The Problem of Measuring Progress
Fat-loss tracking by most people is usually done one of two ways:
- Track Everything
- Track Nothing
And there are down-sides to both. Tracking everything is great if you’re an OCD bodybuilder… it helps keep your edge on the competition. But for most of us, it takes too much time for too little reward. So if we’re not taking 11-site caliper measurements and the circumference of every muscle measurable, what do most people end up doing?….
They Track Nothing. (or just 1 variable e.g. weight)
And the downside to tracking nothing is that you don’t know if you’re progressing. For example…
Have you ever thought,
“I should be making progress, but the scale won’t budge!?! WTF?!”
Read-on to learn why this may not be a bad thing…
There’s An Easy Fix
If measuring weight isn’t enough, but we want to avoid being OCD, what’s good enough?
- Measure Weight
- Measure Your Waist
- Measure Your Hips
For 99% of those looking to lose fat, it’s about getting a smaller belly and not the fat pants, so let’s measure the variables that count so we can improve them.
Don’t forget; if you measure something, you’re more likely to improve it. Let’s look at how to interpret the results.
Interpreting Your Results
- Give yourself 2-3 weeks to evaluate the results of any new changes
- Be consistent with your measurements (same day, time, etc. e.g. Monday, first thing in the morning, assuming no boozing on Sunday night)
- Other than the new changes, try to keep your diet & exercise consistent (don’t want to start jogging and then overeat afterwards… a very common occurrence!)
The information in (parenthesis) are not the only possible outcomes, but they are the most likely ones.
- Lower Weight & Fewer Inches (losing fat, losing muscle)
- Lower Weight & Same Inches (losing muscle)
- Lower Weight & More Inches (gaining fat, losing muscle)
- Same Weight & Fewer Inches (losing fat, gaining muscle)
- Same Weight & Same Inches (no change)
- Same Weight & More Inches (gaining fat, losing muscle)
- Higher Weight & Fewer Inches (losing fat, gaining muscle)
- Higher Weight & Same Inches (gaining muscle)
- Higher Weight & More Inches (gaining fat, gaining muscle)
Ick! That’s tough to look at… Here’s a table with colors to make it easier (green = good, orange = neutral, red = bad):
For fat-loss, you want to lose fat and gain or maintain muscle. So what are the best scenarios? (hint: the green boxes!)
- Same weight, Fewer inches (see, you can progress when the scale doesn’t move!)
- Higher weight, Fewer inches (Higher weight a good thing? Definitely!… IF it’s the right kind of weight [muscle])
- Higher weight, Same inches (Again, if you’re getting more muscular and your measurements are constant, it’ll help you lose more fat in the long-run)
For fat-loss, weight loss is not necessary. However, if you want to lose muscle mass in addition to fat, my suggestion is this:
Lose inches before weight.
Your muscle mass will help your fat-loss journey, so hold onto it as much as possible. The best way to hold onto muscle is through high-intensity exercise (especially heavy weight training), which we cover in our articles, on the podcast, and in depth in our many products (Becoming Mighty and Fatso No More! are great places to start).
So if you want to lose weight, first lose inches (so your muscle can do the heavy-lifting), and then feel free to lose some that muscle if you don’t want to look like the incredible hulk.
Just one more time because it can’t be repeated enough… LOSE INCHES FIRST!
Make it a Habit & Enjoy the Rewards!
By taking and tracking your weekly measurements for your weight, waist and hips, you get a much better picture than measuring weight alone, and without the hassle of measuring all your major muscle groups or time-consuming, multi-site caliper measurements.
Lose the inches first, and then get down to your ideal weight by eating like the weight you want to be (see Fat Loss 101 for more detailed instructions).
Remember, you make your habits and then your habits make you…
So get measuring and start losing inches!
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Good luck & take care until next time!