(I wanted to title this post “True Life: the Scale Can Suck It.”)
I think many of us agree that weight is a small part of overall health and fitness. If you feel this way but are still a fan of making and achieving goals, one of the best ways to track progress and changes in your body is with a simple tape measure! They cost about a buck and can be used in a ton of different ways.
If your goal is to lose weight, add muscle, or tone up, take your measurements before you get started! (Or even if you’ve already started, take them now. It’s not too late!) It’s so nice to be able to track how many inches you’ve lost…especially when the number on the scale isn’t budging. Also, the scale doesn’t tell you where you’ve lost weight — if you’ve lost weight in your thighs or in your arms or (likely) in your boobs. I’d happily add an inch to my thighs to lose one in my arms, but there’s actually not an app for that. Anyway, it also works if you’re trying to add inches to your scrawny arms or your flat ass.
You can also use a tape measure to measure your flexibility. I’m a big believer in stretching and improving flexibility, and this is one way to see if all your downward dogging is actually making changes! There are a ton of “proper” ways to do a sit-and-reach test, but you can always keep it simple. Sit with your legs straight out in front of you, feet about hip distance apart, knees not bent. Put the tape measure between your feet, so the “0” is at your heels and it’s extending vertically. Then lean forward and see how far you can stretch! As you increase hamstring flexibility, you’ll be able to reach further and further out!
You can also use a tape measure to check and see if you’re wearing the right size bra. Eighty percent of women wear the wrong size bra. I used to be a “certified bra specialist” at Victoria’s Secret, so this is something I feel strongly about. Wearing the wrong size bra will make you feel uncomfortable (too tight band, not enough support) and look bad (a too-small cup leads to that double-boob look). Leave double-stuffed to Oreos and find out your true size! It works better if you have someone else do it, so maybe you and your BFF can get a little touchy-feely and measure each other. Keep your current bra on — not a push up bra or a sports bra — and first, measure around your rib cage, right where your underwire sits. This is your band size. (So, 36, 38, etc.) Next measure around the fullest part of your boobs. The difference between your band size and boob size is your cup size. One inch means you’re an A, two inches means you’re a B, and so on and so forth. And once you know, seriously, get the right size bra! A miniscule five-pound weight fluctuation can change your bra size; that can happen in 30 minutes at the Cheesecake Factory, so it might be time to check on this. You owe it to yourself! And if you measure a 38 C do not tell me, “But my 36 B fits fine!” Bras stretch, dearies. Sorry if you’re not the same size as you were in high school, but hey, birth control happens. (Yes, it’s true that I used to make women cry in the fitting room, but they’d always come back a week later and thank me. Tough love.)
Finally, a tape measure is a quick and easy way to check up on your health. First, measure your waist (the widest part of your middle below your belly button). Women ideally will have a waist measurement below 35 inches. This isn’t about looking like a Hollywood starlet though — anything over 35 is associated with a higher risk of heart disease.
Next, measure your hips (at the widest part of your ass); divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement to get your hip-to-waist ratio. This number is also an indicator of heart disease risk; a number below 0.8 is ideal for women.
If your waist measurement or hip-to-waist ratio is on the high side, one of the best things you can do is move it move it (your ass, that is)! First, cardio helps you lose weight, which will reduce the inches in your middle. But also, if you have an extra inch that just won’t budge, it still feels good to know that you are doing something great for your heart by getting 30-60 minutes of cardio most days of the week. Exercise is a huge factor in reducing heart disease risk, girth be damned.
So shell out a dollar and take your measurements, because — sorry, boys — size does matter!