While an accurate and quick weight using a scale is an excellent way to keep track of weight loss on a daily basis, there is another tool that can give you a more accurate measurement of your progress. Your weight is important, but your circumference around your body is more important to your health for several reasons.
The first main reason waist measurement is more important than your overall weight is due to the fact that those who carry more abdominal fat than anything else are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and sudden death (source). Abdominal fat puts more pressure on your organs than any other type of fat, which causes damage over time. In addition to the pressure, abdominal fat contains visceral fat, which is the fat surrounding the organs. When there’s too much of this fat, you can develop things such as fatty liver and other nasty diseases.
The second reason to measure your waist is to dethrone the weight scale as the all-time heavy weight champion of fat loss monitoring (pun intended!) – There have been many times during my weight loss journey where I’ve not lost a single pound over several weeks, but I’ve noticed a difference around my waist. You need this for when you hit plateaus – and measuring your waist is confirmation yet still that you are making progress.
Knowing your waist circumference measurement helps you target your weight loss goals for those who tend to store excess weight in their trunk rather than in their limbs.
So how do you measure your waist circumference accurately, and what should you look for in a waist tape measure? Below, I describe the method I use, which provides consistency when I measure my waist about every 3 weeks or so.
How to Measure Your Waist Circumference
There are a few things to keep in mind while you measure your waist. I’ll put them into some easy steps for you to follow.
- First, you need to know where you need to measure. To find this location, you can either use the age-old measure where your belly button is, or you can use the more accurate way by finding the top of your hip bone and the bottom of your rib cage. Some people can do this and others can’t. If you can’t, use the belly button method. It’s just about at the right location for finding your waist circumference. If you’re using the more accurate way, you need to find the midpoint between the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hip bone. Once you’ve found this location, you’re ready to measure.
- Find a comfortable spot where you need to measure and hold the end of the tape measure. Make sure you’re using the proper type of tape measure, one with a cloth pull-out rather than a hard one. You won’t get an accurate measurement with a plastic tape measure.
- Now, either have someone move the tape measure around your backside and bring it back to the front or do this yourself. As you do this, make sure you’re not pulling the tape measure too tight. If it’s digging into your skin, it’s too tight. You want it to rest comfortably and not firmly at all.
- Now pinch the tape measure or put in the little plug that keeps it steady. Let go of the end of the actual tape and take a look at your measurement! That’s how to get your waist circumference.
What to Look for in a Tape Measure?
My favorite tape measure is the Perfect Waist Tape Measure (amazon link). This tape measure is incredibly easy to use because it has a little pin that you put in when you’ve finished measuring. This holds the tape measure right where you need it to read your measurements. Some people complain the pin moves, but I haven’t had this issue as long as you slide the pin all the way into the insert. Keep this tip in mind when your use these types of measuring tapes.
The main reason I enjoy this one is due to the fact it has a nice, cloth tape that doesn’t dig into your skin and has easy to read numbers. In addition to being soft, it has two measurement options. You can choose to use the side that incorporates the measurement of the case into your measurement, or you can choose to use the side with all the numbers displayed. If you use this side, make sure you account for the measurement of the case!
In addition to being easy to use and soft, it has a curved part that is meant to be put against your body for a more accurate reading.
Overall, I’d recommend this type of tape measure to anyone who wants to easily measure the circumference of their waist, or any other body part they’re concerned about. For example, it’s also a good idea to measure your thighs and arms, especially if you tend to store fat around these areas. It takes me about 30 seconds to measure myself, and like I mentioned earlier, I do it about every 3 weeks. You should use body measuring tape periodically to keep track of how many inches you’re losing off your body, especially if you’re someone who is used to only using a scale to measure progress. This is yet another tool to keep you motivated and moving forward!