The Guide to Healthy Living & Weight Loss: Goals & Assessments

I was watching a movie in the living room on the verge of tears. It was reaching the climax, so for the past hour and a half I got to ingest the plot/character development and I was reaching a point where I was about to fill a bucket with tears. Someone came in behind me, saw what was happening and said “This is stupid, it makes no sense”. Of course the movie didn’t make sense to someone who didn’t see how it started. They didn’t see the journey unfold, so they can’t fully appreciate the ending.

The same thing happens with us on our weight loss journeys. We don’t watch from the beginning, we don’t take the time to set up the plot, and we don’t think about the point of the “movie”.

We want to make sure we take the time to set up our goals, get an accurate picture of where we are now, and then have a specific next action to take that will help us get closer to our goals. Nothing is random. If it was, your journey would be a bad “movie”. We’re going to take this from the epilogue to the resolution, starting with goals.

Goals

Goals are tricky because we either overestimate what’s possible or underestimate what we can do. Before you even had a plan, you probably already had a goal in mind. Before you continue reading this blog, make sure you read our last blog to get a realistic idea of what you can do.

To create a goal, here’s a cheesy acronym (SMART) you can use:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Based

Here’s an example using SMART goal setting:

A 250 pound father of two who wants to lose weight before a vacation at the end of the summer could say something to the effect of “I want to lose 25-30 pounds and at least 3 inches off my waist in the next three months”.

This goal is specific by saying exactly how much weight he wants to lose and how many inches off of a certain area he wants to lose. It’s measurable because he can track it via the scale or a body tape measure. It’s attainable by being realistic while also still being aggressive. It’s relevant, well because America. Last but not least, we have a good chunk of time allocated to the goal, but there is a definite end date (the vacation).

Be aware, there are a couple things that could happen with the goal you set. You could either absolutely crush your goals beyond your expectations or you could not reach the goal you set for yourself. Don’t take the highs too high or the lows to low. If you don’t reach your goal, you probably still made significant progress that needs to be celebrated! If you did reach your goal easily, you probably need to set loftier goals.

Either way, wherever you are after your initial goal, you’ll end up having another one because you’re human.

Assessment

We have our goals (resolution), now we need to take our assessments (exposition, introduction). Because we want to be specific, one of the letters in SMART, we have to identify what test we want to use. In this blog series, we’re dealing with weight loss, so all the assessments we talk about here are going to be specific to weight loss.

I personally believe all the assessments I list are equally as important, but our culture is so obsessed with weight that it will be hard to convince you otherwise. The three things we’re going to measure are:

  1. Weight
  2. Inches
  3. Body fat

Weight

Weight is going to be the easiest to measure and the easiest to track. The hard part of measuring weight is to detach ourselves from the numbers and to not be swayed by the daily fluctuations. We’re scientists that are collecting data points to identify a trend. If the trend is sloping down, then we are making progress. If the trend isn’t sloping down, then we have to reevaluate what we’re doing and make adjustments!

In reality, here’s what a weight loss trend will look like:

Notice the starting weight, the daily fluctuations, the timeframe, and the trend line.

Suggestions

The suggestions for tracking weight are twofold: to collect enough data points and to not become obsessed with your weight. With that in mind, I’d suggest you weigh yourself once or twice a week. If it’s once a week, measure in the middle of the week. If it’s twice, I’d suggest something like Tuesday and Friday.

The best time to measure your weight is first thing in the morning after a bowel movement. If that’s not possible, then just try to recreate the same conditions every time you weigh yourself.

The process of tracking weight is as simple as that, the only issue is YOU CAN NOT ALIGN YOUR WORTH WITH WHAT THE NUMBER IS.

Inches

Tracking inches is just as non-negotiable as tracking weight, even if it doesn’t directly correlate with weight loss. A lot of times, even if the scale is stagnant, your waist or hips will still be shrinking. It’s very comforting to still see progress when you think you aren’t making any!

You can go about this a couple ways. There’s the objective way, where you purposely use a tool to measure certain body parts; then there’s the subjective way, where you see how your clothes are fitting differently. I’d always suggest using a body tape measure, but sometimes it’s ok to just not spend money.

To measure objectively, click on this link to choose from a bunch of different options:
https://www.amazon.com/s?k=body+tape+measure&gclid=Cj0KCQjwsLWDBhCmARIsAPSL3_2zCODvMBaTqwNKr7GdwswFZXdQNo41IXtGyO8RwCEulNhrmV6a_I8aAoYLEALw_wcB&hvadid=409940897016&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=9026266&hvnetw=g&hvqmt=e&hvrand=7856518303222230072&hvtargid=kwd-843489351&hydadcr=24658_11410762&tag=googhydr-20&ref=pd_sl_54sbuoy1e7_e

What do we measure? So I made a cringey video below you’re more than welcome to watch, but I’ll tell you right now as well. No matter what, you need to measure your waist and your hips. To measure your waist, the easiest way to think about it is to wrap the measure around belly button level. To measure your hips, you’ll get the widest part of your hips and the middle of your butt! Those two are the most important.

I take it back, make sure you watch the video above to see how to do it for the waist and hips. You can also measure your right arm, left arm, shoulders, chest, right thigh, left thigh, and both calves. If you measure those, it doesn’t really matter where. As long as you measure the same spot every time you do it, you’re doing it right!

Suggestions

This will change a little less drastically and it shouldn’t fluctuate. Because of that, you only need to measure inches once a month. You could do every three weeks if you’re desperate. Just make sure you measure the same part every time to keep the test reliable!

Body Fat

Body fat is more important than weight in my opinion. The issue is that it’s highly unaccessible to get an accurate test of body fat. Because of that, I’ll briefly touch on this.

Before you even measure, check out the charts below to get an idea of a healthy range for you!

Now that you have an idea of what number you’re looking for, let’s talk about the body fat methods. There’s only 3 that you probably have access to: DEXA scan, d Calipers, and BIA handheld devices.

A DEXA scan is considered the most accurate out of these three, but also the most expensive. You could find these by going to a local state funded college, or maybe a doctor’s office somewhere. I wouldn’t particularly suggest this one because of price and lack of accessibility.

Skin-fold calipers is usually how personal trainers measure body fat. They are relatively easy to use, if you know what you’re doing. Also I believe there are a lot of places that hold free assessments that would be able to do this for you. I’d probably recommend this one the most.

Last one is my least favorite, but also the most accessible. It’s the handheld BIA devices that look like this:

These send an electrical signal through your body to identify water, muscle, and fat. They aren’t that accurate, BUT it can be a good starting point if you can’t find the other two options above.

Suggestions

Factoring price, accuracy, and accessibility, I’d suggest in order:

  1. Skinfold Calipers
  2. BIA handheld device (I’m cheap so it outweighs the DEXA in my book)
  3. Progress pictures (not mentioned until you keep reading)
  4. DEXA scan
Progress Pictures

This is bonus, but progress pics are great. They’re free, and they also let you see your body change! If the inches aren’t going down or the scale is going down, but you’re exercising and taking care of your nutrition, your body will show it.

Watch the video below to get my quick tip to make progress pics!

Next Steps

I wanted to talk about next steps in this blog, but it went on longer than I anticipated. So for now, the next step is actually making a SMART goal and picking which assessments you’re going to do.

By the time you take care of that, I’ll hopefully have my next blog up to tell give you direction on how to collect your “data” and take action from what you gathered!

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If you want direction or just to not think about what to do, either schedule a free consultation with us or just join our Pride!

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