Perhaps the most common way of tracking fitness progress is the scale. But that isn’t the only way. There are many reasons to work out and many ways to track improvements. You can actually be making progress even if you only drop a few pounds. That should be good news for those who are endlessly greeted by a stubborn, unmoving scale. Here are some other things to measure.
Decide what metrics matter to properly track your fitness progress….
Have your health numbers improved?
For example, if you are prediabetic or even diabetic, lowering you a1c – a measure of blood sugar control – can help you better manage or avoid the condition. Lose just 5 to 10% of your body weight and lower your a1c number to below 7 to realize improvements. Maybe you won’t be able to get into your favorite pair of jeans, but you may be able to avoid medication or worsening symptoms. Have your a1c number tested at least twice annually and more regularly if the number is high. Likewise, improved blood pressure and cholesterol get a high five in the progress department. Record your starting numbers and track improvements with each doctor visit.
Are you faster or stronger?
Maybe you could finish a mile in 18 minutes when you started your fitness program. Now, it takes only 15 minutes. Good for you! Track improvements in speed or strength by recording length of workout and distance traveled, or reps completed, and weight lifted after each workout.
Have you lost inches?
Muscle weighs more than fat so your clothes may fit better, or you may be leaner even if you are the same weight. Measure your waist, arms, chest, thighs, etc. at the beginning of your fitness journey and once weekly going forward. Pay attention to how your clothes fit, too.
Do you have more energy?
Exercise doesn’t only lead to improvements in physical health. You will also enjoy better emotional health. Notice if you are sleeping more deeply, if stress levels are improved, if you have more energy or just feel better overall. Track energy and stress levels on a scale of 1 to 10 daily to monitor improvements.
How many calories are you taking in?
Use an app such as Loseit or MyFitnessPal to track all meals and snacks. It is easy to underestimate daily calories and fat so don’t guesstimate. Write it down so you get a full picture of the nutrients and calories you are taking in. Give particular attention to fiber and protein, getting adequate amounts of both can support your health management goals.
To measure the metrics that matter to you, explore apps or use a journal. Record inputs daily – these are exercise, meals and snacks. Remember this rule – if it goes in your mouth, it goes on the page…no matter how small. Record outputs at least weekly – these are weight, inches, speed and strength. Other outcomes, such as health numbers should be monitored during your regular doctor visits. Most of all, monitor how you feel. Check in with yourself throughout the day and notice when you have more energy or reduced stress levels. Paying attention to how great you feel will give you the motivation you need to keep up the good work.