From what I can recall, I first started properly weightlifting and eating about 9 months ago, maybe a little more recently than that. This was the point in my timeline where I had just learned the basics: how to squat and deadlift, to control tempo, to manipulate how I wanted my body to move. I also learned the basics of eating properly- you can't make very much progress if you don't get enough macronutrients or calories to support your body. With this foundation of key guidelines to follow, I could piece together a balance of all of them to suit my lifestyle and goals. Since that point, I have tweaked my diet plans (mainly increasing or decreasing calories), adjusted my training frequency and style, and taught myself new exercises when it was time to try something new. But, my goals have fundamentally stayed the same: get stronger, build muscle, and decrease my body fat percentile.
It has been difficult to track my progress; I feel a little too disheartened when taking progress pictures, as I feel the camera does not reflect what I see. I took some a couple of months ago though, so perhaps by comparing new ones, I may see a positive difference. I feel that it can also be dangerous to try and judge your progress with your own eyes; lighting and angles and your emotional wellbeing can all play tricks on your eyes that mislead you. And, you probably look at your reflection multiple times a day- it's like trying to watch yourself age- it's just too slow a process to capture. There are very clear ways to mark changes, though. The gym that I go to, The Gym Group, has invested in FitQuest machines; I've never used one, for they cost money, but they can calculate muscle mass, water mass, and body fat percentage.
I very rarely weigh myself, as I believe (unless you are looking for extreme changes) it is a poor insight into the actual changes taking place. Many variables can fluctuate your weight on a daily basis, like your water intake, sodium intake, and hormones, so it's important to consider weight change holistically- to not fixate on the smaller differences. The last time I weighed myself was near the beginning of my fitness journey; I was approximately 65kg. And a few days ago, I weighed myself again to find that I am now 75kg! I am confident that this increase is mostly muscle mass, rather than fat, as I have noticed an increase in the size of my muscles, whilst areas like my waist have barely changed (possibly even decreased in size).
Following this new information, I have found more drive to keep training hard. My back pain is getting better and my lifts are getting heavier. With the holiday season around the corner, it's likely that I will gain a little fat, but that's okay! I'm going to enjoy this journey I'm on, and get better and better every day.