Remember the my first of my 10 principles – track it! You need to set goals (#4), and you can’t know how you’re doing in your quest to achieve them without knowing where you started from or where you are along the journey. Today, the first day of the year, is the perfect day to measure things.
When I say, “measure,” I don’t just mean get on a scale, whip out a measuring tape and take some circumference reads or whatever. ‘Measure’ can also mean taking a ‘before’ photo. It can mean writing down what you ate for breakfast, how you felt when you woke up, how much you can bench press, how long you slept for, how many miles you can run/bike/swim before having to stop due to exhaustion – whatever. The measurement should just tie back to your goal. And having only one measurement to track can be limiting, so consider having a few that together give you a picture of how you’re doing.
For example, if I just used my weight in my quest for better fitness, I’d be discouraged at some of the wrong times and encouraged erroneously. My lowest weight (169 and change) was hit just before having double hernia surgery. One of the reasons was that I had worked hard on cross-training leading up to having to cut back due to my hernias. So my weight had gone up a bit as I built muscle. While I was still lean and fit, my muscles were getting smaller, so my weight was dropping. I wasn’t unfit, but certainly not as fit as I had been when I weighed 178 a month prior.
The other thing about taking measurements is that you can never go back and take more, so take a few you aren’t sure you care about today. I had my weight and body fat recorded, but had no circumference measurements and no ‘before’ photo when I started my fitness and health journey on July 1st, 2011. I really wish I had them – it would help remind me of how far I’ve come and how well I’ve done on days when my more immediate comparison points suggest short term stagnation against my goals.
So, be sure you know what your goals are – both near-term and ultimately- and take 15 minutes to put together your January 1st starting points. Then, using these goals and the measurements against them, you will start your journey to enlighten.your.body.