well as ainy fitness apps you might have. As a rule of thumb, greater body resistance means a higher fat percentage. This is due to the fact that fat contains less water than muscle, so it's more difficult for a current to travel through it.
Are They Accurate?
In general, body fat scales can provide rough estimates only. While safe to use, there are many variables that can affect your results. These include:
- Your gender. Women naturally have more body fat than men.
- Where you store fat in the body.
- Pregnancy. These scales aren't recommended during pregnancy.
- Your age. These scales aren't best for children or individuals with very low body mass.
- Your height and stature.
- People engaged in frequent endurance and resistance training.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Body Fat Scales?
The greatest benefit to using this type of scale is that you can measure your body fat in the comfort of your own home at any time, all without having to travel to a gym or clinic.
A drawback is that a body fat scale doesn't take into account other variables of body fat, such as where you might have it.
For example, doctors tend to be more concerned about body fat that's concentrated around your midsection because this can increase your risk for certain health conditions, like diabetes or heart disease.
A body fat scale cain only tell you the overall percentage and not where on the body you're storing potentially dangerous fat.
Other Important Measurements To Keep Track Of...
Body Fat Percentage
Too little or too much body fat can negatively impact your health.
Loss of muscle can decrease joint flexibility and strength as we age. Tracking muscle mass helps to ensure that weight loss is actually fat and not healthy muscle.
Our bones naturally weaken as we age. Drastic weight fluctuations, as can happen with crash or yo-yo dieting, may also negatively affect bone density.
Water makes up more than half of our body weight, and ensures that our cells are functioning properly. Maintaining a healthy water weight ensures that you're losing fat while staying hydrated and healthy.
Body Fat vs. BMI
Body Mass Index (BMI) is perhaps a more reliable indicator of your overall health instead of counting on a body fat scale alone.
While BMI can't measure fat, it does provide an overall picture of whether you're in the right weight range for your height and age.
CDC recommendations for BMI You can use online calculators to determine your BMI, too.
The downside to relying on BMI is that it doesn't measure body fat.
So, an athlete with a lot of muscle, for example, could have a higher BMI based on their weight and height.
Also, the CDC says that women, older adults, and people of Asian descent naturally have higher levels of body fat. All of these factors can limit the reliability of BMI as your sole measurement of health.
Other Ways To Measure Body Fat
While stepping on a scale is perhaps the easiest method of body fat measurement, there are other ways you can determine your body fat percentage. Aside from BMI, you can ask your health provider about the following methods:
Measuring your waistline can help complement your body fat scale. Your risk for heart disease, cancer and diabetes increases if you are a woman with a waist measurement greater than 35 inches (88.9 cm) or a man with a waist measurement of more than 40 inches (101.6 cm).
Often used by fitness professionals, calipers are used to literally pinch your skin folds (usually around the waist or hips) to estimate your body fat. The accuracy of this method varies. Results may be more or less accurate depending on the expertise of the person taking the measurement.
How To Measure Your Body
Taking your own body measurements can help you track your fitness results better than relying on a bathroom scale- especially true if you're trying to lose fat and gain muscle.
Well, the scale only measures your weight - not your body composition. So if you're losing fat and gaining muscle, you're going to see a difference in the way you look - but it's totally possible the scale won't budge or may go up because muscle weighs more than fat. And if you're relying solely on the scale to track your results, you may think you're not making progress.
Whether you're trying to lose weight or make gains, body measurements can show you the bigger picture and give your confidence a boost...since you can be losing body fat while building muscle, it's nice to see the inches come off- or stack on - even when the scale doesn't signify much change.
From a health perspective, knowing your measurements can clue you in to health risks - for example, if your waist measures more than 35 inches (for a woman) or 40 inches (for a man), you may be at a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes or cancer.
To Get Started...
What To Measure...
How To Measure Your Waist
First, decide which areas of your body you plan to measure regularly. Common areas include waist, hips, chest, thighs, and arms. Find or buy a non-elastic tape measure, which will conform best to your body and provide the most accurate measurements. Measure yourself wearing as little clothing as possible, and pull the measuring tape snug to the body without indenting the skin.
