Before we know what we need to change, we need to know what we are doing. Unlike going on the new popular diet, a lifelong solution to health and fitness is finding changes that we can sustain. It’s about tweaking what we are currently doing until it meets our needs. So, how far off that mark are we?
From a dietary standpoint that means we need to do a diet diary. Many people like to use the app myfitnesspal (myself included). Lose It is another highly rated diet tracker. For three days simply enter what you eat and don’t worry about any particular goals. We’re just trying to see where we stand at this point. From there we can look at our calories and macronutrients and make changes as needed. (I’ll get into more nutritional specifics in a later post.)
As for exercise, we want to measure not just what we do (or don’t do) in the gym, but also how much we move around all day. While there are some great tracking devices like Garmin Vivosmart HR+ ($219.99) and Fitbit Charge 2 ($149.95), they can out of the price range for many people. LifeHacker recommends the free smartphone app Moves for tracking walking, running, cycling as well as mapping your route. If you don’t have a smartphone and don’t want to spend the money for the high-tech options, you can pick up a simple pedometer such as the highly rated Ozeri 4x3sport Tri-Mode Activity Tracker ($19.45). Once we evaluate our current activity level, we have established a level to improve upon.
Now, of course there are many more elements that we could measure and establish as a baseline, such as weight, body composition, cardiovascular endurance, strength, flexibility, etc. These are great to have, but sometimes finding the qualified individual to take you through these assessments can slow you down and act as a barrier to getting started. The diet and activity levels can be easily done on our own.
Remember that we can’t map our journey toward reaching our goals if we have no idea where we are starting. Establish your starting point and from there you can chart your progress.