Most fitness resources state the importance of keeping a log of your workouts as a way of maintaining adherance to your fitness program. While the log book is a useful means of recording the facts of a workout, for most people who struggle with fitness and nutrition emotions play a huge role in success or failure. As a personal trainer, I often recommend that my clients journal both exercise and eating habits. The key, however, is not just to write what type of exercise was done or what foods were eaten but to journal about how the activity and the food made you feel. By connecting the activities to the emotions, you can start to see patterns develop that will help you adhere to your resolutions.
For example, someone may have a strength training routine and the journal entry would read: “really difficult upper body session. More reps than I have done before. Thought my arms were going to fall off. But felt AMAZING and proud of myself afterwards.” That way, when they know they have another difficult workout to do another time, they have the proof that they can get the work done and feel great about it afterwards. Similarly, with eating, a habitual fast food eater may write: “caved and got a burger and fries for lunch. Tasted delicious and salty while I ate it, but that was three hours ago and it’s a rock in my stomach.” Perhaps that entry will help change habits the next time someone wants to grab a quck but unhealthy lunch.
The other aspect of journaling that I feel positively influences adherance is that it is private account. I do not review my client’s journals. The feedback I have received from operating this way is that people feel more free to be truly honest about how their workouts and eating are affecting their lives. In the end, even though people hire me to help improve their physical fitness, I know that the key to achieving that goal is in making lasting behavioral changes. Those changes can be made only when confronted with a willingness to admit human faults and the courage to try again. The journal also becomes a place where patterns of past behavior then translate into future goals.
When fitness and nutrition are understood as components of a wellness journey, the changes that one can make are broader and deeper than ever imagined.
Good health and great happiness to you.