How do you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you are? While this seems like a simple question, it’s amazing how many people start out on a fitness regimen without a clear idea of how they’re going to track their body changes. For most people, they are going to rely upon nothing more than the number they get when they stand on a scale: body-weight. Worst number for fitness tracking ever.
The reason your weight is a bad number to track is because it fluctuates according a lot of variables; your fat stores, your muscle content, how much water you retain (which is, in turn, affected by factors like salt in your diet), hormone levels, and so on. People end up freaking out and losing hope because after three weeks of steady downward numbers on the scale, they’re faced with a three to five pound uptick. They instantly feel like all their work has been wiped out, and start to wonder why they’re wasting their time. Of course, they’re not wasting their time at all. The uptick was progress, but they didn’t recognize it. So what’s the solution? That’s pretty easy, measure your fitness, not your fatness.
When I started losing weight a few months ago, I wanted to have something concrete beyond the scale to work with. I knew that, in the past, relying solely upon the scale to track your fitness just doesn’t work. Losing weight can be bad, because you can be losing muscle, not fat. Similarly, gaining weight can be good, because you can gain muscle at the expense of fat. ‘ve heard more than a few people say that what they find frustrating about running is that they decide to be a runner. So they go out, they run a few times a week, but the instant they miss a day, they feel like a failure. The problem is not that they “failed,” per se, it’s that they didn’t do three things: benchmark themselves, set goals, and measure progress. So how do you do that, exactly? And what other things can you track that will give you a real idea of what your body is actually doing?