“How you feel is number one in my book, as far as being most accurate,” says Faherty. Exercise and weight loss bring the benefit of increased energy, so when you feel yourself getting stronger and everyday tasks are easier, that’s progress.
Both of our fitness experts said that the fit of their clothes is the number one way they keep track of their personal weight loss progress. It is best to choose one pair of jeans (or other clothing item) when tracking progress this way. Try not to wear or wash whichever item you pick because that can alter the fit.
This chamber is marketed as the “practical gold standard in body composition assessment,” though it’s really only practical for large organizations that can afford it. Used by universities, sports teams and the military, the Bod Pod is counted as one of the more accurate tools out there. The pod uses air displacement to measure body composition and to find one of these devices you’ll have to check with either universities or big medical facilities.
Calipers are little pincher tools that pull the skin and fat away from the body to get a read on the amount of fat in specific areas. It is recommended that you find a professional to measure you because it can be difficult to reach areas on your own body that you should be measuring. If using a trainer or physician for measuring, be sure to use the same person each time as they will measure the same areas in their own way. Calipers aren’t considered to be the most accurate tool out there but they are one way to cheaply measure progress.
Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) scans measure bone density and can diagnose osteoporosis. These machines are also considered an option for measuring body composition, though this is not the method we would recommend. Finding one of these machines will likely require checking with hospitals.
Using a tape measure is a great and easy way to see how you’re progressing in certain areas. It is important to measure at precisely the same spot and side (either left or right arm or leg each week). Faherty uses a tape measure with her clients to track their progress and she uses one herself when training for a competition.
Hydrostatic weighing is the process of submerging in water to determine body density. This method has been one of the most trusted, but there is room for error. Under water, the person being weighed is expected to expel as much air as possible. When air is left in the lungs and not accounted for it can skew the results.
The saying “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet” is as old as it is true. If you’re looking to lose weight, keeping track of what you’re eating is imperative. McCormick says that diet plays a huge role in life long fitness, she recommends that her clients who want to be more accountable track their calorie intake using an app like My Fitness Pal.
“Taking weekly full-body ‘check-in’ pictures can be a simple, yet eye-opening, way to track progress over time and something I also do when I’m in competition-prep mode,” says Faherty. Pictures can be a great way to see how far you’ve come, even if you don’t want to look at them right away. When taking pictures make sure to wear the same outfit—fewer clothes will allow you to see more progress. The pictures should also be taken around the same time and in the same lighting. Fitsnap is a great new app that allows you to record workout data on top of fitness selfies.
An increase in self-confidence is one of the big goals for people trying to shed pounds or meet fitness goals, so it makes sense that this would be an indication of progress. While there is no objective way to measure the self-confidence you feel, and faith in this measurement isn’t for everyone, confidence does correspond with progress. We love the confidence method of measurement.