When it comes to losing weight most people focus on what the scale is telling them, which is a big factor in how your body is changing. We can never discount the scale when our primary goal is to lose weight. However, when we are working on weight loss, we need to make sure that we are losing fat weight. The scale does not tell us what kind of weight we are losing just that we are losing weight. It could be water weight; it could even be lean muscle.
Knowing that the scale is just one measuring tool, we need to make sure we are using other measuring tools as well, to make sure we are tracking our fat loss, and not just absolute weight. At Premier Fitness Camp we use the scale but other measuring tools as well. Taking circumference measurements is one way to insure that you are losing fat weight. A few areas to measure are the neck, chest, arm, abdominal, hips, thigh, and calf. These measurements should be done every 2-4 weeks. Make sure your location of measurement is very consistent, for example sliding up or down the thigh could change your measurement accuracy. Fat is more cellulose meaning that it is less dense as muscle, so it takes up more space on the body, so if your inches are coming down, that means the fat is decreasing.
Premier Fitness Camp also does a body fat analysis. Body fat can be measured a number of ways. Some are more accurate than others. What your focus should be is not necessarily what your exact body fat percentage is, but whether or not it is decreasing over time. You need a body fat analysis that can be reproducible, meaning you can measure accurate change. You should use the same type of measurement each time you test your body fat. By going from one testing device to another, you may set yourself up for some frustrations. The body fat testing should also be done every 2-4 weeks. You need to give your body time between testing to really burn the fat. A few types of fat testing devices are Bio- impedance, calipers, hydrostatic weighing, the DXA scan, and even ultrasound to measures tissue thickness. Just remember to use the same device each time you check your body fat to measure accurate change.
Now that you have these other measurements you can be sure to see if the weight you are losing is fat weight. At times your body may change in circumference measurements but not on the scale, or your body fat percentage may change and the scale not move at all. Without knowing these other numbers, you could become discouraged and be thinking that you are not making progress. When some people experience this they may give up all together thinking that they cannot drop weight. It is very important to understand that when changing your body composition, you may see an increase in lean muscle, which will counter the fat weight loss on the scale.
Also remember to measure and weigh the same time of day, your weight will change from morning to evening. Use the same scale too and avoid going from one scale to another when trying to track your weight loss. Weigh yourself once a week and give your body a chance to respond to what you are doing. Just because you had a killer work out or you ate really well does not mean your body will change the very next next day as the result. Your body is very complex and takes time to burn fat.
Wayne Larsen, Fitness Director, Premier Fitness Camp
Wayne holds a Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Sports Science from the University of Utah. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is a Certified Coach of the American Sports Education Program (ASEP). He is CPR, AED certified.
Through the years as a personal trainer, he has worked with hundreds of clients, each with different goals and levels of fitness. Wayne is passionate about helping others enjoy fitness to get the most out of life. He is living proof that a positive attitude empowers us to accomplish anything we desire.