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9 Essential Ways to Track Your Fitness (That Don’t Involve a Scale)

March 23, 2022
Written by
Team NutriSense
Brooke McKelvey
Reviewed by

Is the number on your scale a good enough measure of your fitness levels? You may think of it as a definite marker of your fitness levels, but all it really measures is your body weight. So, while shedding (or gaining) pounds may mean you're on the right track, they’re not the only metric by which you should track fitness progress.

Staying fit is essential, and tracking your workout progress by the numbers on your scale can feel validating. But how do you know whether all the workout routines and fitness classes are helping you to optimize your health?

Even if you’re focusing on weight loss or muscle building specifically, you can look beyond the scale to see whether you’re losing or gaining the muscle mass you desire. There are countless ways to measure improved fitness, from wearable technology to smartphone activity trackers. There's something for everyone here.

Read on to find out about eight essential ways to stay on top of your game, whether you're focusing on weight loss, weight gain, or muscle-building goals.

1) Take Body Measurements

a person measuring their waist

Body measurements can be a great way to track your progress. Tracking your body composition goals with basic measurements to see if you are decreasing or increasing inches in specific areas of the body may help you determine more about your fitness routine's efficacy. 

Your weight can fluctuate throughout the day depending on factors other than exercise, including your hydration status, stress levels, and bowel movements. Using a tape measure can keep an eye on those fluctuations as well. Also, remember that muscle weighs more than fat'; and you may lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously. So if you’re working towards a fat loss goal, you may see the number go up on the scale, but may still be progressing towards your goal of decreasing fat mass. 

Pro Tips

  • To take accurate body measurements, use a flexible tape measure and make sure it’s held snugly against your skin.
  • Numbers aren’t everything, so measuring muscle mass and inches lost using a physical measurement can help you stay more motivated as you progress. 
  • Measure yourself daily, in the morning, on an empty stomach. It will help you track your body composition progress minus any other factors, like bloating or water retention, that you may experience throughout your day.

2) Take Progress Photos

someone talking a picture of a girl working out

Getting to your ideal body weight is challenging regardless of your current fitness levels and body composition. So, you should be proud of yourself for setting fitness goals to begin with. Taking progress photos can help keep you motivated during a weight loss or muscle-building journey. You can keep these photos for yourself or share them on a new social media page to help inspire others (and keep yourself inspired along the way). 

Research has shown that sharing your fitness progress on social media may help people stay motivated to reach their goals. Whether you're a beginner or you've been at it for a while, taking photos can be a great way to track your progress and stay motivated. 

Pro Tips

  • Take weekly or monthly progress photos in the same location to track progress over time.
  • Wear the same (or similar) clothes in all of your progress photos to track how your body composition changes.
  • Try to make sure that you hold your body the same way and have the same lighting in each picture. These are supposed to be a stark, unfiltered vision of your progress. 

3) Test out Your RM (rep-max)

a person working out in the gym

Have you ever wondered what RM (rep-max) weight loss (or gain) method is best for you? RM measures the number of reps that you can “comfortably” complete in a specific lifting exercise.

It's essential to know your RM (rep-max) for each weightlifting exercise when you begin your fitness journey and set goals, especially if you’re focusing on strength training. It will help you create the best workout routine possible to achieve your goals without delay. 

Pro Tips

  • Choose a list of workouts to measure your progress. It will be important because different lifting exercises target different muscle groups. Stick to the specific exercises you pick to mark your progress over the following weeks/months. 
  • Keep a daily or weekly journal of your progress over time. 
  • Make sure to rest in between lifting exercises and take days off to work on other muscle groups. You must allow your muscles to have the proper recovery time to prevent injury.

4) Create a Workout Journal

a person looking at their workout plan

If you're trying to squeeze in a workout somewhere in between a hectic schedule, it can be challenging, if not impossible, to track your progress. That's where a workout journal can come in handy.

Workout journals are an excellent way to track all your fitness goals, from weight loss and muscle gain to endurance levels and overall fitness. By tracking all your physical activity, you'll see how far you've come and how much farther you may have left to go. 

Pro Tips

  • Choose the right format for your lifestyle. Some people prefer traditional paper and pen, while others use workout apps—there are many ways to keep a workout journal, so pick whatever works best for your specific needs.
  • Use your journal to record how much water you’re drinking every day and what foods your body responds best to as you track fitness progress. You can also use a continuous glucose monitor for insights into this.
  • Use your journal to begin your day with a healthy dose of motivation. Write down something you’re proud of achieving and two to three fitness goals you want to accomplish that day. 
  • You could even use social media to create a workout “journal” for yourself. Post your progress to create accountability for yourself.

5) Consider Your Waist-to-Hip-Ratio

a person measuring their waist

You may be surprised to learn that the waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is a good indicator of overall health and fitness. This ratio can help you determine if you have too much fat around your middle. In fact, studies have shown that people with a WHR of 0.8 or below have a lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

So how do you determine your WHR? It's simple—measure the circumference of your waist and hips, then divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement. 

Pro Tips

  • A healthy WHR should be no more than 0.8 for women and 0.9 for men.
  • Use a soft measuring tape for this one, like the kind you use to measure your body to track progress in our first point. 

