Although standing on a scale can let you know whether you're losing weight, it's not always reliable, especially if you've made strength training part of your exercise routine. Muscle tissue weighs more than fat, and when standing on a scale, you might think you've gained weight. What you might not know is that you've lost inches. One way to determine this is by measuring your body and recording the results for future reference.
Strip down to your underwear or wear snug-fitting clothes that aren't bulky and won't add extra inches. Always wear the same clothing when taking your measurements and measure your body at the same time of the day; avoid measuring directly after eating a meal because your stomach might appear bigger -- measure between meals.
Measure your body from the top down and consider only measuring those areas where you desire to lose weight. This can include your neck, arms, chest, waist, hips, thighs or calves. If possible, have a friend take your measurements so you can stand in a relaxed stance.
Stand upright and look in a full-length mirror. Locate the smallest circumference of your neck and wrap a measuring tape around it. Ensure the tape is parallel to the floor and not crooked or digging into your skin. If you have a friend taking your measurements, keep your arms relaxed along your sides. Record the inches in a tracking log.
Extend a measuring tape from the bony part at that top of your right shoulder down to your right elbow. Find the middle of your upper arm and mark this area with a pen. Then measure around your arm at this point and record the inches in your log. Repeat the same process on your left upper arm.
Measure your chest circumference by wrapping a tape around it, going from the front of your chest horizontally over your nipples and around your back. Write down the inches in your tracking log.
Find the midpoint between your belly button and breast bone. Wrap a measuring tape around your middle at this point to measure your waist circumference. Breathe as normal and take your measurement in the middle of exhaling. Record the inches.
Locate the widest point between your hips and buttocks if you're a woman. Wrap the measuring tape around your body at this point and record the inches. Avoid tensing your buttocks as you take the measurement. If you're a man, take your hip measurement by wrapping the tape around your body at the top of the hip bone.
Measure your thigh by locating the biggest part of your upper leg. Alternatively, measure about 8 inches up from the top of your kneecap and measure the circumference of your thigh at this point. Measure both legs this way and record your inches.
Place most of your weight on your right foot and locate the widest point of your right calf. Measure around your calf at this point and write down the measurement. Then measure your other calf.
Things You'll Need
Flexible measuring tape
Take your measurements every week or biweekly to keep track of your weight-loss progress.
Seriously consider losing weight if you're a woman with a waist circumference greater than 35 inches, or a man with a waist circumference greater than 40 inches. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, these high measurements indicate that you have an excess of belly fat and are at greater risk of certain diseases and medical conditions.