Contributed by Yongdan Tang, PhD.
Because your body is a complete system, working out smart is as important as working out hard. In the preceding section of this two-part series, we discussed how your mindset, nutrition and training contribute to a sustained and effective fitness program. We’ll now look at how the roles of measurement and context complete a holistic and organized approach to (finally) achieve the fitness and physique you’ve always desired.
This is arguably the most painful part. Measurement and tracking form the feedback loop to your nutrition and training plan, but are largely if not completely ignored by most people. It’s like driving in complete darkness with no headlights, and expecting to reach your destination safely and timely. So please starting measuring and tracking your diet and workout. Forming habits will help.
The emphasis here is tracking calories and macros. Remembering training volume is easier for most of us than remembering how many calories we’ve consumed in a day. My Fitness Pal is a handy app with probably the most complete food database. Setting it up is easy too. To reiterate, there must be some sort of measurement and tracking so we know what’s working and what’s not.
We don’t live a vacuum. Most of us are not full-time athletes or trainers. Our nutrition and training plans need to fit into our daily work and life. If the plan imposes a lot of rigidity and stress besides the ones you’re already coping with, how sustainable can it be? For example, very few regular folk have had success adhering to the popularly advocated five or six small high protein meals a day. For many, this approach has even turned out to be unnecessary and mostly ‘bro-science’. Other studies have also advocated the best training time to be somewhere in the afternoon; yet how many of us are available at this ‘optimal’ time slot?
Consistent execution of a sub-optimal plan with regular adjustment, and improvement as a result of measurement and tracking, is more effective than a regimented ‘best’ plan that isolates us from reality because it’s too arduous to follow through.
Contributed by Yongdan Tang.
Yongdan holds a PhD in Biomedical Engineering, and built a career in the healthcare and medical industries. He began weight lifting 15 years ago, and has successfully set up diets and training plans.