4 Ways to Track Your Progress
Let’s talk about tracking your progress through your fitness and nutrition journey. One thing I want to mention before we go any further with this, is that any of these tracking methods are going to require effort. Please be ready to think about the work you will be putting in, but also think about the way it will pay off for you and help you reach your goals faster than you would have before. The intention needs to be there for this to truly work for anybody, just as you need to sit down and think about any goal before you can realistically accomplish it. Just like how not all diets or workout programs work equally for everyone, not all methods of tracking progress work the same way for each person. One person might like using a scale to track their weight specifically because it’s a tangible number. To another person, the scale might be intimidating or constantly looking at that number might cause you stress and anxiety. Instead of just throwing your hands up and feeling like you will never be able to happily and confidently track your progress, let’s take a look into a couple different ways to track progress.
- How do you feel? I know this might not be tangible enough for some people, but for others keeping a log of how they feel in relation to what they are eating and how they are moving their body can work really well. A big part of this tracking method is that you should start by keeping a log or journal of the things you eat and the things you do in a day. After that, take a little time at the end of the day and reflect on how you felt overall that day. Were you cranky? Did you feel tired and rundown the entire day? Did you feel like you constantly could use another cup of coffee or green tea? Or on the other side of things, did you feel like you could get everything you wanted to get done and more? Did you feel peaceful and content all day? Keeping track of these things doesn’t have to last forever, but getting yourself to a baseline where you can predict how your body is going to react to different inputs will set you up for more success.
- How do your clothes fit? It might seem a little silly, but keeping track of how your clothes fit can be a great indicator about how your progress is going. Not all clothes are created equal for tracking though. Keep in mind that yoga pants/leggings and sweats are going to be much more forgiving due to the stretchy or baggy nature of them. If you use your favorite pair of jeans, a dress shirt or slacks will definitely give you a better idea of how your body is changing depending on how you’re eating or what you’re doing for a workout. As you gain muscle and burn more fat your clothes will fit differently. For example sometimes I’ll notice that my jeans will feel tighter on my quads and hamstrings compared to normal and then other times the waistband is a little tighter than usual. It’s totally normal to fluctuate here and there. When you notice there’s a constant tightness going on, maybe it’s time to switch things up in your routine, or maybe get back to a different routine.
- How are you performing in your workouts? There are a lot of different factors that play into your performance in the gym or outside of the gym in your athletic pursuits. Keeping track of your nutrition, sleep and performance during exercise is a great way to feel out changes in one area or another. Sometimes your sleep isn’t as deep as you would like and irregularities in your workouts will come up because of it. Dialing in your nutrition can have the same effects. If you feel like a workout is particularly hard because you’re not awake or you’re feeling weak, try to make a note of it. Try to adjust something before your next workout and see if that changes things. I know it sounds like a simple concept, but sometimes keeping track of the simplest things can add up to make a big difference in your overall performance and consistency with your workouts (and your life in general).4. The Scale or Biometrics: Here we are, the last (and probably the most common/most hated) tracking method. The scale. The scale can be a fantastic, quantifiable, and easy method of tracking your progress. If you are looking to lose a few pounds because you know you will feel or look better the scale can be a great way to see how things are going. The one thing about the scale that we have to be cautious of is that it only tells us our weight, NOT what that weight is made up of. As I’m sure most of us have heard once or twice over the years, muscle weighs more than fat. This is true. So how do we know the increase in our weight is from muscle compared to an increase in body fat? That’s where a biometric (or body composition) reading can be a huge help. Finding a way to measure your biometrics can be fantastic and very informative. A body composition scan can test for percentages of lean mass (muscle), body fat, skeletal mass, estimated basal metabolic rate (the efficiency of your system as a whole, how many calories you burn on regular basis just to keep your body functioning), weight and intracellular/extracellular water retention (how much water your body is holding on to). There are different ways to test for this stuff. Most trainers and health professionals will tell you that one testing method is better than another, which can be true. However we don’t all have access to these testing methods on a consistent basis.
My best advice is to mull over these options and find one that you think will work most realistically for you and try it out. We will be going over these options during our upcoming nutrition challenge, among many other things! I hope that these different tracking methods might help spark a new way of thinking or a different habit for you. Happy eating and let’s all get our bodies moving well and with purpose and progress!