Tracking Your Progress, How to Do It Right
Setting goals for fitness and health is easy, but sticking with them isn’t. So, what is the trick to staying focused when the initial enthusiasm is over and the day to day routines set in?
Tracking your progress may be the tool that can help you stay focused and reach your goals. But with so many ways to do this, how do you know which technique is right? Here are some tips to help you track your progress, and find the approach that is right for you.
What, Exactly, Do I Track?
The answer to this question depends on what your goal is. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, track your workout days and diet. If your goal is to run a marathon, you might track the same, but your focus will be on tracking endurance ability and distance. The basic information you track is similar for most fitness goals, but details should be adjusted for the type of workout.
The steps you use to track your progress can be a great way to help you stay focused and motivated. For example, keeping track of your day-to-day activities can help you learn what food gives you energy and which workouts help you get closer to your goals. With practice, the specific details you of what is best to record will become more apparent.
Set Your Goals
As mentioned above, your goals will define what, exactly, you decide to keep track of. When deciding on your personal goals, the best practice is to set a long-term goal along with shorter goal “posts” on the way and reward yourself for smaller accomplishments. This practice will keep you focused and motivated as you begin to realize your progress.
Make a Plan and Write it Down
Once you determine your goals, create an action plan to reach them. Creating fitness steps, or actions that will be taken to reach your goals will keep you focused. Having a step-action plan will give you a greater chance of success, but a good plan should include details that are easy to follow. Once you decide on what steps you will take, write them down.
A plan that works on a day to day basis will be far more successful when it conveniently fits into your current daily schedule. Time constraints are the biggest barrier to physical activity, so scheduling fitness activities during times when you know you are available can help you stick with them.
The same is true for healthy eating; time pressures often lead people to eat unhealthy food, but scheduling a shopping day and setting aside time each week for meal preparation can help you stick to diet goals.
Post Your Plan Where You Can See It
It may sound odd, but many people simply forget about their health goals. Here’s why; when a goal is initially set, it is easy to feel motivated the first few days. But when the day to day routine sets in, stress and work consume much of our mind power. When busy, it is easy to forget about a new diet and instead eat a bagel or drive straight home from work without stopping at the gym. Humans are creatures of habit, so it might take some practice to help you stay focused.
To overcome this, simply use a wall calendar or whiteboard and add your current, daily commitments like work. Then add the days and times you plan to exercise, along with the type of exercise you will do. Next, add in shopping days and create a healthy shopping list. Lastly, find time each day, or once each week to add in meal preparation. Having this schedule posted where you can easily see it each day will remind you of your goals.
Create a Journal
While a posted wall calendar provides an overall picture of your routine, a journal helps you keep track of details like meals, workout routine details, body composition, weight or any other details that are part of your fitness journey.
· Journal Style
Keep track of your daily progress in a personal fitness journal. The old-school way is to write your progress down in a paper notebook that you carry with you. For those who prefer the updated version, use a fitness app to record your workout routines and daily activities.
Part of tracking your progress is keeping track of your diet because fitness begins in the kitchen. Record items in your personal journal-like each food and beverages you consume; you might be surprised at how quickly calories add up. Add water intake to ensure you are properly hydrating.
Keep track of your workout. For example, record how many miles you run or swim, or how many sets and repetitions you do for each exercise of a workout. This practice will help you plan your next workout and see your progress. Review your previous workout before you begin your next so you can build off of it and make any necessary changes. Fitness apps like Yes.Fit make it easy to track daily workout progress, and earn awesome rewards while doing it.
Many people find that adding reactions such as how they feel after a certain meal or how they feel after a workout can help identify issues like food allergies or over-training. As your journal becomes seasoned with a week or so worth of entries, it can become a valuable source of information that helps you analyze and fine-tune your entire fitness plan.
Continually Update Your Journal and Your Goals
Update both your journal and your overall plan on a regular basis. Properly keeping track of your progress requires that you add to your journal entries each day, including diet and workout routine. But it is also a good idea to regularly analyze your overall plan and goals.
As life goes on, situations change, or our goals may need updating. Life often throws curve balls, like an alteration in a work schedule or children’s school schedules, while fitness goals often change as you change. For example, if you decide to enter a race, your fitness routine should be updated, or if you lost weight you might alter your diet for maintenance instead of weight loss.
Keeping track of your progress is easy once you incorporate a process. Wall calendars and fitness trackers can make the job easier than ever to help you stay focused, so set up your personal program and see your goals come to life.