Every time I have suggested to someone that they should complete a personal health journal I communicate that to do so is not to write down every detail of their health and fitness life forever. The goal is to collect specific information that is necessary to help them reach their goals. The classic example of this is to have people with a goal to lose weight, write down the total number of calories they consume each day. This way it’s easy to see if they are meeting the prescribed number of calories they should be eating to lose weight. This helps in two ways. The first, is the person gets familiar with how much food they are eating and what their daily caloric intake looks like. The seconds, is to prove whether the caloric prescription actually helped them lose weight that week. Personal health journaling can be as detailed as you like. Often it can be difficult to stay consistent with journaling if multiple variables are tracked. I recommend starting with 1-2 variables that are critical to helping you develop a picture of what your habits and propensities are as they relate to your goals. Calories consumed and days of exercise during the week would be 2 great variables to track for those who are looking to lose some weight. Besides losing weight, there are a number of other great benefits to personal health journaling. Below I will share some details around other reason personal health journaling can be a valuable tool to help you reach any health and fitness goal.
Personal health journaling can be a great way to learn about your habits and tendencies. You can also keep track of energy levels throughout the day, how you felt before and after workouts, and stress levels. Regular recording of your daily experiences can help you look back and see what may be contributing to your energy levels or stress levels. The great thing about personal health journaling for self-discovery is that you aren’t actively trying to change your behavior, your simply educating yourself on the things that are currently affecting your health and fitness. After a few weeks of journaling, you should be able to find more than one area you can improve. This will help you create a goal specific to your health and fitness needs. Since you have created a habit of journaling, you will also be more capable of tracking your progress to see if you are moving towards or away from your goal.
2. Simple Accountability
Accuracy and consistency are critical to useful personal health journaling. While simply recording personal health and fitness details each day can be helpful, specifically tracking variables related to your goals can be a great accountability tool. Let’s say your goal is to increase the number of hours you sleep each day. The first thing you will need to do is record what your current sleep schedule looks like. This could be a daily hours average or a total for the week. Once you have that data you can then work on improving the quality and quantity of your sleep. After recording your sleep hours using the new strategies, you can look back at your new daily average or weekly total and see if you have been making improvements.
3. Quickly Adjustability
Personal health journaling should be a long term practice. As it becomes easier to recall and record your daily health and fitness variables, you will find that you may start to recognize how one day may affect your progress for the week. While accepting that hiccups in your routine will happen, it can also be a motivator to stay more focused on your daily goals for the days remaining during the week.
How to Start
You could spend a few bucks and get a fancy journal to start your personal health journal, but any notebook book and pen will do. If spending the extra money will motivate you to not waste the investment, then go for it! The most important thing is to decide when you will chose to journal. By far the best time to do this is the end of the day. Pick a time after dinner and before bed to take a few minutes to jot down the information you have decided to track. Don’t worry if you miss a few days in the beginning, it takes a few weeks of consistent journaling to make it a habit.