Hello fitness friends,
The new year is in full swing. We are a couple of weeks deep now. How are your fitness goals coming along? Wonderfully? Okay? Miserably? How do you know? To ask a "Bro" question- "Do you even track?"
One of the most common problems I have seen over the years coaching people is a lack of tracking. I will give you some background. I have been training individuals and small groups for about a decade now. One of the most common phrases I hear from clients regarding making change is, "I know what to do, I just need to do it." It is absolutely true for a good number of people that need to buckle down and set a goal that means something to them, something they really can throw themselves into with full confidence. I am willing to bet these folks fail to grasp exactly how complex things can be dealing with the human body, however just being consistent on basics can carry you a long way. What they think they need to do, and actually are doing, can be very different things though.
Let's take the calendar year for example. Today is Monday January 18th, 2016. Or, put another way, 5% of the way through the entire year. By the end of January, we will be through 8% of the year. Does it seem different to think about it in those terms? February still seems very early in the year, until you think about the fact that a couple weeks in you are 10% of the way to 2017. So why is that important to tracking?
Say you make the decision to have better habits to drop holiday weight gain. You are going to do it all. Eat right, hit the gym, adopt one of those abandoned pets from the commercials with the sad Sarah Mclachlan music. The works. You are killing it on every front. Your check in day arrives. Progress! Not as much as you hoped though. What gives? You are living in the gym, and even cavemen think your Paleo game is intense. You cook on a rock. You haven't eaten anything that casts a shadow in weeks. How do we figure out what the next step is? Let the tracking begin!
I learn more and more over the years to simplify things but also to make my systems flexible. One thing I took from my Precision Nutrition training that is a game changer is the compliance chart. It can be modified for a beginner to an advanced client, with a range of different goals. Let's say as a coach I gave you this goal; eat every meal with a serving of animal based protein the size of your palm, and an equal or larger serving of non starchy veggies. I won't go into great detail, but this would help stabilize blood sugar, increase vitamins/minerals and fiber, reduce overeating empty calorie choices and be an appropriate starting point for many people. Not rocket science I know, bear with me. Let's say this person isn't completely new to health and fitness, so we are aiming for 4 meals a day of this strategy.
4 meals a day x 7 days per week = 28 total meals per week.
I think that's right, please double check my work. Now, let's assume standard grading scales- 90% or more A, 80% or more B and so on. If I have my client report back that they only ate 3 meals a day all week, that would give them 21/28. Or a 75% C grade. Maybe the goal was too lofty? Maybe not, the important thing is to review and adjust. The person might feel like they really did a great job, prepared all their meals, avoided extra sugars, but the numbers don't lie. C results. If you are starting from a failing grade that will work. Depending on how fast you want to progress these goals will need to be reviewed and adjusted to ensure consistency and progress.
On a further note, let's go back to the calendar for a minute. Of course there will be some deviations to indulge. We got to live right? It still has to be accounted for though. So January through December, let's add it up. My birthday is in January, thats one day to indulge. Then you have February and of course, Mardi Gras. March is St Patricks Day. May is memorial day. The 4th of July, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. That's 10. I am going to throw in 2 weeks vacation, because that is all about going off script right? Another 14 days. Let's add some birthdays for friends and loved ones. 7 or so? Then maybe a few nights where you just need some me time. How about 10 on the low end? This brings us to 34 days of whatever we want we feel like cramming down. This is a very conservative number only taking 1 day per holiday period, that also doesn't count weddings, work functions, and any other number of things that may interrupt your plan.
So, 34 days "off" / 365 days in a year = 7% deviation from plan and a score of 93%
93% sneaking in for the A. Not bad. Remember however, this is assuming you get everything else right on. Anything outside the times we designated, or a heavier number of days "off script" and you are already looking at a B grade, regardless of what habits you have adopted. The compliance chart will really open your eyes on how you are doing with consistency on a day to day basis. Self reporting and trying to remember what we ate or didn't eat in the past day, let alone a weeks time is criminally inaccurate. Many studies you see in the news use this as a method of tracking, which should automatically call accuracy into question from what I see when I have clients use tracking sheets vs going by memory. You must write it down when it happens! Otherwise it drifts away to be forgotten and sabotages your progress leading to more frustration.
Use paper and pen, apps on your phone, whatever works. If you don't have something already don't worry, I have your back. I have an easy tracking sheet you can print, or use digitally if you want. You can make the behavior anything you want, have one for nutrition and one for exercise, use it anyway you like! Email me and I will send it to you on the house.