You’ve embarked on another nutrition and exercise program. How’s that working out, (no pun intended)? If you don’t know, then you’re not really doing it right. You have to track your progress, so that you will have an idea as to whether or not your weight loss plans are working.

Here are the different things you can do to track your progress:

Step on the scale.

A lot of people today say that your weight alone does not give a complete picture. They’re right, of course. But ask any doctor in the US, Europe or Singapore, and they’ll tell you that it gives you at least part of the picture. And if your fitness aim is weight loss, then surely your weight will be relevant to the discussion.

To make sure that you are really losing weight, take a look at your weight at the same time each day. For example, step on the scales when you wake up in the morning and jot down the results in your journal. Your weight can fluctuate wildly, even in the course of a single day.

But you have to make sure that you are losing the right kind of weight. For example, it may be better to lose 10 pounds in total if 9 pounds of that is fat and just one pound is muscle, than to lose 20 pounds and only 3 pounds is fat.

Determine your BMI.

This is another measurement that’s under fire lately, but it may give a more accurate picture than just knowing your weight. Simply put, the taller you are the more weight you are expected to carry, so being heavier than a shorter person doesn’t make you overweight. To calculate your body mass index, take your weight in kilos and divide it by your height in meters. Divide the result with your height in meters again, and that’s your BMI.

The right BMI range will depend on your racial makeup. The BMI ranges for people in Singapore and in other parts of Asia are different, because we have a higher percentage of body fat and a greater risk for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes mellitus.

For Singaporeans, the healthy BMI range is from 18.5 to 22.9. Get a lower number and you are more likely to be deficient in your nutrition and more likely to get osteoporosis. A higher than normal BMI makes you a likely candidate for hypertension, stroke, heart disease and diabetes.

Use your measuring tape.

This may be old-fashioned and tedious, but it works. You just need to make sure that you are measuring the same exact spots each time. The most common areas to measure include around your chest across the nipples, around the topmost part of each of your bicep, the slimmest part of your waist, across the most prominent point of your buttocks, and then exactly 4 inches above each of your knees.

Not only can you pinpoint here where you are losing weight, but you can also make some tweaks in your fitness workouts if your biceps or thighs are not symmetrical.

Take pictures.

Many of us just simply use the mirror to see if we look good. But to really see if we are looking better, then you better take pictures. Selfies can actually be a good thing. Take a photo every day, preferably when you are wearing the same skimpy outfits. Mirrors can play tricks on our minds, but photos are more accurate as long you lay off Photoshop. With the photos, you can also have a record of how you look throughout your fitness journey. If after half a year you can’t tell the difference between the way you look now and the way you looked before, then obviously something isn’t working.

Track your workout performance.

Are you now able to lift more weights or doing more reps? Can you run or bike for a longer distance or for a longer period of time? You may need to write down these things too.

The assessments you select should be those that are relevant to your fitness or weight loss goals. Some of these methods may be more effective for you than others, so pick the ones that work for you so that you can tweak your exercise and nutrition program to meet your goals.

Write down what you measure and make a timeline of your pictures. Either you’d be pleasantly surprised at your improvements, or you’ll notice the lack of them and start changing your program.

Also, if you’re looking to take up a personal trainer, make sure to ask how he or she plans to help you track your performance and fitness milestones and won’t just eyeball it as you go along.

Coach Sharm, Personal Trainer, MSc

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