Measuring Workout Progress
So about 2 months ago, I joined a new gym with my boyfriend with the intention of getting back into shape. I had been using the complimentary gym at my apartment complex, which was good initially, but after a while I just got tired of it. It was small, I could never find matching weights, the air was broken half the time, teenagers used it as a hangout spot...you get the idea. I didn't go to the gym as often as I would have liked because I wasn't motivated.
And then one sad day, I noticed my jeans didn't fit anymore. I looked in the mirror and saw a double chin unless I tilted my head slightly upward. More than ever, I had to watch my angles when I took photos. People told me all the time that I was skinny, but it's amazing what some bronzer and a loose-fitting blouse can do. I finally saw that not working in retail for 12-hours a day anymore had finally caught up to me. I had to change now before I reached the point of no return. So dramatic, I know.
So, I enlisted the help of my boyfriend, Jacob, who used to be an Equinox personal trainer and has a degree in Exercise Science. I was a little embarrassed at first to admit to him that I wasn't happy with how my body was changing. I suggested that we join a new gym together and asked if he could help train me. That was the first step.
Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel. Energy is contagious.— Kayla Itsines (@kayla_itsines) October 20, 2015
The second step was to figure out my starting point. Most people just use the scale, which is okay, but by the end of this post you will learn it is not the best way to measure your progress. What you really want to know is your Body Fat Percentage. Well...I didn't actually want to know, but it was necessary to measure my progress. So we did that thing where you pinch your fat at different parts of your body with the calipers, and honestly, it sucked. There is nothing like your boyfriend, who you want to look good for, pinching your fat and analyzing your numbers. Here is where I stood as of September 18, 2016:
Weight: 140 lbs.
Fat Weight: 35.6 lbs.
% Fat: 25.4%
WHAT?!?! 25% of my body was fat! MIND BLOWN. This actually is about average for women, but when I first heard I wanted to cry.
If you want to know where you stand in terms of body fat, using calipers is probably the best and most accurate. Jacob has these one's from Vitamin Shoppe. We used exrx.net to do the calculations. The Skinfold Procedures and Skinfold Sites will show you how, and Skinfold Calculator will do the math. Another way to figure out your Body Fat % is to use a scale, since many scales today have this feature. They are not the most accurate, but if you do decide to go this route, make sure you do it first thing in the morning to get the most accurate reading!
The third step is to actually get to the gym and establish a workout routine. Check out my previous post on how to get and stay motivated to hit the gym. I know that I am lucky I have a boyfriend who is very knowledgable about this kind of stuff, but there are a ton of options out there to help you get started!
1. Many gyms will offer you a free personal training sesh. Ask someone who works there if they have this service available!
2. Take advantage of your gym's guest passes and bring a friend!
3. I'm a big believer in group fitness classes. The instructors will show you a lot of great exercises and keep you motivated!
4. Groupon offers a lot of great trials at a variety of fitness centers. For a very low cost, you can take classes like ballet barre, bootcamp, pilates and HIIT.
5. Don't be afraid to ask someone for help using a machine you're not sure how to use. Personal trainers are always walking the gym floor and are more than willing to help you with a machine or demonstrate some exercises that will be beneficial to you. The worst thing you can do is use a machine incorrectly and hurt yourself, or do exercises that are probably not going to do too much to help you reach your fitness goals.
Lastly, you want to measure your workout progress. This is the point of the post I really want to emphasize! Most people simply jump on the scale to check if they have lost weight. I made that mistake. I would find myself checking the scale every week, and I would get beyond frustrated when I saw that I wasn't losing weight. I was actually gaining weight, even though I was eating better and going to the gym 5 days a week! I was so demotivated.
But remember when I said it was important to measure your Body Fat Percentage? Here's why. We measured my body fat at the 7 week mark (you should be measuring every 6-8 weeks), and did that dumb pinch your stomach fat thing again. UGH. *eye roll* Here are my measurements as of November 6, 2016:
Weight: 142.6 lbs. (+2.6 lbs.)
Fat Weight: 33.9 lbs. (-1.7 lbs.)
% Fat: 23.7% (-1.7%)
Guys, I gained almost 3 pounds, BUT I lost 1.7 pounds of fat, and my overall body fat percentage decreased. The increase in weight is most likely due to muscle gain and water weight. Crazy, right?
// Don't obsess over what the scale says. It is more important to know your body composition. //
I will occasionally be posting workout tips and different exercises that I am learning. If you haven't already, check out my latest SWEAT post - the BOOTY Workout. Here you will find some great exercises to firm and tone that booty!
Comment below or e-mail me your workout progress stories and tips to be featured in my next progress post!