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Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Slow, Steady March of Progress

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photo by Brother O'Mara

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Our bodies are remarkable in that they adapt to almost anything that we throw at them. That's a good thing for survival, but it also means that we must continue to do more if we want to continue to improve. Plateaus are not inevitable, but to avoid them requires that you continue to strive to do better, to improve, to do more. Eventually genetics will determine how thin you can be, how strong you can be or how fast you can be but don't let that be an excuse to do anything less than your best.

The easiest technique to ensure that you continue making improvements is to keep a log. I would suggest that you keep track of your food intake, exercise activities, and strength training. You don't have to make it overly complicated. Just jot down your information each day and, if you find yourself not meeting your goals, hit those logs and do some research.

If weight loss is your goal and you've hit a plateau, log your food intake and how many calories you burn each day for exercise. Are you eating too many calories to sustain the weight loss? Are you eating so few calories that your metabolism has gone down? Determine the cause of the plateau and fix the problem.

Are you training for a half-marathon or marathon and you just can't seem to motivate yourself to get out the door for your long run, or any run, for that matter? With a log of your daily miles and food intake, you can determine if you are eating enough to provide the needed energy, or if you simply have ramped up your mileage too quickly. Maybe you haven't included enough rest days to allow yourself to recover properly from the additional workload. A log provides a wealth of information to help you get out of those ruts.

Use your log to record what you've done, but don't underestimate the importance of using the log to plan what you should do next. Without a road map detailing the specifics of how to get from point A to point B, you're less likely to get to point B. Improve your chances for success by planning for success.

"You are capable of more than you think you are and you can do more than you think you can."
-Ken Chlouber, creator of the Leadville Trail 100

Do you keep a log of your activities or food intake? If so, do you think it is helpful in achieving your goals?

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2 comments:

Joey said...

A log is a good idea. When I am doing weight watchers I don't write down the food but I have made an index card I keep in my pocket and as I consume my alotted points for each day I color them in. A log of actual food eaten would be better but this is easy to keep up with. My mind runs on the point system anyway.

I like the exercise idea. I never thought about comparing it with the caloric intake against calories burned in exercise.

Fit Club Scott said...

I also don't log everything that I eat and keep it forever. I can tell you how I'm doing for the day, but I start from scratch each day.

If you find yourself in a rut, definitely compare the calories your eating to the calories you burn each day. Read The Skinny on Getting Thin for more detail than you care to know on comparing calories in vs. calories out.