Hi everyone! I haven’t had much time to do any blogging lately, so today I’m happy to be able to share a guest post with you! While it’s important not to become so obsessed with the scale that you are weighing yourself twice a day (yes, it happens), I believe that checking your stats on a regular basis does give you the information you need to make adjustments in your health habits in order to reach your goals. I think you will find this post most helpful!
Find our more about the author, Tyler Read at his website ptpioneer.com
Hey everyone and welcome to another week of healthy habit changing. On a similar note of food journaling, today I want to talk to you about the importance of taking body measurements in order to track your progress. One of the things all of the top personal trainer certification agencies preach within their curriculum and I have noticed as a personal trainer myself for the last 10 years is the importance of taking regular measurements. Lucky for my clients, I take all of their measurements for them once a week, record it, and graph their progress so that I can show them their development. The three primary measurements that I think are most important are: body weight, circumference measurements and body fat measurement. Before we jump into how you will be performing all of these measurements, let’s go over the benefits of building this habit!
The biggest benefit of building the habit of taking measurements is to provide continuous motivation to stay on track with your diet and exercise program. Lots of people end up quitting their diet or workout program due to the fact that they cannot see physical results as soon as they would like to. This leads them to give up on their entire goal of getting in shape and that is the last thing we want to have happen as exercise and a healthy diet have so many physical and mental benefits.
Physical results don’t usually appear until after a few weeks or a month of consistent diet and exercise. On the other hand, quantitative measurements such as body weight, circumference measurements and body fat percentage can be noticed just after the first week!
Showing my clients the quantitative progress they have made provides tons of motivation to stay the course and maintain the regime. It’s great to see their faces when I tell them they have lost 2 lb, a 1/2 inch around their waist and a 1/2 inch around their thighs in only one week.
Another reason that taking measurements are a great habit is for the fact that you can monitor your progress and make the necessary adjustments in order to continue to make headway towards your goals. This is true whether your goal is to lose weight or build muscle. Taking measurements will allow you to quickly identify if you are hitting plateau so you can make the required adjustments to your diet or exercise routine.
The 3 important measurements you need to take
Your body weight is by far the easiest measurement to take. All you need is a normal scale that is capable of measuring your weight in either pounds or kilograms. I prefer electric scales because they do not need to be calibrated.
In order to take your circumference measurements, you will need to purchase a cloth measuring tape. You should be able to pick this up at your local Walgreens or Walmart. This step will take a little bit of practice because you will need to make sure you are measuring the same part of your body every time in order to have consistency. Pull the measuring tape until it is flat against your skin but do not pull it so tight that it bends your skin, this will give you inaccurate readings.
Remember that the most important thing is to be consistent. Accuracy is really not the very important. You simply want to be consistent so you are comparing apples to apples and thus track progress.
Let’s go over the body parts that I recommend you measure. All of these will be going all the way around your body in a circle.
Waist: For this measurement you will be taking the narrowest part of your waist.
Hip: For this measurement you will be taking the maximal width of your hips, or butt
Thigh: For this measurement you will be taking the widest part of your thigh.
Arm: The arm measurement should be taken 2 inches above the fold of your elbow.
Chest: In order to measure your chest you need to lift your arms up, and measure around your nipple line.
Shoulder: With both of your arms straight down, measure from the widest place of your shoulders
Neck: To measure your neck you need to measure the widest part.
If any of these measurements seem confusing, you can always refer to a YouTube tutorial such as the one below.
Besides calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI) which has some major shortfalls, there are two popular ways to measure your body fat at home. One is using body fat calipers, and the other is called bioelectrical impedance. Although both of these ways of measuring body fat are not extremely accurate compared to underwater weighing, most people don’t have access to this and once again, accuracy is not really the concern here. We are really looking for consistency so we can track progress and both of these methods will work just fine for tracking your progress with weight loss.
Body fat calipers are definitely the cheapest option because you can purchase one for around $1 on amazon.com. The only problem with this method is that it takes more time and is more difficult to perform and thus has a higher risk of performing inconsistent measurement. You can find some good tutorials online such as the YouTube below to ensure you are taking the measurements correctly.
The way that I like to measure my clients body fat is to use the bioelectrical impedance method. This method only takes about 2 minutes and is reasonably accurate. A handheld bioelectrical impedance device can be picked up for around 15 or $20.
I hope you found my article on how to take body measurements helpful. I recommend you take these body measurements once a week in order to provide motivation to keep pushing forward. It also helps greatly in order to fine-tune your diet and exercise program so that you can reach your goals as soon as possible. Make sure to write down your results on a piece of paper or on your computer so that you can see the numbers change.
Here is a template you can start with and if you decide to calculate your body fat % with the calipers or bioelectrical impedance method, just replace the BMI column with those results.
If you focus on the small progress steps that you are making, when you look back in a year, you will really see the big picture and it will be one of the most satisfying feelings you have every experienced because it is more than just getting in shape. It is about accomplishing a challenging goal you have personally set for yourself and you were able to achieve it through determination and willpower. Now what are you waiting for? Get out there and start tracking your progress!