Weight yourself. Most people believe you can only see “weight loss” results if you jump on the scale everyday. Well, stop. Stop letting that single number down there rule your life, and your progress. I promise you that is NOT the most accurate way to measure fat loss progress, because there are so many variables that can change it. So let’s dive into what i have found to be the best ways to set goals and track progress for successful fat loss!
You may be wondering why setting goals has anything to do with fat loss….but trust me. If you begin a program or start changing your habits because you want to lose 50lbs, you won’t get there unless you set smaller ones leading up to that. NO one just decided one day to lose some body fat and thought it was easy. There are going to be hardships and days you want to quit, and if you don’t have goals that are attainable to reach in a shorter period of time, you will quit. Guaranteed.
I won’t lie to you, this shit is hard. Losing fat is going to be your toughest battle (well, after fighting a chronic disease or accident). It is not butterflies and rainbows and a cake walk towards you goal. It is sweat and tears and pain and swearing…but if you have a plan and are consistent, you’ll get there.
There is not cookie cutter, right or wrong way to set weight loss goals. Someone might want to lose 5lbs, someone might want to lose 100lbs; either way the process of getting there is the same. The key factor to setting that realistic goal, is honesty. You cannot start your journey with flattering lighting and sucking in. You need to start from a place of honesty and self-awareness. Take a long look at yourself in the mirror, love what you see and imagine where you want to go. Weight yourself, write it down, and forget it. KNOW exactly where you are starting from, because cheating yourself is only going to set you up for failed results.
Start with setting a goal you know is right. Maybe it’s getting back to the weight you were before, or maybe it’s seeing that definition in your arms. Either way, don’t set a goal of “losing 50lbs” if you don’t know what that looks like. Some of you may even have a goal of having someone else’s body size (i.e a picture you saw of someone), but having no idea what their specs are (height, weight, age, history). This, too, is not a goal that is attainable because of the lack of information. Not to mention genetics play a HUGE part in stature and muscle development. No two people will ever have the same body. We all hold fat differently, gain muscle differently, and even move differently (biomechanics).
Society has given us these ideas that we need to look a certain way, but no one really knows just how drastic that is. I, for example, weight 125lbs….and still don’t have a six-pack. With my body fat percentage where it is, I likely won’t see full abs until about 115lbs…that’s insane. The average female talks about wanting to lose 15-20lbs to reach a certain body image, but that is usually higher than what is realistic. While men often tend to overestimate a body image goal by about 30lbs. Truth is, we have NO idea what it takes to strive for that six-back or quad definition.
The best option is to set 1 goal, whether it be number based or image based, and stick to it. Don’t try to do both, because you likely are way off on your estimation of one of them.
There is no goal that is out of reach, but make sure it is sustainable. You don’t want to reach for a goal of 10% body fat as a female, because that can cause serious health issues. Not only from having a low body fat number, but from also putting that much stress on the body through a caloric deficit or overtraining. At some point your fat loss goal should end you you should begin to maintain. This does not mean you can’t set other goals like decreasing mile time or lifting more weight. But continuing the fat loss journey for too long causes you to lose sight of one thing…life.
Setting short term goals is what is going to help you reach that long term goal successfully. As humans, we like the idea of success. Whether it be in our careers or hobbies; the feeling of accomplishment is what drives us to work harder. Health and fitness is no different. As soon as you see results or smash a goal, it only lights a fire under you to work harder. But, because everyone is different, setting goals is going to be individualized. You have to find out what drives you to work harder, and then set goals along those lines to get you to the finish line.
Maybe you are someone who likes numbers. Setting goals based on body fat or weight is what would drive you. So strive for a certain number to hit each month. But don’t forget that someone who has more fat to lose is going to do it faster than someone who is nearing the end of their journey. When you have 50lbs of fat to lose, striving for 5-8lbs a month is not out of the question. But someone who only has 10lbs left to lose is looking at maybe a 1-2lb loss per month. If you have your sights set on losing 10lbs a month, snap out of it. Fat loss that occurs that quickly is not going to be fat that stays off. Likely, you are restricting too much and not thinking long term and as a result you will gain it all, if not more, back when you slip back into old habits. Body recomposition begins to get harder and harder as you lower your overall body fat, so don’t get discouraged when you have 5lbs left to go and it takes you a few months because that is the HARDEST 5lbs to lose. You also have to remember that the scale is going to fluctuate. Fat loss is not linear, by any means. It is going to go up and down because so many things can alter it (sleep, water, stress, food, time etc).
