Importance of Photo Tracking

Importance of Photo Tracking

Track Your Progress

One of the most common mistakes that people have on their fat loss journey is tracking your progress by taking photos. Most people have poor self-image when it comes to their body. Whether or not they have a lot of fat to lose or just want to improve their body composition. By not taking the time to track your progress, you can miss the small changes that your body goes through during your journey. By taking photos, you can see how a certain diet or training program effects your body. When working as a personal trainer, I required my clients to take photos of themselves because I can properly gauge which parts of each muscle group is lagging behind or needs more priority. Maybe your shoulders need more definition or mass. From there I determine whether your front, lateral, or rear head needs more attention. If you don’t have a trainer, you need to be critical about yourself. Now I don’t mean look at yourself and put yourself down. What I mean is you need to be real with yourself and be honest of what parts of your body need to be brought up. If your legs are lagging, which part of your leg is lagging? The bicep femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medius, or vastus intermedius? Determine which muscle needs more mass or definition and either start with an exercise that trains that muscle or use the second exercise for that muscle group.


The Scale

Most beginners who are trying to improve themselves physically use the scale in order to track their progress and base their nutrition or training on that. If they do this, they will develop an eating disorder. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t weigh yourself. You definitely should. But it shouldn’t be the determining factor of how you measure your progress. The reason why the scale isn’t accurate is because the number will fluctuate dramatically throughout the day. If you ingested anything before or after the time you weigh yourself in the morning that can change your weight. If you drink water, it could add 1-3 pounds depending how much you drink. If you eat something salty, the salt will hold water and you have food in your belly now which will change the number as well. What if you don’t use the toilet before you weigh yourself? You have waste in your body from last night that you haven’t expelled yet so that can also change the number! If it is cold in your house, that can throw it off too. As you can see, there are several factors that can change the number on the scale. So don’t use that as a marker if you are losing fat. Most people are concerned with losing weight instead of losing fat. How you look in the mirror has more to do with improving your health and losing fat then the scale represents. Weight should be tracked but it should more or less do with weight to muscle ratio. If the scale goes up but your stomach is shrinking, do you think that is better than if the scale goes down but you look worse? Absolutely! I personally track my weight once a month because daily or weekly weigh-ins aren’t enough time to track your weight accurately. Since there can be a lot of fluctuations.


How To Measure

One bulletproof way to track your progress is to measure your body using a tape measure or body fat calipers. I use both methods to accurately track my progress. Use a tape measure and measure your neck, shoulders, chest, hips, waist, arms, legs, and calves. If the hips and waist measurements go down, then that is a good indicator you are going in the right direction. The other measurements can go either way depending on your goals. If you want to gain more muscle mass, if those other measurements go up, that could be a good indicator or a bad indicator depending on your goals. Your arms could get bigger which means you have gained more muscle mass or it could mean you gained more fat. By using the tape measure measurements and the photos you take, you can better determine if you are on track. The body fat calipers are one of the cheapest fitness tools you can purchase to properly calculate your body fat percentage. I would suggest you get a family member or friend to measure. Also make sure you use the same person every time you get measured. If you have just anyone do it, they might pinch more skin then someone else does or they might pinch less skin. There are multiple sites that you can use the skinfold calipers on and it differs for men and women. For men, you can either do a 3-site or 7-site test depending on how accurate you want it to be. The 3-site test on men is the chest (between the nipple and the armpit), abdominals (about one inch from your belly button on either side), and the quadricep (between your kneecap and groin area in the middle of your leg). The 7-site test includes the serratus, oblique, tricep, and lats (see photo). For women, the 3-site test involves the oblique, quadricep, and tricep. The 7-site test is the exact same sites as for men in the diagram. You can find a calculator online to find your body fat percentage. Over the course of months, if that number is going down, you are going in the right direction.


By following these rules, you can accurately tell how you are progressing and if your current nutrition and training program are improving your body composition or making it worse. Don’t change your nutrition and training at the drop of a hat. Make sure you stay on your current plans for at least 2-3 months before determining whether or not it is good for you. If your body is changing in the direction you want it to go, then keep on it and don’t change anything. If your body is going in the opposite direction and your body composition is getting worse then change it. Remember when following any diet, you should choose something that you can do for the rest of your life. I don’t like the term ‘diet’ because to me it implies that you will go on it and sometime in the future you will go off of it. Remember we want to make a lifestyle change and not just some temporary fix. If you cannot see yourself doing something for the rest of your life, then you might get great results but it won’t last and you won’t truly be happy.

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