Some weeks you might not make any headway on your goals. This doesn’t always mean that good things aren’t happening. If you are only watching the scale you won’t see that your muscles are getting bigger and your waist smaller.
If you are only looking at the mirror, you won’t know that your blood work is getting better and better. Tracking is psychologically important for me, I don’t like wasting time and effort so it's vital for me to know if what I am doing is working.
Tracking Progress on a Low Carb Diet
Tracking progress while on a low carb diet can be as simple as a scale and a tape measure, or as complicated as a DEXA scan and full blood panel. Figure out what you need to track to keep yourself honest and motivated, how often you want to track, and then do it and WRITE IT DOWN. Seeing the your progress will reinforce what you are doing right and help figure out what isn’t working before you waste too much time.
On the scale vs body composition
Progress can take many forms and the progression from where you are now to your ideal state won’t be linear. Some days or weeks you may not make any headway in one area but you might still be making positive progress.
If your goal is to lose weight, don’t be discouraged if the scale isn’t moving but your pants are getting looser. Gaining muscle is just as positive as losing pounds. If you’re training for a race and your pace isn’t getting faster but your stamina is, that’s still going in the right direction. Only tracking one aspect of your performance could cause you to miss out on positive signs elsewhere.
How you feel
If you didn’t lose any weight last week but you have more energy, that should count as a positive. Sleeping better because your sleep apnea disappeared when you lost 10 pounds is a major win. Not getting headaches from too much sugar consumption makes life that much better.
If being healthier meant that you would stay the same physically but feel fantastic, it would be worth the effort. Vanity is an example of pride and is one of the seven deadly sins if you go in for that sort of thing.
How you look
Almost everybody wants to look better, even the most beautiful celebrities get plastic surgery, botox, injections, skin treatments and more to try and look their ‘best’. I think many of these things are unhealthy, they deny the realities of human physicality in an effort to fit some arbitrary ideal that our society has come up with.
Beauty standards are not universal and different societies prize different characteristics. Competing with digitally altered pictures and the top .00001% of human beauty doesn’t make sense. I know there will still be physical things that people want to change to make themselves feel better and I support those decisions. I only hope that those decisions are being made for the person going through the procedures to feel better personally and not to please someone else or to try and compete with unrealistic standards.
Embrace who you are and compare yourself today to yourself yesterday. Changing your body composition for the better, eating healthy so your skin stays clear and your nails healthy, and getting good sleep so the dark circles under your eyes fade are all examples of things you can do to look better without resorting to drastic measures.
Tracking your progress is easier now than it has ever been. Smart phones, connected scales, fitness bands and smart watches can give us more information with less effort. Tracking your food can really highlight problematic eating habits and help you plan future days and meals in order to meet your goals.
Digital scales that send your data directly to apps like Google Fit or FitBit can be useful in tracking your progress. Consistently weighing yourself seems to be more conducive to weight control. I think keeping that information check as part of your routine gives an early warning if you start backsliding on diet or exercise and can also provide an extra boost of motivation when the numbers are consistently moving in the right direction.
We recommend that you track your goals and your progress and you don't need to spend a lot of time or money on tracking progress on a low carb diet.