Why Track your Progress?
Whenever you’re making a change, especially starting a new healthy lifestyle, it’s a great idea to track your progress. Tracking is an easy way to quantify your changes, and see what kind of difference it is making on your life. Keeping track of the impact of exercise allows you to see how well you’re doing and helps boost your motivation to push through and continue your new habits. In combination with Effective Goal Setting, you can easily know how far you are in your journey to reaching your goals, and it can help you to set new goals to keep your change going.
The scale will lie, my friends. Your weight measures everything that’s in your body at a given point in time. While that does include unwanted fat, as well as your bones that (mostly) remain the same weight, it also counts muscle which is absolutely increasing from your new exercise routine. Don’t forget, muscle weighs more than fat, so your weight might actually increase depending on what you’re doing. Your weight also includes water, food, waste, and more, which can cause that scale to tell you drastically different numbers at different times throughout the day, days of the week, weeks and months, depending on what you’re eating and doing.
If you do want to take this path, finding the right way to weigh yourself is key. Try to hop on the scale only once a week, on the same day of the week, at the same time of day, first thing in the morning after you use the bathroom. This should give you the most accurate reading, but again, take that number with a grain of salt, since you can’t really know your body composition through it.
Depending on your goals, you may want to track your progress in different ways. If you just want to look and feel better, you’ll experience your changes differently from a person who wants to drop all the way down to 5% body fat. The method you choose to measure your changes should be based on what is best for your lifestyle. Exercise affects not just how you look, but also how you feel. By keeping track of visual and non-visual indicators, you can get a full picture of the benefits of working out.
1. Mood Log
You’ve probably heard of a Food Log, but this one is a little different. Take time every day or every week to write down your mood and how you’re feeling. Exercise has been shown to boost mood with both short-term and long-term effects. By keeping track of generally how you’re feeling at different times throughout each day, you can gain insight into non-visual effects and benefits you’ve been reaching.
2. Clothing Fit
Depending the goals you set for yourself, they’re no easier way to track than by the way your clothes fit you. With no tricky measurements or setup needed, just feel and write down where your clothing is loose or tight, and see how that changes throughout your exercise regimen. Remember that tighter clothes isn’t always a bad thing. Building muscle can actually make some clothes smaller, which can be a great result if your goal is hypertrophy.
3. Progress Photos
Photos are one of my favorite ways to track your progress. There’s a reason all of those ads use “Before” and “After” photos to sell their products: it’s quick and easy to do, and even easier to see. You look at yourself everyday, which makes it harder to see change over time. By taking Progress Pictures every week or two, you can have a side by side comparison to see the difference in how you look over time. If your goals are fat loss or muscle mass gains, photos can do a great job helping you see your fitness journey. Try a couple of different angles and poses in the same place and the same lighting to get the full effect that may not be so apparent with just a quick glance at in the mirror.
4. Exercise History
Keeping track of what and how much you’re exercising can help you see your progress in terms of capability and capacity. Whether it’s going faster or farther, doing new exercises, performing more repetitions or sets, or using heavier weights, tracking what you do can be a great indicator of how far you’ve come.
By implementing these strategies to watch and track your progress along your fitness journey, you can stay on track and watch your results along the way. Getting this measurable feedback can help your positive changes snowball and grow when you see your progress. Just make sure to enjoy the process and not just look towards the end!