Monitoring your progress is very simple to do, and it’s shocking how well it works.
It’s such a simple idea that holds so much power! Whether you’re trying to exercise more, eat healthier, floss more often, or create just about any other habit, monitoring your progress can help.
It can get you two times the results: a study from Kaiser Permanente observed nearly 1,700 people. They found that participants that monitor their progress with a food diary lost as much as double the weight versus participants that did not monitor progress. That’s double the weight loss, y’all!!
I can understand why: I always get better results when I monitor my progress. When I first started exercising, I believed that I was doing well and doing my work out several times per week. After a few weeks of actually monitoring my workouts on a simple calendar (adding a checkbox on all the days I did a workout), I realized that I often went 5+ days without a workout!
Calendars don’t lie. I can’t trick myself into thinking I’m accomplishing my goal of regular exercise when the calendar shows otherwise. When you monitor your progress, you also know exactly what you are doing and how well you are doing.
Why Monitoring Your Progress Gets You Results
So why does monitoring your progress works so well to get better results? I see 2 main explanations:
Monitoring Your Progress Can Boost Your Motivation: Because you can see that… you … are… getting… it… done! It makes you feel like you have just accomplished something good. That’s exactly why monitoring progress has been so effective for me: when things are going well and I’m improving, I feel motivated to keep pushing and staying consistent with my habits. After all, seeing my efforts pay off is so satisfying.
Monitoring is a Real Eye-Opener: If you want to lose weight, having to write everything you eat in a day can be a real eye-opener. If you consistently see poor nutritional choices, you can motivate yourself to improve them. As I mentioned earlier, it was eye opening for me to see that I often went 5+ days without a workout, when I seriously believed that i was working out regularly. Sometimes, you just need to see it to believe it!
So… What Are the Best Ways to Monitor Progress?
There are lots of different ways to monitor your progress. Simply try a few things and finds what works best for you. It doesn’t have to be complicated: you can use a health calendar, journal, or application to log your behaviors before or after finishing them. Here are the top ways I’ve used in the past to monitor my progress:
1. A Simple Calendar or Habit Tracker (For Tracking 1 or 2 Habits)
I use a dead simple calendar or a habit tracker to monitor how often I work out. Every month, I print out a new calendar page and tape it to my bedroom wall. I write a check mark on each day that I work out. You can print out a free calendar so easily. I use the spreadsheet program on my computer which has a calendar template. This is what I use to monitor how much I exercise. Love that it’s free!
You can also use my free Habit Tracker Printable (see preview image below).
Get My Free “Habit Tracker” Printable!
2. A Progress Tracker (For Tracking Multiple Habits)
If you prefer, you can simply use a progress / habit tracker such as the one below, where you simply write down your habit on one line and check boxes from 1 to 30 for each month. This is great if you want to track multiple habits.
3. A Note App On Your Phone
When I’m monitoring what I eat, I simply use the notes app on my phone. I create a note and write in what I eat right after I eat it. The next day, I delete it all and start again since I’m not keeping track of any long-term data.
You could monitor your spending in a similar way. Write down how much you spent and where right after you pay for something. Doing this for a week or a month should give you a great idea of where your money is going.
Using a note on your phone to monitor yourself is great because it’s free and you always have your phone with you.
4. A Habits Tracking App
If you want to monitor a new habit and make sure you do it every day / every week, you can use a habits monitoring app. I’ve used “HabitsNow” and it’s super simple. You create a new habit in the app, set reminders (If you want to), and simpy “Complete” the habit once it’s done. You can then see which days you have successfully completed your habits in the weekly calendar view.
5. Automated Activity Tracking App – The Best for Staying Active!
Activity level is always a great metric to track, and a good way to go about it is to make it automatic. For instance, I love the steps tracker on my phone. All I had to do was install it and set it up. It’s been working in the background ever since, and I can always check it for actionable data. If you haven’t tried it yet, check out Samsung or Apple health tracking apps! (see screenshot below for Samsung Health).
The best part is, you can easily set a steps tracker for yourself. Download an app and set it up quickly. It works great if you’re trying to build habits like walking or running more. For example, you can set a goal of walking 7,000 steps per day and make sure to cover it each day.
I’m loving the Powersheets from Cultivate What Matters. I got this goal planner and I especially love the “Daily Goals” section. Each month I write in any habits I want to create and then daily check off if I did it.
I’ve used monitoring to help me build all kinds of healthy habits! For easier habits, such as drinking water, I’ve monitored my activities for several weeks, and stopped doing so when I was simply doing what I wanted to do without thinking about it. For other activities that are a bit harder to implement, i’ve monitored progress for several months or even several years! (As is the case with my fitness habits).