As I struggle to lose weight each week, I’m trying to reorganize my thinking processes. I’ve been focusing so much on pounds from week to week, I’ve forgotten the teachings from my school and the overall picture. I’m not just trying to lose weight here, I’m trying to gain health and muscle, while trying to lose physical ailments and body fat. This takes time and doesn’t happen overnight. I must remember, while my ultimate goal remains the same, I need to focus fat loss, not weight loss.
When people go on a diet, they typically just step on the scale. If they’re anything like me, frustration often sets in when the scale numbers don’t go down. That’s why it’s important to look other places for changes in the body. So, instead of discussing pounds lost this week, I’m talking about inches lost and lean tissue gained.
The other measurements – Thin doesn’t mean healthy
When we look at a thin person, we automatically assume they are healthy, but this isn’t necessarily the case. A person can look thin on the outside, but be fat inside. In the nutrition field, we call these body types TOFI – Thin Outside Fat Inside.
For this very important reason, I’m not focusing on the scale this week, but on the tape measure, calculator and a phone app. While I’m not ready to share my starting weight or actual measurements with all of you, I will share which measurements I’m taking and how much I’ve lost or gained. Before I get to my own measurements, I’d like to discuss which measurements I take and why.
In school, when developing my weight loss regime, I was taught not just to look at pounds lost, but the entire picture including the body fat percent, the body mass index, the waist:height ratio and waist:hip ratio. What are all these and what do they mean? All of these numbers go beyond the scale to tell you just what’s going on inside the body. Let’s look at each one:
Body fat percentage is the amount of body fat (lb, or kg) divided by total body weight listed as a percentage. It is a far better indicator of what you’ll look like and what’s going on in the body than just the scale. With this calculation, you’ll be able to determine how much fat you’ve lost, as well as how much muscle you’ve gained. AND, as in my case, you’ll be able to determine WHY THE NUMBERS ON THE SCALE AREN’T MOVING! Remember, the scale only gives you the total loss/gain of EVERYTHING. The body fat percent breaks down what has been lost and/or gained.
This calculator below will also tell you how much lean mass you have:
The body mass index or BMI is a fast method of estimating body fat. It is not nearly as accurate as actual body fat calculations, however, it does give an overall estimate of health. I am not a huge fan of the BMI, because it does not take lean muscle mass into account, but instead is calculated simply by weight and height. Here is the formula:
BMI = your weight in pounds / (height in inches x height in inches) x 703.
These next two ratios are probably less well known than the other two, but a much better indicator of overall health. While body fat percentage and BMI help determine obesity and fat on the body, it doesn’t tell you the distribution of that fat on the body. Fat in the abdominal region (visceral fat) affects the heart, liver and kidneys more so than does fat around the hips, bottom and thighs (subcutaneous fat). That’s why TOFI individuals can be considered very unhealthy. TOFI individuals may not have much subcutaneous fat, but they do have more visceral fat, which is considered to be more dangerous.
Ratios such as the waist to height/hip are so important and considered better indicators of cardiovascular and overall health, as indicators of visceral fat.
For waist:height ratio, the waist circumference needs to be less than half your height. The waist:hip ratio is calculated by dividing the abdominal waist by the hip circumference. Waist:hip or body shape, helps determine the distribution of fat, such as the terms “apple shape” or “pear shape.” Two people can have the same height, weight and total body fat percent, but one is apple and one is pear. The apple shape is considered at high health risk, while the pear shape is considered at low health risk
My measurements – gains and losses
My first measurements were taken on August 14, 2018. I took measurements today, September 6, 2018. Now, let’s take a look at where I stand, after 3 weeks:
The app I use:
There are dozens of apps online and on your phone, so you have your pick. The link below will take you to the one I use. Though it has it’s faults, I like this app because it includes all of the above measurements in one place, with the exception of waist:hip ratio.
Closing thoughts – CELEBRATING MY GAINS AND LOSSES!
Wow, well there you have it, a comprehensive look at other ways to track weight loss/muscle gain and overall health. While my numbers on the scale may be going down VERY SLOWLY, I now know all of my efforts are paying off, because of some simple measurements and calculations. I can celebrate the fact that I have burned almost 5 pounds of fat and 3.5 total inches in the last 3 weeks! If I hadn’t taken those measurements, I wouldn’t have known about those 2.8 pounds of muscle I gained, which is the exact amount of weight I was over by last week, coincidence?