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Eating in a calorie deficit, exercise, and tracking progress are the 3 pillars of a successful fat loss plan.  Without tracking properly, it's really hard to evaluate whether or not what you are doing is working.  There are so many metrics you can keep track of, but the most relevant measurements are waist size, body weight, and progress pics.  I'm all about making everything in life as simple as possible which ultimately leads to better adherence.  Tracking 10+ measurements like arm size, leg size, body fat percentage, hips, etc. is 1) unnecessary and 2) way too much work to stick with over time.

General Thoughts on How To Track

Pick a day of the week that is going to be your "check in" day.  I'd avoid using Monday because if you overeatSaturday/Sunday then you may have some water retention issues which can skew numbers.  A good suggestion is Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.  Recording your waist, weight, and progress pics should be effortless and quick.  I track these plus some additional things and it takes me less than 2 minutes to do. 

The Details

1.  Waist Size
Waist measurements track FAT LOSS as opposed to weight measurements which track WEIGHT LOSS.  You want to be focused on fat loss.  A general rule of thumb is 1 inch = 5 pounds of fat.  So if you go from a 36 waist to a 35 waist, that is approximately 5 pounds of fat lost.  You might have a week where your weight doesn't budge but your waist is down 1/2 inch.  That is great progress but the scale would say otherwise! 

You are going to need a flexible measuring tape which is cheap.  Here is a link:
http://www.amazon.com/AccuFitness-MT05-MyoTape-Body-Measure/dp/B000G7YW7Y

To measure, stand in a relaxed position neither breathing in or out- just chillin'.  Position tape measure at belly button level and record circumference.  I track this in my notepad on my phone.


2.   Body Weight

The most accurate way to track weight is to weigh in each morning and take a weekly average of your weight (the Apple Health app actually averages out your weekly weight so there is no math to be done if you use it). Weight fluctuates so much day to day (this is normal) that it really doesn't make sense to rely on a single day to judge progress when your body, for example, may just be retaining more water than usual thus leading to a higher number on the scale. 

With weekly averages, this high day just gets thrown in with 6 others to provide an accurate snapshot of progress that week.  What if you lost 1 lb. in the previous week but on your weigh in day you just happened be 1 lb. heavier due to a normal weight fluctuation? You would think progress is going in the wrong direction and unnecessarily reduce calories even further.

How to accurately use the scale- wake up in the morning, go number 1, get naked, and hop on there.  It is critically important to do this the same way everyday.  Just drinking something as small as a glass of water will throw the number off.  Again, I record this data in Apple Health but myFitnessPal and several other apps track weight.

*Note- if you think weighing yourself everyday may lead to obsessing over the number, then stick to once a week.  However, I've found that weighing everyday actually has the opposite effect.  You get to see the crazy daily fluctuations, realizing they are normal which leads to less stressing about the number.


3.  Progress Pics
Progress pics have a bad rep because of all the Instagram idiots like @theshreddedsalesman posting them non stop.  I was totally against this concept until I tried it.  You are the last person to notice changes in your body composition because you see yourself every day.  Putting pics side by side separated by 1 month, 6 months, etc. are eye opening.  We are our biggest critics so pics allow for a more objective view of our fat loss journeys.

All you need is a camera phone, a spray tan, and some good lighting (just kidding on the last two).  How you take your pics is up to you, just make sure it's the same pic in the same location every time.  I literally just take a selfie in the bathroom mirror.  If you use myFitnessPal, they actually have a progress pic section now which is pretty cool.


Remember, tracking progress should be consistent and effortless.  As always, if you have any questions I am here to help.  Happy tracking!

 


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