Weight Loss Measurements
When most people come into the gym, they come in because they want to feel better, but also because they want to lose weight.
I usually ask them how much they want to lose and why they want to lose that amount. Most of the time the weight people want to be is the lightest there were at some point in their life.
I then ask them about the type of workout program and diet program they were following.
Many times people will tell me that they were just trying to eat well. Most of the time men will tell me that they were active and lifting and just sort of fell off which is why they gained the weight. Most of the time women will tell me that they had been running while eating well and then fell off the wagon for some reason or another.
When I hear this, I usually believe that the men will be more likely to hit their target goal than the women.
Because I believe that in our current culture women become cardio queens and calorie restriction junkies to lose weight because thin is all they care about while most men don’t just want to lose the weight to be skinny. Guys actually generally have the opposite pressure on them – they should be strong and muscular.
Whether or not having either standard is right, is a discussion for another time. The point is that both standards exist and that both genders generally go about reaching their fitness goals in different ways.
Which leads me to usually state to women, “You know that you can’t just focus on that number on the scale right? With the addition of weights into your program, you may not lose all the weight that you want, BUT you may actually look slimmer and fit into that ______ that you want to wear even better!”
I then usually turn their focus to circumference measurements and body fat measurements. AND I usually only do these once a month…at most every two weeks.
BUT I definitely try to avoid the scale obsession.
While it would be great if we could all just focus on how we FEEL and how we PERFORM, wanting to look good is the reason why most people head to the gym.
So while you can check the scale, you can’t let it be the be all and end all. You’ve got to use some other measures.
And if you are going for aesthetic changes, circumference measurements and body fat tests can be great.
If you are dong circumference measurements, you need to make sure to measure the same spot each and every time. Here is a link that tells you WHERE to take measurements so that your measurements are consistent so you can actually track progress.
For body fat testing, there are a few ways to do it. Whichever way you do it, you will want to use this scale to find out what your body fat means. Please don’t set your goal for essential. Even the bodybuilders who reach that point DON’T maintain it for very long. At the essential level is where you get into health ISSUES.
And depending on the tool you use, there is some room for error, especially with tools like these handheld “electronic” measures or the scales that supposedly measure body fat. These tools are very dependent on hydration status so can be easily effected by how hydrated you are that day and whether or not you just worked out. If you use these tools, try to keep when you measure as consistent as possible.
Calipers are great too, but make sure you measure the same spot and really read up on how to use them. It is best to actually have a trainer who is experienced use them on you or at least teach you to use them.
The best body fat test is the dunk test or the bod pod. Both are more expensive, BUT if you really have an aesthetic change as your goal, why not use the most accurate measurement? Do one when you begin and then one every 90 days! It will definitely keep you from becoming obsessed each week with the measurement! (And you could still use circumference measurements just to see where you are at.)
Anyway, try to experiment with these other two measures of “weight loss.” I mean shoot, you can even use pictures as a measuring tool. You can see changes when you compare pictures even if you become used to seeing yourself every day in the mirror. And if you see changes that you like, who cares what the scale says?
Along the way to looking the way you want, if you can throw in some performance measurements, you may just find that after a while you become less and less worried about exactly how your weight loss progress is going and more and more focused on working hard and sticking to your program.
And guess what?!? When you start focusing on performance, you may actually more easily look the way you want to look! You won’t be obsessed with each fluctuation of that scale!
So try to take the emphasis off the weight you see on the scale. I know it’s not easy, but it really causes more pain than anything else!