Week 5: Tracking Your Progress

Dean PohlmanBlogs, From Dean, Lifestyle & Wellness, Featured

Week 5: Tracking Your Progress

Welcome back to Be The Better You. It is Week 5, and it’s time to start putting your purposeful, goal-focused plan into action. This week we’ll talk about the most important part of implementing a wellness plan – TRACKING it. Making sure it works. Changing it to make it work better. And that all comes down to using a simple tool effectively. Here we go!

Just a quick recap of what we’ve covered so far in Be The Better You.

You’ve got your why. You’ve got your goals. And you’ve got your plan. It’s time to start! But plans rarely play out the way you expect them to. That’s why I’m going to share with you a key strategy to allow you to be flexible with your plan, yet still maintain its effectiveness. There are 5 key reasons for this:

  1. Holding yourself accountable.
  2. Evaluating your adherence to your plan.
  3. Figuring out if your plan is appropriate for you, and if not, to make appropriate changes.
  4. Learning how you can improve yourself through objective self-analysis.
  5. Discovering areas of opportunity.

All this strategy requires is starting and maintaining a wellness log.

On the matter of Accountability

If you’re reading this and thinking, “I need somebody to help hold me accountable”, then good news! I’m here to tell you that you don’t need anybody but yourself to be held accountable, and keeping a wellness log will help you do just that.

Side note: If you think you need an accountability partner, what you really need is to realign your priorities – how important is your wellness? Saying you need an accountability partner is admitting you don’t care enough to motivate yourself to do it, and you’re hoping somebody else will give you energy for it. In this case, I have 2 recommendations. First, be honest and admit you don’t care enough and then hire a personal trainer to force you to work out. Second, and this is the way that actually works, is to go back to your why from Week 1 and figure out what’s driving you to work out, set up powerful goals for yourself, and create a plan that makes you excited! (Weeks 1, 2, 3, and 4 from Be The Better You).

What is a Wellness Log?

A wellness log is the big secret to fulfilling your plan successfully. TAKE. NOTES. Write that s*** down. What all goes into your wellness blog? Here’s a quick list of examples:

  • If you are unable to complete your scheduled workout for the day, write out why you were unable to do so.
  • If you cheated on your scheduled meal plan, write out what urge made you do this.
  • If a workout was difficult, write about the parts that gave you trouble, and figure out what you can do to get better at those things.

Anything that goes into your wellness – that’s what goes in your wellness log.

Believe it or not, your wellness log will be the MOST important fitness resource you have. No other book, wearable fitness device, or smart phone app will do as much for your fitness as a wellness log in which you diligently track your wellness habits.

Quick note: There are some very exciting fitness technologies out there, but you should practice using your own built-in biology and your intuition to determine your current state before using fitness technology to help affirm that you are on (or off) the right path. (I.e. You should practice determining if you’re too tired to work out, didn’t get enough sleep the night before, need to eat more food, need less junk food, etc.)

Let’s talk about the first reason why a wellness log is important to holding yourself accountable and completing your plan: evaluating your adherence to the plan. To do that, you’ll need to keep a record of how much of your plan (or, how little of your plan) you are completing. You’ll need to be able to go back and look and what you did and did not do. If you don’t do this, you have no idea whether or not you’re fulfilling your plan or not. And if you don’t fulfill your plan, you don’t get results! It’s like coming up with a hypothesis and and thinking you’ll be able to reach a conclusion without doing the actual experiment. Even if you do get a result, you won’t know for sure what happened because you didn’t record what you did to get the result. So reason #1 – evaluate your adherence to the plan in order to track your progress.

The second reason is to make sure that your plan is appropriate for you. If something’s not working, we need to be able to track what that is (and what isn’t) in order to adapt and alter your plan accordingly. You could be following a plan from the #1 fitness website on the internet, but that doesn’t meant that the plan is appropriate for you. You need to track your performance with the plan and figure out what’s working and what’s not, in order to tailor the plan to your unique needs. Once you’ve recorded your wellness activities and have enough information to compare it to the plan, then you’ll be able to see what’s working and what’s not – but you need to write it down for that to happen!

