I have a question for all you exercisers out there:
How do you measure or quantify your progress? No, seriously. If you head to the gym everyday for some weights and cardio, do you keep track of your workouts? Do you have measurable goals, such as run X distance in Y time, or lift X amount of pounds in a deadlift/benchpress/squat?
I spent many many years exercising away without ever being able to measure my progress. Thousands of elliptical rotations, hundreds of dreadmill steps, bicep curls to no end. Why was I there doing those things? "To get healthy." "To lose weight." "To get in shape." "To feel good." "Because that's what healthy/athletic/attractive bodies do." I laugh now because, how in the world was I supposed to know how many elliptical revolutions I was going to need before I was healthy, and in shape? So, I did what anyone else would do. I measured my "progress" by my weight loss (or lack of).
Oh, how far I have come. I now routinely perform "benchmark" workouts in which I can easily identify my progress. I've written about these many times (usually because I continue to surprise myself with progress), and yesterday I performed one of my favorite benchmarks. The 22 minute routine. This workout was designed by one of the endurance trainers at the gym, and the idea is that you perform 15 reps of 7 movements (that is one round) at a weight in which you can get through five rounds in 22 minutes.
So, one round consists of 105 total reps, or:
15 upright rows
15 bent rows
15 deadlift high pulls
15 squat thrusts
15 push press
15 front squat
The goal- get 525 reps in 22 minutes.
The first time I did this workout was December 29, 2011. The trainer had us go to 25 minutes, and I completed 483 reps (using a 35# bar). The next time we did this was April 2, 2012. I stuck to the 22 minute time cut off and got 450 reps using the 35# bar. So, in 3 minutes less time, I completed nearly the same amount of reps. We did this yesterday, and again, I stuck to the 22 minute time cut off, and I got 521 reps using the 35# bar. I was 4 front squats shy of completing the workout at a perfect weight to which I got through the 5 rounds. SO CLOSE.
But- the point is, I can see MEASURABLE progress. The next time I do this? I'll use a 45# bar and try to get in the 500 rep range. Now that is what I call a goal I can quantify.
I'm still LOVING the intermittent fasting program I'm on. I'm getting stronger, have better insulin sensitivity (I know this because my eating hasn't been ideal for a week, and I've gained zero weight) and my mental clarity is astounding. I wonder how awesome I will be when I finally get my eating dialed in? My bets are pretty F*&king awesome.