Measuring Health

I recently finished up our first New You Challenge. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous. Nervous about how well people would do, and nervous about having to pinch people’s fat. Luckily, I got a couple of ladies that were amazing to work with, and really enjoyed the process. The program included four weeks of eating whole foods, and three days a week of working out.

And the results were good. Really good.

One woman lost five pounds, 3% body fat, and 4.75” Another gained 6 pounds, but lost 1% body fat, and 6.5”

Both of these women look slimmer, and feel better.

I cannot say this enough. Basing your progress on weight alone will absolutely defeat you!

Get data. The more, the better.

At our gym we use a workout tracking software. Often new athletes seem put off by “one more thing” they have to do, but it doesn’t take long before that data really starts to give us a picture not only of what our athletes have done, but what they’re capable of doing. Not just how long a workout took, but what that individual's power output was. This is great as a morale booster when you think you're the slowest person in the gym, but also helps us coaches keep track of your progress in many different ways.

Your fitness should be constantly improving. But not knowing what that looks like can lead to disappointment. So set some goals for yourself using the following guidelines:

Is it Measurable and Observable?

"I just want to be skinny" or "I wanna feel good about me" aren’t helpful for you or anyone else that’s trying to help you reach your goals.

Pick goals that aren’t just vague ideas of something you have fond memories of. Saying I want to fit into the same size jeans I wore in high school might sound like a good goal, but there are a lot of factors you may not have figured in to this goal. For instance, that size 3 jean manufactured in the 90’s is NOT the same as a size 3 now. And maybe your body with some muscle tone won’t fit in them anyway. (Also, they’re probably outdated, and you should toss them if you’re still hanging on to them.)

I’ve compared pictures of myself at a skinny 135 and a more toned 150. Guess what? The 150 looked slimmer because I actually had less body fat.

Get your body fat percentage tested. There are a few different ways to do it, but pick one you can afford, and use that method each time you re-test.

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Take Pictures. Often.

Nobody wants to strip down to their underwear and have their picture taken, but I’ve never heard anyone say they regretted doing it. I HAVE heard over and over again “ I wish I’d taken a picture of me at the beginning of this journey.”

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Consider Other Health Benefits

Are you taking medications that might become unnecessary with a few months of healthy eating and some exercise? Do you have joint pain? These things can be measured, but not if you don’t write it down.

Get Some Blood Work Done

Get a regular checkup scheduled with your doctor. Ask him or her to run some basic tests so you have a baseline to work with. Blood work should include checking your cholesterol, glucose, and triglycerides levels. You should also keep track of your blood pressure. There are lots of apps and journals available to keep track of this stuff, so find something you like, and keep all that information in the same place. That way you have it, and you don’t have to make four different phone calls to get that information later.

If you really want to geek out on some numbers, companies like WellnessFx sell blood panel packages, and they input your results into an easy to understand chart. In addition, you may add any other lab work done elsewhere. (If you have labs done for work or a life insurance policy, be sure to have the results sent to you so you can add them)

Some of these numbers may seem unnecessary, but data over time can really help you understand your body better. And that is your best defense against sickness and disease.

Track your progress

The best part about multiple data points is that you can re-test any of these things to see where you’ve improved, and where you still need improvement.

Be patient.

Progress can be slow sometimes. Celebrate the progress you have made, and use the “little” wins to motivate you towards your bigger goals.

Better every day, right?