Hello and welcome to part 3 of 3 in this written series on the above (the title is too long to write again). If you’ve missed the previous posts I highly suggest visiting part 1 and part 2 to get familiar with a few things and fully maximize your benefits from this.
Using Qualitative & Quantitative Data Tracking
Try to start tracking your data and metrics as close to when you start your health and fitness transformation. Make sure to track your progress with dataas much as you can. A simple spreadsheet or notepad file works fine but if you are into the nerdy side of things feel free to go deep! I’ve put together a simple Data Tracking Analysis Form that requires a Google account. (You will need a google account to use this) Click the link, save a copy to your google drive, and set a schedule of when you fill it out. Voila! That form automagically dumps into a Google spreadsheet for you to look back on periodically. And voila! Next stop, GAIN TRAIN! (The form is open source so feel free to edit it and make it fit your needs.)
Measuring your body’s changes objectively is harder than you think. I’m still kicking myself because I didn’t get a Dexa Scan performed until 8 weeks into my journey. It’s worth the $80-$100 to get a fully objective overview of where you start and how you go along. A great alternative is using a professional dietician/fitness specialist to do skin-fold test measurements of your limbs and body fat percentage to lean muscle mass. Do these every four weeks in the first few months and then every 2–3 months until your body reaches its natural state.
I kept it mostly simple so that I was encouraged to fill it most days. I would suggest a minimum of twice a week, but preferably daily if you can. As you will see in my Data Tracking Form, I endorse tracking quality (how you feel, etc.) as well as quantity. This gives you a holistic view of wtf is going on.
The saying “systems trump logic” also rings true with data tracking. It means that your “logic” (emotions/how you feel) can lie to you. Some days I felt fit and strong while other days I felt bloated and like none of what I was doing was showing improvement. If I didn’t track the quality and quantity of where I was with data I would have believed that most of what I did didn’t actually show gains.
Long-term studies have proven that most diet/eating habits mostly work. The key is that you pick one eating pattern and stick to that diet for 2–3 months to see long-term results. The proof is in the habit formation. Most people give up after a few weeks of not seeing the significant results. This same study found that after one year of staying with a diet, people plateau to a normalized level meaning most diets can get you to around the same place and everyone’s metabolism is different.
After losing body fat, I stopped obsessing over the scale. Your body will gain muscle mass, and muscle weighs more than fat. Depending on your body type and how you adapt to training you might end up pretty healthy, looking great and staying at your ideal weight or even gaining lean muscle mass (overall weight). That scenario can be a mind f*ck for someone focused on the scale as their only means of tracking results.
Other Tips, Tricks, and Takeaways
I used to be in the low carb camp but now that’s changed. While I still enjoy being more on the low to moderate carb side of things I’ve learned carbs are necessary for me.
If I have a hard training day, I eat more servings of complex carbs than I usually would. If I have an easy or off day, I intermittent fast (14–16 hour) and eat mostly protein, quality fats, and veggies.
Below are miscellaneous health areas that you should consider and they could potentially be stand alone topics that I write about in the future;
- Document the process as much as you can. I can’t say this enough.
- Focus on proper sleep, rest, and recovery (they are different things)
- Don’t neglect your shoes and feet as they are important for most things in your life and we take them for granted. They also can be the start/cause for a lot of other injuries (knee, back, etc.)
- Look into regular meditation and mindfulness if you aren’t already doing it. This mental change spills into so many other areas of your life. I can’t propose it more from the gains I’ve seen.
- Pay attention to your posture and form by walking and sitting with your head straight, chin tucked, and shoulders relaxed.
- Try to get a standing desk if you can or just get up and move as much as possible throughout the day if you sit for work.
- Be aware and mindful of your body and how it responds to these new changes via tracking your qualitative data.
Creating Habits That Last a Lifetime
This was simple in theory but hard to execute. I set an objective, then targets, then goals which I did a podcast on here. If someone doesn’t know where they want to go by using a real world quantifiable objective as their end point, then they won’t know how to get there and what route to take during the journey. I came up with a strong why that was ambitious but attainable and kept me challenged, yet excited.
