If your fitness plan has you stepping on the scale every day to track your progress, ditch it. Scales aren’t accurate and they just end up making you feel terrible. There are far better ways to measure your hard work aside from how much you weigh. So let’s talk how to track progress, for real.
When I’m talking to my clients about how to track progress, I give them five different suggestions to try. None of which include a scale. My favourite ways to track progress include body measurements, before and after pictures, how your clothes fit, short term goals, and journaling. And today I’ll show you how to track progress using each method.
But, before we do that, let me first explain why these methods are better than the scale.
Ditch your scale – you don’t need it
I am not a fan of the scale. Weighing yourself tells you one thing – your weight. The problem with that is that one number doesn’t factor in muscle versus fat. So when you’re working out, burning calories and building muscle, you might find yourself feeling like you did a lot of hard work with very little to show for it. Well guess what! Muscle is denser than fat, so as you build more, you might weigh more.
For example, let’s say you’ve transformed your eating habits, and you’ve been working out regularly, and maybe you’ve lost 5lbs of body fat. That same hard work also built 2lbs of muscle. So you look fitter, your clothes fit better, and you probably feel better too. But the scale is only telling you that you’ve lost 3lbs. You might think that doesn’t seem like very much. But remember, it’s not factoring in the extra 2lbs of fat you lost, or the 2lbs of muscle that you built. Do you see what I mean? Weighing yourself only gives you half the picture, and it’s usually the half that makes us feel defeated and down on ourselves for the progress we’ve made.
So instead, learning how to track progress in a way that supports both your body confidence and your hard work will help give you a more accurate view of your progress plus keep you motivated to keep it up. Here’s how you can do it.
How to track progress and reach your goals
1. Measure yourself
I always encourage my clients to take measurements before starting a new fitness program. Then depending on your goals you can re-measure mid-way though and at the end of your program, or you could simply take measurements once a month to see how your body is changing.
It’s super simple to do, and all you need is a flexible tape measure. Ideally you want to take your measurements in the morning before you’ve eaten, or before bed. You just want to aim to avoid taking measurements too close to a meal in case you have any bloating that could skew your numbers.
To get the most accurate numbers, take your measurements either while naked or in something form fitting, and include the following body parts:
How to take measurements
Chest – Measure the circumference of your chest by placing one end of your measuring tape at the fullest part of your bust, then wrap it around you going underneath your armpits and around your shoulder blades.
Waist – Start at your natural waistline (above your belly button and below your ribs), and wrap the measuring tape around the circumference of your body. Make sure you’re breathing normally and not sucking in.
Hips/butt – Wrap the tape measure around your body over the fullest part of your butt and across your hips. Try to keep the tape measure straight.
Thighs – At the thickest part of your thighs, wrap the tape measure from front to back.
2. Take before and after pictures
- Wear something form fitting
You want to be able to see the curves of your body clearly to track weight loss and/or muscle definition. Try taking your picture in a bathing suit, or even a sports bra and shorts. Remember, no one has to see it but you (unless you want to share your progress with our inner babe community!)
- Find some good light
Pick a spot in your house with some good lighting so your picture turns out nice and bright.
- Stand up straight and tall
Be proud of your body at every stage and stand up straight and tall. Breathe normally and don’t suck in. P.s don’t forget to smile!
- Snap your pics from the front, back and side.
Your fitness progress can happen all over, so take pictures to capture your body from different angles. Try straight on from the front, then the back, and from the side as well.
3. See how your clothes fit
Your jeans don’t lie. And that’s exactly why I love to use my clothing as a tool for tracking my progress. The way that your clothing fits is one of the quickest and easiest ways to tell if you’re making progress.
You might notice things get a bit looser when you lose weight, or even a bit more snug if you build muscle.
Maybe you have your favourite pair of skinny jeans that you’re aiming to get back into. Or maybe you just feel things out in your everyday clothing. If you’re working out and eating healthy, you’ll eventually start to notice a difference in how your clothing fits your body.
4. Use short term goals as stepping stones
Short term goals are an easy way to check off your progress as you succeed. They help to take bigger goals or longterm goals and break them down into stepping stones that you can complete on the way to achieving your end goal.
For example, if you want to run 5km one day, your first goal might be 1km, then 1.5km, then 2km. You can compile a list of your small short term goals, then as you complete one each day or week, cross it off and bask in your success.
5. Try a fitness journal
Taking some time to write about how you feel about yourself, your life, your workouts and your progress can be a game changer. As we adopt new habits, it’s normal to forget the way we used to feel or act. But when you take the time to sit down down and reflect on your progress regularly you’ll start to notice yourself changing. You might notice you become more confident, or that your goals get harder and harder because you’ve worked your way there.
Love your #innerbabe
Learning how to track progress can be an incredible tool for motivation. But sometimes the progress we see isn’t quite where we wish it was. Try not to stress about it. Your progress no matter how big or small is just as (if not more!) important than the end goal. Every body is different, so take a breath, be patient and keeping working at it.
And when you do achieve some greatness, don’t forget to treat yourself and celebrate!
How do you stay motivated in your fitness and health journey? Share your tips with us in the comments below.