6) Get a Physical From Your Doctor

a doctor talking to a patient

While there are many different ways to track your fitness progress and set healthy lifestyle goals for yourself, who better to measure your fitness levels than a professional? A personal trainer can help you get on the right track when it comes to your workouts, but if you want to make sure you’re fit and healthy overall, it’s best to visit a doctor.

Don’t miss your annual checkup! Get a physical regularly to ensure that you’re on track with your fitness goals, check overall health and wellness, and identify areas that may need improvement.

Pro Tips

  • Your doctor will be able to help you set realistic health goals based on your medical history. 
  • You will have to help troubleshoot any challenges you have along the way, especially if you have any preexisting health conditions. 
  • Review your diet and lifestyle factors and any other information to help your doctor understand any challenges you may have with your physical or mental health. It will help you to structure your fitness goals accordingly.

7) Check Your Blood Pressure

a person checking their blood pressure

Keeping track of your blood pressure is an important aspect of staying healthy, especially if you're trying to get fit. High blood pressure can be a serious health problem, but it's often easy to treat if you catch it early.

Fitness can often help you lower your blood pressure. Fitness professionals recommend checking your blood pressure at least once a month and more often if you have any other health conditions like diabetes, kidney, or heart disease. Incorporating it into your routine will help you ensure you don’t forget—there’s no harm doing it more often!

Pro Tips

  • If you find that your blood pressure is high, talk to your doctor about how you can lower it. 
  • You can check your blood pressure at home and in most pharmacies, but make sure that you discuss your ideal range with your doctor first, so you know what to be on the lookout for.

8) Consider Using a Fitness Tracker or Smartwatch

a person looking at their smartwatch

Almost everyone has a Fitbit or an Apple watch or some health tech strapped to their wrist, so this one isn’t a surprise. As technology advances, gadgets like smartwatches and fitness trackers become more popular and sophisticated.

While some people may view these devices as unnecessary gadgets, there are many valuable benefits to using them for fitness. Fitness trackers and smartwatches can help you monitor your activity levels, heart rate, calorie burn, and more. They can help you stay on track with your fitness goals and get the most out of your workouts. 

Pro Tips

  • Do your research before buying technology that you intend to wear every day. Make sure that it aligns with your lifestyle and your specific fitness needs.
  • Check the battery life expectancy of your new device before purchase.
  • Check the compatibility of your new device with any fitness apps that you are already comfortable using. 

9) Use a Continuous Glucose Monitor

a person doing yoga with a CGM

You probably know that maintaining a healthy blood sugar level is vital for overall health and wellness, but did you know that it's also crucial for weight loss? A continuous glucose monitor (CGM), a device that measures blood sugar levels continuously, can help you figure out how.

CGMs provide real-time information on blood sugar levels, which can help you adjust your diet and exercise routine for better overall health and improved fitness outcomes. 

Pro Tips

  • CGMs are water-resistant but not waterproof. So while you can wear them through sweat, rain, and a shower, avoid swimming deeper than three feet with them on or immersing them in water for over 30 minutes.
  • Avoid snagging your CGM sensor on equipment or clothing, as that can dislodge the filament and loosen the sensor. 
  • Don’t wear your CGM through full-body scans or X-ray machines. Ask for alternative screening methods when you're traveling through airports. Don’t worry; TSA agents and most other security agents are familiar with this protocol. 

Engage with Your Blood Glucose Levels with Nutrisense

Your blood sugar levels can significantly impact how your body feels and functions. That’s why stable blood glucose levels can be an important factor in supporting overall wellbeing.

With Nutrisense, you’ll be able to track your blood glucose levels over time using a CGM, so you can make lifestyle choices that support healthy living.

When you join the program, our team of credentialed dietitians and nutritionists are available for additional support and guidance to help you reach your goals.

Ready to take the first step? Start with our quiz to see how Nutrisense can support your health.

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The Warning Signs of Nerve Damage You Should Watch Out For
The Warning Signs of Nerve Damage You Should Watch Out For

Because nerve damage can have many silent symptoms, it often goes undiagnosed in the early stages. Read on to learn more about what causes nerve damage and some warning signs to watch out for.

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The Ultimate Guide to Fiber and its Effect on Metabolic Health
The Ultimate Guide to Fiber and its Effect on Metabolic Health

Ready to learn all about fiber beyond just the basics? In this post, we dive deep into the different kinds of fiber and health benefits of each. From functional fiber to fermentation, we break down all the jargon into a layman's language.

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The Relationship Between Cardio and Blood Sugar
The Relationship Between Cardio and Blood Sugar

Did you know that cardio can help you lose weight as well as optimize your health and blood glucose? Here's everything you need to know about cardio and its relationship with blood sugar.

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The Side Effects of Unhealthy Weight Loss
The Side Effects of Unhealthy Weight Loss

Find out what unhealthy weight loss is and learn more about its side effects and what you can do to prevent them.

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The Relationship Between Low Blood Sugar and High Blood Pressure
The Relationship Between Low Blood Sugar and High Blood Pressure

Learn about the warning signs of low blood sugar and the relationship it has on blood pressure.

