Thursday, November 08, 2012

The trouble with measurements

street market finds
Photo by musicisentropy
When I weighed in on Monday, I also took my measurements.  I don't know how many times I've heard the dieting advice to take measurements and not just go by the scale.

The results, though, were a mixed bag, showing no clear trend. My chest measurement was down two inches, but my waist and thigh measurements were the same. My calf and upper arm measurements were both one inch larger. My hips were supposedly two inches larger and my neck a half an inch smaller.  

I don't trust the accuracy of any of these measurements. I think that the real issue is that although I'm down about three pounds, my body size hasn't changed enough to be larger than the margin of error for measuring myself. There are a lot of decisions to make when I measure my own body, like how tight to pull the tape, where exactly to measure, and whether to suck in my my stomach. If I make those decisions differently, and haven't written them down somewhere, the measurements are worthless. Even moving the tape up or down a fraction of an inch could change it completely.

I think I'm just going to abandon the idea of measurements. They might be a good idea for someone who has a lot of weight to lose and is making dramatic changes month to month, but they aren't going to tell me enough of value to make it worth the trouble. 

There is no such thing as an objective measurement -- everything has its own potential for error and manipulation. Overall, if my lifestyle is on track, my weight loss will be too. I'm feeling good about my process and watching for ways to improve it.  One of these is to let go of the things that aren't working. 


  1. I've had the same experience. It doesn't really work for small changes in body size. And are just another set of numbers to obsess over (if you're that type, which I am). Clothing fit seems to be the best measurement for me on how I'm doing. The number on the tag is still somewhat arbitrary...I can wear 10s in some clothes but can't fit into 12s in others.

    Stay consistent with your changes & you will see those results, even if they are slow.

  2. The same pair of non stretch jeans can work on lower half. But I am not sure there is an equivalent for upper half. Maybe a good, fitted blouse. A very fitted jacket can show change over time, but probably not week to week.

    I used to have the illusion that for the tape measure to work, we would have to draw placement lines on our body with a sharpe.

    It would look like we were headed to surgery.

    I do think it is easier for someone else to work the measuring tape. Because it is easier to see. The ladies at Curves used to do a good job because they did it many times a day.

    Flaccid or firm belly is a conundrum because of the jiggle. After a while, it doesn't matter, but for a long time, it is just not an easy measure.

    Maybe measurements are better as one passes each set of 10 on the scale.

    1. Yes, I shouldn't expect 3 pounds to show up on a measuring tape.


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07