Measuring the waist
July 25, 2006 7:44 AM   Subscribe

I thought it would be useful to track my weight loss by also measuring my waist or stomach. Is there a reliable method by which I can tape myself to get consistent readings? I thought maybe of anchoring the tape on the navel, and with it pinned on that point, mess with the tape to find the lowest reading. Has anyone found tape measurements to be a good motivator for weight loss?
posted by chef_boyardee to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I found that "how pants fit" is a better indicator for me. I tried the tape measure thing, but it's hard to measure in the same place with the same amount of pressure every time (i.e. not "cinch" the tape conciously or subconciously to produce results).
posted by nekton at 7:55 AM on July 25, 2006

Tape measurements are terrible. I also abide by the 'how things fit' and 'how things look' rule.. I can be +/- 5 lbs but still look more toned due to having eaten less sodium (hence less water) even having not been to the gym in a few days. If you add muscle mass in any way, it's going to do weird things with your mass as well as your measurements, but you'll know if you're on the right track by the way you feel/look and the way things fit.

Body fat measurements (calipers by trained professionals are the best unless you can get access to a dunk tank) may be informative too, but there's a lot more to fitness than weight and composition.
posted by kcm at 8:16 AM on July 25, 2006

I haven't used measurements like this to track weight loss, but I wanted to offer two other suggestions kind of in the same vein--at least in the vein of tracking change.

The first is that I really urge people to use a weighted average to figure their weight. The advantage of this is that the variations of individual days which can be due to how much water you drink and when, bowel movements, and just general body stuff, get smoothed out into a trend. This can really help to calm anxiety and it's a good motivator. I don't have a lot of weight to lose, but I wanted to lose some to get into better shape, and I've been really pleased with the averages method. There's an excel spreadsheet on this page that works like a charm and does the graphing for you.

The other thing to consider is to measure your bodyfat percentages. A simple set of calipers for this runs only about 30 bucks, and it tells you a lot more than measurements, especially if you're putting on any muscle at the same time you're losing weight. ExRx has a good overview of what's involved, and although I've never done it myself, my understanding is that it's not too hard to get right.
posted by OmieWise at 8:21 AM on July 25, 2006

If you do want to get a tape, I suggest the myotape. However, no measurement you do yourself will be entirely accurate or consistent.

Ultimately, though, the best indicator is, as kcm says, just how you look, feel, and how clothes fit. If you have access to a professional with calipers (or a dunk tank) that would probably be the most useful as far as hard numbers go.
posted by synecdoche at 8:32 AM on July 25, 2006

One of the best motivators I've found is before and after pictures. Strip down to your undies and take front, side and back shots once a month. You forget how you used to look pretty quick, and it can be amazing to see how big the change becomes over time.
posted by InfidelZombie at 8:36 AM on July 25, 2006

I didn't think of taking pictures until I had already lost 10 pounds, but I definitely wish I had--I can tell my stomach is flatter. I did however measure. Only every couple months, but I am hugely proud that 2.5 inches disappeared from my belly. I measured around
--the biggest part of my thigh
--the biggest part of my hips,
--the biggest part of my belly,
--the smallest part of my torso (waist),
--just under the breasts
--across the breasts
--the largest part of my bicep, making a muscle

It's not all that accurate, but it's nice to see the numbers decrease--10 pounds can make a whopping difference. To help accuracy, you could have another person make the measurements, hopefully always the same person...hold the tape 'snug' (as long as you remember what you think snug is, I thought that was close enough...)

One way seamstresses take measurements: tie a string around your waist (the smallest part of the torso), then measure 9" down and that's where the hip measurement is taken...if you want you can decide how far down your belly is and take a consistant measurement there.

The hardest part is deciding how much to suck in the belly--and remembering how much you did or didn't suck it in last time!
posted by sLevi at 9:36 AM on July 25, 2006

I haven't used a tape either--I've found it's too hard. The clothing thing is a big one--the MOMENT an article of clothing got too big for me I either had it altered or got rid of it. I have some stuff that was taken in from a 14 to an 8.

My weight loss was tracked by a nutritionist so it was good that it was 'on the record,' so you have somebody 'official' looking after it. in the meantime we also checked my body fat and resting metabolism.

You might want to invest in a Tanita scale--they can measure body fat and weight. I love mine so much that I get kind of mad when I have to weigh on any other scale. I'm weird.
posted by clairezulkey at 9:44 AM on July 25, 2006

The best is when people tell you how you are looking better.

I avoid motivating myself and focus on creating a lifestyle I won't change after I lose weight. That's where the rubber hits the road.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:13 AM on July 25, 2006

Using a tape measure can't do you any harm. You need all the positive reinforcement you can get! But waist size changes slowly. In my own case, an inch is ten pounds. If I were measuring, I'd want to see at least half an inch of progress every time.
posted by wryly at 10:48 AM on July 25, 2006

When measuring my waist with a tape measure, I move the tape up and down (keeping it level) and record the largest circumference. This isn't really a "waist" measurement, more of a "belly" measurement, but it keeps me honest.

Waist measurement is a decent indicator of health risk, but not so great for tracking ongoing weight loss -- it moves really slowly. A better way to keep track is a moving average of daily weight measurements, as suggested in the Hacker's Diet.
posted by blue grama at 9:49 PM on July 25, 2006

« Older Help me stop calling her!   |   Find a list of available 8th grade Social Studies... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.