In part 1 of this mini-series I covered the physical signs that your plan is working. This included boosting your immune system, improving your performance inside and outside of the gym, and moving more in general.
In part 2 I want to cover something that many may not think about when it comes to monitoring progress; the mental side of things.
I have worked with plenty of clients over the last 7 years; each differing in their goals, genetics, physical and mental attributes. Some have powered on through to achieve their initial goals, whilst others had to work much harder, for longer to achieve their original goals. There is a sub-group of people I have worked with who haven't necessarily achieved their initial body composition goals, but have seen their mindset transform completely; and that for both them and myself, is a win.
PART 1: MINDSET
You enjoy the eating experience again
Many diet programs insist that counting calories and weighing food is the only way to take control of your eating and see results. I myself got caught up in this. I can remember reading every label to see how many calories, how many grams of protein and how many carbs the food contained. I'd then enter it into My Fitness Pal and try to hit my prescribed quota for the day.
Looking back on those times, I can see the stress I was causing myself and the detachment I was creating from the eating experience. If I went over my quota, I could feel the mindset shift. If I have some of my calorie quota left, I'd eat whatever I wanted. And if I was eating out I felt like I didn't have control over my intake.
Focusing on slowing down, tuning into your hunger signals and not worrying about 'perfect' calorie portions can completely change your view on the eating experience. Eating should not be something that causes emotional stress; it should be nurturing and relaxing. Have you ever seen a baby screaming once it is being breast fed?
So if you are able to truly enjoy the food you are eating; the taste, smells & textures without worrying about exactly how may calories are on your plate, it's probably a good sign that your program is working.
N.B. This doesn't mean you are short changing yourself and eating whatever you want, whenever you want. It means you are in tune with what your body needs and what you are eating.
You enjoy the training experience
Training is similar to the eating experience. You can become consumed by the number of calories you are burning and mindlessly plod along until the cardio machine tells you you've reached your goal. It's the sort of thing you might see in your health club; members doing anything they can to not focus on the task at hand - watching TV, reading books or playing games. I understand this is actually enjoyable for some, but for many it is a painful and tiresome experience.
If you become engaged in your training, then it's a good sign that your program is working. If you are focusing on performance improvements, movement quality and the feeling your get from your training you are likely to keep pressing on for more. You might want to try new movements, new ways of training and new activities. Feeling stronger, faster, more durable or more powerful is a rich experience.
You can focus on other things
There are countless stories of diets becoming a burden on people. When you are not worrying about calories eaten, calories burned and every detail of our body you might suddenly free up some mental space for other things in life. You can focus on other more pressing things; your work, family, social life and hobbies. The combination of more physical energy and mental capacity can transform the way you live your life.