Many people come to me looking to firm up and lose a few inches around their waists or thighs so they feel and look better. Others reach out, with the intent of building up their energy levels and increasing their strength so they can do more throughout the day. When I ask them how many inches they want to lose, or how much more weight they want to be able to lift, they have no idea because they haven’t ever tracked their progress. I truly believe that if you’re not measuring and tracking your progress, you can’t improve. When it comes to your healthy habits, tracking your progress is vital to making changes.
How Do you Start Tracking Your Healthy Habits?
Healthy Fitness Habits
For exercise, I find it’s best to set up your fitness schedule one month ahead. Map out the days and times you will work out, for how long and which body parts you will focus on during each session. I find it easiest to build my fitness schedule right into my Outlook work calendar, but tracking it on a paper calendar can be just as effective.
Building your fitness schedule is half the battle, now you’ve got to follow it. I block time for my fitness sessions off, like I would any other work meeting or appointment. Life gets busy, and my schedule changes, but if I have a fitness block booked that I can no longer make, I don’t just delete it, I move it to another time in my calendar for that day. Treat your exercise time like the valuable self-care treatment time that it is. If you do miss a session, document that. Count the number of sessions or hours you managed to complete, versus what you had in your plan. If you achieved what you wanted to, give yourself a reward, like a massage, pedicure or new exercise shirt. If you missed your goal, aim even harder to achieve it in the next month.
Fitness trackers are a great way to monitor your daily activity over the long-term. Try setting a daily step goal for yourself, and sticking to it for at least 6 out of 7 days (remember the 80 / 20 rule?).
Healthy Eating Habits
To help me with my healthy nutrition habits, I like to plan my meals at least one or two weeks out. Try mapping out your meal plan for the week (or two). Plan out your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. It’s easiest to write out the groceries you’ll need while you’re figuring out your menu.
When Covid is finally over, and we’re able to socialize again, if you know that you’re have a meal out with friends, build that into your weekly plan. Strategize to eat a little cleaner before and after that meal out, since eating at a restaurant is usually heavier in calories, versus the meals you make at home.
Figuring out your meal plan is half the battle. You still have to follow it. Until healthy eating habits are solidified, which usually takes a few months to build up, I recommend my clients track each and everything they consume in a nutrition app, a day planner or even the notes on their phone.
There’s no perfect fitness and nutrition tracking tool that will work for everyone. The tool you choose to use, is less important than getting started on your tracking – right now, today! As always, try to take a balanced approach to your tracking and see what enables you to be the most productive.
What are the Benefits of Tracking?
- Success. Building, and sticking with your healthy habits can be challenging. If it wasn’t, we’d all be strong, energetic, toned, and confident people. If you’re going to put the work in to live healthier, don’t you want success? My clients who track their habits and follow the 80 / 20 rule achieve much better results. They often lose double the weight or inches off their frame, versus those who don’t ever share their fitness routines or food trackers with me.
- Awareness. When you track healthy habits, you increase your self-awareness. You can celebrate your wins. Like I’ve said above, treat yourself with a massage or new fitness attire when you reach your monthly fitness goals. The self-awareness built through trackers, gives us the power to make adjustments to our plan and tackle challenges that we may face.
Tracking food consumed in particular, keeps us honest. It is far too easy to under-estimate your food intake. In fact, studies have shown that may of us under-estimate what we eat in a day by 1000+ calories – this is significant! There are a ton of hidden calories in cooking oils, sauces, drinks (cream & sugar) and alcohol. Trackers bring awareness to all of these foods.
- Accountability. Healthy habit trackers hold you accountable to your plan. They provide you with visual cues. As an example, if you decide to mark all workouts you followed based on you plan with a checkmark, and those that you missed with an ‘X’ , you’ll quickly be able to count up the checkmarks versus ‘X’s to visually rate how you’re doing. After you track healthy habits for a couple of months, you’ll begin to see what days, times or other triggers are more challenging for you. Maybe weekends are tougher and you need to work a little harder to instill your healthy habits on Saturdays and Sundays. If this is the case, you’re not alone, they’re harder for me too!
To Sum it up…It’s Important to Track Healthy Habits
If you are looking to make some changes to your health, energy or strength, I find that if you’re not measuring and tracking your progress, differences take a lot longer to happen. Tracking your progress is vital to making changes and improvements to your healthy habits in particular. Trackers make you more successful in achieving your goals. They increase your awareness as to what you’ve been doing and the changes you need to make. They will also hold you more accountable to your goals. I know it’s not easy and that it takes time to set-up a tracking system that works for you. If you’re looking for assistance, please reach out to me, I’d love to help!