Why Tracking is Important
Weight fluctuations are normal, and they happen to everybody. They can be caused by many different factors, such as consumption of a big meal, excess salt intake, water retention, constipation and hormonal changes. One thing you should know is that the extra weight that you see on the scale does not come from an increase in body fat; it can be water, waste products or other substances that are temporarily present in your body. Most dietitians tell their patients not to weigh themselves every day, because they may see their weight fluctuate daily and lose faith in their weight loss program.
Last Monday I had a client tell me she is annoyed with her weight and wants to lose it as she grabbed her tricep and jiggled it. I explain to her how she was not eating enough especially now that she is playing paddle tennis 5 days a week. I ask her to track what she is eating and drinking the next few days and bring it back with her on Friday so I can see what is going on.
She came into the gym on Friday for her workout. I asked to see the food log so I can give her some suggestions. She tells me she didn’t write it down because she knows what she ate. I ask what she ate for dinner.
Client A: “I had salmon, veggies and wine”
Me: “How many glasses and what did you eat on the other days?”
Client A: “I think 2-3 glasses and I don’t remember that is what I ate last night. I figured it was the only meal you wanted to know about. I did weight watchers years ago and I have been following the same plan. It’s around 1400 calories. I feel like I am eating too many calories already.”
Me: “1400 calories is the bare minimum you need to just to maintain your body if you slept all day. You are severely under calorie and your metabolism is creeping along like a snail at this point. You’re struggling to get through your tennis matches and by Friday you look wiped when you come in here.”
Tracking Your Progress
- Use a Tape Measure
Consistency is key to accurate tracking. This means that measurements need to be taken at the same time of the day, under the same circumstances. Do it yourself, and you are the only person that will always be with you. The best time to measure is in the morning, after you wake.
- Make sure to measure the nine spots located on the diagram. The progress sheet has places for each.
- Tense/flex your muscles for each measurement to ensure a more accurate measurement and smooth transition from fat loss to muscle gain.
- Flex Abs – stop breathing for a few seconds and bend your stomach inward a bit making sure not to round your back. Stand against a wall if you are having problems rounding.
- Flex Hamstrings – stand straight and bend down and touch your toes or pull your leg up behind you. Hamstring is like bicep of your arm, bend and flex
- Flex Quads – stand straight and push your knee in. Quad is like the tricep of your arm – extend straight and contract to fle
- Chest: Place the tape across your Nipple-line. Use a mirror to make sure it is straight across your back. Place your arms down by your sides.
- Biceps: Make a loop with the tape. Slide it over your bicep until it is in the spot on the chart. Curl your biceps like you are doing a DB bicep curl.
- Abs: Two fingers below the navel is a good guideline instead of 2 inches.
- Butt/Hip: Measure all the way around at hip level using a mirror to make sure the tape stays in a straight line.
- Leg: Use the widest part of your thighs. It will typically be different for a male and female
- Consider getting yourself a Myotape/Orbitape (picture below) as it makes self-measuring more consistent and easier.
- Use the Scale
Your weight will fluctuate throughout the week so weighing it everyday will only lead to frustration when it jumps up and down daily. Try to keep your check-in on the same day and use the weight from that day. The best time to weight your self is early in the morning.
- Take Photos
Take four photos, front, back and each side, once a week at first. Hopefully after 4-6 weeks we can move to every 2 weeks. Make sure to use the same lighting conditions, same room (pick a spot with tiles or a door frame to always line up with), camera angle, and poses.
4. Little things that count
Often times we become obsessed with the numbers and ignore the quality of life improvements. Get a journal and keep track of your sleep quality, energy, and lack general aches and pains for the week. These allow for a more realistic approach instead of just focusing on the numbers.