This post about what to track and what not to track is sponsored by NOW®. I’m so excited to be partnering with NOW again this year. I’ve been a customer and fan of the brand for many years (and I’ve even been on a tour of the NOW production facilities). Today, I’m not only sharing some wellness talk, but I’m also sharing a big giveaway for you from NOW.
Metrics can be our friends, and metrics can be our foes. You know what I mean? If you’re an easy-peasy laid-back wellness person who tracks nothing, and you feel amazing, then keep doing you. But if you’re interested in feeling a little stronger, having a little more energy, and possibly changing your body composition, then you may want to track a few metrics in your lifestyle.
Before we begin, I think it’s important to say that as individuals we each have to be responsible for taking a healthy approach to tracking. If you’ve got the type of personality that will take tracking too far and turn it into an unhealthy habit, then click out of this one right now (or go right to the giveaway). I’ve gone through phases of tracking a lot and tracking absolutely nothing, and over the last few years, I’ve found the sweet spot of exactly what works for me. I’ll share all about that today too. Let’s do it …
What to track and what not to track in your wellness
We’ll start with the things you do want to track …
Track: Track your nightly sleep quantity and quality.
While you don’t need to keep a very specific log with your exact bedtime and wake-up time each day, it’s ideal to have a night-time routine and morning routine that includes a similar go-to-sleep and wake-up time to keep the body on a great cycle. Our bodies like routine, and our bodies need quality rest. The best hours of sleep usually happen between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., so do your best to get to bed by 10 p.m. so you can capitalize on those peak hours. For me, I need a good 7.5 or 8 hours of quality sleep a night, and that’s always my goal, even if I don’t meet it every night.
One thing I love to use in my nightly wind-down routine is NOW® Magnesium Topical Spray. I spray it a few times on my stomach and rub it into my skin in the evening. And I always recommend a topical magnesium supplement for skin soothing.
Track: Track your overall daily water intake.
A lot of people are dehydrated and they don’t know it. Drinking enough water is life changing. Your skin looks better, your digestion is better, you perform better, and your mind feels sharper. I mean, water is life. I keep track of my daily water intake by knowing how many times I’ve emptied (and I mean completely emptied) and filled up my 40-ounce water cup. My goal is to drink 160 ounces of water a day, and that means I need to drink and empty my cup four times. I know that by lunch, I like to have two completed, one more completed by the time I head back out in the afternoon, and I drink the final one right before dinner. Each time I finish a whole cup, I make a check-mark in my planner too.
I like to add some sea salt to my water in the mornings, and then I like to add some other flavors in the afternoons a few times a week to switch things up. I love to use these NOW® Sports Effer-Hydrate Effervescent Tablets. They have valuable nutrients to help me rehydrate (especially on days I’m teaching multiple classes or teaching and playing tennis), and they taste great.
Track: Track your overall daily protein intake.
Here’s another one worth loosely tracking: protein. I think protein is the most important macronutrient (even though you need all the macronutrients in your diet daily, including carbohydrates and fat). While I don’t think you need to use a special app to keep track of your protein intake super specifically, I think you should spend at least a week or so calculating the protein in all of your meals each day to take a good gauge of where you’re at and if you need to change.
Once you know how much protein is in the food you’re eating regularly and in portion sizes, you can keep track in your head moving forward. I know how much protein is in each of the meals and snacks I eat regularly. For instance, most eggs have 6 grams of protein each, most chicken breasts have 30-40 grams of protein depending on size, one protein shake has about 25 grams of protein and so on. Having an idea of how much protein is in food can help you do a better job of keeping tabs on your overall daily protein intake.
I probably only started to eat the right amount of protein for my body and physical activity level last year, for real. I try to eat one gram of protein per pound of my bodyweight, and that’s a lot of protein. Not everyone needs this much, but it’s a really great goal to shoot for, especially when you’re active like I am.
When you eat enough protein, you’re supporting your immune system, you’re growing and repairing your muscles, you’re improving your hair and skin, and you’re even regulating your hormonal system. Not to mention, eating enough protein is a sure-fire way to get closer to the right body composition for you too. Since I’ve been trying to eat about 145 grams of protein a day for the last several months, I’ve felt stronger, I’ve recovered better, and I’ve noticed some muscle gains too. If you change anything at all about your eating this year, try tracking your protein and hitting a goal appropriate for you.
