After you set wellness goals, a great way to stay motivated is by tracking your progress. The purpose is to do so in a positive way that will inspire you to keep moving forward. Here are my favorite go to methods.
Make the scale your friend as opposed to your foe. The best way to do this is by not obsessing. I recommend that my clients weigh themselves once per week at the same time on the same day in the buff. For instance, weigh yourself every Tuesday before your morning shower. This will help you obtain a more accurate overview of your progress as our bodies can fluctuate throughout the day and week, due to water weight, hormones, muscle mass and the foods/beverages we consume. You can invest in a digital scale, such as a Fitbit Aria 2, that will connect to an app on your smart phone and include additional measurements like body fat percentage.
But use caution with your scale. I recall weighing myself every day (and sometime several times a day) as a college student and would then beat myself up about the fluctuating number. This is not positive or kind behavior. Remember the scale is not a self-esteem detector; it is simply a tool to track your progress over time when used in a healthful way.
Keeping a log with a soft vinyl tape measure (used for tailoring) is another great way to track your progress. Once a week, take your measurements first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, preferably in the nude. For all measurements, pull the tape measure so that it sits on the surface of the skin, but doesn’t compress the skin. You can record your measurements as follows:
- Waist: Measure a half-inch above your belly button or at the smallest part of your waist.
- Hips: Place tape measure around the biggest part of your hips. This is also the widest part of your glutes.
- Bust: Measure around the chest right at the nipple line, but don’t pull the tape too tight.
- Chest: Stand with feet together and the torso straight and measure just under your bust.
- Thighs: The midpoint between the lower part of the glutes and the back of the knee, or the widest part of the thigh.
- Calves: Measure around the largest part of each calf.
- Upper arm: Measure around the largest part of each arm above the elbow.
- Forearm: Measure around the largest part of the arm below the elbow.
As we all know, photos never lie and can be a great gauge of your progress. Plus, it is always so inspiring to see yourself at each stage of your wellness journey. I recommend taking a photo once a month in the same attire. I generally suggest a bathing suit but do whatever makes you most comfortable. Take a photo from the front and the side. You can use your smart phone and a mirror or ask a good friend for assistance.
Another great measurement of your progress is your clothing. We have all experienced mornings where our pants are a little snug, and if we’re being honest, images of too much alcohol, pizza and chocolate cake may come to mind. On the other hand, it’s an incredible feeling when you can get into a pair of skinny jeans or need to go shopping because your pants are falling off at the waist. Accordingly, your clothing is a great measurement tool, during both the weight loss and maintenance stages. I always advise my clients to set aside a piece of your “slim wardrobe” and use it as your gauge.
Food and Exercise Log
Keeping track of your food and beverage intake is a smart way to hold yourself accountable and track your progress. Overall, my clients like the app MyFitnessPal the best or some do well recording in an old school journal. If you overdo it one day, you can then adjust the next. Plus, it will help you identify any behaviors that are inhibiting your weight loss goals. For instance, I have a client that was routinely picking at her children’s meals, and thus, consuming hundreds of extra calories per day. While you may not think the office candy dish counts, trust me, your body does. You can also allow your friends access to your online log and make it a team challenge.