This is Mark Severn’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:
“We are what we eat”, both in quantity and quality. We are also the product of what we do or don’t do. The image that you see in the mirror, and the emotional and physical reality that accompanies that view, is the result of many factors. Nothing influences this reality more than the foods and beverages that you put into your body and the activities that you engage in.
The need for a diet or program that works is a booming business. With a new concept and book hitting the Best-seller list every year – the need for an answer never ends. Many of these books are great reads and enlighten the reader to different concepts of nutrition for both weight loss and/or disease management. I have read many and recommend some but I have yet to find one that compares to the power of a food and exercise journal.
The main reason? YOU. You are the author, researcher and analyst. Over time your journal becomes your personal diet and exercise book – one that is specifically suited just for you. What you eat and the activities that you engage in can vary considerably compared to others. The obstacles that we encounter – as we try to make changes – also varies. My Achilles heel may be cookies, but yours may be scheduling issues. Heres Why it Works:
Keeping a journal boosts self-control and increases your accountability. You are probably not going to write down that you just ate 6 cookies. By recording what you eat you are more likely to limit yourself to a 1 cookie serving instead.
Keeping a journal will help you evaluate your “empty” calorie intake. You may begin to wonder how much fat, protein or calories are in the muffin you have with your morning coffee. You will look at the food label to discover the answers. If there is no food label you will look it up online, or in a Food Counts book.
A journal will highlight Planned Exercise vs. Actual Activity. You can’t avoid the fact that you haven’t entered any activity over the last three days. Why not? Does your workout schedule conflict with your current daily schedule? Is the exercise plan you have chosen boring, are you finding it hard to even show up? There are many ways to increase your activity level – find what works for you – find what fits into your lifestyle.
A journal shows your progress. After recording a starting point and a goal you have a visual representation of your progress and what efforts are paying off. A review of your journal can also be a great motivator when you find yourself backsliding.
Examining your journal can also help you associate the different feelings that you have with certain foods and activities. You can start to identify patterns and make plans for a healthy change.
A journal is a way to evaluate what you are doing. Maybe you are drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, or not eating enough vegetables and fruit, or maybe you need to be drinking more water. You can evaluate and make necessary changes.
Guilt Free Indulgence.
Keeping track of your food intake and activity levels also lets you know when you can treat yourself. You can plan to indulge yourself guilt free if you know that you are on track and doing well.
Your next step – Take action. Get a journal and begin recording your nutrition and exercise now. For ease of use I recommend using a pre-made template design that is specifically made for recording food and activity. Ask your favorite Personal Trainer, Health Club or Bookstore – most will have some type of journal that you can use.
The internet also provides some services – both fee based and free – to do the same thing. Although I find writing it down, as opposed to entering info online, to be more effective. A paper Journal is always with you and is easily accessed – it forces you to do the research and analysis. Online programs do a lot of the work for you, thus missing out on some real nuggets of information. Although they are easier you do not have a physical record.
Whether you journal on paper or on the computer it’s time to get started. Keeping a journal is not as easy as following a series of steps outlined in a book, but, the power of that journal will show itself with results and lessons learned. Lessons that will last a lifetime.
As the new year approaches and resolutions begin, make sure that you are using a wellness journal and harnessing the most powerful tool for change. YOU!