Have you ever worked on a fitness routine while feeling like you weren’t making progress toward your goals? You’ve eaten well, walked mile after mile and lifted weight after weight – but you still feel like you’re at square one.
If you want to improve your fitness level, you can’t forget the part about tracking your progress. The most progress is made when you strategically set new goals based on what needs improvement.
See below for some different self-monitoring strategies that can hold you accountable.
My Watch Can Do What?
These days, it seems like everyone has a type of fitness tracker:
- Low-tech pedometer, etc.
All of these tools are used to measure different types of fitness. For example, keep track of how far or how long you walk when you get on an elliptical. Use these numbers to challenge yourself by a quarter of a mile or two extra minutes during your next workout.
Fitness trackers are very handy to have, especially on trail walks for tracking distance and elevation. If you need to increase your aerobic capacity, most watches and wearable trackers have a heart rate option. You can use it to track your heart rate and see when to kick your workout up a notch.
There’s a Fitness App for That
If you don’t like wearable fitness trackers, there are a ton of apps out there to help you with your fitness goals. RunKeeper tracks mileage, speed and pace, and it can even connect to your favorite music player. It also has a long list of aerobic activities you can do, including:
- Mountain biking
- Even Nordic walking!
Do you want to do more than walking? Check out FitBit Coach. Whether you have a FitBit or you don’t, this app can give you guided audio and video exercise routines that you can also customize. That way, you can work toward any strength goal you want to obtain.
Take a Breather from the Scale!
Stepping on the bathroom scale isn’t always motivating. It’s easy to get discouraged by a number that is actually influenced by a lot of different factors. We put so much value on the number it shows, even to the point of forgetting all the good you are doing for your body.
I often encourage clients to pay less attention to the scale and more attention to their body composition. The latter is more reliable because it looks at your body fat and muscle percentage. The scale, on the other hand, changes quite often.
Here are some other strategies:
- Skin calipers
- Bod Pod
- InBody machine
- Measurements: Girth, hips, waist, chest, arms and legs
To take your body measurements, all you need is a simple measuring tape. It can help you track changes to your physical body and see what progress you are making. These numbers will usually tell you more about your progress than the number on the scale will.
Listen to Your Body
Your fitness level isn’t always gauged by physical factors. I always ask my clients, “How does your body feel today?” This question lets them think about what their body needs vs what their mind wants.
A fitness journal can help you take note of this. Comment on what feels good, bad, hard and easy so you can plan progressive workouts. If you’re doing your usual five-mile run but something doesn’t feel right, take note. Your body may be telling you that it needs to rest or it needs cross-training to prevent injury. If you’re lifting weights and the workout suddenly feels easier, jot down your repetitions and the weight you are using. During your next session, you can increase either or both.
Look at How Far You’ve Come
Regardless of what strategy you use, please make an effort to recognize your progress in both health and fitness. High and low technology have allowed us to track speed, distance, weight training and everything in between. No matter what your goals are, measuring your progress can get you there!
About the Author:
Angelie Juaneza, M.S.Ed, NASM-CES, FMSC, earned her Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Texas. She is an Exercise Physiologist and Health Fitness Professional with a Corrective Exercise Specialist certification. Angelie specializes in functional training for the general population, athletes, those handling diseases or any other physical limitations. She has a background in exercise testing and supplement research studies which has fueled her passion for educating others through their health and fitness journey. For more information on the author, visit: www.fitnessbeyondtraining.com.