Measuring your success will give you a boost of motivation.
No matter what your goals are with your personal health and fitness program, you want to keep track of your progress. It helps keep you on track and motivated. In addition, it lets you know if you are having success or not.
How you measure your success depends on what your goals are, what you are training for and also what motivates you
Some people use multiple ways to gauge their progress. For instance, those training as a runner want to drop some body fat, so they will gauge their body fat loss as well as their miles per hour distance, etc. Let’s look at some of the common ways people track their progress.
Keep a fitness journal
Track everything you have been doing with your fitness, this way you can look back and see what you have accomplished. You can also determine whether you should be concerned if you start having a decline in your fitness gains, and what periods you have the best gains and if you did anything differently.
Things to track in this journal are:
#1 Distance- If you are doing any sort of sport where you are traveling a distance, then measuring it can be a great way to see your progress. This can be for running, biking, swimming, hiking, walking, etc.
#2 Time- The amount of time you are doing a specific activity. This also goes together well with distance. This way you can determine how far you have gone and in what amount of time.
#3 Strength- You can test out the strength you have gained. This works best if you choose a few exercises at the start of your charting and use that same exercise as you go. If you are weight training, then going with some basics can be a good idea. Push-ups, pull ups, dips, and squats are all good choices since they use body weight and use multiple muscle groups in the one motion. That means that it is a functional movement and is giving you an overview of how much of your body is progressing, not just one muscle group. This gives a very good overall view of where your body is at.
#4 Your everyday workouts, including sets, reps and weight- This is another way you can instantly see the gains you are making in your weight training. This can be a great way to see what you are doing, but it is still good to use the strength method above since your routines may vary widely. You want something that you can continue to compare to.
Keep a food journal
This can help you see what you did food-wise during weeks that went exceptionally well. The saying is, “you cannot out train a bad diet,” and this goes for all your goals since nutrition can not only help you lean down, but also helps you with your sports’ performance.
If you are looking to lean down then one of the best ways to test your progress would be to keep tabs on your body fat. You can do this with calipers, bioempedence machines, DEXA testing, hydrostatic weighing, or air-displacement plethysmography. Some of these are more cost and time effective than others. A very simple way to keep track of your lean down journey is to use a cloth measuring tape. It is cheap and you can keep it at home. Do not test this too often, though, since it can become a crazy obsession and mind game. Measure yourself at the same time of day once a week. No more! Keep away from a scale unless a professional is using it as a supplement to another method of testing. This is because a scale is a very inaccurate way to see what your body fat mass is. Many people who lean down and tone up notice that the scale shows them gaining weight instead of losing. This is because muscle weighs more than fat. The immediate reaction then is to become crazed and confused as to what’s going wrong. From there, people lower their calories way more than they should. So, again, measure yourself once a week with a scale so there is no undue freak outs.
Another inaccurate testing method that you should steer clear of is BMI or Body Mass Index. This is neither a good nor accurate way as it does not take into account a person’s muscle mass. So if you weight more than what they consider average, and it is all muscle, it will still categorize you as overweight.
This is a wonderful visual way to chart your progress. Make sure you take the picture in the same place at the same distance and from the same angle every time. Changing any of these will alter how you look in the picture. You may also want to wear the same outfit. Remember these pictures do not need to be for anyone else to see, so throw on a bikini if you really want to see your progress. As you change, this can be a great reminder of what you have achieved so far.
Choose which one works best for you
You can choose one or all of these ways to chart your progress. It is completely up to you. Do choose at least one way to chart your progress. This way, even if things are going slower than you want them to and you think you have not made any improvements, you can look back at your charting and realize you have in fact made progress. Also, if you have not, you know to change something or get a professional’s help. Charting will help you overall. Choose your method and enjoy the progress.