How to Weigh and Measure Your Body
To manage your weight efficiently, you need to keep track of everything relevant to your energy intake/expenditure balance. This includes what, when and how much you eat and how much you exercise. You also need to track the results by weighing yourself and taking certain measurements.
Measuring Your Weight
- Ideally in the morning, before you eat. If you cannot manage that then try to weigh yourself at the same time each day.
- It is normal for most women to slightly gain weight before their period. Delay weighing yourself until after the period.
- Weighing yourself right after exercise is useless because your weight can fluctuate wildly due to changes in water content. You may weigh heavier or lighter than normal.
- If you weigh yourself at night you are also weighing any food you have eaten and any liquids you have drunk during the day.
- Ideally once a week, at the same time of the day. However, if you are tracking your weight loss using a software tool, you should weigh yourself as often as the software requires because the software needs this information to generate recommendations.
- Weight fluctuates during the month; this is particularly true for women. Be patient. Remember that real weight loss – that is, loss of fat rather than water – occurs slowly, if you follow our recommendations for healthy weight loss. Your average weekly loss rate (1.0-1.5 lb/0.5-0.75 kg) will be detectable only if you weigh every two weeks. Don't get discouraged by short-term fluctuations.
- Use the same scales each time you weigh yourself.
- Make sure you are wearing the same clothes each time you weigh yourself. The clothing must be as light as possible or, better still, wear no clothes at all.
- Choose accurate and reliable scales. Make sure that they measure half units (½ kg or ½ lb) accurately.
- Do not put the scales on an uneven or soft surface such as a carpet.
What If the Scale Indicates a Weight Gain?
- You may be weighing extra water. You could have consumed more salt than usual. Your body will naturally retain some water due to the extra sodium intake.
- If you have been working out, you may have gained muscle. Bear in mind that muscle is more dense than fat. Extra muscle is a good thing because it will help burn off the fat in the longer term. If you have been working out then proceed to taking your measurements.
- Constipation can cause weight gain. Add fiber to your diet and re-weigh yourself in a few days.
- Make sure that the scales are working properly. Perhaps you need to replace the batteries.
- If you have been too enthusiastic about pastry and soda, then perhaps the weight gain is real. Keep to your diet and be patient.
Taking your body measurements is an excellent way to keep track of your changing shape as you get fitter. Body weight by itself is not a good indicator of improved fitness. This is because when you burn fat and increase your muscle mass, you may weigh a bit more even though your body is getting tighter and smaller. This is due to the high density of muscle tissue compared to fat.
What Exactly Should You Measure?
The most common measurements include the circumference of your chest, biceps, waist, hips and thighs. Sometimes the neck, forearm and calf are also measured.
Chest: Measure around the largest part of your chest.
Biceps: Measure midway between the top of your shoulder and elbow.
Waist: Measure at the narrowest point, approximately one inch above your belly button. No cheating! Don't pull in your belly or stick it out.
Hips: Measure your hips around the largest part of your buttocks with your heels together.
Thigh: Thighs are measured separately. Stand with your legs slightly apart. Measure your upper leg where the circumference is largest.
- Use a flexible measuring tape as used by dressmakers. It can be as long as you need. If you use a plastic or cloth tape, bear in mind that these materials may stretch over time.
- Wear the thinnest clothes possible, or none at all, so as not to add to the measurements you take.
- Try to measure yourself in front of a full-length mirror so that you can see if the tape is positioned correctly.
- Perhaps you could find another person to help with the measuring. They would be able to read the results more easily.
- Keep your muscles relaxed while measuring.
- When measuring, pull the tape just tight enough to keep it from sagging.
- Measure yourself about every eight weeks.
- Do not take measurements more often than monthly as it may take six to eight weeks to notice any change. You shouldn't expect to see progress more quickly than this and taking your measurements more often can be discouraging.
- If you are tracking your weight loss using a software tool, you should measure yourself as often as the software requests it.
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