The NUMBER ONE REASON You Aren't Achieving Your Fitness Goals
IMPORTANT NOTE: I really need you to read ALL of this. This is definitely the most important post I’ve written so far. Ok, read on :)
Maybe you’re trying to lose weight or gain some. Maybe you’re trying to shave a few seconds off your mile time or add an inch to your arms. Regardless of the fitness goal, you’re probably trying to achieve something. The issue is that you’re not seeing results. You say you’re eating healthy? Check. Working out consistently? Check. Getting enough sleep? Check. (If you’re not doing those things, maybe you should start there first). Seems like you’re doing all the right things, so what’s the problem?
It might be simpler than you think. See if you can answer the next few questions (depending on your goal):
What was your last mile time? When?
How much weight did you do on your last exercise and how many sets? Rest time?
Did you weigh yourself in the last week? How much did you weigh?
What did you eat for lunch 3 days ago? Breakfast and dinner?
How many inches is your waist? When was the last time you checked?
Maybe you see what I’m getting at. If you could answer any of those questions, it means you’re measuring what you’re doing. If you knew what you ate 3 days ago, it probably means you’re tracking it too. And these are perhaps the two most important things you can be doing to achieve your goals.
Peep this. There is a quote by Karl Pearson, a famous statistician, that goes “That which is measured improves. That which is measured and reported improves exponentially.”
What he means is that the only way we can improve something is if we measure it and are constantly aware of our current condition in that area. Even more so, we can improve it exponentially if we keep a record of it.
For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, first you have to know how much you weigh (measure it). Let’s say you take your weight to be 150lb. Good, now you have a starting point. Over the next 4 weeks you exercise, eat, and sleep perfectly. Everything seems to be going well, but you still feel like you’re the same weight. You finally decide to weigh yourself again and you find that you’re...152lb!? How??
Unfortunately, although you were eating, sleeping, and training perfectly, you were eating too much. You were eating the right foods, just in excess, which took you out of a caloric deficit (read up on what I mean by that here). Now you feel like you’ve wasted 4 weeks and you’re worse off than you started! So what did you do wrong?
You didn’t measure and track your weight.
The only way to know if you’re losing weight and improving is if you’re consistently measuring it, week to week. If you lose weight each week, that means you’re doing things right (and you’re in a caloric deficit). If not, that means something needs tweaking. But you’ll NEVER know if you don’t measure it.
From a practical and logical standpoint, if you don’t measure something, you can’t possibly know if you’re moving in the right direction, yet so many people (and I’ve been guilty of it too) don’t measure and track their progress. And yes, I know it’s tedious at first but spending a few extra minutes writing down what you did for exercise, what you ate during the day, and taking your bodily measurements will make a WORLD of difference for your fitness goals. I’d say a WORLD of difference is worth the 5 minute investment.
Lemme run through 3 benefits of measuring and tracking your exercise:
It is the the fastest possible way to (exponentially) progress. If you know what you’re doing, you know what’s working and what works best. When you know what works best, you can do more of that to make your progress even faster! If you don’t know if something is working or not, how could you possibly make fast progress?
It motivates you. When you see yourself improving, you get motivated to do even better and go even harder! The only way to see improvement is to measure it!
And lastly, it’s objective. When you record your workouts and meals, you can’t bullshit yourself. YOU see if YOU’VE been working out and if YOU’VE been eating right. Without that record, it’s much easier to convince yourself that you’ve been doing just fine (when in reality, you haven’t). MAKE YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE.
They say random actions get random results. If you want random results, choosing any exercise on any day for any amount of time (without reference from past workouts) is fine. But if you want to improve on any part of your fitness, start measuring and tracking your progress and using that to structure your workouts. I REALLY need you to understand this. IF YOU ARE NOT MEASURING AND TRACKING YOUR EXERCISE, YOU WILL NOT IMPROVE LIKE YOU WANT TO.
Here are a few tips on how to do it:
Choose what to track based on your goal. Tracking everything can be hard, so only choose the stuff that matters to you. Track the things you want to improve. Track food and exercise everyday, but weight and bodily measurements can be taken week to week. For food, write down what you eat daily and if you can, in what quantity (even if it's a rough estimate). For exercise, write down the exercise, the weight you use, how many sets you do, how many repetitions you do, and how much rest time you have. It might look something like this:
Bench Press @145lb
Set 1: x10
1:00 minute rest
Set 2: x9
1:00 minute rest
Set 3: x8
Grab a notebook or use your phone. You’ve always got something you can record with. Choose one and take it with you!
Take pictures. I know, this one is tough, especially if you’re not quite comfortable with your body or who you are yet, but when you see where you started vs where you are (or where you will be), you’ll see how far you’ve come. It’s also good to take them because day to day, we can’t always see changes in our body. But week to week and month to month, we can. Trust me, you’ll be happy you took them. Here’s some info on how to do it: https://www.fitwatch.com/blog/how-to-take-before-and-after-photos-for-weight-loss
Also, here are some phone apps you can use to track what you eat:
The dope part about these apps is that they’ve got barcode scanners, so if you want to record what you’ve been eating, all you have to do is scan the barcode on the food and it will pop up, ready to be recorded.
My final resource for you is on taking your measurements. This will tell you what to measure and how to do it.
Lastly, there’s one more thing you should know about measurements, especially weight: it’s not always accurate. First off, humans have water weight. Water weight fluctuates depending on how much you drink each day, so you can be a little heavier or lighter depending on your hydration. This will always skew your weight a little bit, so keep that in mind. And secondly, the scale doesn’t always decrease (at least not by that much), even when we are moving in the right direction.
When we’re burning fat and building muscle, we can start looking better and better, even without losing weight. This is because muscle is denser than fat, so when we swap 5lb of fat for 5lb of muscle, the scale might not change but our appearance will. I say this to say, don’t put all of your measurement eggs in one basket. Solely relying on your weight won’t give you the most accurate picture of your fitness. Mix up your measurements so you truly know how you are progressing!
Take your bodily measurements and track what is important to you.
Record your measurements, diet, and exercise weekly in a notebook or phone. Use the apps above to help you do it.
Use the information! The more you use what you’ve recorded (like what works and what doesn’t), the easier it will be to see improvement and progress.
I promise you that if you measure and record what you do, you will see improvements within, at most, 2 weeks. Remember, the only way you can deliberately progress is if you know what you’ve been doing!
Measure and record y’all.
Be Greater, fit fam.
- Khalil Jones