A few years back, I had some free sessions with a personal trainer at my gym, and one of the most useful takeaways was this:
Unless you write stuff down, it’s too easy to “fudge the facts” in your mind. How much pushups are you doing with good form? What are you eating each day? We tend to maximize the former, minimize the latter, and that’s not good.
For starters, he made me write down each day *everything* I ate and drank, along with estimated calories associated with each thing I put in my mouth. Boy, that was a depressing but enlightening shocker!
Well, I decided to go one better and start my own personal health chart (in Excel), daily noting my progress on several fronts (weight, body fat percentage, pushups, etc.). Alas, after a few months, that kinda fell by the wayside, so I picked it up again a year later. And, once again, that only lasted a few months.
I’m trying yet again, and—now that I have the regular routine of a full-time job—I’m hoping it’ll somehow be easier to keep up the list. For the very curious, I’ve included below exactly what I’m measuring:
– E-mails still in my inbox
– Body weight
– Body fat percentage
– Pushups (#)
– Various medicines (e.g., remembering to use Nasalcrom, an allergy medicine)
– Meditation (in minutes)
– Stretching (yes/no)
– Aerobic exercise (minutes)
– Strength training (minutes)
– Mood (1-10, 1 being suicidal, 10 being euphoric)
– Mood jot (my mood in a few words… e.g. “Overwhelmed and frustrated” or “Optimistic and excited”)
– Sleep (time I went to bed, time I got up, total hours of estimated actual sleep)
– Notes (what I accomplished that day, major challenges facing me, etc.)
* * *
In looking over my previous efforts, I’ve noticed the following:
– My weight seems to increase the day or two after working out.
– Eating massive huge fatty meals seems to reduce my weight in the short term (!?)
– I tend to be overwhelmed/stressed more than I thought I was.
– My sleep patterns are more erratic and less healthy than I assumed.
– Surprisingly, there doesn’t seem to be a strong correlation between getting lots of sleep and feeling less tired the next day.
– After gaining nearly 10 pounds at Google and then losing those same 10 pounds, I’m now about where I was weightwise a year or two ago (still about 15 pounds to go!)
* * *
Have you kept your own “metrics journal”? What are some of the things you have measured? Observations? And did such a journal help you reach goals?