Vigilance & Awareness: Part 2 – Progress
Progress – Quantitative Data
Tracking progress lets you know how you are coming along with your milestones. It gives you an idea where you were in the past and how far you have come since. Fitness and wellness is about big picture change; in a single month significant changes may not occur (i.e. increasing your lifts by 5lbs. or losing a single lb.). However, it is these small changes equate to vast improvements in your physique. Tracking progress also makes you aware of issues that are hindering progress, enlightening you that change in your regime is necessary.
Here is a list of important things you may want to track:
- Body Fat
- Circumference Measurements
Tracking you workouts tells you about progression in your strength and endurance. Giving you an indication if you are working towards your goals. For example, if you can only bench press 95lbs. on week one of a program and one month later you are up to 115 lbs.; unless you have a stellar photographic memory the significance of that improvement is lost. Workout tracking can be done via journaling, exercise app, etc. If you do choose to journal make sure that it is simple enough to decipher.
Weight alone is a static number it doesn’t provide any information regarding your body composition. Two people at the same exact weights can have significantly different physiques. For example, at 160lbs one person at 25% body fat has 120lbs of lean muscle mass at 15% body fat that same person would have 136lbs of lean muscle mass. Comparing fat mass that would equate to 40lbs of fat mass vs. 24 lbs of fat mass. It is entirely possible to not lose or gain a single pound of weight yet still experience significant changes to your body composition; only with accurate body composition testing is it possible to be aware of these changes. Weight is not the be-all-end-all to your physique and I cannot stress this point enough. Body-fat depicts much more accurately your physique baselines and improvements. A standard body composition analysis will tell you your fat mass, lean muscle mass, water mass, etc.
Increased abdominal fat mass has a correlation to numerous health risks. Circumference measurements are another great tool to measure changes in your physique without needing to visit a fitness professional to have your body composition tested. If losing weight the best measurements to track would be your waist and/or hips; however, there are plenty of other circumference measurements you may want to also track. Regardless of the measurement location, make sure you measure in the same location every time to increase accuracy. Additionally, do not pull the tape measure so taut that is pinches a body part as this will decrease measurement accuracy as well.
To be successful in your fitness and wellness endeavor, it is important to exercise and to have a well-balanced diet. Someone with an amazing diet is still able to gain weight if they eat too much and the same can be said for someone with a poor diet; though, it is a lot easier to consume a surplus of poor quality foods. As such it is important to track your consumption of food. There is a science to tracking calories which do take time to master; if you are going to track your calories it is important to track everything you consume (i.e. foods, drinks, alcohol, etc.). That being said, unless you are concerned with micro-nutrients it is highly unlikely you will consume enough vegetables to have a significant dent in your daily caloric limit.
Progress – Qualitative Data
Qualitative data is unable to be measured. Such as pictures, exercise notes, and feelings. Having a numerical value to everything can take away from the enjoyment of things. If you lose yourself in the numbers you can get discouraged or lose sight of the enjoyment of exercising.
Here is a list of important qualitative things to track:
- Picture Check-ins
- Exercise notes/diary
Pictures are worth 1000 words. Seeing progress in your physique via a picture is a great indication of changes over time. Albeit these progressions are gradual they do accumulate into a portrait of great transformation.
With tracking your workouts, it is important to know if a particular set felt easy or your thoughts on an exercise. These notes don’t have to be particularly lengthy rather “225 felt easy go to 230 next week” is more than enough.
Qualitative data is more about how your feel, confidence in yourself and your self-image. Whereas quantitative data is raw collected data. Both have their place in your fitness and wellness regimes; however, at no point should either be the determining factor for your continued hard work and motivation. By tracking your progress, you will be able to stay consistently motivated with gradual improvements you make. There will be bumps along the way; however, with the right mindset and the proper determination they will only be minor inconveniences along the way. In conclusion, it is up to you to take the next step and determine what is necessary to keep moving forward.