You don't really know how far you've gone unless you know where you started.
My clients who've experienced the greatest transformations are the ones who do not skip this step. It's not a difficult task (it takes 10 minutes max), but I know it can sometimes be hard to do when we don't want to face the truth about our current state of health & fitness.
But, if you’re serious about making changes to your life and getting in shape & healthy, I cannot stress enough the importance of tracking your progress, and I don’t mean just stepping on the scale every morning and freaking out every time it goes up 1/10th of a pound. I’m talking about tracking your progress in a way that allows you to find and stay on the right path.
We're going to use a few ways to measure our success. Why? By tracking your body composition in more than one way, you’ll have a more accurate view of what’s working and what’s not working with your training.
So, let's check out the ways the methods we'll use to measure our health & fitness success...
The Scale: This is not my favorite method, but it's quick and probably the most common way people use to measure body changes. Here are some key points about using the scale to measure success:
Let’s set one major ground rule:Don’t track everything on a day-to-day basis. Our bodies are incredibly complex pieces of machinery where all kinds of crazy stuff happens all day and all night. Our weight can fluctuate by many pounds over the course of a day. Stepping on your scale EVERY day will promote an unhealthy behavior where every tiny little change could be scrutinized and blown out of proportion.
The scale is not the best way to judge progress. Did you know it is possible to gain muscle and lose fat, look slimmer, and weigh the same? Yep, it's true!
REMEMBER: the number on the scale does NOT define you!When you strength train and eat properly, your body tends to only shed fat while keeping the muscle you already have. Compare that to crash dieting and hours of cardio where your “weight loss” will be greater…but you’ll be losing both muscle and fat and leave you looking and feeling a little weak.
Pictures: This is one of my favorite ways to see/measure my success. Please take your before pictures. Listen, I know it is probably tough to take the before pictures--if you're nervous about this part, you're not alone! I personally dread seeing my own before photos, but you know what?? I'm always glad I do...especially when I hit my "after"!
Here's an easy way to get your photos...With your cell phone in hand, stand in front of a mirror in form fitting clothes or a sports bra/swimsuit; your preference, and snap a photo. Then turn to the side and take another picture of your profile view. You might not like what you see. You might not want to look at it again, and you probably won’t want to show it to anybody. THAT’S FINE. Just take the picture, hide it in a folder on your computer, and add to it once a week.
Snap those photos on consistently. It’s tough to notice changes on a day-to-day basis. However, if you have two months of week-to-week photos to look back on, you’ll be able to tell if your body is transitioning in the right way.
Tape Measurer: Body measurements can be a useful way to track your progress. Many times you'll see a loss of inches even if the scale isn't moving. You can download the measurement tracker I use.
To ensure accuracy, make sure your measurements are taken in the morning and not after your workout. Also, make sure you measure the same location each week.
Journal: You can find success in more than just numbers. Success also comes in how you feel (the most important part of this), your nutritional habits, and your fitness abilities. Use a spiral notepad or get a fitness journal like this to track your developments.
Take notes about how you're feeling. After some time, you will start to notice that you feel more awake, energized, and clear headed. Maybe you're sleeping better at night, or waking up without hitting the snooze button--write those things down.
Track what you're eating & how it makes you feel--then celebrate progress you make as eating healthier becomes a lifestyle.
Track your workouts & how they make you feel--then celebrate progress as you get faster, stronger, or build more stamina.
When To Measure?
Measure yourself once a week at the same time. My favorite time to measure myself is after I wake up and before I eat breakfast.
Depending on your schedule, I’d either pick Friday or Monday mornings to track all of your measurements – if you tend to let yourself go on the weekends, I’d advise doing your measurements on Friday morning so that you’ll have a whole week to get back on track and see long-term changes.
So, there you have it. Ways to measure your success. Again, if you're serious about getting on the right track, this step can NOT be skipped. You will be very glad you did it! I promise!
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