Measurements: A numbers game

One of the first pieces of advice I offer my clients is not to get hung up with the number on the scale. In fact, just don’t bother.

Why?

It can be deceiving and discouraging.  In fact the scale at your doctor’s office, in your bathroom and at your gym are each calibrated differently. If you truly want an accurate weight, buy your own decent scale – and make sure you are the only one who uses it.

For me, I’d rather take a number of measurements, or assessments, from my clients and use those to track progress over time.

Those measurements include:

  • Resting heart rate

  • Blood pressure

  • Waist, hip, arm and thigh measurements

  • Stretch tests

  • Muscular strength and endurance tests

  • Cardiovascular tests

  • Body fat analysis (taken with a grain of salt)

Don't focus just on the scale for success.  Use a wide range of numbers to judge improvement.

Don’t focus just on the scale for success. Use a wide range of numbers to judge improvement.

In the end it’s looking at a variety of numbers to see if progress has been made.  One of the easiest tests for someone trying to lose weight? How are your clothes fitting?

While it may be discouraging for someone to only see a couple of pounds difference on the scale, numbers from a variety of other measurements can tell a better picture.  If you want to lose weight, did your waist and hip measurements go down?  If you want to gain muscle size, did your arm and thigh measurements go up?

Body fat analysis can also be deceiving.  Handheld bioelectrical impedance machines are not 100 percent accurate.  And it takes a professional with practice to obtain solid caliper measurements. And those can vary if not taken in the same place, by the same person, with the same set of calipers.  The best and most accurate tools to find your body fat percentage are expense and typically found in professional sports facilities, hospitals and universities..

For many the ultimate goal is to lose weight.  And periodic weigh ins are important, but should only be done, in my opinion, once a month.  Weight can fluctuate day to day, but the ultimate goal is a numbers game.  It  depends on where you want those numbers to fall and how hard you are willing to work in the gym and in the kitchen.

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