It was made easier by baking important tasks into my schedule.
I know that I work best with a structure, so my training and eating are in alignment with each other. After my morning training, I eat a meal that corresponds to supplement that training.
Practice “Holistic Adaptive Rigidity.
(Yes that is bullshit and I made that phrase up). It’s looking at the whole picture, adapting, but staying as true to the original course as you can. Like how a tree is, in the wind. It bends but rarely breaks. I rarely break my schedule and habits for anything unless it’s very important. If something doesn’t fall within that, I say no or prioritize it around my fitness and nutrition schedule.
Plan and look ahead for any issues that may come up.
Each night, at the start of the week, month, quarter or year I have scheduled in time to look at my schedule and plan. Yes, scheduling my schedule. If I don’t do that, it’s just like dominoes falling and I can’t stop the inevitable spiral down.
The planning allows me to make any micro pivots to get myself out of situations and evaluate if what I’m doing is something I want to do or need to be doing.
Take Home Actionable Tasks
That should get you on your way to doing something pretty awesome that should start to make a noticeable difference. How much? Up to you, your genes, and how things work out. Or at the very least, you can understand what I did and go “Cool Story Bro”.
As far as my goals and objectives I’m now set on the path to good health for the future. I’m satisfied with my health, looking forward to what fitness can do and I’m floating around 8-9% body fat and feeling strong. Maintenance, optomization and variety are my focuses now that the spaceship is up in orbit.
My habits are so ingrained that if I don’t do something active most mornings (even 5 mins of pushups/core) or eat dirty too much I start feeling off. The saying “It’s not about the destination but the journey” is so true. Ray Allen captured this thought so well in his letter to his younger self.
For super cereal and not to beat a dead horse, this health and fitness game can be confusing. I think it’s confusing because it’s personalized which again, makes it farcking awesome!
That also means your objectives, goals and results can only apply to you. You can’t blame anyone else for your genes and what tools you decide to use to help you get to your ideal health, body composition, and fitness. Take everything I said as suggestive advice.
I’ve put together a free and simple Data Tracking Analysis Form that requires a Google account. (You will need a google account to use this) Click the link, save a copy to your google drive, and set a schedule to fill it out each day. That form automagically dumps into a Google spreadsheet for you to look back on periodically. And voila, next stop, GAIN TRAIN! (The form is meant to be edited for your needs, so change as necessary.)
If you want to know more or have any questions, feel free comment below or hit me up at DarenLake.net and say hello.
If you want more in-depth homework on behavioural changes, then James Clear is your guy. He’s the OG with habits and behaviour but presents it in a simple and easy to consume way. Start with this, then read this.
- Got what you needed? Dope! Thanks for reading, please comment below and share this with someone that would get value out of it!
- Was it too long? I’m sorry for your time loss. R.I.P. But while you’re grieving, you can furiously type up a hate comment below and send this article on to a friend that might be into “this sorta thing”.
- Again, if you liked this, please check out my podcast Master of Some, as Phil Cross and I tackle health & fitness and serve it up as a metaphor for life.
- What have you done that’s worked for you? Feel free to comment below and let me know!
STUDIES, ARTICLES, AND LINKS
- Part 1 and Part 2
- Master of Some Podcast
- My Personal Fat Loss Journal
- Phil Cross — Fire Brand Coaching
- Kelsey Hutton — Dietician
- If in Sydney and have feet issues hit up genius podiatrist Trent Salkavich
- Ben Liddy – Sydney Running Coach & Physiotherapist
- How To Track Your Progress
- Yoga for Arthritis
- Why most diets end up in the same place
- The science behind meditation and mindfulness
- Dexa Scan
- 10 HIIT Workouts
- How To Achieve Your Goals Easily
- Shoutout to Kary Youman & Dmitry Pavluk for helping advise me on this monster