One of the easiest ways to make sure you are achieving your health and fitness goals is to track what you are doing. Keeping a log of your activities and food consumption will help you understand why you are or aren’t achieving your goals. Tracking your habits will help you take an honest look at your successes, failures, and results. If you gained a pound this week, look at how many times you went to the gym or how many servings of desserts you had. If you lost a few pounds, what made the difference? In addition to tracking your food and exercise, I suggest you track your sleep patterns and how you feel each day. Sleep is incredibly important for weight loss, greatly impacts your metabolism, and can also affect your work and exercise performance. Evaluating how you feel each day allows you to examine daily patterns and habits. Did you eat enough calories, did you exercise too long, did you drink enough water? All of these factors will affect your health and weight loss goals. Today’s technology, smartphone apps and fitbits make it unbelievably simple to record your daily food, exercise, and sleep habits.
Looking at your week as a whole will also help you identify positive or negative lifestyle trends and indicate areas that need work. If you didn’t accomplish everything you wanted to, your weekly log will help you understand why. Getting up 30 minutes earlier could give you time for packing lunches or eat a healthy breakfast. If your goal was to accumulate 70,000 steps by the end of the week (10,000 per day is recommended) which day did or didn’t accumulate that? Did you have tons of meetings? Did you take the dog for an extra-long walk? Without a log, you wouldn’t be able to track these valuable pieces of information.
Using a weekly log will also help you plan ahead for your workouts making them much more effective. If you have a day with unlimited workout time, schedule a longer cardio session or a cardio and weights combo workout. If you only have 30 minutes, try a quick weight training session or group exercise class. Weekly logs will also allow you to build variety into your workout plans making exercise more fun.
I also use my exercise and food logs as plan ahead tools for the upcoming week. Each week, I review my upcoming activities, pencil in my workouts, and plan each week night meal. I generally do all my food prep on Sundays such as making a few days of lunches and cleaning all my fresh produce. Cleaning all your produce ahead of time will allow you to quickly make a fresh and healthy meal. A fridge full clean fresh produce will hopefully inspire you to grab a healthy snack when the munchies hit rather than the empty carbs in the pantry. I also plan out my weekly dinner menu making sure I have all the needed ingredients. Planning your weekly menu ahead of time greatly decreases cooking time since you will not searching for each ingredient.
You can also use your weekly log to help you plan for a behavior change. Examples of behavior changes include going to bed earlier, making healthy snacks to keep at work, walking an extra mile with the dog, just to name a few. I suggest you add or change one new behavior per week. It can often be overwhelming when we try to change too many things at once. By selecting one thing to change per week, it will easily be identifiable if the change worked or didn’t work and why.
Below is an example of a weekly log that tracks nutrition, exercise, sleep, and any other things you are working on that week. Download the log, print it out and use it or find an electronic version (like Lose it!) you like. Be sure to make comments on your day to give yourself extra insight for your behavior changes. I hope all these tips and tracking log information will help inspire you to make and stick with new healthy behaviors.