Track Your Damned Progress

So you want to lose weight and tone up, that's great and you've certainly came to the right place.

This post isn't to delve into what you need to do to get there, everyone should know how to do this somewhat (eat like an adult and stop eating so much crap a lot of the time).

Instead, I am going to walk us through something that's vital to help us with achieving our goals.

We must assess our progress, if we want to lose weight and tone up then it makes absolute sense to know where we are right now. That means knowing how much we weigh, perhaps even knowing our waist and hip measurements and hell even having some photos to give us a visual on our start would be fantastic.

Without these, it's essentially the same as wanting to get somewhere in your car but you don't know where you are right now to even begin to use the map effectively.

You're essentially screwed.

Without a Point A, it's hard to see whether or not we are getting closer to Point B.

Unfortunately, the majority of people - if not everyone - looks at the scales, tape measure or themselves in the mirror and thinks “fuck that, I don’t want to know or see because it's not going to be good”.

This is not the ideal approach or mindset, your start is your start and it becomes incredibly hard to work towards a goal or to know how far or near you are from achieving them if we don't regularly assess our progress.

'Clothes feeling better' and 'feeling more energetic' are all great achievements' but they are all very subjective and before someone say's it, fitting into smaller clothes is a hell of an achievement and is a fantastic sign of both weight loss and perhaps even toning up.

The problem is that the latter takes ages to see and as a result, we can actually begin to question whether or not this is even working as we don't have any information to tell us otherwise.

And perhaps as a result, that leads to a loss of motivation, knowing you're getting results is motivating to continue, not knowing isn't. 

It works the other way too, if you actually get your starting point and assess progess and you aren't moving forward, you know you need to change something and you can be proactive to make that happen.

Without it, you're blissfully unaware, which isn't great news for you achieving your goal.

Maybe you think you weigh 100kg because that's what you weighed several weeks ago, so you work your ass off for two months before stepping on the scales and you're still only 100kg.

That's going to leave you feeling demotivated, demoralised and you're going to question if it's even worth it.

What if you were actually 104kg when starting? That's over half a stone of weight loss that you can't acknowledge because you didn't take the time to see where you actually were. You just shot your motivation directly in the foot.

If you aren’t assessing then you’re just guessing!

But The Scale Is The Sad Step

The scale is only a sad step because you allow it to be, so don't be afraid of it. It measures your relationship with gravity, not your happiness or your self-worth.

Despite the opinions of some, the truth of the matter is that the scale is a helpful tool is assess progress. I get that you might be scared but if your kid is afraid of swimming... would you advice him/her to stay away from water at all times to enhace their levels of fear? Or encourage them to keep going despite the horror until it's not scary anymore?

Probably the latter because we want our children to be confident and resilient.

The same can be said about your relationship with the scary. You need to understand it more and it becomes less of a step of sadness.

You also need to become detached from the number on the scale, so you must treat every measurement the same. No measurement should make you happy or sad, it's just a measurement. 

And you must remember that your weight will fluctuate regardless of how 'on plan' you might be and allowing the scale to ruin your day due to these fluctuations is counterproductive.

So why can the scale fluctuate?

  • Defecation and urination
  • Hydration levels
  • Food volume in gut
  • Hormones
  • Glycogen storage
    • Maximal glycogen storage is ~15g/kg
    • Glycogen stored with 3-4 parts water
    • Refeed example: 80kg individual = 1.2kg + 3.6kg = +4.8 kg.
  • Blood volume
    • Untrained individual - 4.7L, Runner 6L

Literally, someone could gain up to 4.8kg of bodyweight and it might not be 'fat', it could simply be the storage of glycogen in our muscles and liver. This is why low carb diets see rapid losses in weight initially because you essentially end up depleting glycogen and water. 

Or maybe you're constipated and haven't been to the toilet for 3 days or more then you're likely going to experience an increase in bodyweight.

This is not how much fat you have.

It's normal for it move.

And this is exactly why it helps to weigh yourself frequently (2-7x per week). Doing so gives you a weekly average, which is much more accurate and reliable than once in a blue moon as it smoothes out these fluctuations. If your weekly average weight isn't moving after 2 weeks then we might need to look at improving our diet and/or increase our activity.

Strangely enough, those that weigh themselves more frequently have increased dietary restraint, less binging episodes and therefore they typically end up losing more bodyweight!

What gets measured, gets managed.

Why Not Just Once A Week?

You can choose to do it once a week but I wouldn't recommend it.

It sure as hell is better than never though.

…..if you leave it to once a week, you are literally relying on one data point of the week to compare it to the next and as weight has a tendency to fluctuate for a multitude of reasons (as already mentioned), you might end up stepping on the scale where weight has fluctuated up.

Making you feel disheartened that progress isn’t happening.

Or worse yet, weighing once a week could, in actual fact, give you a false negative reading, which could lead to the cutting of calories or you drastically increasing your activity when not necessarily needed.

Or it could give you a false positive, making you think you lost weight when really you just stepped on the scale when it has fluctuated down.

So we always need to remember that your bodyweight is the total mass of YOU (muscle, bone, fat, water, glycogen, digestive matter, food in gut etc) so don't let it be a mind f**k.

^^ many of those components change day-to-day.

And don't give in to the need of instant gratification of needing to lose weight on a daily/weekly basis.....because for females if you don't get that, you are likely to search for that instant gratification via other means like going YOLO on your diet

^which serves no long-term benefits to your goals or happiness.

Stick to the course and adjust when necessary.

 Imagine if you only weighed on a Friday? You'd think that you made no progress as your weight is static but in reality if you weighed yourself 3x per week, you might see that you've actually lost 0.5kg on average.

Imagine if you only weighed on a Friday? You'd think that you made no progress as your weight is static but in reality if you weighed yourself 3x per week, you might see that you've actually lost 0.5kg on average.

 Or maybe Friday you see a 0.5kg reduction in weight but in reality, your average hasn't changed at all. You think you've lost weight but the reality is that you haven't.

Or maybe Friday you see a 0.5kg reduction in weight but in reality, your average hasn't changed at all. You think you've lost weight but the reality is that you haven't.

The Scale Isn't Everything

This isn't a post to say scale weight is everything because it's not but it's a valuable tool and one we should use if our goal is weight loss and hell even for toning up.

At the same time, we should also look to use measurements and pictures to assess our progress. The scale doesn't tell us everything and adding these into the mix is recommended.

It's fair to see that if we see our waist measurement go down, we are no doubt toning up.

And if we see our bodies change in progress pictures, we can be sure to say that we are toning up.

The thing we must remember is that both these things are slower to see changes with, so for that reason we'd use these metrics less frequently (every 2-4 weeks).

This is why the scale can be a great tool as it's easy and quick to use and not only that but it can be a daily trigger to help us with exhibiting greater dietary restraint that helps us with losing weight and toning up.

They say "ignorance is bliss."

It's not, it's the saboteur of you waking up and smelling the roses and doing the work.

Key Points

  • You need to be able to see what progress you are making so you can make the necessary adjustments in order to continue progressing.
  • The more variables you track the more “small wins” you can achieve.  If fat loss is your goal, you may not have lost weight one week but if you lost inches then you are still making progress. If you don’t track it, then it may look like you are not making any progress.
  • You should track both training AND physique progress.
  • Our favourite ways to track physique progress are; Progress photos, measurements, scale weight and clothes sizes. You can track all, some or none of these depending on your goal but we would recommend as many as possible.
  • It is unlikely you are going to make progress in all areas every week but as long as something is moving in the right direction, even if everything else remains the same, then you are doing well.
Sean Armstrong