Tracking your income and spending is a pretty common and well accepted recommendation for people trying to improve their financial status. It’s effective because it brings awareness to the cost of your time spent, where your money is going and areas where you could make improvements to build your savings.
Our health, wellness and fitness are no different…except our savings account is our life. Yet majority of our lifestyles factors aren’t being tracked or monitored at all!
What gets measured, gets managed.
In my opinion and from my experiences, I believe there are 3 valuable categories (plus one bonus for the ladies) that you should be tracking if you care about your health, wellness and fitness.
We are big proponents of this at CrossFitOP and you probably hear your coach remind you to log your workout into SugarWOD after every class. Keeping track of your performance will help you accomplish your goals so much sooner, you get to see your progress written out as proof in front of you, and you can continually challenge yourself by knowing what you did the previous week.
Tracking your workouts is also a good way to keep a record of how your body is moving and be a good reference if you start noticing new aches or pains. If you are suddenly finding that your knee is aching, check back in your workouts and try to identify when it started bugging you. After doing a workout with pistols? Now you know exactly what to modify to avoid the pain next time or what aspects to improve on so that the movement no longer hurts you.
One last aspect of fitness that is valuable to track is your daily steps. Experts recommend that you take 10,000 steps in a day. Research has shown that keeping up low-intensity activity all throughout the day is a much better indicator of health than working out for 1-hour daily. Those other 23-hours in your day can really make or break your progress when it comes to improving health metrics and losing weight.
With an OP Nutrition Challenge around the corner, now could be a great time for you to start tracking what you are eating! It’s a great way to keep yourself accountable and maintain some self-responsibility for what you put into your body.
But tracking your nutrition can go even further than noting your calories and macros. By tracking more subjective items regarding nutrition, you can make some really great strides in your mental and emotional relationship with eating as well! Taking notes on things like; what times in the day do you start to feel hungry? What were you feeling before you ate (x) and then what were you feeling after you ate (x)? What time do you eat breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner?
It can help tackle the common issue of stress-eating and boredom-bingeing and create healthy relationships with foods that were previously labelled as “bad” to allow for a flexible approach to your diet and lifestyle.
It can also help track any issues you’ve been having with certain foods such an allergies or intolerances. Having a journal to refer back to and find a trend in certain foods you’re eating that are resulting in either feeling poorly so you can avoid that or feeling really great in your workout so you can repeat that!
Most nutrition-tracking apps offer an additional notes section for the extra details along with making it easy to log daily caloric intake.
If you’re tracking exercise output, it makes sense to track the recovery time you are taking too. The most recovery you will ever get in a day is while you are asleep! So it is valuable to make sure you are maximizing your time in bed as much as possible.
Not only does high quality and quantity sleep improve your workout performance, focus and productivity, but research has also proven that more sleep leads to more fat loss across time as well. Plus, huge benefits on reducing chronic illnesses by lower overall stress levels.
When it comes to sleep, you should be tracking things like the time you go to bed, the time you wake up, rate your quality of sleep and your restfulness the next morning. Record your bedtime and wake-up routine to find patterns that work for you!
This tends to be an area where majority of people can make a small change that will go a long way! Luckily, the popular Whoop bands have made it really easy to track sleep and report on your patterns, but there are also inexpensive apps you can use on your phone to easily track your sleep-time and add notes regarding your routines and restfulness.
Bonus recommendation for the ladies, track your menstrual cycle.
Following the monthly patterns of your hormones is such a valuable window into your body’s internal health. While most of the symptoms and side-effects of our periods make us curse being a woman, we are actually lucky to be able to have such valuable data about our bodies! Take that men!
Watching the consistency of your cycle from month to month, plus the details of how long a period lasts, your PMS symptoms, your energy levels ect, are great indicators for knowing if the other aspects you are tracking are in a healthy balance too!
If you are exercising too much with too-little recovery or not enough food to support your activity level, your cycle might be thrown off or go away completely (so it is very important to be tracking as amenorrhea has some very bad long-term implications!). If you are not prioritizing quality sleep, your stress hormones won’t be in a great place, impacting your reproductive hormones and resulting in worse PMS symptoms.
When it comes to your workouts, knowing where you are in your cycle can be beneficial too. During some phases, your body will tolerate higher-intensity training better, versus another phase where we will perform better on longer, endurance style workouts. You can use this information to maximize your training all throughout the month and take control of understanding your body rather than feeling like a victim to your circumstances and skipping workouts every month.
Personally, I know my strength feels completely depleted (even with good nutrition, recovery and a balanced workout program) right before my period begins. Before realizing this trend, I would feel completely discouraged and frustrated on these days (not to mention already being a bit more emotionally sensitive already from those rising hormones) which would impact my entire workout and sometimes my whole day. After tracking consistently and noticing the monthly drop in strength, I knew that there was nothing to be frustrated about and I could instead choose to perform a workout that would be more beneficial for me that day.
A few tracking apps I have liked using (I’ve tried many) are, Clue, Eve and FitrWoman (this one gives a lot of insight about each phase and how it may impact your workouts!).