Jackie Wright: Exercise logs and food journals, tools that work
April 26, 2012
First in a two-part series
Throughout the past 26 years of coaching/teaching/training, I have been asked hundreds of times what “system” is the most successful in terms of long term weight loss and improving/maintaining a solid fitness level
And, the simple answer has really not changed: set/adhere to S.M.A.R.T. (i.e. specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) written goals, exercise consistently, practice moderation with your eating regimen and keep an exercise log and food journal. The act of writing down in detail every bout of exercise you perform and every morsel you place into your mouth has a profound and positive impact on achieving your short and long-term health/fitness goals.
Those who consistently keep these written records may adhere to their goals and achieve the results they seek more frequently than those that do not. Why? Keep reading this and next week as we highlight these effective adherence and results-oriented tools. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
Exercise logs are a history of our exercise experiences including both qualitative and quantitative information which may help direct us throughout our lives.
Keep in mind that if you can measure it, you can improve it! That is one of the major reasons that keeping a consistent record of your performance works: You can review it periodically and make certain that you are meeting and exceeding your set goals. Otherwise, it is just guess work.
While there are dozens of programs which feature exercise logs or applications on your cell phone that you may utilize, you could also just purchase a spiral notebook and use it as your exercise log.
Date/time each entry and specifically detail what program you performed during that session including the duration, caloric expenditure and intensity levels (i.e. measure your outcomes with pedometers, heart rate monitors, power meters, use of ratings of perceived exertion or the talk test). Be consistent in terms of which measurement tools you utilize otherwise, your results may be skewed.
Have your body composition taken by a qualified/certified fitness professional when you begin your log to establish a baseline, record the data and then have it taken every four-eight weeks to track your progress.
You may also take and record your own girth measurements with a tape measure along with your body weight, preferably on a digital scale. Take the girth measurements every four-eight weeks and weigh once a week on the same scale, same day of the week, with the same variables present (i.e. same clothes on/off, same time of day, before or after meals and workouts).
Additionally, record how you felt prior to, during and following your exercise sessions. This is the qualitative information that is an equally important factor to include as these “feelings” may be powerful indicators of adherence.
Keep your logs-forever! I have clients that have been keeping logs for 15-20 years and it is very revealing as life progresses. Looking back, you may have been struggling with adhering to your exercise program and made necessary modifications to keep you on track. This just reminds you of how and why you kept persevering when life threw you some curve balls.
Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Never Summer Fitness, LLC located in Grand Lake, Colorado. She may be reached at her website at http://www.neversummerfitness.com, her email at NSFGL@comcast.net , her blog at http://www.neversummerfitness.com and her Facebook page at Never Summer Fitness.
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