Tracking progress is an excellent way to keep yourself motivated and to keep you on track with your goals. Unfortunately, the classic weigh-in method of tracking restricts us to viewing our progress as a set of numbers that rise and fall somewhat unpredictably. Thankfully there are other great ways to track progress that don't require standing on a scale and comparing ourselves to "average" values.
1. Progress Pictures
If you are looking for a literal reflection of your progress, then a mirror pic of yourself every few weeks is a great way to track your progress! All of those little things that you notice when you look in the mirror will be clearly comparable between pictures.
I know when I started to use progress pictures as my primary way of tracking my progress that all of my hard work in the gym felt validated. It wasn't about how much I weighed on a scale; it was all about how my body was adapting to better serve my training in the gym. Certain areas were slimming down, while other started to thicken up with muscle (hello booty gains).
If you want to start taking progress pics to track your progress, try and wear the same or similar outfits for the pictures! Create a folder on your phone for progress pictures, and take the picture in the same place! The last tip is important because you want to have the same lighting for each picture. If you change up your progress pic location too much, then you may have one with great lighting, and then the next with unflattering lighting, which could end up being discouraging. Remember - we are trying to use this as an alternative to track progress so we can stay motivated! Check out a few of my progress pictures below!
2. Training goals
After progress pictures, having training goals has been the best way to keep me motivated. Training goals are specific goals that I make in the gym to make going to the gym more exciting. It also takes the pressure off of my workouts to simply act as a way to make me lose weight!
In the past I have set goals like : I want to be able to bench my own weight, I want to deadlift 200lbs, I want to improve my squat depth at 135lbs. Each of these is specific to one of my training days so every day I had planned in the gym I was getting closer and closer to reaching those goals.
With training goals it is really important to have a plan. With intelligent program design, you can reach training goals much faster then if you just try and progress linearly. If you have a training goal in mind, leave me a comment on this post, or use my contact form on the home page to get personalized help from me to reach your training goals!
3. Progress tracking apps
My final tip to track progress that I have found really useful in the past is downloading a habit tracking app! This is great because it means you can have a visual representation of your progress throughout the month. It also allows you to track the progress of all of your goals! Where a progress picture and training goals cannot show you your dieting goals, or lifestyle habits, these apps allow you to list all of the goals you are working on.
When I was in first year university and really struggling with my diet and exercise, I downloaded one of these apps and set 3 goals:
1. Drink 3L of water
2. Complete 1 pinterest workout a day
3. No white food
These 3 goals were so simple to work towards, and it got to a point where it was exciting to check off another box as completed. To see the whole month's calendar checked off was super rewarding and kept me motivated to continue pursuing those goals. Buzzfeed has put together a pretty comprehensive list of habit tracking apps. Just click the hyperlink and choose your favourite one!
Find what works for you
These three ways of tracking progress have been really great for my own personal fitness goals and I encourage you to try a few of them for yourself! As always though, fitness and health are achieved differently by everyone, so play around with a few other ways of tracking your progress. Find what works for you and watch your goals become realized!
I hope you're all out there crushing the day and enjoying the weekend!
Riri's Discoveries blog documents Riri's most recent research, her travel adventures, and her personal fitness journey.