Does this sound familiar?

  1. You have an inspirational ‘moment’ and decide you want to get in shape
  2. You go for walks, runs, exercise most days for a full week and try to eat less food
  3. You step on the scale multiple times every day and the numbers seem to go down.
  4. You have a social weekend which includes eating out on a couple of occassions, step on the scale on Monday morning, and it’s higher than before!
  5. You give up, decide this ‘dieting thing’ is too hard and fall off the wagon
  6. Some time passes, you have said inspirational ‘moment’ again. You know the rest…….

Where did it all go wrong?! Did it go wrong? Should we do it again? Maybe it will work next time?  Let us pause to read a famous quote from a rather famous scientist:

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

So, before we ‘do’, let’s stop to consider the road ahead. The 2 big questions are (1) What do we want and (2) How do we know if we are making progress.

First, let’s cover goal-setting:

Now that we have a well thought-out goal, track it!

Often, we beat ourselves up because we think we’re not making progress. Yet, the truth often is, that we are making progress. Equally, we sometimes think we are doing really well because we ‘just feel better’, but are we?  The only way to answer ‘Am I making progress?’ is by measuring. If you’re not measuring, you’re guessing.  To quote the infinite wisdom of Shakira “Hips don’t lie”! So get that measuring tape out. Without that knowledge, everything you do is a shot in the dark.


 Some realities

So what do we measure that can give us meaningful feedback on progress without making us feel like we are getting a lot of bespoke tailoring done!  Before we get down to specifics, let’s be clear on a few things:

What to measure?

So now that we have answered the ‘why’ of measurement, let’s get to the ‘what’.  While it’s possible to measure pretty much most of our body, we really don’t need to. A few simple measures will tell you all you need to know:

  1. Your weight (in kgs/lbs) – Yes I did just say it’s one of many factors, but it IS a factor, so jump on a scale and note that number. Yes, the decimals too. Use the same scale, not the one at home in the morning, gym in the afternoon and one at work in the evening – you’ll definitely be needing a drink after trying to make sense of those numbers!
  2. Chest circumference (in cms, because it’s more precise than inches) – Measure the circumference along the widest part of your chest, along the nipple line.
  3. Waist circumference (in cms) – Measure the circumference along the narrowest part of your waist, in line with the belly button.
  4. Thigh circumference (in cms) – Measure the circumference of the widest part of your thigh.
  5. Pictures – Facing the camera and a side pose. Sharing on social media is optional.
  6. Seriously – you want more? Five is fine, now write those numbers down somewhere where you won’t lose them.

A few pointers:

And finally

Changing our bodies and our health can take some time. And when we really want to see these changes quickly, it may seem like forever.  Doing these measurements is the clearest message you will get that something is working (or not!).  The more you measure, the more you track over time, the better you’ll know your body, and the better you’ll be able to change it. And if you’re serious at all about doing so, you better get measuring!

Author Note: This post was written by Kannan Raman for The Quad.