You are eating all the healthy foods, having your green smoothies, kale, and working out for what feels like hours on end. But for some reason you just simply cannot see results even when you cut all of those sweet treats and mocha lattes, it can be very frustrating right? What’s the point? Well, the main issue may be purely the fact that you are not tracking your progress and your means to your progress. If you can track it you can change it and continue to progress. But if you don’t, then you are flying blind.
I know it seems a little far-fetched because we are all told from all aspects of media that we need to eat “healthy” to lose weight and just do a bunch of spin classes. But it doesn’t quite work that way. This is because calories matter, stress matters, resistance training matters, just to name a few factors. So it is important to track your progress in order to be able to know what is working and what is not working so you can make specific changes to ensure you are continually making progress.
This is the number one most important thing that you should do. You have most likely heard the expression “you can’t out-train a bad diet”. Well, it’s not so much a “bad ” diet you need to worry about for fat loss but that you can’t out train a high caloric intake. Even when you switch to eating all “healthy foods” these foods, even though they may be better for you in terms of having more nutrients in them, they still yield calories. For example, a medium banana is 110 calories, where a Tim Tam (my favorite chocolate biscuits) are 95 calories per biscuit. Now I am not saying you need to all switch to eating Tim Tams, but I want to make you aware of the caloric difference which can add up with ANY food whether it is deemed “healthy” or “unhealthy”. I am all about balance 80% whole foods and 20% non-whole foods (notice how I didn’t say bad food, because there are no bad foods, food is food, too much of anything is bad for you). However, you CAN overeat calories on any food not matter how healthy or unhealthy it may be for you. This is why if you track your intake on any food you consume, you can make changes where they are necessary in order to keep your progress on track.
Now that you have step one underway you need to know you to track your food. I recommend you weigh as much of your food as possible for at least your first 2 weeks. This will give you an idea of actual portion sizes and reduce any chances of overeating. Weighing your food and preparing the majority of it yourself will be the most accurate to track it, and as you become better at tracking over time you will be able to understand food portions when you eat out socially. You won’t need to weigh and track your food forever but it’s a great starting point to ensure you learn about the nutritional content of food and how much of it to actually have per meal. Try weight a “tablespoon” of peanut butter, it will blow your mind how little a table spoon is, trust me. The more accurate you are with your food portions, the more accurate information you will have at your disposal to manipulate in order to hit your goals.
While the scale is a useful tool to track progress, many people place way too much emphasis on the number on the scales. For some reason, we place that little number on a pedestal and think it is be all end all when it comes t tracking progress. However your body is smarter than you are, and just because your weight is not going down on the scale as quickly as you would like, does not mean your body composition is not changing while you lose body fat and build muscle. This is why I recommendation measuring your progress via a few different means in order to get a better understanding of what is actually going on. Take your weight, measure your waist and other circumferences if you wish. Take progress photos, and you may even wish to have someone track your skin folds for you. When you do your measurements and photos, do them in the same spot first thing in the morning before food and after going to the bathroom to eliminate any chance of errors.
Now I’m not talking your scale weight here. I am talking the weight you lift during resistance training. IN order to make progress you need to continue to challenge your body, this means you should track how much you are lifting in the gym each session, each week. Your body is very good at adapting to any stress you place on it, including exercise. If you try to lift a little more weight each week and become stronger over time you will continue to keep your results rolling with minimal plateaus.
C.A.R.D.I.O, that little 6 letter word with have a love-hate relationship with. Now some cardio will most likely need to be done for you to ensure you reach your fat loss goals. However, the aim should be to use cardio to break through plateaus and keep progress going, rather than doing a million hours of it because we think we need to. So make sure you keep track of how many intervals you do or how much steady state cardio you have added. If you hit a plateau you may add something as simple as 1 interval extra, or 5-10 minute of steady state extra to each session to keep your progress going.
Now that you have the tools you need to track your progress make sure you set your goals and let’s get tracking!