You Cannot Manage What You Cannot Measure

May 9, 2016

When it comes to fitness and weight loss, many people fall in to the trap of just “doing it”. They exercise, they eat less, but they end up making no real progress. When it comes to getting results from healthy eating or working out, often it is not enough just to take action, those actions need to have direction.

Adaptations to nutrition and exercise are SPECIFIC to the actions you take. Walking further or faster trains your body to walk further and faster whereas doing more squats will strengthen your legs. Specificity is one of the most important exercise principles.

So, if you have specific goals that you want to achieve from your workouts and eating plan, you need to effectively manage what actions you take and that way you will get the results you want.

Thankfully, there is no need to keep yourself in the dark and eat or exercise without direction. There are lots of ways you can quantify your actions and measure your progress to ensure you fitness moves forward and does not stagnate or regress.


Losing weight requires a calorie deficit so that your body is forced to use fat to make up the energy shortfall. This means you need to a) know how many calories you need per day, b) factor in how many calories you burn during exercise and c) have a good idea how much food you are eating so you can purposely reduce your food intake.

Working out how many calories you need per day often requires the use of complex calculations but there are some simple online calculators that do all the heavy lifting for you like this one.

No more food diaries!

In the good old days, people interested in nutrition kept food journals and weighed, measured and wrote down everything they ate. Now, with the advent of technology, this is much easier and there are lots of online and app systems for tracking your food intake. Good examples include:

Once you know what you are eating, it is much easier to adjust your food intake to create a calorie deficit and achieve fat loss. If you don’t measure what you are eating, any food adjustments will just be guesses and you may not get the results you want. Eating too little is almost as bad as eating too much but by tracking your food intake, you can make more accurate adjustments – no more guessing!

Photo food diaries

Another good way to manage your food intake is to use a food photo journal. There are apps for this too but you could simply take a picture of each and every meal you eat and then post it on your favorite social media site. Your friends and followers will soon tell you if you are eating too much or eating the wrong things!

As an added benefit, keeping a food photo journal increases accountability which can help make sticking to a healthy eating plan easier; you are less likely to go off plan if you know other people are watching!

Activity trackers

The other side of the fitness and weight loss equation is exercise. Exercise burns calories and is good for your heart, lungs, bones and muscles but are you doing enough? Are you exercising hard enough or sufficiently frequently to get the benefits you want. Or are your workouts little more than a waste of time because they are too short or too easy? Or maybe you are doing more than you need to?

Again, in the old days, people tracked their workouts using paper and pen but now there are dedicated devices and apps that do the hard work for you.

In addition to our very own Stepz App which tracks walking and running, there are apps that can track your gym workouts, cycling and swimming workouts, and some that even monitor your sleep – sleep being another vital part of the health and fitness equation.

Using this information

Once you start measuring your food intake and your energy expenditure, you have all the information you need to manage the variables of calories in versus calories out to get the desired results.

  • Not losing weight? Make sure you are not eating more than you realize by using your nutrition tracker. Check that you are exercising enough to burn any extra calories using your activity tracker.
  • Not getting fitter? Make sure you are doing enough exercise at the right level of intensity by using your activity tracker.
  • Not feeling healthier? Check the composition of your meals and make sure you are eating healthily 90% of the time and not just occasionally by checking your food photo journal. Also make sure you are getting enough sleep.

Whatever you are trying to achieve, measuring and managing your actions means you will be more able to adjust things like food intake and exercise to ensure you get the results you want.

Achieving weight loss and gaining fitness is MUCH easier when you have all the necessary information at your disposal. As they saying goes, you cannot manage what you cannot measure. Start measuring and then make any adjustments necessary to take you closer to your goals. You’ll soon start enjoying the results you deserve.

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