When you set new fitness goals, the initial determination and enthusiasm to stay on track seems never-ending. Yet as the weeks go on, you may notice that you begin slipping up and losing focus. At this time it becomes imperative to make changes in order to maintain adherence to your program and reach your goals. Rather than making excuses for yourself, try a new tactic that will allow you to dominate all aspects of your training -- Track Your Progress. It may seem simple, but tracking your progress is a great way to hold yourself accountable and view changes over time.
What Should You Track?
Depending on your goals, you can pick and choose what you would like to keep track of. A few starting points are tracking your food intake, workout routine, physical progress and weight.
Food Log -- Diet and nutrition play a huge role in the composition of our bodies. If you are trying to burn body fat or add on some lean muscle, your diet in combination with your training routine are very important. If you feel like you are training as much as possible, yet not seeing your desired results, simply start logging your food intake. Taking notes on when, what and how much you eat are good first steps. After a week of tracking your food intake, take a look back and see if there are any changes that can be made. Maybe you are eating too many calories, not eating enough, taking in too many carbohydrates or too little protein. It could be something as obvious as having an excess of sugar rich or processed food in your diet. Putting your nutrition down on paper makes it easier to look back and make adjustments for the future. Looking at the big picture may help you find some weak spots in your overall nutrition.
Workout Log -- When you are trying to get results in the gym, progressive workouts are a good way to see some change. Progressive workouts get increasingly more difficult as you get stronger. As you spend more time in the gym, it will become too difficult to remember what weight you used or how many repetitions you completed each set. So take the guess work out of it by keeping track of your workouts. For weight training, keep track of the exercise performed, number of repetitions and number of sets completed. This will give you a good base line assessment as well as give you the opportunity to look back and challenge yourself in few weeks. When it comes to cardiovascular training, try to keep track of the exercise and the duration, intensity, speed level or distance traveled.
Take a "Selfie" or Progress Picture -- We look at ourselves each day and get used to what we look like and we also overlook minor changes that result in big changes over time. The best way to keep track of your physical progress is by taking pictures. I recommend taking a picture once a week in the same location wearing the same clothing. If you have a smart phone, you can easily download a photo timer app and set up your phone to take a hands free photo or take a good old fashioned selfie! Using an app that allows you to add text to your photo is an even better way to keep track of the date and progress over time.
Weight Log -- Depending on if your goal is to add lean muscle mass and gain weight or drop body fat and lose a few pounds, a great way to begin your journey is to find our your starting weight. You can set a goal weight or simple keep track of weekly weight fluctuations. You can use a piece of paper, start a note in your phone to track progress or get high tech with it by downloading an app that allows you to add text to your images. Adding the date and the weight to your progress pictures will help you see changes over time as well as how your body composition changes at various body weights. When weighing yourself, remember that the number on the scale is not always indicative of your overall health. So if the scale fluctuates a few pounds up or down, there is no need to fear if you are following your workout and nutrition routines. Weighing yourself on the same day each week is a good way to hold yourself accountable. Knowing that every Friday morning you will check your weight progress will give you something to work toward. From there you can make necessary changes to your diet and training to stay on track rather than going at it blind. Many people have developed unhealthy relationships with the scale and have allowed it to dictate their mood. Remember that you are more valuable than a number on the scale -- it does not indicate your self-worth. Use the scale as a tool to help you gauge changes that may not be visible to the naked eye. And remember that the way your clothes fit is a great way to notice changes in body composition.
If you have been stuck in a fitness slump and looking for a way to get back on track and see your progress in all of its glory -- Start Tracking! Do you have any fitness tracking tips that help you in reaching your goals? Please leave your suggestions and experiences in the comments section below!