Do you even track?
For most of us, training or improving one's health involves going to the gym and making an extra effort with good nutrition.
Shortly after beginning, something called life and ‘priorities’ will take over and quickly put an end to your good intentions. At worst, within weeks you will completely move on from your good intentions, and at best if you’re self disciplined, you will push until reaching a plateau and repeat the same cycle over and over again without getting the results you want.
What could you add to the equation to keep you going and get the results you are hoping for, whether it’s improving your health or overall fitness and physique?
It’s time to track it all down!
Track it or lose it.
Keeping a record will make a difference as well as keeping you on the right path.
What to track?
Depending on the goal you have set, it is better advised to track more than 1 key area, as most will have interactions between them, i.e.: weight loss does not go with just tracking fitness, nutrition is crucial here too.
Here are a few areas to start with:
Measuring Fitness & Physique
So let's focus more on how you track progress and the actual progression side of training.
If your goal is weight loss and looking better for the holiday season, then we want to track your body-fat percentage.
Scales are not the best indicator of results for weight measurements; in fact it could lead you to make the wrong assumptions. Body fat measurement is more accurate, as you can put on weight and actually look and be leaner. Muscles are 7 times heavier than fat. With 100g of fat lost you may have taken on 700g of muscle, which is crucial to burn that extra fat to start with.
We could add to this a few points of body measurements like: waist, upper thigh, hips and chest. Visual progress is also helpful, yes I do mean the before and after picture that most trainers use for their promotions. It does not have to go on Facebook though and can be kept private! Here are some guidelines on how to do it yourself.
You might want to look at the nutrition side of things too and make sure you are getting your Macronutrients ratio right (protein/carbohydrates/fats). This requires a bit of organisation, having an idea of what is enough will avoid you the process of weighing your food etc.
For the time-poor there is also a great food delivery service that does all the hard work for you and delivers right to your home or office.
Tracking progress isn’t super complicated. You just need to be intentional and consistent.
Know the goals you are trying to accomplish within every training session that fit into your overall training goals for that time of year. Based on those goals, track the parameters that will help you to identify your progress.
If your goal is speed or agility, then once a week track either sprint or agility drill time during that portion of your training session.
What can I track for health?
Biological health is a mix of optimal physical, physiological and biological functions.
It has never been a better time for it. The public health system is in crisis and many alternatives are now available, from private care to all sorts of different services offered by practitioners like myself are increasingly becoming more common and accessible. It’s simply a response to a failing system that needs an alternative.
In his brilliant book ‘The patient will see you now’, Dr Eric Topol demonstrates how we are now in an area of democratised medicine, where we have immediate access to our own data and can generate much of it and be in the driving seat of our own health.
So what can you track for health? Here are a few biomarkers for tracking core clinical imbalances.
- Cellular transport: HDL (cholesterol - leads to cardiovascular disease)
- Detoxification: biomarker GGT
- Defence: biomarker Hs-CRP (leads to chronic inflammation)
- Cellular communication (hormones): biomarker haemoglobin A1c (long term imbalance can lead to type 2 diabetes)
There are many others that can also be checked.
All of these biomarkers are easily influenced and can be rebalanced by adjustments in your lifestyle behaviour, environment and diet.
- Macro-micro-Nutrients / vitamins and mineral levels
Any imbalances in one or several of your nutrients, vitamins or mineral levels will in the long term influence imbalances in one or several of your key physiological processes.
Tracking and creating a positive feedback loop
Tracking your progress will not only keep you on track but will also allow you to appreciate the milestones you have set for yourself and enjoy the rewards that goes alongside.
This will create a positive feedback loop, which will fuel your motivation to keep you going further and further.
I have seen clients who started out being unhealthy and overweight, who have achieved milestone after milestone. They have not only reaped the rewards of a healthier lifestyle but it has made a positive impact on many other areas of their lives, including improving their relationships and sex life (let's not be shy here!), to turning their careers around and trying new activities that a few years ago they would never have considered or thought possible.
Personalise your tracking
Now once again, it is all down to you! We are all unique, and your aspirations and the tweaks you need to make in order to reach your goal will be unique to you. There is no one magic formula.
What's your zone? What group of food(s) should you avoid? What key health area(s) should you treat as a priority?
It all starts with you as a pro-active individual, so before setting a goal with milestones and rewards, know your own ‘shortcuts’ and avoid the frustration of guesswork, which is a massive contributor to people giving up on their goal.
We are in the era of personalisation and it is about time you treat yourself as unique individual.
Please leave a comment, tweet me @gensmartme or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with ANY questions about this post — if anything wasn’t clear, if you want me to be more specific about your situation or any other questions you have.
Thank you for reading!