Is change in weight the best way of assessing weight loss progress? Successful weight loss, in fact, has nothing to do with how much weight you’ve lost.
Think about it, why are you trying to lose weight? What is your ultimate goal for losing weight? Do you want to feel better? Do you want to look skinny? Do you want to be able to play with your grandchildren and children without getting tired? Or Do you want to reduce your health risks?
Well, all of them are valid reasons for you to lose weight. But the amount of weight loss (in pounds and kilograms) is not the only way to assess this success.
Here are 3 ways to assess your weight loss progress without measuring weight.
Table of Contents
Measure Body Composition for Assessing Weight Loss Progress
Our body is made up of muscle, water, fat, bones, organs, and tissue. All this makes up our body weight. We typically categorize them into two major groups – fat mass and fat-free mass. Another term we use more frequently is lean body mass, a total of muscle, and body water. A percent-body-fat is a measure that tells us what your fat-to-lean body mass ratio is. It is more important to follow this number than weight.
Our body composition (particularly body fat percentage) provides us with a much better assessment of our success than just body weight. When we lose fat and gain lean body mass (muscle & water), our weight may not change, but clothes get looser. You lose inches and feel more energetic. This is a true weight loss success. Fat or adipose tissue is a key factor that releases cytokines and starts the inflammatory cascade leading to diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia. When fat is reduced, all those other factors improve. That is the reason why, in my book, I emphasize that “Don’t just lose weight, lose inches!“. This will lead us to the second way of assessing weight loss progress.
One can use the Bioelectrical Impedance Analyzer machines (Body Composition Analyzer machines) to measure body fat percentage at home and track this parameter.
Assess Health Risk Parameters for Weight Loss Progress
The second way of assessing your weight loss progress is to look at your health risk parameters. One should not undermine these parameters because these were your goals for your weight loss efforts. These include:
If you have high blood pressure, the blood pressure numbers improve and thus require you to take a smaller dosage of blood pressure medication or none. If you see that happen, you know you have done well, even if the scale is not moving. It is possibly due to the fact that you have lost fat and also improved your lifestyle. It is a SUCCESS!
If you had joint pain and notice that now you can move around better and go up and down the stair with minimum to no pain, you should feel proud. It is a SUCCESS! You are making a difference in your lifestyle and making changes that are affecting your health even if the scale is not moving.
If you have diabetes and notice that your blood glucose is much lower and now taking fewer medications or no medications, it is a SUCCESS. You don’t need to see a drop in pounds. It means you have improved your lifestyle. You are more active than before, and your diet has improved. Weight alone will not tell you that.
If you have adopted a healthy lifestyle where you are eating smaller frequent meals, have a variety of meals in your diet, and are active daily, you should see a difference in your energy level. You should feel more energetic. If you are not feeling energetic, then you are probably following a FAD diet. Rethink your approach! Keto diets and long-term fasting can bring energy levels down. Also, eating a large meal once a day will also make you feel less energetic.
Assess Physical Fitness for Weight Loss Progress
This third way of assessing your success is more meaningful. When one loses the right kind of body weight component (fat) and remains active daily, one improves cardio-respiratory fitness. This will happen when you remain consistent with your routine. This is a marker of SUCCESS! You should recognize it and applaud yourself!
Here are a few simple ways to assess your cardiorespiratory fitness at home:
One-mile walk test
One of the biggest components of behavioral change is monitoring. To assess your weight loss success, keep track of the time it takes to walk one mile. If you can walk one mile with less effort and in a shorter amount of time, you should know that you are doing well.
If you are doing an aerobic workout, monitor the intensity of the workout. If you find yourself doing the same intensity work as before without any effort, you are doing well. One way to measure less effort is if you can talk while doing the same workout as before without getting short of breath, you have improved your cardiorespiratory fitness. In general, if you can not hold a conversation while working out, it is a high-intensity workout for you.
Amount of Weight Lifted.
Strength training should be part of your exercise routine. All you need is at least two times per week, two days apart. You should monitor the pounds of weights you are lifting. If you can lift more weight or the same weight without difficulty, you are improving.
Monitor and celebrate your success.
Weight is an important and easy marker to assess your weight loss success, but equally important is the improvement in your lifestyle parameters (as discussed earlier). You should monitor and celebrate your success. This will motivate you to keep going.