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Tracking Your Numbers

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I can’t tell you how many times after I started my own healthy living journey I would step on the scale and the minute the number was not what I expected my motivation began to falter. For me, the scale became the be-all-end-all to my success. However, having vowed that I would never diet again, I looked to other benchmarks to help me measure my success.

If you do not currently track these numbers, now may be the time to do so, especially when you are struggling to get those last few pounds off.

  • Blood pressure Blood pressure is the amount of pressure against the artery walls. The systolic reading, or top number, is the amount of pressure within the arteries when the heart contracts in order to pump blood to the rest of the body. The diastolic reading, or bottom number, represents the relaxation phase. Both cardiovascular and strength training exercise has been shown to reduce one’s blood pressure. Here is a link to help those with high blood pressure learn how to integrate exercise into their lifestyle which will hopefully help bring those numbers down.
  • Cholesterol levels By following a well-balanced diet and getting in at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least four days a week, one may significantly lower his/her total blood cholesterol levels. Exercise has been shown to raise HDL, or good cholesterol, while lowering LDL or bad cholesterol, and triglycerides.
  • Resting heart rate The heart is the most important muscle in the body, therefore when we make our heart stronger via exercise it does not have to work as hard. One sign of an increase in cardio-respiratory fitness is a drop in resting heart rate. To take your resting heart rate, count the number of beats for one minute upon awakening and before any movement. Take your measurement for at least 3 days and then take the average--this is your resting heart rate. For many endurance athletes, such as marathon runners or tri-athletes, when their resting heart rates begin to elevate over a period of time this could be a sign of overtraining.
  • VO2max AKA maximal oxygen consumption responds quite quickly to cardiovascular exercise. VO2max is the highest amount of oxygen consumed during exercise. The higher the number the more cardio-respiratory fit you are. Performing both aerobic and anaerobic activity can increase/improve this number.
  • Body composition For many active individuals body composition can be a better indicator of our fitness quest than the number on the scale. Because muscle tissue is a much firmer, denser tissue compared to fat tissue, you may not see any movement in the scale, but your clothes may become looser fitting.
  • Waist to hip ratio The waist to hip ratio measures your fat distribution--in other words where you store your fat. Studies have shown that those individuals who carry a larger percentage of fat in the abdominal area are at a greater risk for developing diabetes and heart disease versus those who store their fat in the buttocks, hips and thighs. Here is a link to SparkPeople’s Waist to Hip Ratio Calculator. The lower this number the lower your risk for developing heart disease and/or diabetes.
  • Blood Sugar With the rising rate of type II diabetes, many of us need to closely monitor our blood sugar (glucose) levels. Exercise has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity so that the glucose can be ushered into the cells and used for energy. Keeping our blood sugar levels within a normal range can help offset the risk of developing type II diabetes as well as cardio-vascular disease.

    While these numbers won’t do much for how we look, they do have a tremendous impact on our health and how we feel. So the next time you step on the scale, remember that is just one number of many that we need to be mindful of.

    Do you measure your progress by the scale only? Have you been monitoring your success by tracking other numbers? Have you seen these numbers go down as you reclaim your health?

