What Are The Best Ways To Measure Fitness?
In business there is a famous quote by Peter Drucker, “What gets measured gets managed”. Here at Boxfit we have our own take on that quote...
“What gets measured gets improved.”
This week, we want to convince you that the MOST important thing you can do for your health and fitness involves a pencil and paper…
Write everything down!
If you’re serious about making changes to your life and getting in shape, we cannot stress enough the importance of tracking your progress, and we don’t mean just stepping on the scale every morning and freaking out every time it goes up a gram.
We’re talking about a plan that allows you to find and stay on the right path.
Luckily, we’re here to help you start putting these practices in place TODAY.
Our mantra this week is “that which gets measured gets improved.”
This is true specifically for these reasons:
1. Scales don’t tell the whole story.
If you are training the right way as we teach here at BoxFit (with a mix of strength training, metabolic conditioning and mobility training), your weight might not drop as fast as it would if you starved yourself and ran 10 miles a day.
Have you ever experienced the situation where you have been training for a while and found you might be getting stronger and more toned but the scales refuse to budge?
Now, if you only had a set of scales as your ‘measuring stick,’ you’d probably get super discouraged and depressed at the lack of “progress.”
However, if you were tracking your body changes properly, you’d realize that you are making far more significant and healthier progress by doing things the right way.
2. You don’t know if you’re on the right path.
Along with the scales not telling the whole story, it’s tough to tell if you’re losing the right kind of weight in the right kind of places. There are so many other aspects to consider other than the number on the scale, including how you look, feel, and where the weight loss is coming from – your muscles or your stored fat. It’s like driving cross country without a map, compass, road signs, or landmarks to use, how do you know you’re going the right way if you have no idea where you are or where you’re heading?
3. You don’t know how much you’re eating.
If you’re overweight, you probably don’t realize how many calories you consume on a daily basis. If you’re underweight and “can’t gain weight no matter what I eat,” you probably don’t realize how many calories you consume on a daily basis. We have such a warped sense of reality when it comes to proper “portion size” and what constitutes a nutritional meal. We need to be better informed.
That’s why we focus a lot on nutrition so keep an eye out for healthy recipe ideas and top nutrition tips to accompany the great workouts we provide here at Boxfit.
4. You can’t tell if you’re getting stronger.
Our bodies need to be constantly challenged in order to adapt and get stronger.
If you do three sets of 10 push ups every day for a year, you will just be really good at doing 3 sets of 10 push ups and nothing more.
You need to constantly increase the difficulty of your workouts in order to get results. That’s why we have a range of fun and effective workouts aimed to challenge you no matter if you are a beginner or experienced exerciser. If you didn’t know how you did last time, how are you going to know if you’re doing better this time?
Hopefully, at this point you’ve at least come to the conclusion that maybe you should start tracking your progress.
Here’s how to do it.
Here are the best ways to track yourself OTHER than stepping on a set of scales:
1. Take a picture
Our favorite method. Embrace your inner Kardashian (or Chris Hemsworth for you guys ;-) and stand in front of a mirror in a bikini or your underwear with your phone camera and take a picture. Then turn to the side and take another picture of your profile view. You might not like what you see. You might not want to look at it again, and you probably won’t want to show it to anybody.
THAT’S FINE. Just take the picture, hide it in a folder on your phone, and add to it once a fortnight. It’s tough to notice changes on a day-to-day basis.
However, if you have 2-3 months or more of photos to look back on, you’ll be able to tell if your body is transitioning in the right way.
2. Take measurements
Grab a tape measure and make sure your measurements are taken in the morning and not after your workout. Also, make sure you measure the same location each week. Take a circumference measurement at each of these spots and write it down:
- Neck (place the measuring tape around your neck at the height where your collar would normally rest)
- Shoulders (both arms down at your side, at the widest point from shoulder to shoulder – you might need some help with this one!!)
- Chest (lift up your arms, wrap the tape measure around your chest, just above the nipple, and then lower your arms)
- Bicep (either left or right, but be consistent)
- Waist (at the belly button for consistency)
- Hips (measure the widest part of your hips)
- Thigh (left or right, but pick the same spot on your thigh each week)
3. Measure your body fat percentage
This one is a little tricky depending on your resources and financial situation.
If you are severely overweight, start by putting your focus on measuring cm’s and how you look with your pictures and then add this one in once you’ve had some initial success.
We are NOT fans of body fat calculators that are built into your scales as we find them to be wayyyy too hit and miss. But at the end of the day no test is truly 100% accurate, and the specific number isn’t nearly as important as how it’s changing from month to month. Even if your method of tracking your body fat percentage is less than optimal, you can at least make sure you measure it the same way each time to measure if it’s trending in the right direction.
In our opinion, measuring cm's or inches and observing changes in pictures is a far better estimate.
4. Track Your Food
Are you aware of how many calories you eat on a daily basis?
When we talk to somebody who is trying to gain weight/lose weight, the response is the same…
“I eat enough for my goals, but I’m not getting results…I guess it’s genetics!”
Unfortunately, 95% of the time, it’s usually down to our own ignorance and not genetics. Unless you’ve taken the time to actually count calories for a few days of your normal eating schedule, you probably have no clue how many calories you eat!
There is a saying I like…
You CAN’T outrun your fork – 80% of your successes or failures will be a direct result of how you eat.
Although the quality of your calories consumed is incredibly important, the quantity of calories you consume is the first thing that needs to be fixed.
Think of your stomach as a muscle that adapts to its surroundings. If you continuously shovel 3000 calories down your throat, your body will start to crave 3000 calories even though it doesn’t need that many.
Most people eat the same few meals over and over again on a weekly basis – I do.
For that reason, I don’t think it’s necessary for you to track ALL of your calories EVERY day for months and months. However, I think spending a week writing down every calorie is incredibly important for your education and awareness on what you’re eating. I’m talking every calorie including that croissant you ate at the counter in Blue Tokai this morning whilst waiting for your flat white, the cupcake you ate at your desk to celebrate “Sarah’s” birthday or the candy bar you picked up at the petrol station on the way home.
Every. Single. Calorie.
Once you have an idea of how much you eat regularly, take a look in the mirror.
Do you like how you look?
If so, GREAT! Keep doing what you’re doing. If not, it’s probably time to make some changes. Start by eating less and training your stomach to expect less.
Once you have your numbers under control, you can start making some other healthy changes.
If you eat out a lot, you’ll have to do some research – go to the restaurant’s website and they’ll probably have nutritional information on there.
If they don’t have it online, do your best to estimate by picking a similar meal option on one of the sites listed above and use its meal information instead. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but tracking your food for just a few days could be one of the most eye opening experiences you have when it comes to getting in shape.
Write it down, and you will be successful!
How are you tracking your progress?
Have you made adjustments to your plans after tracking your results? Do you have any questions on how to properly track your body, food, or workouts?
That’s what we’re here for.