When living the slower paced, fat loss lifestyle, it's best to have a multitude of measuring tools to gauge progress. While the scale is the one that we tend to think of first, we should be sure to include other methods of checking for body composition changes as well. Using a tape measure often helps us to discover NSV's (Non Scale Victories) when the scale is beating us down. But what happens if it seems like your measurements aren't changing either?
While on rare occasion it may be true that measurements aren't changing, it's often an issue of not measuring properly. When measuring clients (or myself) for progress, there are a few things that I always do.
- Some tips for taking measurements: jot down the exact location of the measurement so that you always hit the same spot. For instance, if you're measuring chest, jot down exactly how many inches from your armpit you put the tape. For belly, measure at the belly button. For calves, put how many inches below kneecap, etc.. Just remember that the actual chest, can shift in location (up if you're lifting, down if you're not), but your armpits, hopefully, will not. So don't try to follow the actual location of the chest or other “moving” part. Pick spots that won't move in location. It's too easy to be off by simply having the tape off an inch or so up or down each time you measure. Measuring the same spots each time will allow for better tracking of results.
- When taking hip measurements it's also a good idea to take a “split” measurement. Ladies who are lifting heavy, may notice an increase in hip measurement, due to the booty lifting (which is a good thing, who wants a saggy booty?). But if you take both a full and “split” measure (meaning front hip to hip, and back hip to hip) you will know exactly which side the increase/decrease comes from. If your total increase is .5 inch, but it's all on the back side, then you know not to be alarmed (unless you want a saggy booty?). A higher, rounded, butt will show up on the tape (and so will a “lift” in the girls – so the same tip applies to chest).
- The area doesn't have to be specific. Just specific to you. Sometimes we can get so caught up in doing things “right,” that we lose sight of the purpose of measuring. You are measuring your progress. It doesn't have to be the same spots as someone else, just the same spots that you measured before. So although the belly button isn't a natural waist, it doesn't move, so your measurement needs to center around it. So if your lower belly is your problem area, you could choose to always measure an inch or two below the belly button. Then you're still basing it on a non moving part. Same thing with thighs, pick something like your hip bone/bikini line area, measure down (or measure up from the knee), to your preferred spot, and jot it down. Always check that same area for progress.
- Don't measure after working out, unless you need an ego boost after a good bicep workout. For the same reasons that weighing after an intense workout (or even the next day or two after) can be a huge mistake, you'd be best to stay away from the tape when you're likely to be retaining extra water. Leg measurements will be higher after leg day, and upper body after day of heavy upper lifts. HIIT or other high intensity workouts could cause you to retain a bit of water too. Give yourself a day or so after working the part before measuring it. Getting into a consistent measuring schedule (same time of day/week/between workouts) should help prevent many measuring snafus.
- Don't measure daily. This should be obvious, but I'll state it anyway. The tape, just as every other tool, is just a tool. Don't become obsessive with any tool and allow it to consume you as you wait for it to move. Just live the life. Eat. Exercise. Repeat. Measure ever so often to reassure yourself that you're on the right track. But don't sit around and wait for it. There's way too much life out there to be lived, and you're supposed to be taking it back from the all consuming mentality of dieting. If you're doing everything right, change will happen. Typically while you're not looking, and typically not in a linear fashion.
- If you're doing the measuring with no help, do yourself a favor and grab a Myotape. It makes measuring a breeze, since it snaps into place around the specific part, and then tightens for you to grab the measurement.
If it's been 4-6 weeks, you are sure that you are measuring properly and still aren't seeing changes in measurements, scale weight, body fat %, or pictures, be sure to visit our forum for troubleshooting.