Tracking Your Progress

tracking your progressWhen you’re doing a new program I think it’s absolutely critical to track how you’re doing.  Sometimes it seems like people are so anxious to get going that they completely forget to document where they started.  I love the enthusiasm, but people often get discouraged if they don’t think they’re seeing the results that they should be.  that’s understandable, you want to see your hard work pay off.  But if you weren’t thorough in documenting where you started, it’s impossible to know how far you’ve come.  So I want to outline some tips that I recommend for tracking your progress.

Tracking Your Progress – What To Measure

Your progress doesn’t have to be all quantitative, you definitely want to consider how you feel, your energy level, etc.  But sometimes it’s easiest to track hard data that you can objectively measure.  So here are the things that I would recommend you track.

1) Your fit test

The fit test is critical, but sometimes overlooked.  This is the best way to measure your gains in strength, endurance, etc.  It’s easy in a program like Insanity because it’s built right into your workout schedule.  But that’s not always true for other programs.  Don’t skip your fit test!  You’re going to be amazed at the progress you make and this is a great way really show your work is paying off.

2) Measurements and body fat

I put these two together because they pretty much go hand-in-hand.  If you’re losing inches, you’re losing body fat.  Body fat is really the main thing you should focus on.  It can be tough to measure, but here are some tips on measuring body fat.  You also want to take lots of measurements.  Your program should outline where to measure exactly.  The important thing here is to measure at the same spot every time.  That way you can really see the true difference.  The number of inches you lose plus the change in body fat is the best measure of progress in my opinion.

3) Photos

I know some people can be camera shy, especially when taking their ‘before’ picture, but I can’ts stress enough how important this is!  You want those day 1 pictures so that when you complete your program you can really see how far you’ve come.  You don’t have to share them with anyone else, but you should absolutely take them.  One of my biggest regrets was not taking more day 1 pictures.  At least I took one, but I wish I would have taken more to really see the progress I’ve made.  As you progress, taking pictures can really show how your body is changing, especially if the scale might not be moving as much as you want.

4) The scale

As far as quantitative measurements, this comes dead last.  The worst thing you can do for yourself is jump on the scale every day.  Especially at the beginning.  Yes I understand you want to lose weight, but sometimes it takes a little while to start seeing the scale move.  When you start out your muscles are going to be really sore.  When that happens, they hold water to repair themselves.  That means you might actually gain weight due to that water.  That’s OK.  It’s normal.   But it freaks people out and makes them want to quit.  So please, do not weigh yourself more than every 2 weeks.  If you’re putting your all into the workouts and the nutrition, the scale will move.  But don’t obsess about it, because everyone’s bodies react differently.  Sometimes it might take a while to see the weight loss you want.

How Often To Track Your Progress

So how often should you do these things?  To take measurements, pictures, weight and do your fit test, I think the perfect amount of time is once a month.  Any more than that and is a little too quick in my opinion.  If you take pictures every week or every two weeks, it will be harder to see changes.  But in a month you can see quite a bit of change, which is encouraging and can help you stick with it.

I know you want to see how you’re doing, so you probably want to check more often.  But honestly once a month is the best way to go.  Trust the program and wait the 30 days to track all these things.

Tracking Your Progress – Beyond The Numbers

Measurements are great, but there is more to your progress than just numbers and pictures.  I’m definitely a numbers guy and like to see the hard data on how I’m improving, but that’s not the whole picture.  How are you feeling?  How are your energy levels?  Do you have more confidence?  Are you able to get off some medications?  These are all super important to think about and take note of.  They’re harder to quantify but are a big part of the picture too.

Everyone wants to see progress, which makes sense.  Hopefully this article gave you some good insight into tracking your progress and some good things to measure.

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