In our fitness journeys, we crave results more than anything. We want to make sure all these hours in the gym and healthy eating pay off.  During our fitness journeys, we should be tracking our progress. We check our stats from week to week to determine what we do well and what we need to improve. There are many ways to track your fitness successes and failures, and I wanted to share 5 of these ways with you today:

1. The Scale

I wanted to start with the most hated fitness tracking item ever. Everyone has an opinion about the effectiveness of a scale and whether it makes sense to actually track your weight. My homie Erika wrote a whole article on this very subject with some excellent points. People hate scales because they hate what the scale calculate. They hate that after a “good” week of fitness and nutrition, they could potentially see little to no weight difference and they become frustrated. So it’s easy to see why they would opt out of using a scale. My rebuttal to this train of thought is that they are using the scale wrong in two ways:

1) Weighing themselves multiple times a week
2) Solely relying on scales to tell the entire fitness story

When you weigh yourself every day, you don’t get an accurate view of your progress. We fluctuate with our weight throughout the day due to water levels in our body and other factors. You will weigh differently from the time you get up to the time you sleep. So when you take your weight every day or every two days, you are tracking common ups and downs and not getting a true picture of your gains and losses. To control this, you should weigh yourself weekly, at the same time and in the same condition. If you take your weight in your underwear at 8am on Tuesday’s, do that every week. That way you will see a more accurate view of your weight.

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At the same time, weight should never be the end all be all to determine your progress. Just because you lost 20 pounds doesn’t mean that you are “healthy” now. You ever heard the term “skinny fat”? Just because you gained 5 pounds doesn’t mean your weight loss plan is in shambles. You could be gaining muscle or losing muscle. Used correctly, the scale can assist you in determining your personal fitness progress.

2. Your Body Fat %

Along with the scale, taking your body fat measurements will give you a more complete picture of your fitness progress. I suggest using calipers, or performing the US Navy method for those that would rather use a tape measure. Many people use BMI as a measurement, and I’ve said for years that BMI is BS. It has generic body types in mind, and is very inaccurate. When you combine the scale with your body fat, you can see where you need to improve, and be more motivated and optimistic about your fitness progress. Remember when I spoke about losing little weight and getting discouraged? This is where body fat testing comes in handy. There’s lean body mass and fat pounds. LBM is what we like. It helps burn fat and this is the muscle we try to build up. The fat pounds are what help make up the amount of body fat you have. You can check the body fat levels below:

So let’s say you gained 1 pound in three weeks and you’re upset. If you were to take body fat measurements with that, you can get a better picture where that 1 pound went. It could’ve been 2 fat pounds lost and 1 pound of lean body mass gained. There were times in my fitness journey where I wouldn’t lose any weight, but I saw that I was losing fat and gaining LBM. Honestly, if the weight is mostly lean muscle, it makes the scale’s number less significant. It can be used as a benchmark and not an indictment on your fitness progress. I highly recommend tracking this as well, along with tape measurements of your waist, hips, chest, and any other areas you want to track. The same weekly rules used in my scale example above apply.

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3. How Your Clothes Fit

Women have been measuring life in this way for years. Thank you for showing me the way. This is one of the best tell tale signs that you have either slimmed down or gained weight. I bought this pair of jeans two months ago (before I got serious with fitness again). It fit kinda snug. You know I’m anti skinny jeans, but these were type slim (no Jackson) and it was a minimal struggle to wear them. I put them on yesterday, and there was a plethora of space in them jeans! I was completely shocked! Was I that big? Did I lose THAT much weight? Well I wore some other clothes and saw that they either fit just right or were getting baggy, so I know the workouts and nutrition are making a difference. We all have clothes that may not fit like they used to. I would say to give it two to three weeks, and try it on again. You will know if you are making moves with fitness or not.

4. Pictures

Your eye alone can deceive you. I usually get frustrated when I don’t see results. Even if I’m doing well with fitness, my eye deceives me. So the best way for me to track through vision is via pictures. When you take before and after pics, you will see major changes you didn’t even know happen! It’s a great way to show yourself that the hard work is producing results. On that same note…

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5. The Opinions Of Others

Your friends, family, coworkers, and anyone who sees you often will be able to tell you whether you have changed physically. They can see the progress in you, because they view you from a different perspective. We are sometimes shocked when people tell us they notice a difference in our body composition. I would place value in it, because that different perspective is telling. Just the other day, I told my neighbor that he looked like he lost weight (tall Jamaican dude with some size on him [||]). He laughed and replied Yuh know, you di second mon a tell mi dis so. Mi nuh do nothing to lose di weight! cha! which translates to Wow I must really be losing weight because I’ve heard this from someone else. Lesson of the day: People notice the changes in you, sometimes better than you notice yourself.

These are 5 easy ways to see your fitness progress. It can be frustrating to not see immediate results. Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day. Slow and steady wins the race. Insert any other applicable cliche in this paragraph and you get the point. Progress is the product of perseverance, dedication, and accountability. Keep working hard and smart, and you will achieve your goals!

Let us know other ways that you track your fitness. What ways do you think the above tips will help/hurt you in your fitness journey? What are your reasons for measuring/tracking your fitness? Is tracking fitness overrated?

Keepin it lean,