Nowadays, there is a fine line between “acceptable” and “obsessive” when it comes to health and fitness. Someone who works out 2 hours a day can be training for a competition or endurance event, or it could be someone who has an eating disorder or disordered body image. Someone who tracks their workouts and food consumption can be in the process of making a life change and needs the consistency as well as a way to stay accountable, or it can simply be someone who is obsessive about every calorie that enters their mouth. I tread lightly with this topic as I am well aware there are many that find themselves at various places.
I keep a fitness journal and a food log most days. I do write my workouts down completely, but my food log is a general list. I don’t keep a food log to track calories, sugar, or carbs, but I do use it to look back and say, “Wow.” That long run was really hard, what did I eat the night before?” It helps me perform my best while training for a marathon. Some people track food intake for the accountability. If you were overweight and really want a way to keep yourself accountable, you could include more information, or different information to help you see your current lifestyle with a goal to make positive changes. If you are looking to make a big lifestyle change with health and fitness, I think keeping a journal helps. The type of journal, what you include, and who sees it are all personal preferences, but here are some steps to decide whether keeping a journal is right for you:
How to keep a fitness journal:
1. Decide what form works best for your purpose:
- Websites— Buddyslim, Live Journal, etc. Do you like to share information with a support group? Do you like meeting others that have similar goals? Or would you prefer to keep it to yourself?
- Apps– MyFitnessPal, Fitocracy, DailyBurn, and more. Maybe you are interested in keeping track, but on a less “journalistic” level. These apps are user friendly, and simple.
- Paper Journal– A plain notebook, or a “pre-made” prompted fitness journal- whatever style works best for you.
2. Write down your starting info:
Whatever you think may apply to your goals, write down your current status: weight, BMI, mileage/steps, weight you can currently lift, how many pushups, or pullups you can complete in a row, or whatever you want to focus on improving.
3. Specific goals:
What do you want– to lose weight, add mileage, be able to jump rope for 10minutes straight, add a certain number of steps to your day, or bike a certain mileage? Write it down! Writing down your goals is huge. I tend to include photos of my goals, like a person crossing the finish line of a marathon, a woman doing pull-ups, or a woman doing a really tricky yoga pose.
Choose whether you want to plan workouts in advance, or write them down as you complete them. Is planning out meals helpful to you, or would you rather just write down all the healthy choices you make? Do you stay on track better when you count calories, fat, carbs, sugar? Maybe you do better if you only track your fruit/veggie intake.
5. Be honest. It’s a journal, not a newsletter.— Unless you like story swapping on the websites. You can look back on bad weeks and see what makes you less likely to get a workout in, or more likely to get a workout in. You can track your progress towards your goal and see how far you have gone. It’s fun to watch ourselves accomplish “the impossible.”
These are just a start to your to help you get in shape, but if you start now to create healthy habits, you will be closer to your goals.
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