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When you're on a slimming journey, seeing the results of your hard work can be very motivating and rewarding, especially during the tougher times.
Being able to see a bigger picture when you've had a bad day can help get you back on track quicker, whilst regularly congratulating yourself on all that you have achieved can help you avoid some of those tough days in the first place.
Finding a way of monitoring your progress that maximises your motivation and lights a fire under you is therefore really important.
Fortunately there are lots of different ways you can choose to do this and you don't need to stick to just one. Choose whatever inspires you most.
As the easiest method for monitoring and recording progress when trying to get slimmer, weight as an indicator of progress is highly popular. It's not always the most accurate reflection of how you are doing (read this article to find out more), but it certainly shows how you are progressing over time and allows for clear target-setting.
Tracking your weight on a graph can be a good visual reminder of how far you have come.
Firstly, choose how regularly you wish to record your weight. Daily weight records tend to bob up and down like a pulse whilst weekly weigh-ins usually present smoother waves. Either way, adding a trend line will help you avoid obsessing over the inevitable ups and downs in the short term.
Weight rarely goes in a lovely smooth downward line, so it's helpful to look at the bigger picture.
Due to the 'whoosh effect' (read more on this here), big losses are often preceded by an upward spike. Knowing this can give you comfort when you step on the scales feeling as though you've nailed the past few days but don't see the drop you were expecting. Don't panic, it's coming!
Checking Off Weight
If you have an amount of weight you wish to lose and aren't much of a graph person, you can monitor your loss by checking off each lb/kg lost instead. It's wonderfully rewarding to see physical piles decreasing as your weight does.
Get as creative as you wish with one of the following:
- Draw a grid of weight you wish you lose, one for each unit. Every time you have a loss, colour in the square with a bright colour. A bullet journal is great for this.
- Write "1 lb/kg" on the same number of post-it notes as the weight you intend to lose. Stick them up somewhere prominent and each time you have a loss either relocate them to an area representing 'loss' or destroy them with glee.
- Use something physical to represent the weight you wish to lose and mark out two piles: 'weight to lose' and 'weight lost'. Every time you lose weight, move an item from one pile to the other. You can do this with stones in a bowl, bags of flour that equal the weight denominator, beads on a string or anything else that inspires you.
Because weight can be influenced by so many factors besides fat levels, body measurements are perfect for seeing physical changes (which really is what most people are keen to achieve when dieting).
Changes in body measurements can be gradual, so fortnightly or monthly measurements are best, just make sure that you measure in the same place each time. It is best if someone can do this for you to avoid having to bend or flex during the process.
Suggested measurements include:
- Upper arm (always do the same one, your dominant arm might be slightly larger)
These can be recorded on a chart, graph or on a body diagram, whatever pleases you most.
Nothing quite demonstrates weight loss like progress photos. You can't argue with or misinterpret the difference in how you look.
One taken at the beginning of your journey and once a month thereafter is about the right timescale to see changes. Taking the first one can be the hardest, when you aren't feeling good about yourself, but having a 'before' photo you can use later on is rarely regretted; it's amazing how much you can forget what you looked like in the past.
If you decide to take photos, it's very important that they be taken consistently to ensure that they are comparable:
- Wear the same clothes in each photo.
- Stand in the same position each time (make note of the exact spot if you can).
- Ensure the photo is taken from the same height and with the same camera. If someone is taking the photo for you, get them to hold it consistently.
- If you are taking the photo yourself, a reflection in a full length mirror is fine, but cleaning the mirror first will make a difference.
- Take the photo at the same time of day. You will be slimmest first thing in the morning so this is a good baseline, but any time of day is fine so long as you continue to keep the same time.
- Be mindful of lighting. Bright natural lighting is best but whatever you use, ensure that it doesn't change.
Clothes don't lie!
If your goal is to be a certain size, picking out a goal outfit, hanging it somewhere prominent and trying it on once a fortnight or monthly will show you your progress in a very clear way.
The joy of finally being able to fit into your outfit will feel amazing!
If you intend to drop several sizes, you could line up an outfit for each milestone to keep motivation up.
However you choose to do it, recording your progress will help to keep you motivated, remind you how far you have come and push you to keep achieving your goals.