On Day 1 you wrote down some inspiring goals to help keep you motivated while you go through your workout program.
So, now that you know your destination you need to know how to get there, right?
Well, in order to map out a route, what else do we need? A starting point!
Imagine if we tried to get directions on Mapquest using only a destination address? That really wouldn’t work all that well would it?
What would Mapquest tell us?
STARTING POINT NEEDED.
That’s right, it’s impossible to plot a course or plan of action without a starting point!
In his book, Body Fat Solution, Tom Venuto writes, “If you’re traveling in an unfamiliar city and don’t know where you are, you would describe that as being “lost.” If you’re lost, you can’t plot a route to where you want to go. You have to get your bearings first. That’s why the first step is always assessment, which means finding out where you are now and establishing a baseline.”
This part can often be pretty difficult. After all, the reason why we start a workout program in the first place is because we don’t like what kind of shape we’re in and are embarassed by our “stats.” Establishing your baseline can be a very humbling experience.
But like it or not, it will be a critical part of your learning process so DEAL WITH IT! 🙂
Here are 4 things you need to do before you start your workout program:
1. Take Before Photos
I tell ya, I DID NOT want to take BEFORE photos during my first round of P90X. In fact, I was about 3 days into it before my husband finally talked me into it. Even then, the pictures turned out really blurry, and I insisted that he NOT re-take them. Looking back now, I wish I had taken MORE photos and that’s a common experience with a lot of people.
So, the first thing you need to do is take your BEFORE photos. Even if you don’t share them with anyone else, you should keep them for yourself. Photos also provide us with an unbiased review of our progress. When you look at yourself in the mirror everyday it can be difficult to notice the subtle changes that are happening to your body. But photos don’t lie!
I have a good friend who got GREAT results with P90X and Insanity. She is stubborn (I know she will probably read this eventually, hehe) and didn’t listen to me when I told her to take BEFORE photos. And guess what? Now she totally regrets to it! Besides, when you use Beachbody products your before and after photos can earn you some serious prize money…up to $100,000! (but we’ll talk more about that later).
In the meantime, check out the video below which describes in detail how to take the best photos to record your transformation.
2. Measure Your Body Fat
Sounds fun doesn’t it? 🙂
But you MUST keep track of your body composition as well as your weight. Your weight on the scale includes a lot of things besides fat. In fact, your body is 70% water which means you can experience rather large fluctuations in weight pretty easily. It’s important to know where this weight loss is coming from so you can adjust accordingly. When calorie restriction is taken to the extreme, it’s entirely possible to lose more muscle than fat which is NOT GOOD.
The biggest mistake people make when tracking their results is that they only pay attention to their weight. Don’t get me wrong, your body weight IS a useful measurement but only when it is compared to your body fat percentage.
While there many ways to measure your body fat, the most cost-effective, convenient and affordable solution is using a plastic skinfold caliper. There are several to choose from, but one of the most popular models among fitness professionals is the Accu-Measure which was designed specifically for self-testing.
Beachbody includes a personal body fat tester with many of their workout programs which is what I use and it is very similar to the Accu-Measure. Both come with directions and how to use it as well as a chart you can use to interpret your results. Check out the video below for detailed instructions and some additional tips on how to get consistent results.
Those coveted six-pack abs typically show up for men when they hit the single digits. Women start to see that kind of muscle definition when they reach the mid-teens. Having very low body fat is nice for bragging rights, but don’t become too obsessed about the numbers. Measuring body fat is just an easy way to track your progress. Most fitness experts recommend setting a fat reduction goal of about a half-percent (.5%) per week.
3. Measure Your Waist
There is a high correlation between your waist measurement and body fat so it can be a useful number to track. If your waist is shrinking, chances are your body fat percentage is also going down.
You also have the option of taking other body measurements like hips, thighs, arms, bust, etc. but keep in mind that losing inches isn’t always the same thing as losing fat. Losing inches can be associated with the loss of water and an increase in muscle mass will result in more inches. Again, most Beachbody programs also come with a measuring tape.
The video below will give you instructions on how to measure your transformation:
4. Take the Fit Test
If your workout program came with a Fit Test be sure to take it and write down your results. At periodic intervals during the program you can repeat the test. If you’re working hard you should see an improvement, even after 30 days!
Also, once you begin your workout program be sure to keep track of your reps and weights used for each exercise. It’s like Tony says during one of his P90X workouts, “How do you know what to do if you don’t know what you did?” Remember our goal from Day 1 to beat our personal best? Competing against yourself is the ultimate form of competition.
What do you think is more important? Being better than someone else, or being better than the person you were yesterday?
If you need more worksheets you can download them here:
How often should you track your results?
I STRONGLY recommend you keep track of your progress on a weekly basis. It’s basically how you “keep score” of your results. You can create your own chart and update it on a designated day of the week (Monday’s work well). Measure anything you want to improve. There’s a saying for those in the business world, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
I would include the following information on your chart.
- Body Weight
- Body Fat Percentage
- Pounds of Body Fat
- Pounds of Lean Body Mass
- Waist Circumference
To calculate your pounds of body fat simply multiply your body fat percentage by your body weight. So let’s say you weigh 200 pounds and have 10 percent body fat. 200 pounds x 10% (.10) = 20 pounds. This equates to a lean body mass of 180 pounds. If your lean body mass starts to drop quickly it’s time to make some changes. You may need to eat more protein, increase your calories, add more strength training to your workout routine, or make some other adjustments in terms of sleep, your stress level, and recovery time.
Keep in mind that as you track your weight you’ll experience some highs and lows. Remember that your weight fluctuates daily based on changes in body water and other body functions. So try not to freak out too much if the scale doesn’t seem to be going in the right direction.
If you have a lot of weight (fat) to lose think of your body like the stock market. If you look at the charts there will always be peaks and valleys. The people who panic at every little change are often out-performed by those that are patient and hold on for the long-term.
And another thing, what works for someone else might not always work for you. We are all special little snowflakes. The famous martial artist Bruce Lee developed a formula for personal success. It goes something like this:
1. Research your own experience.
2. Absorb what is useful.
3. Reject what is useless.
4. Add what is specifically your own.
In other words, your personal formula for success can only be put together by studying your own experiences! Using this philosophy, not only will you achieve your health and fitness goals, you will gain the freedom to reach your highest potential in any other area of life you choose.
Pretty powerful stuff don’t you think?