The title of this article is from a quote often credited to Peter Drucker, a famous business author. It holds true in that if you want to improve at something, you need to be tracking two things:
1) what you want to improve
2) what you are doing about it
How does this apply to fitness and nutrition?
Tracking your workouts and nutrition choices can shed immense light on whether or not you are accomplishing what you set out to achieve. If getting stronger is a goal of yours, how do you know whether or not you have actually done that? Did you get a baseline before you started training? What exercises do you want to be stronger at? Once you know those things, then you must record what you do to improve. If getting stronger on your deadlift was a goal, what sets, rep schemes, number of times per week, and weight used went into achieving that goal? Then refer back to your baseline and find out if it worked.
Or maybe you want to drop a size or two. What size are you now? What food choices do you make? How large are your portions? How often do you exercise? Do you have “cheat meals” and how often? Tracking these things allows you to trouble shoot when necessary and pat yourself on the back when all goes the way you want it to.
So how do you do this? Well, for those who are more tech-oriented, there are a number of different gadgets and apps out there. Everything from the Polar heartrate monitor, which in most models will tell you how many calories you burned, how long your workout lasted, how much time you spent in your aerobic zone, to the new Apple watch that is soon to get in the game. Currently Fitbits, another watch-like item, are all the rage and allow you to track food, steps taken and calories burned during a day. Then there are the phone apps. The one I currently use on my phone is the MyFitnessPal app. I use that one specifically for the nutrition log. I am a visual person and the cool little pie chart showing my macronutrient break down makes me happy. Dork. I know. But it works. And when I track what I am eating, guess what takes place? I make better food choices.
Now, do you have to go all high-tech? Nope. I have been tracking my workouts for the last 20 years in notebooks. I can go into my office and pull out my workout logs from the last 2 years and tell you what programs gave me the most benefit and which ones did not. So if you are serious about improving your fitness/body composition, losing weight, getting stronger or all of the above, start to track what you are doing. At the very least, you will have a clear picture of what doesn’t work. At best, you will have valuable insight into your success!