When weight loss is the aim of the game, tracking your progress is absolutely key. However, when I talk about tracking, I’m not talking about jumping on the scales every single day. In fact, this can actually be totally destructive and lead to an unhealthy fixation on what is just a number.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not against people weighing in here and there as I think it can be a great accountability tool. But too many people forget that it is only one part of the picture. When we are getting into shape, we are improving our health, our mood, our body composition – and none of these are measured on the scales. For example, I’ve seen many people tone muscle and burn considerable amounts of fat which totally transforms their appearance, but the scales only change by one or two kilos.
So with that in mind, here’s a list of my favourite ways to track your overall progress without stepping on the scales.
1. Keep a diary
If you’re just getting started on your weight loss journey, keeping a diary is a great way to compare your progress from day 1 to later on down the track. Try to note your daily energy levels, how well you’re sleeping and how you’re feeling after each workout and keep this in mind when you’re ready to reset your goals. So, if squeezing in that workout after work has been working for you? Good, stick to it. Recognise the patterns and habits that have worked well for you and which ones haven’t.
2. Monitor your 28-day goals
When it comes to losing weight, I’m always saying that 28 is the magic number. It really is the perfect way to structure your goals as they won’t seem too far away to achieve. So even if you’re just starting off, if you’re checking your goal off of smashing 5 HIIT workouts a week in your 28-day block, then you know you’re on the right path.
3. Take progress photos
So often, we’re oblivious to the changes on our own body even though we see it every single day. Taking a photo when you’re starting to embark on a healthy journey is an awesome way to compare your progress without becoming fixated with the number on the scales. When you’re ready to compare, you’ll be amazed to see the physical changes to your body and this can act as a serious motivator to push yourself even further!
These days there’s an app or gadget for absolutely everything and when it comes to weight loss there are plenty that you can put to good use. For nutrition, opt for apps like My Fitness Pal which tell you the nutritional value of what you’re eating. The health app on the iPhone is an awesome way to monitor your daily activity too, so track your active minutes and try to beat them as you go.
Reflect back on your day-to-day tasks and how you feel performing them compared to day one. Has your mood improved? Are you running after the kids at the park without running out of breath? If you’re progressing, you’ll likely find these day-to-day tasks are becoming much easier to perform. Why not set yourself a reminder to look back either and think about your progress on a weekly or fortnightly basis.
5. Your clothes
Tracking your progress can be as simple as noticing how your clothes are fitting. If those jeans are sliding up much easier than usual or your favourite t-shirt is looking pretty baggy, you know you’re on the right track. Nothing puts a smile on my face more than a facetious comment from one of my 28ers saying ‘Sam, you need to buy me a whole new wardrobe!’
At the end of the day, don’t feel like you need to ditch the scales all together. Just don’t let your weigh ins become an obsession and limit them to about every 28 days. Trust me, once you stop fixating on the number on the scale and track your progress with my tips, you can focus on the feeling of your body changing and this will be totally empowering.
Sam Wood is the founder of online training and nutrition program 28 by Sam Wood and Australia’s largest personal training gym ‘The Woodshed’.
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