May 20, 2016
Shannan’s Monthly Blog – June
The popularity of fitness tracking technology has been on a steady increase in the last few years. You may be asking yourself if you need fitness technology or maybe you’ve already got involved and bought yourself a tracker or downloading the latest app. The question now is, is fitness tracking technology right for you? Are you seeing the results you’re looking for?
Research suggests that many people who opt for using fitness tracking technology only use it for the first 6 months they own it. One of the main reasons this happens is due to the expectation that fitness technology will be the magic wand that will solve their weight loss problems. However, what people fail to remember is that a fitness tracker is just a tool to aid your fitness improvements; you still need to have the drive and willpower to make real changes happen.
Let’s make things simple and take fitness back to basics. Being an ‘old-school’ style trainer myself, I’ve got some sure fire methods to track your fitness progress, no technology needed! Read on for my top suggestions:
Now, there’s much hype about at the moment about scales and their use in monitoring your progress. The ‘PC do-gooders’ on the sidelines saying “don’t use scales as it’s not a fair reflection of the losses/gains you’ve made. It’s all about body composition. BLAH BLAH….”
Truth is scales are the only way to measure body weight and therefore your losses or gains.That’s all they do, they’re not open to interpretation, perception or judgement.They just measure. Unfortunately an entire weeks training and good eating can be undone with a single ‘bad’ meal and therefore people find this too discouraging. If you want to lose weight use scales. They won’t measure your effort, intentions or dreams. They will however, show you how well you’ve eaten and if you’ve slipped up.
Grab an accurate set of scales, a pen and paper and write your weight down daily. Yes, that’s right, daily! There are daily fluctuations, so you should expect them. What you want to see is a downward trend over the course of the next six months. It will happen little by little, but in the end it will be worth it. You may also want to consider a body fat scale so you know if you’re gaining muscle mass and losing fat. Always remember – goals are never achieved in days!
Take your measurements
Similar to the above, grab yourself a body tape measurer and record your various body measurements to track your progress. Measure around your forearms, biceps, chest, stomach, legs and calves. Ensure you measure in exactly the same spot each time (eg. thigh: 20cm from patella, knee flexed at 90 degrees).
I suggest taking your measurements every week to start then monthly as you get into your training habit. Tape measure will give you a great indication of how your body shape is changing.
Measure your heart rate
There are some great heart rate monitors on the market that can monitor virtually every aspect of your training. You will often ‘get what you pay for’. The reliability of some cheaper brands is questionable. I still believe a chest strap is necessary as the wrist only ones accuracy is not consistent. I hate training without my Suunto HR Monitor as it takes emotion and perception out of my workouts. I know how many calories I’ve burned, how far and fast I’ve run and how quickly I’m recovering.
If you’re not convinced, you can also check your heart rate just by taking a pulse for 6 seconds. Then add a 0 to the number and you have your estimated heart rate (eg. 35-year-old counts 13 pulses in 6 seconds = 130 beats per minute!)
The ‘old school’ thinking of fat burning zones is antiquated science. The higher your HR, the more calories you burn and the faster you’ll get results.
Remember this equation: the higher your heart rate…the smaller your behind!
While there are so many electronic options available to replace the traditional fitness journal, there’s nothing like putting a pen to paper. Studies have proven time and time again that writing things down helps you remember them better and it helps you connect more with what you’re recording.
Keeping a food journal written down about what and when you’re eating shows you in plain sight just how much you’re actually eating and helps you make better choices throughout the day and help you avoid ‘calorie amnesia’. You know…that extra piece of slice, cake or bickie that accidentally fell into your mouth. Same goes for your workouts. When trying to get results in the gym, write down the number of repetitions and sets that you’re doing (or in the case of cardio, your duration, intensity, speed and distance). Then review the details you recorded each week and make any necessary adjustments. Remember that making lasting changes requires a slow progression so look at your achievements each week and slowly improve on these.
Take a selfie
Like a mirror, the camera doesn’t lie! Sometimes, because you look at yourself every day in the mirror, you can overlook the small changes that are happening in your appearance. I recommend taking a photo of yourself each week and over the course of time, you will begin to see positive changes in your appearance. It’s important to note that you should be taking your photo in the same location and ideally wearing the same clothing.
What is the best part about my suggestions above? It’s their accuracy! When you do things in the flesh and in real time, you know that you are getting accurate data rather than relying on technology which can have bugs. This is what people used before technology and they were able to achieve results and so will you! Even if you do decide to opt for fitness technology, I urge you to use your technology in conjunction with the above to help you track your progress.