Health Tracking Journal

posted by: Allison West
 

The Benefits of Using A Health Tracking Journal

There’s no sugarcoating it. Sometimes exercising stinks. Your body hurts, your mind says no, and you just don’t want to. It’s a lot easier to just stay snuggled in bed than to get your body moving.

But nothing good ever came out living in a comfort zone.

And this gets to the heart of the matter.

Too many of us spend our lives smack in the middle of that comfort zone. Did you know that only 20% of Americans get the recommended 150 minutes of strength and cardiovascular physical activities per week?

According to the CDC, about 31 million adults aged 50 or older are inactive,
meaning that they get no physical activity other than that needed by daily living.

Even Hippocrates knew exercise was an integral part of a healthy life. “Eating alone will not keep a man well. He must also take exercise,” he wrote.

Recent research published in health and medical journals supports the idea that for most of us “average exercisers,” short bursts of activity throughout the day are just as beneficial as heavy, long-term training.

What type and how much should you exercise?

Exercise can be any activity that gets your heart pumping and your body moving. Walking, gardening, lifting hand weights, walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator – any movement is a big win over inactivity.

However, that’s not to say that all workouts are created equal. There’s a huge difference between training for a half-marathon and walking your dog.

We’re all unique human beings with our own abilities and challenges. Some of us can complete a vigorous 60-minute aerobic activity and still have energy left to hit the weights. People with health issues have different and more complex challenges.

That’s why you should always check with your doctor before starting any exercise routine, and especially if you haven’t exercised for a while.

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Photo by Ketut Subiyanto, Pexels

Why keeping a health tracker journal works

As you start to exercise, keeping a fitness journal can help you get motivated, stay on track and discover what activity you enjoy enough to keep doing over time.

Maybe using an app on your phone is an adequate tracking tool for you. But I’m here to cheer for the old school, paper style exercise journal.

Keeping a fitness journal helps us keep track of how we exercise, what we eat,
and help track habits and behaviors.

Why a handwritten journal? Because the act of writing on paper makes the commitment seem more real. Evidence shows that journaling helps us work out our feelings and emotions, plus it’s a powerful tool for change. And as the New York Times points out, it’s an inherent organization system.

Keeping an exercise tracking journal can also help to:

  • Clarify and focus your fitness goals
  • Break down goals into smaller, more manageable goals
  • Track progress towards goals
  • Plan future workouts
  • Record workouts done and progress
  • Record related non-workout information e.g. sleep, meals, overall energy levels & health
  • Gain a better understanding of exercise habits, helping you to troubleshoot and make changes.
  • Plan exercise rest days
  • Increase motivation
  • Prevent and manage injuries
  • Provide a factual record of successes

A fitness journal gives your mind, body, and spirit a boost in many ways.

1. Keeping a fitness journal helps keep you motivated.

Writing something down gives a goal or a plan more credibility. Writing down your goals and outlining the specific steps you plan to take to achieve them keeps you on track for meeting them.

Even small wins count here. If eating four cups of veggies each day is part of your fitness plan, and you only get in two, write it down. Let’s not make this more complicated or overwhelming than it has to be.

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2. Exercise journaling reduces stress and anxiety.

Don’t we all crave a little less stress and a lot more happy? Creating a time to sit down, gather your thoughts and write in a journal of any type provides an outlet to express both good and bad emotions.

So next time you feel like ranting, instead of posting to social media, write it down in your private journal instead.

3. Journaling brings self-awareness

As you develop your personal fitness journal, be honest. Certainly with your exercising and food, but also honestly assess your motivations and stumbling blocks.

Fitness and diet journaling helps you track habits and tendencies, too. You may start to notice that when you’re under stress or short on sleep, you crave more junk food. You may not even realize this until you write it down.

Tracking behaviors and how you respond is important over time because it helps trigger positive behavior changes.

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Knowledge is power. If we don’t know about something that’s preventing us from achieving our fitness goals, we’re powerless to improve it.

4. Fitness tracking helps you explore the “why?”

Asking yourself why you want to start exercising regularly is perhaps the most important factor in determining whether or not you keep at it or quit after a few weeks.

Is it so you can drop two dress sizes or because you want to feel better physically and emotionally? These two goals are very different and require different plans.

But regardless of your “why,” ask yourself: “Am I really committed and ready to do the hard work?”

UniKeep Tip: As you go through the journey of keeping a fitness journal, include anything that inspires you – it may be an inspirational quotation, a photo, or a recipe. Making journaling fun gives you something to look forward to and keeps you in the habit.

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How to start using the UniKeep Fitness journal

Step 1: Set some baselines, such as weight, body mass index, and height.

It’s true, that health is more than “just a number.” But we have to start somewhere, right? Be honest and try not to be your own worst critic. Remember all the good things you’re going to start and how your body and mind will respond over time.

All behavior changes take time and consistency before they show results. And that’s exactly how the UniKeep fitness tracker journal can help – to track and measure change over time.

