You most likely have heard by now how helpful it can be to have health-related goals for yourself as you start on a healthy journey. If you do have these goals, you should also have some method, or several methods, for tracking your progress towards your goals. For most individuals, the go-to progress tracker is a scale to measure their weight. While a scale can be a simple and easy progress tool to utilize, it should not be the only tracking method that you use. Your weight can increase, decrease and fluctuate at any time or for any number of reasons and if you are only relying on that number to gauge your progress, you may become discouraged when it is not decreasing as much as you believe it should.

If you are trying to lose weight and/or be healthier, check the scale, but also try some of these other trackers to assess your progress on a variety of levels.

Measurements – All bodies are different, which means we all lose weight differently. If you feel like you are losing weight, but do not notice that much of a decrease on the scale, pull out a tape measure and measure your body to see if you have lost any inches. Taking measurements might provide a more accurate assessment of your loss because if you are gaining muscle, that could increase your weight on the scale, but you would still be able to see that you are slimming down through your measurements. Contestants with the United Way of Florence County’s Florence’s Biggest Loser program have their measurements taken at the abs/waist and hips three times throughout the program as another way besides the scale to track their progress. Some other common areas you can measure include the biceps, chest and thighs.

Clothes – If you do not have a tape measurement handy, you can also use clothes as a way to see if your body size is decreasing through weight-loss. For example, most of us have that pair of pants hanging in the back of our closet that has not fit in a couple of years. Every so often, try on that pair of pants and see how they fit. As time passes in your healthy journey, you may notice that the pants gradually begin to fit better. Maybe at one point you are able to get them past your thighs and then your hips. At the next point, you may be able to zip them up. Then finally, one day, you able to wear them comfortably. If you do not already have a clothing item you can use for this, go out and by something you love in the size you are working towards. This way, when you do reach that size, you not only have proof that you achieved your goal, but you now also have a reward for all your hard work.

Progress Photos – One of the other tracking methods the contestants in the Florence’s Biggest Loser use to track their progress are photos. At the beginning, middle and end of the program, the contestants have two photos taken of their body from the front and the side. For most of the contestants, they can easily see the transformation their body has gone through when they put these pictures side by side. If you have not already, go ahead and take full body photos of yourself wearing close-fitting clothes so you can clearly see your body. Then after a period of time, take pictures again and try to do it in the same lighting, same angle, same time of day and same outfit (to keep the photos as similar as possible). Since we see ourselves every day, we get use to the way we look and do not notice the gradual progress our bodies are making until we can see it in side-by-side comparison through the photos.

Fitness Tests – When you start to work out and eat healthy, you not only can lose weight, but you can also begin to get stronger and more physically fit. If you have not put your new fitness level to the test since you started your healthy journey, try some different fitness tests to see how your body’s strength and endurance have improved. For example, try holding a plank for as long as you can and then record that number. After a few more weeks of fitness, hold a plank again and see if you can hold it for longer. Even if your goal at the beginning of your journey was not being able to hold a plank or run a mile or bench-press a certain amount of weight, you may be surprised to find out what your body can do now even after only a few weeks of working out.

Everyday Life – Even if you did not use any of these other tracking methods, you might be able to tell that you are making progress just through small changes in your day-to-day life. You might notice that you can breathe easier or you do not get winded after walking up a flight of stairs anymore. Or, you may notice that you are sleeping better and that you do not get as sick as often. While none of these are things you can put a number on or physically see, they are all ways you can tell that you are progressing to your goals and living an overall healthier life.