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It’s so easy to do: when wanting to lose weight we often focus on the end point, when all the hard work has been done and we’re the proud owner of a fitter, healthier and leaner body.
But the only way to reach your transformation destination is by understanding where you are now, because you can then establish your “starting point” which allows you to accurately track your progress with each passing week.
Realising how far you’ve come – both physically in terms of body fat, muscle mass and strength levels, and mentally in terms of the hard work you’ve put in and the number of successful sessions you’ve ticked off – will reinforce your motivation and desire to keeping pushing to get the best transformation possible.
So once you’re ready to make a massive positive change to your health and fitness – and your life at large – by committing to a transformation challenge, take the following four steps so you can hit the ground running and make the quickest-possible progress.
Record your weight
When most people want to lose fat they fixate on how much weight they want to lose before they’ll be happy. But this way of thinking “pre-judges” your success by making the weight you lose the only thing that matters. That’s a mistake because the number on your bathroom scales is never the best feedback on your progress.
Why? For two very simple reasons. The first is that your weight can fluctuate hugely over the course of a day, depending on a host of factors, so the scales can only be trusted if you weigh yourself on the same day and the same time each week. Even then caring too much about the number flashing at you makes you lose sight of how much better you’re looking and feeling, which are the things that really matter.
The second is that a good workout plan will help you lose fat while simultaneously adding muscle, which renders the reading on the scales useless. Say you start your fat-loss plan weighing 80kg and in eight weeks lose 4kg of fat – an incredible achievement – and gain 3kg of lean muscle, which is again phenomenal.
Judge your success on the scales alone and you “only” lost 1kg in two months, but you’ve lost a huge amount of fat and made massive positive changes to how you look, feel and perform. By all means record your starting weight if you want but don’t weigh yourself more than once a week, on the same day and time, to get the most consistent reading.
Take starting selfies
The most important tools to track your progress are photographs and measurements, because how you look in your underwear, and the changing sizes of specific body parts, at the end of each week provides much clearer “fitness feedback” on how you’re doing.
Take selfies, or get someone to snap you, in your pants (or out of them, but then we probably won’t feature you in our New Body Plan Success Stories) standing in the following positions: facing the camera (front shot); facing away from the camera (back shot); and standing side on to the camera (both left and right side shots).
Stand tall and proud with good posture in a well-lit room for these starting shots, and make a note of the day and time you take them. Then repeat the process each week standing in the same room with the same lighting, and on the same day of the week and at the same time. It’s the best way to get a consistent set of progress photos to track your transformation.
Measure your muscles
While the numbers on the scales are of little use, those on a tape measure give fantastic feedback on which parts of you are shrinking and which are growing. Don’t just measure around your belly and your biceps: get a reading from the following sites: shoulders, arms (with biceps flexed), chest (over the nipples) and stomach (around your belly button).
You can also do thighs and calves – always measure around the thickest part – if you want a more complete picture of your starting point. Then take measurements from the same sites each week and record them in your training diary (if you don’t have a training diary you can get one here). If you find it tricky to measure yourself accurately then ask someone – ideally someone you know – to take them for you.
Pick a plan
The final part of your better-body transformation preparation is to choose the perfect plan to get you to your goal. Of course, you could use the original New Body Plan book, or start your own New Body Plan Plus personalised plan. But if you’d prefer to design your own blueprint then here’s what you need to do.