The third and last reason that we’ll mention has to do with the importance of understanding your habits. What we do throughout the day is mostly a function of established patterns. Wake up. Brush your teeth. Eat breakfast. Go to work. Drink coffee. Most of what we do is automatic. And these automatic actions are extremely difficult to change without understanding them. That’s why the first step in getting rid of your bad habits is actually understanding why you have these habits in the first place. What causes you to avoid exercise? What emotion or urge makes you reach for the potato chips? Try to watch yourself objectively, as if you were observing a science experiment. Separate yourself from your emotions and be brutally honest in your personal assessment. We’ll discuss this in detail later on in Be The Better You when we create and replace bad habits with new, more positive habits.

Creating your wellness log

What goes into your wellness log? Last week we talked about the 4 areas of fitness crucial to a successful wellness program – Exercise, Diet, Sleep, and Stress Management. Each page in your notebook should have a section for each of these topics.

You’ll write about these topics in as much detail as you choose, with the following 5 goals in mind:

  1. Holding yourself accountable.
  2. Evaluating your adherence to your plan.
  3. Figuring out if your plan is appropriate for you, and if not, to make appropriate changes.
  4. Learning how you can improve yourself through objective self-analysis.
  5. Discovering areas of opportunity.
You need to make sure your planned exercise program is tough enough to make you stronger, but easy enough to avoid injury and overtraining. For this, do the following:

  • Write down the workouts you did. Include the title of the workout, if applicable.
  • List the amount of sets and reps, the exercises involved, and the total time of the workout.
  • Was the workout intense? Give it a rating of 1-5 in terms of intensity level.
  • Was any one part particularly difficult? Why?
  • Were you sore when you started the workout?
  • How were your energy levels?
  • Do you have pain in any of the movements? What can you do to fix that? If you don’t know, find out.

Any information such as this is helpful to write down. Be as detailed as you’d like – the more details, the better!

Areas of Opportunity

Finally, the last part of your wellness blog is looking for areas of opportunity. What could you have done to make this better? What do you want to try next time to see if you sleep more, eat healthier, or workout with more motivation? The point of this is to figure out how you can improve.

Your areas of opportunity can be written at the bottom of the 4 sections listed above. You can list them at the end of the day when recording your wellness habits, or as the ideas come to mind in real time. There’s always room to improve, and coming up with little ideas yourself in the moment is a great way to do that!

That’s it. Now it’s time to DO your plan. Just make sure to take notes while you’re doing it, to practice:

  1. Holding yourself accountable.
  2. Evaluating your adherence to your plan.
  3. Figuring out if your plan is appropriate for you, and if not, to make appropriate changes.
  4. Learning how you can improve yourself through objective self-analysis.
  5. Discovering areas of opportunity.

And now, onto your assignment!

Assignment

Set up your tracking method, and track your wellness plan.

As with every other assignment so far, silence your phone, minimize your distractions, and get out a blank piece of paper or a fresh sheet on your notebook to work with.

This should be HANDwritten. Not typed. It won’t stick with you as much if you type it. Get a notebook for the sole purpose of tracking your wellness plan, and write Wellness Log #1 right across the front of it in large, bold font.

Part 1: Create your wellness blog weekly template.

Create a template you can easily use for 1-week periods of time. Use your wellness log notebook.

You should include the following for each of the sections discussed above (exercise, diet, sleep, stress management):

  • The plan. (What do you intend to do?)
  • The reality. (What do you actually end up doing?)
  • Areas of opportunity. (How could you have done better?)

The level of detail is totally up to you, but as we talked about in the lesson, the more detailed you can be, the better.

Part 2: Write out your wellness activities over the next 7 days.

This part’s easy – you just have to make the time for it. Make sure you write out what all happened by the end of the day. You can do it periodically throughout the day, before you eat your dinner, or immediately before bed. Just make sure to write everything from your wellness plan down before the day ends.

Do NOT put it off until the next day. Your memory becomes fuzzy if you wait until the day after, and it’s hard to remember what you felt in the moment. Not to mention, waiting until the next day changes wellness logging into something stressful, instead of stress-relieving – you don’t want to have to remember everything from the previous day on top of what you have today, too!

So do yourself a favor and don’t wait – write it down ASAP!

Note from Dean: Every now and then, you’ll have a day where you just say f*** it. It’s okay if this happens every now and then, but you absolutely cannot miss 2 days in a row. If you’d like to, give yourself one day per week when you don’t track your wellness habits in your wellness log.

That’s it for Week 5. Next week, we’ll go over the results of your wellness plan according to your wellness log, and make the necessary changes to improve its effectiveness. Good luck with this week!

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