Step 2: Start logging your activities and movement.

Your entries can include things like:

  • Goals – walk 3 times a week; eat 4 servings of vegetables a day; drink more water
  • Eating, sleeping, general health
  • Specifics – how long you exercised, what you did – how many reps, combinations of cardio and weight lifting
  • Miles walked/ran
  • What you ate for each meal
  • Specific exercises and targeted muscle groups
  • Cardio machines - how long and at what level of exertion did you perform
  • Rate of perceived exertion (RPE) – helps you rate the level of difficulty of each workout

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UniKeep Tip: Put a little effort into your descriptions so you can track over time what conditions and behavior either improve your fitness or prevent you from attaining your goals.

For example, include details of how you improve/increase workouts or change food choices over time:

  • Do you run/walk for a longer time? Do you walk up hills? How did you feel afterward?
  • Did you choose a more difficult level on the treadmill or machine?
  • Have you increased the frequency of your workouts?
  • Have you excluded sugar from your diet?
  • Have you been sleeping better?

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Step 3: Develop your own code or language for details of your workout

Use your own Emojis to indicate how you felt that particular day physically/mentally. It’s kind of your own “quick code” for evaluating your workouts. They can be doodles, drawings, stickers – small notations that show how you felt during the workout and after.

Step 4: Find activities you enjoy.

It’s easier to stick to an exercise plan when you’re enjoying the activity. If biking is your sweet spot, do that. If you’re a runner, lace up and get out there. Be adaptable. Mix up your routines with cardio and weights so you work more muscles and keep yourself interested.

Step 5: Track your progress with UniKeep's Fitness Tracking Journal

UniKeep’s compact Fitness Binder Journal helps you stay accountable as you reach your goals. Using the included sheets to record your diet and exercise regimen helps you build a consistent program that’s specific to your needs.

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UniKeep’s compact Fitness Binder Journal helps you stay accountable as you reach your goals. Using the included sheets to record your diet and exercise regimen helps you build a consistent program that’s specific to your needs.

This Fitness Binder includes exclusive content pages - including food
logs and workout entries - with enough logs for up to 26 weeks of workouts.

UniKeep’s compact fitness enclosed case binder has enough capacity for you to add your own material such as fitness articles, healthy recipes, and progress photos.

  • As you meet goals and your plan changes, our durable snap-locking poly rings make it a breeze to add and remove pages.
  • Compact so it fits inside a gym bag or purse to take along to the park, gym or backyard

What the UniKeep Fitness Mini Binder includes

  • Case style, snap locking binder
  • Choice of 2 digitally printed themed cover designs
  • 20 mini sheet protectors – these can hold your notes, photos, articles or earbuds
  • Themed content pages for 26 weeks of workout and food logs

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UniKeep’s Fitness and Diet Mini Binder is compact so it fits easily in a gym bag. As one user shows in these photos, you can place it directly on your machine so you won’t forget the details of your routine.

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Personalizing a UniKeep Fitness Journal

Now that you know about this compact fitness journal, make it yours. There’s room for extra notes, a pen, earbuds. Toss it in your bag and go exercise!

Add your own additional pages to the UniKeep fitness binder or place notes and tips inside the included clear page protectors.

What can you track in a UniKeep health and fitness journal?

Weight Training journal tips

  • Date and time of workout
  • What machine or piece of equipment did you use?
  • What weight was it, if it was a hand weight?
  • What exercise did you perform – for example, squats with 20 lb. hand weights
  • How many reps did you perform?
  • How many sets?
  • How long did you rest between sets?
  • Level of difficulty – you could use a 5 scale here, 1 – Not difficult to 5 – very difficult.

Cardio training journal tips

  • Date and time of workout
  • How long did you perform an activity?
  • What type of activity you chose – running, walking, aerobics class, rowing, etc.
  • Did you use a machine? If yes, what?
  • How long did you perform that activity?
  • Level of exertion?
  • Did you mix up levels of effort – walking on a flat surface versus walking up a hill for example

Food journal tips

  • Write down everything you eat daily – for each meal and snack
  • Water consumption
  • Note calories, carbs, proteins, vegetables, fats, sugars, calories
  • Did you eat more vegetables and fruit?
  • What you ate and drank before a workout

Healthy Habits & Mindfulness

  • Ate out and brought home half my meal
  • I parked at the far end of the parking lot at work
  • I put away my electronic devices each night when I got home from work
  • Spent quality time with my family
  • Turned off the television and went for a walk

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Summary

The UniKeep exercise tracking journal is a great tool to help bring planning and consistency to an exercise program. It brings structure to an overall health plan. Make it your own with custom touches. Reflecting on healthy lifestyle goals in a journal is your own private time to reflect on what works and doesn’t so you can adapt and succeed.

Remember fitness ebbs and flows over time. Small progress is still progress. Be kind to yourself along the journey.