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I track my numbers religiously. In 3-1/2 years my glucose went from 810 to 85 daily, blood pressure is 120/80, RHR went from 75 to an average of 45-48, my total cholesterol from 240 to 96, my HDL from 55 to 72 and my A1C went from 13.8% to 5.3%. All went NO medications, all diet and exercise. Report
MJ7DM33 3/27/2020
Thank-you Report
CECELW 3/18/2020
I walk 4-5 days a week. I have excellent blood pressure Report
KHALIA2 2/21/2020
Great info!!!!! Report
KHALIA2 2/21/2020
My Blood Pressure was high the last time I went to see my doctor. It was 150 over 80!! Report
LESSOFMOORE 11/19/2019
Informative! Report
Thank you Report
My last checkup showed all my results in the good area! Report
Thank you for the very important info! Report
Thanks for the interesting article! :) Report
Nice article Report
The scale is your FRIEND. IF you get it down to where you are in a normal weight the other things will get there as well. Report
I do use tracking, ie. scale, HR Monitor, and Blood Pressure machine. I find these essential in maintaining my health.
I am glad that I don't rely on the number on the scale to make me happy and motivated. I have a large amt to lose and some days the battle seems too difficult. But then I remember how much better my other numbers have been with my 10% wt loss. My blood pressure has dropped so much that one med has been decreased by half, and doc predicts another change in meds soon. My blood sugars that i check for pre diabetes had started occasionally jumping to 130's or 140's (high enough to push me all the way to diabetes) Now my values are never above 115. Report
I do tend to allow the number on the scale set my moods at times. But I also check my blood pressure, WtH ratio, and heart rate regularly. My blood pressure is normally 111/68, WtH ratio: 77-78, and heart rate is good. With that being said, with the other numbers reading healthy when my weight keeps increasing and showing me being overweight I can't help but ignore the other numbers and focus on the scale numbers. This is one of my struggles to holds me back from being successful. :( Report
Don't depend on just one of these tests. My chloresterol is the lowest my doctor has ever seen and I'm 150 pounds overweight. My girlfriend is HWP and has to take chloresterol medication. My VO2 is fine too. Also keep in mind that there are other reasons for some of these tests to be off. I know a plenty of people who are HWP but have a high BP or diabetes. My BP was low-normal until I developed diabetes.

Still, some of these are better than the scale for showing true fitness like Waist to Hip ratio. Report
I'm concerned about Metabolic Syndrome X, I'm 1/2 way there (overweight, high cholesterol). I have not had a problem (yet) with hypertension or diabetes, so the numbers I'm watching are weight and cholesterol. Report
I have not measured these other indicators regularly, except clothes fitting me!
But the scale is finally shifting downwards for me and I can see already how this is affecting my moods.
Scales make me nervous and are not reliable indicators of how my body is performing, looking or feeling!

Great info Report
how do we get VO2max AKA maximal oxygen consumption ?

inches over pounds any time. and the rest are my motivations for losing weight. Report
Thanks for the information. I will start tracking more of my numbers. Report
Thanks for all the great info compiled in such a compact format. Maybe I should track more numbers than the scale and Waist:Hip ratio. Report
In the past that was all I did too was looked at the scale and if the numbers didn't go down, or increase, I lost all motivation and decided I wasn't going to diet anymore because it obviously wasn't working. But , using this site is when I found that there are other numbers and other levels that either go down for the good, or increase for the good. Because I am a new member of this site and have not been working on my new diet and exercise program, I really don't know how my blood levels are but I do know that my measurments on my arms, hips, thighs, waist, and hips are going down and my energy level and stress levels are improving. As is my sleep! Another thing that is improving is my water intake and my fruits and veggie intake. And of course my healthy food intake!!!

I am really anxious for my doctor to check my blood levels again to see where they are at now, but like I said earlier, I'm still early into this so they probably haven't changed much... But I am still loving this site and loving living a healthier life style!!! Report
yes, when I walk regularly for an hour a day, my blood pressure points do go down. In addition when I control my calories, the weight comes down too. Report
Great blog loaded with helpful info., thank you! Report
I have BP of 120/80 when I exercise long distance it can drop down to 118.. I don't measure success by the scales or measurements anymore.. I measure success by what I can do with my body with a serious spinal injury.. I can do the same stuff people whom win bodybuilding competitions at my gym- and I have the same results as them within 2 years without suppliments.. It says alot when you get the nutrition and energy to do stuff- perfect conditions to be fit...
I measure success that I feel relief and joy when it is time to get to work in the gym.. I hit everything about this lifestyle change and still enjoy it efter 6 years.. Report
I just hate the scale. I gained 4 lbs in one day. That is the difference between weighing at night and early am. I know I did not eat 4 lbs. I have had lots of liquid today. Report
It is good to have all of your intake tracked. It cannot be only from a scale.

