Guest Author - Alice Rienzo
Regular exercise not only improves cardiovascular fitness and elongates endurance, but you can also expect to swap the flab for fat. So it's no wonder that religiously stepping on the bathroom scale can obliterate even the strongest of wills. Think about it - you've done everything right. You hit the gym 4-5 times per week, drink at least eight glasses of water per day, and watch what you eat - but you haven't lost a pound! Don't throw in the towel just yet. Scales are not the only way to measure weight loss or the overall goal of a healthier you. Here are a couple of at-home methods that will give you a more accurate picture of your progress.
Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)
The name sounds highly technical, but rest assured, you don't need an advanced degree to use or understand the output. In fact, many newer at-home scales include a BIA feature. All you need to do is push a button and read the results. The device sends a mild electrical impulse through your feet. It measures the time it takes for the impulse to circle back through to the device. The current travels more quickly through leaner muscle tissue than it does through fatty tissue. However, to gain an accurate result, the user should not consume anything that might cause water retention.
Skin Fold Assessment
This is another popular and accurate method for measuring body composition. The skin is pinched and measured in up to seven places on the body. Generally for women, areas to measure on the right side of the body include: triceps, suprailium (just above the hip), thigh, chest, midaxillary (under the arm in the rib area), subscalpular (on the back), abdominal, and sometimes the calf. Skin calipers measure the thickness of the skin fold. If you want to privately monitor fat loss, a pair of skin calipers are relatively inexpensive with costs being under $20.
Regardless of which method you choose (and there are many others ranging in convenience and price) , resist the urge to measure daily or even weekly. I had a terrible habit of stepping on the scale every morning. Whatever the number read, dramatically changed my mood and set the tone for the day. Nowadays, I rarely weigh myself because I know how I feel on the inside. Do I feel healthy? Check! Do I fit in my clothes? Check! Am I happy with my appearance as a mid-life woman, who has had six kids? Check! I'm a work in progress - and so are you! Change takes time.
Interested in the tools mentioned? Click on the Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk links below to purchase.
US: Slim Guide Skinfold Caliper (Red) with Book Model C-120R
UK: Slim Guide Skinfold Caliper with Body Fat Calculation Tool in Excel
Body Fat Scales
US: EatSmart Precision GetFit Digital Body Fat Scale w/ 400 lb. Capacity & Auto Recognition Technology
UK: Ozeri Touch II 200 KG / 440 LBS Total Body Bathroom Scale -- Measures Weight, Body Fat, Hydration, Muscle and Bone Mass with Auto Recognition
What methods have you used to measure fat loss and muscle gain? Come on over to the forum. We'd love to hear from you!
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and the articles I write are intended to increase your knowledge about the subject. Itís always a good idea to check with your personal doctor before changing your diet or beginning a new exercise program.