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About the Expert
Clayton Webber is a personal trainer who is affiliated with Australian based company The Fit Dimension. His company offers personal training services and boasts a fitness studio featuring a gym and kickboxing studio. He also writes a popular personal training and fitness blog, which offers sound and useful weight loss and exercise advice.
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Weight Management Tracking Interview
Bright Hub: Do you think that weight management tracking is an effective way to help a person stay on a fitness program long-term?
Clayton Webber: I would have to say yes, and I highly encourage everyone to at least try this process, but it depends entirely on the individual and what type of personality they are and how serious they are about their desired outcome.
Bright Hub: Is there a “right” way to use weight management tracking, or can it vary from individual to individual?
Clayton Webber: Without getting into personality types, some people really like tracking their progress in detail, and I have seen clients use spreadsheets, pie charts, moving averages, etc. which works very well for them, and then others who just use a body composition "weigh in" every week or fortnight to chart their progress and that is also successful for them. Not everyone wears the same size or type of shoe, so it's very much a matter of what works for them which is also very applicable to what type of exercise program to put them on. That is often the reason why people choose to work with a personal trainer as that is our responsibility to help them find the right "shoe".
Bright Hub: Which factors should be tracked by a person on a weight loss program? Why should these be tracked?
Clayton Webber: The very minimum should be body composition testing (BCT) and/or tape measurements using specific locations on the body; chest, waist, hips and so on. BCT should be used to show overall weight, body fat %, lean muscle tissue, hydration levels and basal metabolic rate (BMR).
Bright Hub: How is a body composition test usually performed?
Clayton Webber: Body composition testing is generally carried out using scales. This is a very simple and non-invasive for the client. You could also use a hand held similar device used more to compare body fat % and lean muscle tissue. This is known as bio-electrical impedance and would be the simplest form of testing. There are other forms of testing but I will use the scales for this example.
Bright Hub: What can a client expect to learn from body composition testing, and how can he expect it to benefit him in his fitness program?
Clayton Webber: The initial testing will reveal to a client where he or she is currently at, and then a suitable program can be designed around the results. The majority of people would fall in to the "I want to lose weight/body fat" category but this is not always the case. I recommend this simple form of testing be carried out weekly under similar conditions and appropriate changes made to the training program, which could be to increase activity and/or make changes to the nutrition plan. If you only do it fortnightly or monthly, you can be going backwards or sideways and not be aware of it which is why weekly is suggested.
Bright Hub: What are the best ways to manage weight management tracking data, in your experience?
Clayton Webber: The initial answer to this can be found in the first question in terms of what works best for each client, as some people prefer written methods and others are not so computer friendly. Regardless of the method, there is no getting around the fact that it must be taken. There are some fantastic websites such as Gyminee.com and many others just for this reason but even something as simple as keeping a written chart of your weekly BCT can be very revealing and hopefully show improvements toward their goals.
Bright Hub: As a personal trainer, have you seen evidence in your clients that weight management tracking works and helps them succeed?
Clayton Webber: It can be very revealing to them, even in terms of just where they are physically— and almost a shock to some when they see their weight and body fat percentage. This alone often makes them take real responsibility for their progress. I read a study recently from New England Journal of Medicine which showed that people often overeat by 1000+ calories per day and I also find the same numbers with my clients. It's not hard to do, but it educates the person which is what this process is really all about.
Bright Hub: So do you think that anyone who wants to get in shape should use BCT?
Clayton Webber: Not everyone is going to enjoy the process of BCT or being measured frequently. Another very acceptable method for people to track their progress is how they look and how their clothes fit them. For those brave enough, this could also include taking photos of themselves at regular time frames, say each month and keeping a record of progress that way. This is concrete evidence as opposed to telling yourself each time you look in the mirror that you are doing fine when maybe you are not.
Bright Hub: Do you teach your clients how to effectively track their weight management data? Is this a service offered by most personal trainers?
Clayton Webber: Yes I do. Not everyone is interested in doing this but it is certainly offered and should be by every personal trainer as part of their service. Some trainers may have studied at length in the various sciences of food and nutrition, so if they charge more for this service then that is acceptable also.
Bright Hub: What's your favorite weight loss secret?
Clayton Webber: A great way I read a long time ago was for people trying to lose weight was to go out and buy a pair of jeans that they would like to fit into and have them hanging somewhere in the bedroom/house where they are clearly visible and a constant reminder of where they want to be and how they want to look. Things like this can be very powerful motivators and to be truly successful you need to find out what works best for you. This could also be just the excuse you needed to go out and buy your favorite and most expensive pair of jeans.
Bright Hub: Final thoughts on weight management tracking?
Clayton Webber: Weight management tracking does not have to be a dreadful experience; it just needs to person specific and then consistently adhered to until the goal is reached.
I wish all those on this path the best of success.