Now someone who likes visuals may benefit from setting physical goals. This might mean pictures, girth measurements, or even pants size. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, muscle does not weigh more than fat. Muscle is DENSER than fat; but 1lb of fat is the same as 1lb of muscle. So when looking at the scale and seeing it stay relatively the same, yet you are down a pants size and your arms are thinner, means you are losing fat and replacing it with muscle. GO YOU! But because of this, I tend to tell people to stay away from the scale. Set goals based on how you look and feel. The number on the scale shouldn’t dictate our lives (but i know it is sometimes necessary).
So whether you are a numbers person or a visual person, set a goal that drives you. One that is going to make you work even harder when you get there because you now KNOW you can do it!
Because I am a member of TEAM NO SCALE, I wanted to list out a few non-scale goals you can work towards:
I’m telling you, the list can go on and on. So down oversee what is happening right in front of you. Just because your victory is as big as someone else’s, doesn’t mean it isn’t important! Embrace it and celebrate that shit!
There are a few ways I have found to be successful in measuring weight/fat loss.
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Notice how I put the scale at the end. The scale is not totally evil, if you know how to use it…always keep in mind the fluctuating factors. The best way to measure weight loss is through pictures, in my opinion. Everyone wants to lose fat because they saw something in the mirror they didn’t like. Taking pictures periodically and putting them next to each other is going to show you if you are on the right path (losing size) or on the wrong path (staying the same) in which case you need to reevaluate your exercise and nutrition.
Tracking your progress is crucial. If you do not have anything physical to look back on, you are not going to think you have made any progress towards your goal. My advice to you, write it all down. Keep a log of EVERYTHING so that you know what you did to A. continue building on or B. changing things up to see results.
As I said, pictures are great for tracking. Once a month take progress pictures (front, side, back) and then each month you can put them side by side to see any differences. Make sure you don’t do this too frequently because you obviously won’t see significant visual changes from day to day.
You can also keep measurements (arm, chest, waist, hips leg) to see those numbers change as well. Don’t do it too frequently, and just like you’re weighing yourself, you want to do it at the same time of day for best accuracy.
Also, track your workouts. This is going to include duration, weights, heart rate. All of these variables will change with time. The more adapted you get, the heavier the weights get and the lower your heart rate. This will make sure that you are always increasing and changing your workouts to keep you from plateauing. You always want to make sure the body is under stress. If you constantly lift the same weight, or have the same heart rate, you are not challenging your body enough and those changes you are hoping for won’t occur.
If are really getting deep, track your food. Everything you eat AND drink so you can adjust calories/macronutrients for fat loss. This is a very specific way to adjust progress, so make sure everyday is 100% spot on. I don’t recommend this for everyone because it can cause obsession and frustration, but it works great for some people!
Lastly, creating fitness assessments and benchmarks. Gaining strength is a good indicator of something going on in your body. And if you are eating the same amount of food yet getting stronger, then it can be assumed that muscle is being built and fat is being burned (in most cases). Create a workout challenge or circuit and time yourself. Jot that number down (and the workout, obviously), and then test yourself in a few weeks. If you are getting faster, that is also a good indicator of increased fitness level.
So what did you learn? Track everything. Write it all down, take pictures and compare. Comparing to yourself is the ONLY way to determine if you are getting better.
Setting goals and tracking progress can make or break your journey. Don’t weigh yourself if you get discouraged easily, don’t measure increased weights used if you don’t want to build muscle. There is no right or wrong way to do it, it just depends on what is going to work for you and light a fire inside you. So….set a big goal, set smaller goals to lead up to it, celebrate non-scale victories, measure fat loss and track all you progress. Like i said, it will likely be one of the hardest things you do, but health and fitness cannot be bought..but it can add years to your life and life to your years! So if you’re ready to start your fat loss journey today, or just have a few questions, feel free to contact me! I am always here to help, in any way I can!
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