How would you know if you're making progress on your fitness journey? While most would say, 'by using the scale', the truth is that this method isn't suitable for all. Say, for instance, you're looking to 'tighten' your physique. That'll mean you need to build muscle mass and lose fat. In most cases, your weight would, in turn, hover around the same range – even as your body's transforming.
Plus … frequent weigh-ins can mess with your head. Research shows an association between self-weighing and an obsession over the numbers (particularly for women). Not ideal. So, to help you make a more accurate judgement on physique – and protect your mental well-being, here are 3 ways you could track your fitness progress without stepping on a scale.
#1: Take progress pictures
Taking progress pictures is, hands down, one of the best ways to see just how your body's changing – as you stay consistent with your workout routine. Chances are, you already know the visual differences between a body that’s ‘skinny-fat’ (i.e., a relatively high body fat percentage coupled with a low amount of muscle mass, despite a ‘normal’ BMI) versus one that has a healthy amount of muscle mass on it. Looking at your pictures will thus help you see if you’re on the right track.
That said, progress pictures can be misleading. Search for any fitness influencer on Instagram, and you'd see that lighting, timing, and posing all make a massive difference to how the body looks in a picture. Here's what you should do when taking progress pictures for the most accuracy: take it at the same time every day (preferably right after you wake up) and under the same lighting. Also, be appropriately dressed. Form-fitting activewear is ideal. Don't wear a hoodie; you won't be able to see a thing.
#2: Measure major muscle groups
One of the easiest ways to check if you’re making gains is to measure your major muscle groups. That’ll mean glutes (especially for women) and the biceps (more so for the men). Then again … this depends on your physique goals. Women can also want bigger biceps; men may also wish for bigger glutes. Ultimately, the thing you want to do is measure the muscle group you’re looking to grow.
As with taking progress pictures, hold as many variables constant as possible when measuring your muscle groups. This means taking measurements in the same conditions (i.e., flexed vs unflexed, you need to pick one), plus always measuring around the largest area. Taking measurements from the lower glutes one session – then the mid-glute the next – is a recipe for confusion.
#3: Track your mood and performance
Of course, you could have also embarked on your fitness journey for non-aesthetic goals (i.e. nothing to do with losing weight or looking better): feeling better, getting stronger, and making health gains in general. How would you track your progress then? Easy. Track your exercise performance. Say you've been strength training, for instance. Have you been using heavier weights? Lifting more reps without getting? Then that's progress – for sure. Also, have you been feeling happier (or more excited) about the prospect of getting to move your body? That's also progress. It means you've successfully incorporated the healthy habit of exercise into your lifestyle!
Oh, and here’s a friendly reminder: remember to get in enough protein to support your active lifestyle! It’s not only crucial for muscle-building purposes but also helps with satiety. That means it can pretty much help you with any fitness goal you have. And don't worry, that doesn’t mean you need to bog your body down with heavy protein shakes. You can go for Lean Blend’s range of light and refreshing Protein Water. It's like water – but with a punch of delicious flavour (strawberry, grape, watermelon: there’s bound to be one you love!) and protein. In other words: it’s better.