‘That which is not measured cannot be managed’
Updated: May 23, 2019
Even coaches need coaching. Travelling down the road of self awareness is hard enough, it never really ends and thus having someone guiding and mentoring you is phenomenally valuable. I have been privileged to work with Luis Villasenor from Ketogains, he has helped me in more ways than even he realises and the title of this blog is one of his coaching mantras- that which is not measured cannot be managed. Originally coined by the legendary Management Consultant Peter Drucker, the simplicity in the message can be transferred to all parts of life. How do you know you are improving at something if you do not have a point of reference and a way to see how far you have come? Let me give you a very simple everyday example that might seem unrelated but stick with me- how do you know if you are late for an appointment if you do not know the time? How would you gauge that time? By having a time tracker, otherwise known as a watch, gives you a reference of where you are in the day and how early or late you are. My example of time is one of passive tracking, something that we have been conditioned to do and now seen as the norm. We can use all manners of trackers in our lives, for all aspects of it.
When I was working as an Architect, people would come to me to help them design and manipulate their external environment and now it’s to help them manage and design their internal constitution and their physicality . The two appear quite disparate at first glance but they do have a lot in common. Both requires analysis of starting points, creating a process that would deliver the desired outcome. Each phase requires tracking and management to achieve the best results- that which is not measured cannot be managed! If health and wellness is a goal, metrics such as energy intake/expenditure, sleep, stress, exercise etc. all need be monitored. We need to address the whole as an unit and not just individual facets of it.
So how do we track these factions? One of the first metrics to track is your energy intake, in other words, what you are eating. When I tell clients to track this, the first reaction is usually reluctance or hesitance. They sometimes feel that this behaviour can become obsessive but what they fail to comprehend is that, in the case of fat loss/gain, the only way to achieve great results is to reduce/increase their intake. But how do you know if you are consuming too much or too little for your body's need, if you do not track? Secondly, its not just about calories in/calories out but about the quality of the food you are eating as well. Yes calories do matter, you can lose weight eating Mars bars (as long as the calories consumed is less than your body's requirement) but its how you feel that matters too. Eating nutrient dense food of equal caloric value will undoubtedly be bigger in volume and therefore keep you fuller and satiated for longer, not to mention that it will provide you with a vast amount of micro nutrients that will allow your body to thrive. Guess what, there is a tracker available to do just that! It not only tracks your calories but also your macro and micronutrients, your vitamins and minerals for the day. Head over to the Useful Calculators and Trackers section our site where we have listed a few out for you.
Other than tracking food for body recomposition, it is also a very handy tool for determining food intolerances and sensitivities. A very common complaint I hear is the feeling of bloatedness, brain fog, discomfort or lethargy after eating. Sometimes the symptoms are not immediately evident but surface later and therefore it is hard to make a direct correlation. Now I can’t remember what I ate yesterday, let alone last week and thus keeping a food/symptoms tracker is hugely beneficial and handy. If you journal what was eaten and how you felt at the time along with reactions throughout the day, then often trends appear that might not have been obvious. It’s by journaling that I was able to pinpoint my gluten and lactose sensitivities. There are many handy apps available but a simple diary can do this job just as well.
Exercise is another important component to health and wellness. As an older woman, I myself now see the huge benefit of strength training, It’s not just for vanity but its ‘your health pension’*. I had always been a huge cardio fan but since starting to lift, my body has changed beyond recognition with body fat loss and the increase of bone density and lean muscle mass. How do I know this? You guessed it- I track this too. I get regular dexascans, considered to be the gold standard for measuring body fat, lean mass, visceral fat and bone density **, to track the impact of my diet and training. Now, you don’t have to go to such measures but know that for women, especially peri and post menaupausal, where the loss of bone density is a cause of concern, strength training is a godsend. As you gain strength, you will be able to push yourself harder and be able to lift heavier. Progress in strength training is in the volume (number of sets x number of reps x weight). An increase in any one or more of these components is a measure of progress. Again, if you head over to the Tracker section that I mentioned previously, I have listed a really handy app for you to use to track your exercises and progress.
I cannot stress the importance of sleep management but this topic is so vast that it probably warrants a blog of its own. Just understand for now that while you are sleeping, your body is recovering, mending and healing- a great day starts with good sleep. (Here is a very interesting blogpost on the importance of sleep for health and performance. I went to hear Greg Potter speak at a recent event and was blown away by some of his findings-https://blog.humanos.me/a-lazy-way-to-improve-your-health-and-performance-sleep-extension-part-1-of-2/). I have just recently taken possession of an Oura ring and therefore very interested to see how my sleep, or more importantly, my quality of sleep is impacted by my stress, lifestyle, timing of meals and a various of other factors (I see another blog in the pipeline here!).
To roundup this blog without going into the minutiae of details of tracking, I felt compelled to write this, as so often I see people working really hard towards their goals but never reaching it and not understanding why-I train hard! I eat healthy! I watch what I eat! I eat enough (alot of) protein! Then why am I not achieving my goals?! Well, are you training hard enough? What foods are you eating? Are you eating enough/too much? How do you know your protein needs and let alone that you getting enough? How would you answer these questions? You guessed it...
* another motto from my coach Luis. The lean mass we put on today will help us to stay active and mobile in our older age. As we age, it is much harder to put on lean mass and therefore the younger we start, the more we can ‘bank’.
** the bone density readings are not as accurate as the ones done at the hospitals but it is a good indicator of the trend