I’ve always loved to incorporate a daily protein shake into my diet, because it’s an easy way to get 20+ grams of protein in. Lately, Dave and I have both been using this NOW® Sports Whey Protein Creamy Chocolate Powder. It mixes well with water and goes down smoothly.
Track: Track the weights you lift in your workouts.
Most personal trainers will tell you that you have to follow a prescribed workout program with planned workouts each week in order to get fit. While I think that’s an incredibly smart way to train, I don’t think it’s a “have to.” But personal trainers who sell workout programs don’t want you to know that. I’m here to tell you that you can do workouts you enjoy, off program, and make progress in your fitness. But, you do have to keep track of the weights you’re lifting, how you’re lifting them and how often you’re lifting them. There’s a bit more to it than that, but for the purposes of tracking … track your weights.
Most people should aim to lift weights for at least 30 minutes, at least three times a week. This is a very loose recommendation, but because I know so many of you struggle to lift weights regularly, it’s a fine goal to start with. When you lift weights, write down (or remember) how many repetitions you’re doing with which type of weight, if possible. If you attend group fitness classes that feature repetitive programming, keep a tally in the notes app of your phone of the weights you use for each section. While you don’t need to increase your weights every workout, you should try to add some weight to one or two sections, every few weeks, always seeking good range of motion and proper form.
If every time you go to pick up weights you’re guessing which weight to choose, then you’ll never really make any gains. But if you know what you did last time, what you want to try for this time and where you eventually want to get with weights, you’re more likely to improve. For a long time, I kept a tally in my phone of the weights I was lifting and the repetitions I was doing in my weekly solo weight-room floor workout. Now that I’ve been consistent with that weekly workout, I can remember where I’m at in my head, and I always know what I did last time, and what I plan to do next time.
Track: Track how often you’re doing intentional recovery and self-care methods.
How often are you taking care of your body with something other than a workout? Foam rolling, epsom salt baths, cryotherapy, massages, cold plunges, sauna sessions, slow-flow yoga … these are all intentional recovery, and these matter. I recommend you do one really good intentional recovery method every week, or even two or three times a week. Can you choose a day of the week that you’ll always devote to recovery and self-care? If so, that will make it easy to track.
Personally, I lay across my foam roller every single day, while I do a guided meditation with headphones. I write a little “m” in my planner to notate that I’ve done my daily meditation/foam rolling, and I hardly ever miss. I’ve also been hitting the sauna or sitting in a massage chair at least once a week, and I always do that on Fridays.
Track: Track your energy levels and how you feel.
Did you know that one of the most important metrics you can track is actually a bit subjective? How you feel is the number-one thing you should be keeping track of. You can follow a fitness program and diet and do everything right, but if you don’t feel good, then that program or set of methods isn’t working for you. Hands down. You should feel good, much of the time.
How can you track this? In the notes app on your phone, in a notebook, in a daily journal, or even just a couple words description on a written calendar. You want to note how your energy levels are, how you feel in your workouts, how your skin looks and how your digestion is. If all of these things are going well, then you’re probably choosing appropriate wellness habits for you in your lifestyle. But, if you’re always sore, tired and hungry, then you need to reevaluate what you’re doing, because it’s not working for you.
A few other valuable things to track:
- How much fresh produce you’re eating daily (aim for one to two servings of produce at every meal)
- How often you’re moving throughout the day outside of your workout (aim to get up every hour to move around and try to stay moving as much as you can, without sitting for long stretches)
- How often you’re socializing and connecting with others (having human connection is a huge part of being healthy)
- How regular your monthly cycle is (this matters, and you know you’ve heard this from me before)
Now let’s talk about the things you don’t need to track …
Skip: Don’t step on the scale every day to weigh yourself.
I do not recommend weighing yourself every day. And I know so many people are completely attached to this habit. But here’s the thing: Your weight is not a super important metric. It’s just not. Your weight can fluctuate by 2 to 5 pounds (or more) every single day, based on how you slept, how much fluid you’ve consumed, where you are in your hormonal cycle and more. These little ups and downs are not a big deal and are not a clear marker of how you’re doing with your wellness at all. If you really want to know how much you weigh, then step on a scale weekly or bi-weekly, at the same time of day and day of the week.
For me: I truly do not care how much I weigh. The only reason I need to know my approximate weight is so I can know how many grams of protein per pound of bodyweight I need to consume. And, if I gain weight, I will hope that’s new muscles growing, because muscle is heavy. Your BMI or body-mass index isn’t really all that important these days either. What’s important is that you feel good, you move your body and you have some muscles. You can also gauge how you’re doing by how your clothes fit. Personally, I’ve grown out of some jeans over the last couple of years, and that’s cool with me. Taking up more space is not a bad thing.