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The Positive Impact Weight Lifting Has on Blood Sugar
The Positive Impact Weight Lifting Has on Blood Sugar

Here is everything you need to know about the relationship between weight lifting and blood sugar.

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The Relationship Between Cholesterol and Blood Sugar
The Relationship Between Cholesterol and Blood Sugar

Cholesterol plays a very important role in the human body, contributing to the structure of the cells, helping with vitamin D synthesis, and also promoting the production of steroid and sex hormones, like cortisol, aldosterone, testosterone, and estrogen. But how exactly is cholesterol connected to blood glucose levels?

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The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Diabetes
The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Diabetes

NutriSense dietitian Katrina Larsen, MS, RD,N, LD, CDCES discusses the risk factors for sleep apnea and how this disorder is linked to other health conditions.

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The Paleo Diet and Blood Glucose Levels
The Paleo Diet and Blood Glucose Levels

The premise of the paleo diet is that the body can handle a mix of meats, fruits and vegetables, eggs, fish, and complex carbohydrates better than processed meats, refined fats, grains and simple carbohydrates because it evolved to eat the first category as hunter-gatherers.

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The Health Benefits of Winter Squash
The Health Benefits of Winter Squash

A common ingredient in cozy winter recipes, winter squash is one of our favorite foods this time of year. Read on to learn more about how it can benefit your health.

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The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers We Love
The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers We Love

Haven't finished your holiday shopping yet? Pick from this list of NutriSense-approved holiday gifts to find some great last-minute stocking stuffers for everyone on your list!

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The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Health-Focused Gifts They’ll Love
The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Health-Focused Gifts They’ll Love

Still haven't bought all your holiday gifts this year? Don't worry—there's still time to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Read our guide for some great ideas!

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The Link Between Inflammation and Blood Glucose
The Link Between Inflammation and Blood Glucose

Learn more about inflammation, how it affects blood glucose levels and what you can do to prevent and manage it.

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The Health Benefits of Adding Fermented Foods to Your Diet
The Health Benefits of Adding Fermented Foods to Your Diet

Fermented foods have a range of health benefits. Read on to learn more about what they are and why you should be adding them to your diet.

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The Health Benefits of Potatoes, Yams, and Sweet Potatoes
The Health Benefits of Potatoes, Yams, and Sweet Potatoes

Potatoes, yams, and sweet potatoes are similar in usage, but pretty distinct in taste, texture, appearance, and even nutritional content! Read on to find out more about each one.

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The Health Benefits of Living With Pets
The Health Benefits of Living With Pets

Did you know that living with a pet can do more than just put a smile on your face? Read on to learn all the ways living with pets improves your wellbeing.

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The Health Benefits of Cooking With Herbs and Spices
The Health Benefits of Cooking With Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices are a great way to add flavor to dishes, and also have a range of health benefits. Learn more about a few of our favorites.

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The Health Benefits of Beans
The Health Benefits of Beans

Learn about the health benefits of beans and how they can help you live a healthier, longer life.

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The Guide to Metabolic Diets: What Are They, Do They Work, And Who Should Try Them?
The Guide to Metabolic Diets: What Are They, Do They Work, And Who Should Try Them?

Review our guide to metabolic diets to help get a better understanding of what they are and whether they might be right for you.

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The Foods and Traditions of Kwanzaa
The Foods and Traditions of Kwanzaa

Learn about the traditions and nutrient-dense food commonly enjoyed during Kwanzaa. 

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The Blood Sugar and Joint Pain Connection
The Blood Sugar and Joint Pain Connection

Have you ever wondered how your glucose levels might be connected to joint pain? We'll take a deep dive into this connection and share tips for reducing pain.

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The Best Diet for Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia
The Best Diet for Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia

This article explores hypoglycemia in non-diabetics, how to manage symptoms through diet, and the advantages of glucose monitoring.

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The Effect of Aging on Your Blood Glucose Levels
The Effect of Aging on Your Blood Glucose Levels

Take a look at how aging can affect your blood glucose levels.

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The Best Diet to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels
The Best Diet to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels

Read on to learn more about vitamin D-rich foods and what you should include in your diet to make the most of this vitamin’s health benefits.

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The Best Diet for Menstruation
The Best Diet for Menstruation

When it comes to your menstrual cycle, what you eat can significantly impact how you feel. Read on to learn more about the best foods to add to your diet to help during that time of the month.

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The Benefits and Risks of Popular Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices
The Benefits and Risks of Popular Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian holistic healing system that dates back over 5,000 years. In the second installment of our series on the practice, review the benefits and risks associated with popular Ayurvedic herbs and spices.

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The Beginner’s Guide to the Low FODMAP Diet
The Beginner’s Guide to the Low FODMAP Diet

In this article, we break down what a low FODMAP diet looks like for beginners, and its potential benefits and drawbacks for gastrointestinal health.

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The 6 Worst Foods for Osteoporosis
The 6 Worst Foods for Osteoporosis

When it comes to bone health, good nutrition is absolutely critical. Read on to learn what osteoporosis is and why some foods may increase your risk of or worsen the condition.