You can only knowingly improve what you measure!
Measure your food, measure your body, measure your progress!
Measuring your food – if you are overweight LIKELY you aren’t as good as you think in eyeballing a portion size. Heck you may not even really know what a portion size is! So I encourage you to measure. Even after measuring my food for months I’ve seen my portion size creeping up and am having to go thru the measuring process again to get my portions correct. And yes when I serve my dinner I use measuring cups – don’t whine it’s not that much more work
Why is it so important? Let’s look at an example: If 1/2 cup of oatmeal is 150 calories but you are really eating closer to a cup you are DOUBLING your calorie intake. And let me put it to you this way: even if that were the ONLY meal of the day that you goofed on, you’d be taking in 150 calories too much right? Actually not sounding too alarming … but 365 days of that equals 54,750 calories in a year (ok that’s slightly more alarming)… this means 15.6 pounds of weight gain per year all because you didn’t measure your oatmeal correctly!!! And I highly doubt that this would be your only mistake in GUESSING your portions
Measure YOU - whether you want to measure pounds or inches around your body or what size jeans you are fitting into (not squeezing!), or some measure of how strong or aerobically fit you are … measure SOMETHING! A good measure will be something you can repeat and compare – otherwise how do you know you are IMPROVING???
Why is this so important? First and foremost the sense of accomplishment is a great ego boost and will get you through those days when it isn’t so fun to eat another bowl of oatmeal, when it is torture to get yourself to the gym … it’s really difficult to motivate yourself in a vaccuum. You want to know where you started, where you are going and how you are doing getting there! It also gives you feedback if you are headed down the wrong path – 4 weeks later you are still stuck at the same size or number of pushups might tell you to look at the strategy and how it’s working for you. Maybe there is a more effective way to train for pushups than what you’ve been doing; maybe it tells you that you need to go back and measure your foods for a few weeks to train yourself on portion sizes again.
Some things I’ve measured – pounds (of course) and pictures which I take every 4 weeks – these were very telling of my progress the first few months. Then I moved to measuring body fat percentage and strength (I do pushups, situps and wall squats) to see if all the exercise I do actually makes a functional improvement over time. I am pretty excited to report that the first time I tried pushups I could do ONE, now I can do 23 on my toes! You can also do heart rate recovery times (look that up on google) to see if cardio fitness is improving or keep a record of how much weight you lift to see if you are getting stronger. 2 minutes after hard exercise my heart rate drops 60 beats! This means that my body is able to quickly recover from exertion – exercise no longer drains me for the entire day which makes it a little easier to do!!
Fitness is not all about how you LOOK – I want to know that all the effort I am making is benefiting me on a functional level – making my life easier, more fun – running after the dog, getting rid of aches and pains in joints that have carried too much weight for years, aging a little more gracefully and actively
What would be important for YOU to measure?