"What gets measured gets managed" Peter Drucker
"What gets measured gets done" Tom Peters
There are dozens of studies which show, conclusively, that people who track their progress in any given area are significantly more likely to make lasting, positive change and achieve their goals. This is, perhaps, never so important than when your goal is fitness and health.
Keeping a comprehensive daily log of everything you eat, everything you drink, every rep you perform, every step you take or even every penny you spend, is without doubt the most effective way to manage your goals and give you the best possible chance for success. All too often, the difference between what we think we have done and what we have actually done is quite literally the difference between success and failure.
There are several ways you can keep an effective log of your health activities but the key, as always, is not so much about the method you use but rather the consistency you employ in using it.
Keep a notepad with you at all times
Write down everything you eat, drink and do. If you eat a chicken breast with a handful of vegetables, write it down. If you eat a cookie at lunch time, write it down. If you walk the dog for an hour, write it down. If you go to the gym and perform 100 total reps, write it down. This not only provides a clear day by day picture of everything you do, it also allows you to eliminate the “bad” things that you can see mounting up throughout the weeks and improve on the “good” things by doing a little more of them each day.
Use a Food & Exercise Diary
These come in a variety of forms and you can simply print one off from the internet or design your own. They provide a slightly more organised system than a notebook but essentially do the same job. When bound together, a food diary can provide an “at a glance” day by day perspective of where you are doing well throughout the week and where you can improve. This diary format also makes it easier for a third party, such as a health coach or trainer, to identify key areas and advise accordingly
Use a Tracking App such as FitBit or My Fitness Pal
For some people, having to whip out a piece of paper or notebook and pen each time they do or eat anything can become impractical and quickly “forgotten”, so using a Tracking App like FitBit, which sits handily on your smart phone and is always with you, can be a much more realistic method of logging your day’s activity. Several years ago these kinds of apps were quite inconsistent and cumbersome to use but today they are sophisticated, fun and, most importantly, extremely simple to use, They will give you updates on your progress and useful feedback to keep you motivated each day, tracking everything from daily steps, stairs climbed, calories burned in the gym, calories consumed, macro nutrient ratios, even how well you are doing compared to your friends. They make tracking your progress fun and easy which in turn makes it easier for you to be consistent and, as we know, consistency is the key to lasting change.
Of course whichever method you choose, the important thing is that you understand the effectiveness of tracking your activities and measuring your progress. So pick the method that works best for you and stick to it, every day. This one simple trick will undoubtedly prove to be your most powerful weapon in the fight to improve your health and achieve your goals. What gets measured gets managed, what gets measured gets done!