Food, exercise, activities. Your heart rate, check at the store for your BP rate, heart rate. It is all important!
I see it in pictures of myself from a year ago and now... also the fact that I was able to run most of a 15K without training for it and still beating my time from last year by 4+ minutes... Report
I am glad that I have great blood pressure numbers, a very low resting heart rate, but I do let the scale get to me more often than I should. Thanks for the reminder. Report
ALWAYS track my numbers.
My numbers are better than some 18 yr olds so my Dr says..
I do; but I am learning that "the scale" does not have the final say...I'm feeling better about myself even though the weight loss is extremely slow....but it will happen...I can just feel it. Report
My numbers at the doctor's are great, except I was low on vitamin D, so am now taking that daily. Report
I have long been a firm believer that the scale is a nasty liar. It is a good *indicator* whether you are moving in the right direction, but by no means the so-sayer. I also subscribe to the belief that how your clothes fit, body composition, and the tape measure are by far better methods of measuring and tracking your progress. Thanks for posting this! Report
Thank you so much for this reality check. I've hit my first plateau so it is great to learn about some other ways to measure my success. I've also been encouraged by the praise I've gotten from co-workers and family. They have noticed the change in me so I must be doing something right. Report
I wrote a blog just a couple days ago on my success - and my weight hasn't changed a bit in over 7 weeks... at first I was getting bummed - but then - I realized that I've built so MUCH muscle, its no wonder the scale hasn't moved (saw myself in the mirror naked while brushing my hair about to get into the shower - wasn't until that moment that I realized how huge my biceps are getting) Report
I do measure success by other numbers, especially since I've recently hit a plateau. My LDL cholesterol has gone down, my HDL cholesterol has gone up, and my blood pressure has decreased. Report
good suggestions Report
I had some bloodwork done recently and my triglycerides were 36!! That is down almost 100 points from 2 years ago. I am pretty proud of that. All of my numbers were good except I am a little low on iron. Report
I'm taking a weight lifting class at my college this semester. It actually counts towards my GPA!!! Anyway, we get to do any kind of physical activity in there as long as we get our heart rate up. Thanks to that class I started keeping track of my resting heart rate. I used to be in the mid to upper 70s. I'm now in the mid to lower 50s! Report
I'm taking a weight lifting class at my college this semester. It actually counts towards my GPA!!! Anyway, we get to do any kind of physical activity in there as long as we get our heart rate up. Thanks to that class I started keeping track of my resting heart rate. I used to be in the mid to upper 70s. I'm now in the mid to lower 50s! Report
I try to stay away from the scale; because it disappoints me. I will be finding out my measurements at the end of this month. I am hoping I have loss inches. Report
Thanks for this. Great information. Although I use the scale daily, I'm happy to say that my numbers are in the healthy range. I agree the numbers on the scale are not just the numbers that should be focused on. Report
This is a great article. It makes me think about how I am tracking my progress. Report
I track my blood sugar as I'm type 2 diabetic & my bp as I have heart problems. Report
I track my BP because I used to have HBP before I lost all of the weight and became fit..working to stay fit. I think it's very important for me to keep the numbers steady. If something goes wrong with the numbers then I know that something could be possibly wrong with me so I track. Report
As a diabetic, I keep track of my blood sugars daily and HgbA1C (shows average of bloods sugars over 2-3 months). My last one was 6.5! I haven't been that low in many, many years. Of course, weighing, checking heart rate and BP's weekly and regular blood work is right up there. All of which have been great since I started Spark People! Report
I haven't given up on the scale yet (although I'm seriously considering it). I am starting to track other numbers, so I think that's a good start. Report
I used to be a 3 sports a year athlete and still have a lot of muscle from vigirous training and weight lifting. I did notice that the scale numbers didnt match up with my clothes feeling loose. I have lost 31 lbs. in 6 weeks, so now I'm starting to see the scale move in a positive direction. This was an interesting article, defintely going to crunch some numbers I didn't know you needed to crunch. Thank you this was a great article. Report