There is a saying that “what is measured is improved”. To become healthy, it is important to start with an understanding of what you are actually eating and what shape your body is in. The mirror is not useful because the way we perceive ourselves has an impact on how accurately (or not) we see ourselves. If we saw ourselves accurately in the mirror there would be no bad fashion, but clearly that is not the case. So, we need a more accurate way to measure where we are at.
We recommend that you start by recording everything that you eat and drink for at least 1 week. Be honest with yourself. There is no point trying to paint a rosy picture. There are many apps that you can get for your phone that can help. We have used “MyFitnessPal” and found it useful, although it has some limitations if you are trying to track the zone diet. Nonetheless, it is a convenient way to start tracking exactly what macronutrients you are putting into your body. A commonly muttered phrase is “but I eat pretty clean”. Unfortunately as humans we have a tendency to remember only the good meals. Only once you actually track what you eat across a week will you know the degree to which your eating is setting you up for success or failure.
Once you have tracked your eating, the next step it to assess your body composition and see where you sit compared to what is considered fit and healthy. We recommend getting a DEXA scan. The scan is non-intrusive and very accurate. Apart from showing body fat levels it will also show bone density and provide an assessment of dangerous belly fat. We have used Body Composition Queensland and found them very good.
Here is some information on on body fat and normal ranges http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/normal-ranges-of-body-weight-and-body-fat
If you don’t want to get a DEXA scan, a less accurate but still useful alternative is to use Hip to Waist Ratio (HWR). Here is some information on how to measure HWR and normal ranges https://www.healthline.com/health/waist-to-hip-ratio#overview1
Once you have assessed your body composition and understand where you are currently at, the next step it to set some goals to get to your ideal state of leanness. Set realistic timeframes and understand that it takes time to change habits. We recommend setting 12 week goals. Take a before photo in your underwear at the beginning of the 12 weeks and then every 2 weeks to track progress. The photo is an effective way to “see” your progress and can be very motivating. At the end of the 12 weeks, repeat the body composition assessment, set some new goals, make necessary adjustments to your lifestyle and go again! You may also like to track energy levels and mood state.