New Year’s resolutions are underway. Many Americans put “losing weight” on their lists. What’s the best way to measure progress?

Obviously scales measure weight loss, which is easy to track at home. Weight and height are the two measurements used to determine BMI (Body Mass Index). Click here to calculate your BMI. Categories include:

  • Underweight
  • Normal
  • Overweight
  • Obese

Another way to track progress is a simple one… with a tape measure. It can be rewarding and motivating to measure inches lost in the waist, hips, thighs, chest and upper arms. Furthermore, waist circumference (over 35 inches for women and over 40 inches for men) is an indicator of potential health risks including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and stroke.

Body composition is yet another way to measure changes. This paints a more detailed picture of what’s happening in the body than BMI. Body composition breaks down what percentage of the body is lean mass (muscle, bones, organs) versus essential and stored fat. There are numerous ways to measure body fat percentage including:

  • Skinfold test – calipers
  • BIA (Bioelectric Impedance Analysis)
  • Hydrostatic weighing – performed underwater
  • DXA Scan (Dual-emission X-ray Absorptionmetry)

Each method varies in accuracy, availability, and cost. Click here to view recommended body fat percentages for adults. Men and woman have different percentages. Categories include:

  • Essential Fat
  • Athletes
  • Fitness
  • Acceptable
  • Obesity

There are many ways to measure progress and (ultimately) success. Use the method that motivates you the most!

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