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    « America Dies on Dunkin' | Main | Not the same old workout »

    5 Ways to Measure Fitness Progress Without a Scale

    Let me be totally up front with something here: scales LIE.  If you knew someone to be a compulsive liar, just how much time would you spend listening to that person?  If you're like me, you'd take every word they said with the proverbial grain of salt. 

    The bathroom scale is no different from that compulsive liar we all prefer to avoid.  One day it will say one thing only to tell an entirely different story the next.  Lose a pound, gain two pounds, lose two pounds, gain a pound...  After a couple weeks of this kind of "progress" it is easier to quit than to constantly be subjected to the inconsistency of the scale.

    Time and again I've seen people frustrated by their scale because they weighed themselves on a daily or near-daily basis.  Weight can fluctuate so much over the course of a 24 hour period that it's often best to go weeks between weigh-ins.  So what can you do in the interim to measure your fitness and fat-reduction progress?  Here are some suggestions:

    1. Find a pair of pants that is 1 size smaller than what you currently wear.  About once a week for a month, try the pants on.  As long as you're sticking to your exercise and nutrition plans, you probably won't go longer than a month without discovering that your once-too-small pants now fit.  A similar measure of progress is to find a belt that is currently too small for you to wear.  Eventually you will be able to wear the belt (even if it is on the very last hole!), and then you can gradually watch as you shrink into the second, third, and fourth holes.  I currently wear a belt that I couldn't wear in January, and I've progressed to the 4th hole on the belt.  That's progress!!
    2. Take a fitness test.  Remember how on that first day of your new exercise regimen you got winded just walking into the gym?  I sure do!  I remember hitting that treadmill and huffing along at 3 mph.  Over time, 3 mph became 4, then 5.  Now my HIIT high points are at 9.5mph for 60 seconds.  When you keep track of your fitness progress - either in your weight training or your cardio training (or BOTH!) - you have an easy-to-read measuring stick of your progress towards overall fitness.  Some gyms offer professional fitness assessments that will enable you to have your progress tracked on multiple levels (strength, flexibility, endurance, etc.).  If you want to put out a little money for these assessments, then tracking progress becomes that much easier!
    3. Get a body-fat measurement.  Body fat calipers can be purchased at supplement stores or online.  By taking a series of measurements on your body and punching the numbers into simple online calculators, you'll get a reading of percentage of body fat.  As you train and eat a nutritionally sound diet, the percentage of fat will go down over time.  Again, this is something you can have professionally measured in your gym (assuming they have a qualified Personal Trainer on staff).
    4. Take progression photos.  About once every 2 weeks or so, have pictures of yourself taken from the front, back, and side.  Almost invariably after about a month or so of training and eating right you will see a noticeable difference in appearance from one set of shots to the next.  What's really fun is to take shots every other week for 16 weeks and compare the first shots to the last.  The difference will blow your mind!
    5. Receive your accolades.  After you've been training and eating clean for a while, people will often begin to ask you that little question: "Are you losing weight?"  With a sense of pride (laced with humility, of course) you can tell them that you are indeed on the path to fitness and health by shedding fat and building muscle.  Believe me when I tell you that few things feel as great as having someone look at you with that raised eyebrow because they realize that there's not as much of you now as there used to be - and then they ask you what you're doing to drop the pounds.

    Be well!!

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    Reader Comments (2)

    Wonderful post... Very informational and educational as usual!

    Acai Berry Pure

    February 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJay B.

    have to work more and only very few measure. I think this is the solution

    May 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergerovital

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