In a prior post (Progress: Beyond the Scale/), we laid out the importance of assessing your progress, as you move toward your goals.  There are many ways to measure progress, beyond weighing yourself on a scale.   In this post, we will lay out a step by step approach on how to develop a system to successfully track your progress:

  • Choose the method(s) you want to use to track your progress.   Pick the method(s) you feel confident you’ll be able to track consistently.   There are 2 different types of methods, quantitative (numerical) and qualitative (descriptive).
    • Quantitative:  scale weight, body fat %, body circumferences, blood pressure, blood sugar, performance measures
    • Qualitative:  mood, energy, sleep quality, how clothes are fitting
  • Develop a way to measure/assess the method(s) you choose.   For quantitative methods, it’s easy because a numerical value can be produced.   For quantitative methods, we recommend using a rating system, like 1-5 or 1-10.  Try to clearly define what each rating score will be before starting to track it.
  • Measure/Assess yourself based on the method(s) you choose DAILY, using the same exact conditions each time (same time of day, same tools/instruments, same location, etc.).  Just like consistency with your actions is vital to reaching your goals, so is accurately tracking your progress.   You can’t be accurate without consistency.   Because we tend to have our most consistent routine in the morning, that’s typically the best situation to implement your tracking.
  • Because there will always be daily fluctuations that may be an effect of something other than how you’re progressing, we recommend taking a weekly average of your daily measurements/ratings.   This will help balance out those fluctuations.
  • Track your progress over time – how are the weekly averages of your various tracking method(s) trending?   If they are moving toward your goals, keep doing what you’ve been doing; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.   After a few weeks, if you don’t see any progress being made, it may be time to adjust your action plan.

The most important aspect of progress tracking is to develop a system that you can do consistently.  The more consistent you are with your tracking, the more accurate you can expect your progress to be.   It will also help with accountability.  At the end of the day, it’s all about gaining a clear picture of where you stand…”if you’re not assessing, you’re just guessing.”