So, I've been working out more frequently on the elliptical trainer lately, since that's my alternative to walking outside when it's either raining or beastly hot, and it's been one or the other surprisingly often recently. I've also discovered that the more intense workout offered by the elliptical machine provides an endorphin boost that really helps in dealing with stress.
Anyway, I'd been getting frustrated that after a period of a couple of years of intermittently using the elliptical machine, I was still using it at its lowest resistance setting, and was burning about the same number of calories and traveling about the same "distance" in each workout. It may be silly, but I feel like if I'm going to spend an hour doing something that gets me disgustingly sweaty, I want to see some progress. (Also, I'm jealous of my dear old dad, who can bicycle 50 miles a day, and gets results on his cardiac stress tests that make medical technicians swoon. I figure if I start now, maybe I can be buff by the time I retire.)
So, a few weeks ago, I started jotting down the resistance level I used, calories burned, and distance traveled on a sheet of paper after each workout. And lo and behold, I've seen the calories and distance go slowly but definitely up over time, and today I set the resistance up to level 2 and kept it there for the entire workout.
It's long been a mantra of mine that you cannot improve what you don't track. But it still surprises me how often tracking is not only necessary, but sufficient, for improvement.