Skip: Don’t keep track of every single morsel you put into your mouth.
I know some people swear by calorie counting and exact macronutrient tracking, but I don’t think either are a maintainable or sustainable life choice. Do you really want to log and measure and count every bite of food you consume? Doesn’t sound fun to me, and also sounds like it’s setting you up to ignore your hunger cravings, just because you’re trying to meet certain numbers.
I wouldn’t recommend driving yourself crazy with exact calorie counts, because some calorie calculators aren’t all that accurate anyhow. If you can approximate how much protein you’re eating overall each day, and you feel good and have energy, then likely, you’re eating okay.
Skip: Don’t keep track of the days you miss a workout, eat too much or make wellness mistakes.
It’s not important to remember, notate and fixate on days where you maybe don’t make the healthiest choices. If you miss your workout, eat a whole cake and go to bed super late … just move on. Dust yourself off and hop right back into healthier habits the next day, no detox or hours-long sweat session required. What matters most in our wellness routine is the things we do most of the time, not the things we do some of the time.
Skip: Don’t track what other people are doing in their wellness routines.
If you look around, you’ll see people with many different wellness methods. What works for one person may not work for you and vice versa. And what works for me may not work for you either. The way to feel really good is try things out in your own real life, see how they feel and adjust accordingly. I didn’t enjoy tracking macronutrients at all, and I gave it up. I found that I felt a lot better if I just loosely tracked my protein, and that’s been working great for me. I also tried following a strict workout program that required multiple hours on the fitness floor, and that combined with my classes had me totally run down, so I gave it up. I’ve learned to do things my own way, and I highly recommend you find your own way too.
Skip: Don’t track your calories burned in your workouts and use that to gauge the value of the workout.
I wear an Apple watch, so I almost always know how many calories I’m burning in a workout. But I also know that the calories burned does not measure the effectiveness of the session. Sometimes, in my heavy-lifting sessions, I don’t burn a ton of calories, but I know how much my body is loving that challenge.
I often talk to my group fitness participants about this topic, and overwhelming, most of them feel like if they burned more calories in a class, then it was better or more worthwhile for them. And I’m here to say that the calories burned are not everything. if you challenged your body, improved your mobility and worked on range of motion in a workout that didn’t get your heart-rate super high (thus not burning a ton of calories on your measuring device), that’s still an effective session, you know? It’s not all about those calories, friend. It’s really not.
And that concludes our list of what to track and what not to track in wellness. It’s all about trial and error, so get out there and see what’s worth tracking in your life. Now, let’s do the giveaway …
GIVEAWAY: Win a $300 e-gift card to shop at nowfoods.com!
*Update: THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED.
Because you’re reading this post, I want to thank you for supporting NOW, which is a huge and well-respected natural foods and supplement company that I’ve been patronizing for many years. I trust the brand 100 percent, especially because I’ve even toured their real-life facilities and met the people in charge. (That was so cool, and you can read about that trip I took last summer here.)
You can find NOW products in major natural health food stores and grocers, you can find some of their products on Amazon, and you can access the full line-up online on the NOW site. My pantry is stocked with NOW products, and our family loves the NOW stuff.
For this giveaway, I’ll choose one lucky winner, over the age of 18, who resides in the United States for the $300 e-gift card, which you can use on anything on the NOW site. And you can even use my personal discount code, ASHLEY, at check-out for 20 percent off, combined with your gift card. And if you don’t win, you can still use my discount code on the site here any time throughout the year.
To enter, do each of the following:
- Leave a comment on my latest Facebook or Instagram post. Then …
- Leave a comment on this blog post below letting me know you’ve done the above. (To leave a comment here, scroll to the bottom of this blog post. And when you leave a comment, your email will not be shown publicly, by the way.)
- You must be at least 18.
- You must reside in the United States.
- You must be following me on FB or IG, and you must be following NOW as well. If you’re not on social media, you can tell me that in your comment, and I’ll still consider your entry.
This giveaway closes next week on Monday, February 12th. Good luck to you!
Have an awesome week, my friend!
Disclaimer: Thanks again to NOW for sponsoring this post. While I was compensated, all of these opinions are totally my own. Thanks, NOW! #NOWWellness
Questions of the day for you
What’s one metric you always track in your health and wellness?
What’s one thing you want to buy from the NOW site?
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.