Lose The Scale, Here Are The Right Ways To Track Your Fitness Progress

Alain Saint-Dic
Alain Saint-Dic, Health and Fitness Editor at 20something, brings over nine years of experience in the health and fitness industry. Though he studied pre-law, his love for the human body, it's adaptive ability and unlocking the largely untapped potential of human beings led him to pursue a passionate career in health, fitness, and athletics.

Okay, I will say a scale has its uses. It’s good to know what your current weight is, and it’s good to have a goal weight, because pursuing things with some sort of vision is an effective path to take. However the scale can quickly become the bane of your existence if its the sole progress indicator of your health and fitness journey.

For example, let’s say you embark on a fitness journey, and after 4 weeks of hard work and solid nutrition, you lose 10 lbs. You look great, and feel even better. Then a week later, you come off of an amazing workout, Eminem blasting through your headphones. You know you just killed it, so you strip down to your bare essentials in the locker room and step on the scale. In that moment, if Miley Cyrus walked by you wouldn’t even know, because your whole world just came crashing down. Panic mode initiated – you’re two lbs heavier! All that hard work in vain? #ornah…

There are a few reasons for weight fluctuation when you’re head first in a solid health regimen, a few of them being water weight (changes every day), muscle density vs fat density (so you can look smaller and tighter, but actually weigh more), or you actually fell off your plan, which you would definitely know if you did. So if a scale isn’t always reliable, what are a few other indicators that we can use to assess our progress?


1. Measurements

Inches over Pounds. When you choose to embark on your journey, take measurements of different body parts and record them. You can measure arms (thighs and calves), legs, chest, waist, stomach, and back. If the inches move in the direction that you want, then BAM! PROGRESS!


2. Body Fat

If you have access, stroll down to your local gym and get a body fat reading. This basically tells you the percentage of fat you have in your body in proportion to everything else. They can be done manually or electronically. If your body fat is dropping, then again, PROGRESS!


3. Health Indicators

All changes are not purely aesthetic. What’s happening inside is actually way more important. So upon starting a program, go to see a doctor and get your cholesterol, blood pressure and nutrient deficiencies checked as well as an overall physician’s opinion. If you go back for a check up and see improvements in a few of those various health factors, PROGRESS!


4. Mirror

Last but not least, your best friend/worst enemy. Most of us are able to look in a mirror and see when it’s time to start taking our health more seriously, or whether or not what we’re doing is working. Use photos you take in the mirror to track your progress over time.

Just don’t buy one of those vertical stretch distortion mirrors, because then you’ll think you’re also taller than you actually are, and though the ego boost is nice, I have no solution for when people tell you you’re not actually 6’2″.