If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress
– Barack Obama
What is your current weight? What was it when you started? Does cardio exercise help you reduce weight? Or do weights help you burn more calories? At some point of time, these questions will come your way when you begin your journey. To find the answers to these questions, one very important thing that I learnt from a friend of mine is to maintain a “Fitness Journal”. It is important to keep tracking your progress to review if you are on the right track. But the caution is here is to not go overboard.
So what should you be tracking? How can it help you? Let us look at some of the aspects objectively.
Basic / Beginner
If you have just started working out, your goal will be either to loose weight or gain weight. So, the first thing you need to maintain in your journal, is your weight. You do not need to track your weight everyday or multiple times in a day. Track maybe once a week or once in 15 days, if that is your goal. But decide a time of the day (say before breakfast, after lunch, evening), and track it during that time only. This will keep the pre-requisites constant and will give you better and accurate readings.
The next item on the list is the workout details. If there are specific exercises, write down what exercises you have done. It is important to track the exercise time (and not the rest times), and also the time of the day. In later posts we will try and understand how we can use this.
As a beginner, I started using apps like SamsungHealth, GoogleFit and Strava. There are many free apps available. They may not give you the most accurate information, but they can help create a base for you. So get used to tracking via these apps. They also help you track calories that you have burnt, post-workout.
If your workout timing exceeds 30-45 mins every day and you work out at least 4-5 days a week, then you have just upgraded yourself to intermediate. In addition to the begginer workout tracking you will need to track some additional aspects. By now you will have a specific diet plan. So track if you are following this diet plan. Write down everything that you have eaten during the day, with the timing. After a week you will realise what to avoid and what to add into the diet.
Tracking your Heart Rate (HR) on a regular basis is a good practice. Relaxing HR, workout HR, pre-workout HR and post-workout HR, whichever you can (and you do not need to track all). This helps us understand if we need to make our workout more intense or need to rest.
Many people also track Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) or Body Mass Index (BMI). These are important factors to ensure that your exercising is on the right path. BMR can help you maintain your calories well. BMI is more accurate than weight. eg. Body builders are heavy, but their BMI is lower. So you need to find the right BMI for yourself.
Fitness trainers, bodybuilders, marathoners, athletes etc, all come in Advanced category. For them, the tracking will be as instructed by their trainer or coach.
It is advisable to get professional advise at every stage while working out, because everyone’s body structure and vital stats are different. If today I try to copy someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Virat Kohli or Akshay Kumar and try to do their exercises, I would end up injuring myself. So, it is important to talk and discuss with someone who is either aware or is a professional guide / trainer.
While, what to track and what not to, depends on the goal of an individual, overall tracking and measurement really helps us understand if we are moving on the right track and if our journey requires any course correction. A Fitness Journal can really help us manage our goals in a structured way.
Caution: DO NOT GO OVERBOARD!!! The only risk we face is some of us really go overboard. You will know if you are going overboard, if you are either giving up too easy or starving yourself or facing pains/injuries and health problems. So, it is better to take professional help wherever necessary.
So, I hope you will now begin your own Fitness Journal. Try it! It really works!
Stay Fit! Stay Healthy!