What are the best assessments to use when tracking transformation progress?  Well as with many answers in the health and fitness realm, the answer is it depends.  We’ll have to dive in a little deeper to goals and personality to figure out the best assessments for you personally.

There are many ways to make assessments.
There are many ways to make assessments. Just make sure you record it.

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The most important things to remember with assessments are consistency and recording.

Why?

Well, the mind is a funny thing.  As we begin to change physically and emotionally we tend to forget what we were like before.

Have you ever had the experience of losing some weight and not noticing the changes?  Then someone else compliments that you look like you’ve lost weight?  Yep, that’s it.

The problem is that we see ourselves everyday and don’t notice the changes since that is our new normal.

This is why recording video and taking pictures is essential to tracking progress.  We just don’t see it when we look in the mirror and then lose confidence.

So let’s go over some types of assessments that are used so you can figure out what will work well for you.

Quantitative Assessments

These assessments include those that can be measured with hard numbers.  Although, sometimes these numbers may not be all that reliable.

  • Weight is the most commonly tracked number for health and fitness goals.  However, weight does not take into account body composition and can be affected by many things.  If you are recording weight it’s important to remember that there will be fluctuations.  You can use weight tracking apps like Libra and Happy Scale to chart trends for you.  (I do not have any experience with these as I just use Excel.)
    • If weighing yourself stresses you out, then don’t do it.  It’s not worth your mental and emotional energy when you can use other methods.
  • Body fat percentage is a great number to track to determine what your body composition is like.  There are many methods that are reliable, but they can be expensive to do on a regular basis such as underwater weighing, DXA, and BodPod.
    • Unfortunately, the least expensive methods using calipers and bioelectrical impedance (BIA) are unreliable.  Calipers are only as good as the technician using them and BIA is greatly influence by hydration levels.
  • Measurements are simple and easy to do.  These are great for recording overall progress.  All you need is a fabric measuring tape and you’re set.  This can be as simple as measuring just waist and hip or as complicated as you want.  I personally take 15 different measurements, but I’m a numbers geek and you don’t have to.
    • The most important thing to remember is to take these in the same spot each time.  This can be difficult as many descriptions say to use the narrowest part of the waist to measure.  Umm…. I don’t know about you, but I have definitely noticed that that tends to shift as you gain or lose weight.  Just try to be as consistent as possible.
  • Clothing sizes can be a good indicator of changes in your body.
    • Just realize that different brands use different measurements for sizes if you haven’t noticed this already.
  • Workout logs can give you a quantitative assessment of your progress.  If you were able to lift 50 lbs, but now can lift 100 lbs that’s a huge improvement.  Workout time can be a great indicator of progress as well.
    • AMRAPs or as many rounds as possible for time can be used as fitness progress measurements too.  Just don’t skimp on the range of motion to get more repetitions in.
  • Food logs can also be used to assess progress in your health and fitness journey.  Check out your old entries compared to one from the past week.  Do you notice changes in your eating patterns and choices?  Good job.
    • If you’re not into counting calories that’s cool too, some people struggle to get in the habit of measuring food or get stressed out by it.  Don’t worry, just keep a log of what foods you ate and how you felt later or try a picture based food log like Meal Logger.
  • Medical numbers such as blood pressure and blood work results can also help show your health and fitness success.  While some of these numbers take some time to adjust you may see changes within as little as 4 weeks.
    • These tend to be cost prohibitive as you need your doctor to order these tests.  But since you should be covered for an annual physical that would be a good time to request that your doctor run a panel.  Then you have a goal for the next year.

Qualitative Assessments

These assessments don’t involve your number, but are more about how you feel.  Keeping a journal or starting a blog to record your health and fitness journey can provide you with insight as to how far you’ve come.  Here are some of the qualitative assessments that you may find useful to record.

  • Habit tracking can show you how consistent you are in doing the activities that will get you to your goals.  I use Habit Bull to set reminders for myself for things like taking my vitamins, drinking water, and even eating.  Yes, I literally forget to eat, I’m weird like that.  It also tracks your streak.
  • Taking pictures and video of yourself as stated above is so important.  No one has to see these photos.  You really would be amazed to see what other people see in you as you change.
  • Sleep is so important for recovery, stress management, and so many other things that you should be tracking hours and quality.  Are you tired all day long?  Do you struggle to get to sleep?  These are important things to keep up with.
  • How are you feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally?  The human body is incredibly smart and stupid at the same time.  If you haven’t been feeling well physically as well as stressed and depressed are you really surprised when your weight loss stalls?  I wouldn’t be at all.  It’s important to know yourself and know when to back off and give yourself a break.
  • Compliments are another good thing to record.  When you have a really rough day and can’t find the motivation you need to keep going you can look back at what others have said.  Plus, we’re our own worst critic so having some positive things to fall back to is always a good thing.

So there you have a plethora of ways to perform assessments.  Hopefully this has shown you that you’re not limited to height, weight, and measurements.  And while those are fine on their own they don’t tell the whole story.

In order to truly transform it must happen on the inside as well as the outside.  The goal of the qualitative assessments is to give you a more balanced and well rounded approach.

Now it’s your turn:  Do you use any of these assessments?  Any assessments that you used that I missed?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

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