You scroll through Instagram seeing one beautiful body after another. Typically, these people are fit by all definitions, but did you know that camera angle, body position, lighting, and filters play a huge role in what you are looking at? Photography tricks and apps help these people present the flawless, almost unreal version of themselves. Because let’s face it, these people aren’t perfect – none of us are. So take it easy on yourself!
The first step when tracking your fitness journey is to understand that what you did for exercise in High School and how you ate then isn’t going to work for you in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. Things have changed. You have changed. Science has advanced, and our understanding of food has advanced. In fact, your fitness and nutrition plan is going to change as you age and as you go through life changes (pregnancy, injuries, etc…). Heck, the wearable technology we can use, synced with our phone, is advancing every year, making it easier to get a clearer, more precise view of our health. So, make the smart choice and talk with a trusted personal trainer and nutritionist. Also, there are health practitioners that can aid you in your health and fitness journey. Please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have specific questions and we can connect you with great options to get you started!
Next, take a picture of yourself in a bathing suit. I know this is the last thing you want to do, but trust me and take the picture. Take it in a controlled room with consistent lighting, stand in the exact same position, time of month (for women), and time of day. Control as many factors as possible so you can compare before and after photos. You will be amazed at the differences you see in the before & after photos that you don’t notice as you make daily progress.
Now it is time to grow beyond just stepping on a scale to determine our health! From this point forward we accept the fact that the scale is only one small piece of what we are going to measure to determine our health and fitness. Here is a great list of how you should start tracking your progress. You will be glad you have the information!
WHAT YOU NEED TO MEASURE
- The Scale - Stepping on the scale is helpful, but only if used correctly. By itself it is very misleading. Have you heard of the term skinny-fat? People get so caught up in this number, but you need to remember that muscle weighs more than fat and the number on the scale doesn’t tell the whole story.
- Body Composition – A more useful measurement than your weight on the scale is your body composition. This is your fat to lean mass ratio. Your fat is comprised of essential fats and non-essential fats (storage fat). Lean mass is your muscle, bones, organs, etc… Lean mass impacts your resting metabolic rate and your overall health. The below image is a guideline for healthy body compositions.
- Measurements – get out the tape measure and track how your body changes. Good areas to measure are upper arms, neck, chest, stomach, hips (butt), upper legs (thigh), and calves. As your body composition changes, your measurements will too. Also remember that in some areas (like your butt and thighs) you might get bigger before you get smaller. This is because your muscles will grow faster than the fat burns off. Remember, muscle mass increases our resting metabolic rate. So you need to get stronger before you can drop the fat!
- Feeling – How are your clothes fitting? Sometimes the scale number doesn’t change but your clothes start to feel a little looser (or a little tighter, like in your butt!) This is the fun part as your old cloths stop fitting and you get to buy a new wardrobe of awesome active wear!
Continue your fitness program and take these measurements and photos periodically. It can be difficult to see the changes you are making day to day, but when you look back at a picture from 8 weeks ago you will probably see a big difference! But you have to have data points so you can measure your progress.
If you are feeling good about the above measurements, and are hungry for more, then take it to the next level with the following tests. Or maybe you are not seeing the results you want, and these additional tests can give you the missing piece of information holding you back from your goals.
NEXT LEVEL MEASUREMENTS & TESTS
- Hormone Tests – understanding your hormone balance is vital to overall health. Ask about blood tests and saliva tests to measure your various hormones. Ones you want to test are insulin, thyroid (T3/T4), testosterone, estrogen, and others your health practitioner recommends.
- Blood Tests – get your standard blood health numbers, but also ask about a full panel that will look other health markers that can screen for a whole host of other health issues.
- Vitamin & Mineral Tests – micro nutrients impact our health more than you may think, and the standard mult-vitamin just isn’t going to cut it. Understanding your personal needs for vitamins & minerals is super important. I highly recommend you look into this further right now!
- Food Allergy & Sensitivity Test – understanding how your body reacts to various foods can help you clean up your diet so your food works for you instead of against you.
Everyone is unique, and the progress you make will be different from everyone else. But if you keep track of your own journey, you will figure out what is working, what is not, and how much progress you’ve made. Stay positive, ask questions, stay hungry for learning more about your health, kick butt at the gym, listen to your body, get your 7-8 hours of sleep, and eat a whole food based diet. You will be amazed at how quickly 6 months flies by and at how far you have come. You got this!
LIVE FOR IT.DUKE