Activity Journal Practice
Keeping a journal of your exercise and activity-workouts, walks, chores, or anything that makes you move your body-is one of the best ways to ensure progress towards your overall health and fitness goals. It keeps you mindful of the many small choices that lead to health and gives you a realistic picture of how you're moving to keep you on track, give yourself credit where it's due and help you balance out your body's needs. Consistency and honesty are key.
You can expect: weight loss, serious increases in motivation and dedication, a better of understanding of your activity levels and how to increase and modify them easily to accommodate your daily life.
What the experts are saying: Activity and food journals are great tools to help with weight loss. Kristin Kirkpatrick, registered dietitian, contends that keeping a food log may help you lose up to 50% more weight than you would if you didn't record your daily diet. Journaling your meals and exercise can do more than just track your calorie intake and output; it can help you discover hidden eating triggers, undo bad habits and learn how to energize your body by eating and staying active.
Level of Effort: Easy
Time Involved: 5 Minutes A Day
- Determine a tracking method. You may want to maintain your activity online, or in paper form.
- Record your fitness goals in your journal prior to getting started.
- Schedule your activity as you would an appointment or routine errand.
- Track all activity. Track the types of activities you performed, the duration and the level of difficulty at which you performed the activity (light, moderate, vigorous).
- Review your activity journal each week to see your progress.
What to Consider:
- Understand the benefits of keeping an activity journal
- You may also want to track the following
- Additional resources and articles
You may want to maintain your activity online, or in paper form. There are many great on-line tools for tracking exercise as well as food. The combination of an online activity journal and food journal is a powerful tool. An on-line activity journal will calculate the calories you burn, while an on-line food journal will calculate you intake of fat grams, calories, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, etc. Please refer to the additional resources section to view our recommendations for on-line tools that combine activity and food journals.
Track the types of activities you performed, the duration and the level of difficulty at which you performed the activity (light, moderate, vigorous). Here is a list of what you may want to track in your activity journal:
- The types of activities you did
- The duration you performed the activity for
- The level of difficulty at which you performed the activity (light, moderate, vigorous)
- How your body felt before and after an activity
- How were you feeling before you preformed the activity?
- Who were you with?
- Did you perform to the level you expected?
- How do you feel now (e.g. satisfied, healthy, guilty)?
- Overall, was this a positive or negative activity experience?
Each week review your progress and make the necessary changes based on what is working and what is not. Think about what things motivated or deterred you from your workouts or intensity. After 30 days review your goals and respond to your progress or make refinements as needed. (Remember they are your goals so you can change them if you want to!)
Whether your goal is to lose 5 pounds by spring, lower your blood pressure, or train for an event such as a ½ marathon, you will need a plan. By tracking your metrics, exercise, and diet on a daily basis you will be in a better place to understand what you need to do to reach your goal. If weight loss is your goal, log the foods you eat and the exercise you perform and an on-line resource will calculate the calories consumed and expended and show you the difference.
Maybe your doctor has recommended some diet changes to lower your blood pressure. Use an on-line food and activity journal to track the foods you've eaten, the exercise you've completed, and your daily blood pressure to see if the changes have made a difference. Find out how much sodium you've consumed or how much saturated fat you've removed from your diet.
Say you're planning to run your first ½ marathon in four months. Develop a training program, start tracking your daily exercise including distance, average speed, and average heart rate. Observe your speed and distance increase and your average heart rate decrease as you consistently train for your event.
Writing down your diet and exercise plan greatly increases your chances of sticking to them versus simply trying to "diet" or "exercise" more. At times you will think that you have been exercising and eating well when you can look back at your activity log and see that you've only averaged one workout per week for the past month.
The main benefit of tracking your food and exercise is motivation. It is much simpler to stay on track if you can look back after sticking to your program for a set amount of time and see that you've lost weight. It's a great feeling to look at your weight chart and see that descending line or the ascending graph of your running pace. These visual cues are reminders that you are taking small steps each toward your larger goal and it's successful.
Consistency is the key to reaching your food and exercise goals. Your journey is made up of several small steps. By logging your exercise, food, and health metrics will help you stay motivated and consistent in performing your daily tasks. You may also use the online community to help you recognize that each exercise session and each healthy eating decision gets you one step closer to your overall goal no matter how small the step may appear.
- MyFoodDiary.com - an on-line activity and food journal: http://www.myfooddiary.com
- LIVESTRONG.com MyPlate - an on-line activity and food journal: http://www.livestrong.com/thedailyplate/
- Food Diary: Why This Weight Loss Tactic Is So Effective, Kristin Kirkpatrick, Huffpost Health, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristin-kirkpatrick-ms-rd-ld/how-writing-everything-do_b_780535.html
- Active.com - good for beginners
- Journal of Training - detailed journal
- Daily Mile - social networking activity journal