After recently discovering that I had messed up my first ever measurements, I decided it might be a good idea to do a little research and share what I’ve learned to help others avoid the same mistakes. As most of you know, the scales aren’t always the best way to determine your weight loss efforts. Sometimes you do everything right and still lose only a pound, the scales don’t budge, or worse, you’ve gained weight! If this has ever happened to you and you’re absolutely positive your diet and exercise routing has not deviated, maybe you just put on a little extra muscle and it’s throwing off the scales. Taking measurements can be a great way to assist in tracking your weight loss and avoid becoming discouraged with scale results, despite your best efforts.
When your clothes fit better, or they’re much too loose, you’ve obviously lost some inches. Taking body measurements will help you see just how much you’ve lost, and if you order a lot of clothing online you can easily have your measurements on-hand to compare to their size reference charts so you know for sure they’ll fit!
How to Take Body Measurements
Place the tape directly on your skin. The best way to ensure a proper measurement is to put the tape just over your skin, without any clothing to add to the girth. If you can’t do this, your next best option is to wear tight, or form-fitting clothing.
Make sure the tape measure is straight. Keep the tape parallel to the floor, a crooked tape will give a false reading. Use a mirror or find someone to assist you for best results. In most cases just going by feeling is completely inaccurate.
Pull the tape snug. Don’t pull too tight or leave it too loose. Make sure it’s just tight enough to not slide while maintaining the sensation of touch all the way around.
Take measurements in the morning. This will help to make sure that a meal isn’t interfering with the results. If you can’t do it in the morning, just do it between meals or wait until the next day if possible.
For torso measurements, exhale. Be sure to exhale before taking any torso measurements; the point is to measure your body, not your lung capacity!
Stay consistent. Take note of how you do things the first time, and do it the same way every single time – or as best as you can. Taking measurements against the skin one week, and then with clothing the next week can drastically alter your results.
Where to Measure
Here, I’ll list where I measure, you’re welcome to include or exclude anything you see or don’t see here, of course.
Neck: place the tape around the back of your neck at the base, and pull it around to the front of your throat at a slight downward angle.
Chest: as opposed to a bust measurement, the chest measurement should be taken just under the breasts in both male and females.
Waist: I personally consider the waist to be about a half inch above the naval. Some guides will consider this the abdomen, and your waist to be directly under the sternum. Others, consider it to be directly in the naval (i.e. body fat calculators) or just below. Just remember that wherever you choose to take it, you take it in the same place next time.
Upper arm/bicep: taken at the largest point. An easy way to determine this is to snug the tape around where you suspect to be the largest point, then, holding the tape fairly tight, shift it up and down your arm. As long as you don’t loosen it, the tightest point will be the largest and you can take your measurement there.
Forearm: taken at the largest point.
Wrist: taken just below your palm.
Hips: taken at the widest point of your hips or buttocks. If you’re more focused on your butt region, just shift the tape down to the largest point of your bottom. Otherwise, just the widest point of your actual hips is fine.
Thigh: again, at the largest point. You can refer back to the upper arm above to see how to determine that point.
Calf: yet again, the widest point. Are we seeing a trend here?
Aside from not measuring over loose clothing, or keeping the measuring tape even, the most important thing is to measure the same spot of each location every time you measure. If you want to “keep it official” you should go by the guide, and it’s certainly easier to keep track of where you’re measuring each time by using the widest point. The main goal we want to achieve here, however, is to obtain accurate results that will help us see progress in our weight loss efforts. If you can do that, you’ve succeeded!