What is Percent Body Fat, and 4 Other Measurements You Should Be Using.
But this only tells part of the story as you can expect to see fluctuation throughout the day as you eat, drink, sweat, sleep, etc.
Another problem is that the scale itself may not be accurate. In fact, simply changing the position of your feet, the posture of your body, or having the scale on carpet can alter the results. Here are a few other methods to measure and keep track of your progress.
1. Percent Body Fat
Total body weight alone is a poor indicator of health, but if you can determine how much of that total weight is unhealthy body fat, you’ll have much more useful information.
A very athletic person with well-developed muscle tissue may actually be considered overweight based upon weight alone, when in reality their percent body fat is well within a healthy range. In this example, the percent body fat is more important than the total weight.
Determining Your Percent Body Fat
In order to measure your percent body fat, you have a few options.
The most precise method would be in a specialized water tank that is designed for this purpose. The disadvantage here is that you will need to go to a clinic that offers this service.
A more convenient and affordable option would be to purchase an inexpensive body fat caliper which is used to take
measurements at several locations on your body.
Another convenient method is to use a body fat analyzer, which can be either hand-held or integrated into a floor scale, but realize the results may vary based upon the hydration level of the body.
Most body fat analyzers provide the instructions and guidelines for an optimal reading.
BMI stands for Body Mass Index which is calculated by height and weight. Your BMI may not give you direct measurement of your total body fat but it can be used to determine where you fall in the range from underweight to obese.
Determining Your BMI
Mathematically you can calculate your BMI by first multiplying your weight in pounds by 703, then divide the resulting number by your height in inches squared.
It can also be found easily using this calculator.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the standard interpretation for adults over the age of 20 would be as follows:
Below 18.5 is considered Underweight
18.5-24.9 is considered Normal
25.0-29.0 is considered Overweight
30.0 and above is considered Obese
3. Clothing Size
Notches in your belt can certainly be indicators of gaining or losing weight, but this can fluctuate from day to day depending on the style of the pants you wear, and if you are in a suck-it-in or a let-it-hang mood.
The actual size of the clothes themselves can also be a way to set goals and know when you’ve met them, just remember that some clothing lines use different sizes than others so this may or may not be accurate.
4. Using a Tape Measure
The tape measure rarely lies, and this can be quite accurate and is probably the most inexpensive measurement.
You will want to use a soft flexible tape measure when doing this, and it is best to measure several areas of the body. Specifically the neck, chest, waist, hips, thigh, and upper arm.
When using a tape measure be sure to measure the same location each time. For the waist, just let your body relax and don’t push-out or suck-in. For the chest, take a breath in and exhale to the point that your breath stops naturally and take your measurement at that moment.
Be sure that you are not puffing up your chest, or forcing all of the air out to shrink down.
5. Take Pictures
I highly recommend taking before and after photos but keep in mind these are the easiest to fake, so unless you intend to be completely honest, don’t even bother with this one.
On the other hand, this can be the most satisfying and exciting of them all, because you can see how you have changed over time.
When taking pictures, be sure to record the date, and try to use the same amount of lighting, angle, and similar clothing.
Also take pictures from all sides and in the same pose.
I recommend that you keep these measurements private where other people will not see them until the grand reveal when you’ve reached your goal if you so decide.
Whether you choose some, or all of these methods, you should always be sure to measure yourself at the initial baseline in order to track your progress.
This is not just for bragging rights, it is a very important step as you are both consciously and subconsciously taking action, and committing yourself to the process.
Do you have other methods to keep track of your progress?
Share them in the comments below!
Yours in Health and Wellness,