As a Personal Trainer one of the first lessons I give all of my clients is to define the right measuring tools for success. I work to help them understand that we are not necessarily working to lose weight; we are working to burn fat. Accordingly we always measure body composition, as well as weight.
Below are the 3 methods most fitness professionals use to measure body composition:
Handheld Body Composition Machine (Body Fat) - this is considered the quick and dirty method of measuring body fat . The advantage is that it is fast. The disadvantage is that it is not as accurate as other methods.
Handheld measuring devices can have a variance up to 7%. As a result two things are very important to remember. First, always use the same measuring instrument. Second always be more interested in the amount of body fat lost between two measuring dates, not the absolute numbers.
Remember the absolute reading you get from any measuring device will likely be slightly inaccurate, so focus on the difference between measuring dates.
Calipers - You will need a fitness professional to help you with this, but it is the most accurate measure of Body Composition available to the general public. It is also referred as skin fold measurement and is normally about 97% accurate.
In this process your fitness professional will actually "pinch" your skin in several spots on your body with a set of calipers. They will then record the measurements and place them into a formula that will then calculate your body fat percentage.
If you have a fitness professional do this, be sure they to remember to measure the same sites and use the same formula every time. There are several different formulas you could use, just have your fitness professional choose the one they feel is best and stick with it.
Pay Attention To Your Body - To me this is the most important and effective ways to measure your success. Here are a few activities that will help you. The first is to take and record circumference measurements. This means that you actually take a tape measure and wrap it around your neck, arm, chest, waist, hips, thighs and calves to measure their size. All you have to do is record those measurements over time and compare. Just make sure that you take your measurements from the exact same sites every time.
Next is to pay attention to how your clothes fit. Write down where you fasten your belt loop. Grab 1 pair of jeans, fasten them up and see how they feel in the waist, butt, hips and legs. Do the same thing with one of your shirts in the neck, arms and stomach.
Also record how you feel. Do you feel strong? Do you feel week? Do you feel tired or energetic? All of these are signs of whether or not you are following the right program and eating enough, too much, or not eating the right stuff.
So for now never mind the scale. It is a poor indicator of how you are actually doing, for many reasons. Also make sure you are not measuring too often. No more than once a month especially in the beginning. Your focus should be on completing the activities of your entire weight loss program. A very good exercise program will make you feel stronger, give you more energy, have your waistline shrinking and your clothes fitting better! The numbers will take care of themselves.
If you would like more weight loss help immediately you can visit my fitness training and weight loss site.
I hope this helps.
Yours in health,
Jason Chiero, CPT
Published On: November 16, 2009