Consistency is key, so try to measure yourself in the same spots each time -ideally on the same day of the week and around the same time of day. If you ask someone else to take your measurements for you, try to get the same person each time in order to replicate the process as closely as possible.
So how often should you take your body measurements? Typically, measurements are taken at the end of a workout program phase or at the end of each week or month- but you can always decide to measure more or less frequently.
For example, if you think you could use a little extra accountability, weekly measurements may help you stay on-track with your diet and exercise regimen and gauge how well it's working.
How To Measure Your Hips
To measure your hips, wrap the measuring tape around the widest part of your butt. Again, check that the tape is straight all the way around, lies flat, and fits securely around your hips.
How To Measure Your Arms
Keep the arm you're measuring relaxed by your side, and wrap the measuring tape around the peak of your bicep muscle belly - the thickest part of your upper arm. The tape should lie flat and fit securely around your bicep. (Resist the urge to flex!)
How To Measure Your Thighs
While standing, measure your thigh by wrapping the tape around your leg at the midpoint of the thigh. Make sure the tape lies flat and straight the whole way around. Check your measurement at the point where the two ends overlap.
Other Essential Things to Measure:
Know Your Waist-To-Height Ratio
At the doctor's office, you've no doubt had your BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol numbers crunched-but have you ever had your waist-to-height ratio determined?
According to researchers at Leeds Beckett University, your waist-toheight number is a highly accurate determination of your body's whole-fat leveland reducing whole body fat can reduce your risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke. It's easy to find your ratio number-simply divide your waist circumference by your height. You want your waist to measure less than half of how tall you are-ask to have your number determined during your next checkup, then continue to monitor changes yourself at home as you work on losing weight.
Keep A Photo Diary
Visual proof of your body measurements changing is a great way to reach your target, too, according to a study from the University of Alicante in Columbia. The study followed a group of participants in a weight loss clinic program; each participant took full length body photos once a week as they followed their diet plan. The results were amazing-90 percent of the participants completed the weight loss program, with over 71 percent meeting their weight loss goals. The reason: literally seeing your body shrink has a powerful feel-good impact on your desire to keep moving forward. Use an instant camera so you can paper your refrigerator with the prints-every time you open the door to grab ingredients for a healthy meal, you'll see how your effort is paying off!
How To Take Awesome Before and After Photos For Weight Loss
- Set up your shot. Consistency is key to taking great progress photos, so make sure you can replicate the same conditions every time - the only difference should be you!
- Wear the same clothes for every photo. Even wearing a different color or neckline can distract you from the real detail, so always wear the same style and color clothes for best results. Underwear or a swimwear is best, swiftly followed by snug-fitting activewear - anything that shows the contours of your body. Better to see as much skin as possible, but go with whatever level of coverage you're happy with. Use the same background. Try and find a light-colored, plain background as your default location and remove whatever you can from the frame, even if you just push everything to one side.
- Use the same background if possible. Again, the only thing different in the photos is you and your progress!
- Take photos at the same time of day. It's conventional wisdom to weigh ourselves first thing in the morning - that's because it's a lot easier to track weight loss if you don't have to factor in undigested food or drink. It makes sense to stick to the same schedule for progress photos too - not only will it allow you to compare apples to apples, but it means you're more likely to stick with it if it's part of your wider tracking routine.
- Use natural light. Indoor lighting can throw distorting shadows and give your photos an unnatural and grainy look, so try to find a room that lets in plenty of natural light.
- Snap your photos. OK, so you've scouted your location and chosen your outfit - now it's time to take the shot.
- Choose Your Weapon. Are you taking your photos in a full-length mirror? Will someone be taking your pies for you? Or will you be propping up your phone/camera and using a time delay to get into position?
- Remember your position. Where you stand in relation to the camera matters. If you're standing close to it for one pie, then further away for another, it makes it harder to compare the two because your brain is too busy making sense of the perspective. To make sure your before and after photos are consistent, try standing level with a certain piece of furniture, or always aim to plant your feet an inch or two away