How do you track your fitness? If you ask most people it is simply by the number that they see on the scale. This is simply how we’ve been conditioned to not just track our physical health and fitness but even our self worth. The ladder part makes me cringe extra hard, but it is true. Think back to growing up in general, most of us had parents who owned a scale and they visited it frequently making sure they didn’t get too heavy. Or your parents likely owned a scale and they NEVER got on it in fear it would tell them something they didn’t want to see! A disclaimer here folks, if you don’t get on the scale your weight is still the same. But the number on the scale reflects nothing, it’s simply one data point that could literally tell us nothing.
Be obsessed with performance! My gift to you is merely this suggestion. Be obsessed with what your body can do and what you are training it to accomplish. I’m not telling you to go run marathons, sign up for iron mans, compete in the CrossFit Games or to sign up for a power lifting meet or even the next spartan or mud run in your area. What I am encouraging you to do is to find out what you are capable of and build upon it. For some that means tracking some of your lifts in the gym or runs outside and having a goal to simply improve them over time. This would take daily or weekly tracking and also being sure to record the data so you know that your training and lifestyle are allowing them to trend in the direction you hoped for. For some others reading this you may a goal of simply squatting all the way down below parallel without holding onto anything or being able to stand up off the ground from a lying position without any help and some it may even be to stand up off a couch without assistance or walk around their home 1x without stopping. The goals we will seek and progress will all be severely different. But our focus should simply be on what we can do currently and finding a means to improve it.
Over time what you’ll notice is that your focus will be on how you eat, how you sleep, how you train holistically because they all effect how you perform in and out of the gym. You don’t need access to a scale or need to get your body fat checked constantly to know that if you can run 1 mile without stopping and previously you could only run 800m without stopping, that you are improving. It also doesn’t take a scale to know that if you could only do 20 unbroken or consecutive push ups a month ago and now you can do 45 unbroken that you’ve gotten stronger or gotten light and likely a combo of both. Which truly doesn’t matter when your goals are based on what your body can do! The goal with shifting the way we view our training and progress allows us to avoid the self image issues much of us (especially today’s youth) are dealing with. We all suffer from body dysmorphia, meaning we often see ourselves much different than others. And a way we can combat that is to be less concerned overall about our body weight and shape and more about what we can do with it. I’m confident that if we as people can treat our bodies like athletes and help it optimally perform both in and out of the gym we will love what we see in the mirror and the results we get through our choices. Not just that, but we will also notice positive trends in blood work, body fat, cholesterol, blood pressure and other bio markers we may seek or have tested by professionals.
So, how do you track personal progress? Let’s try to look to the scale less and more toward improving strength, capacity, and fitness!