May 2021
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Measuring Progress When Working Out for the First Time

Most weight loss programs involve working out. The only tried and true form of long-term, healthy weight loss is a combination of diet and exercise. If you want to lose weight, you’ve got to burn more than you consume, and any weight loss programs that do not include this component are not worth your time.

However, for those of us who aren’t accustomed to a daily or weekly workout regimen, it may be hard to know how to note your progress. How does one measure progress when starting a workout routine for the first time?
The obvious answer is the effect on your body. If you look at yourself in the mirror and are happier with what you see than you were a month ago, something you are doing is working. If you’re interested in losing weight, you should be doing a combination of cardiovascular, aerobic exercises like elliptical training or biking, along with a smaller percentage of weight training, such as dumbbell curls, bench presses or squats. You might not see results in the first week, but after a month or so, you should notice more definition in your muscles and less “jiggle” just about everywhere.

Still, this is not the most scientific way to measure progress. There are however, methods you can use to get a more accurate recording of how you’re doing. You can purchase fat calipers at many sporting goods stores or online. You can use these fat calipers to predict what your body fat density is, and record your results each week. You can also calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index) weekly.

Finally, a good measure of whether you are making progress in your working out is a rise in your capabilities. You should be dutifully recording the exact nature of your workout: how many minutes you use the elliptical, what incline you have the stair climber set on, how much tension you have in the stationary bike. Every couple of weeks, or whenever you feel ready, you should consider upping the exertion level. The more you can do, the more progress you’re making. If at the end of six months you can see steady progress in how much you’re taking on in your workout, combined with the improved way your body looks, you’ll know you’re doing the right thing and are on your way to the weight loss and body type you are hoping to achieve!

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