"I've read about the power of monitoring in many different texts - too many to recount in one short blog. More importantly, I've realized its power in monitoring daily caloric intake, fitness activity and goals, daily spending and financial goals, weekly, monthly and yearly goals, and pursuits of different projects through creating timelines and checklists. The power of monitoring is something that is research proven to improve meeting goals and making positive changes such as increased physical activity or less spending. That being said, I purchased the Body Minder log available at Barnes & Noble or Amazon to track my daily fitness activity levels. It also is quite adaptable so that I can tailor it to monitor my yoga and meditation practice. To measure my daily caloric intake (usually from what should be to what actually is!) I have been using the fitness app myfitnesspal. It is also available for free through the app store or myfitnesspal.com. I will review for you some of their basic features, how to use them, and how I have benefitted from using both.
I'm new to the Body Minder journal, but am totally hooked. It has an introduction and some basic reference materials such as common caloric counts for foods and target heart rates for exercise. I don't typically use these because I use my fitness app for my calorie counting and am familiar with my target heart rate (it's pretty easy to google it and figure it out from there). However, the largest part of the journal which I use the most is the weekly and daily records which has 3 months of space devoted to daily journaling. I mostly use the daily journaling. It has a checklist for "cardio" workouts with categories such as minutes, pace, heart rate, and calories burned. I usually tailor my notes to suit my needs. I don't feel the urge to note every detail of every workout, but like that it's available. It also has a section for "strength training" with muscle group, action, reps and weight for each set and a column to record your level of ease. The part I like is at the bottom of the two-page daily spread which is for notes. I often note my mood or energy level which I'm hoping to elevate through exercise.
On the second page it has a section for "other exercise" where I record what type of yoga or meditation I did that day and for how long. This section is particularly helpful as yoga and exercise can be considered one and the same since they are both exercise. Yet since I have daily goals for yoga and meditation; and goals for physical activity, I like to keep them separate. There is a section on page two for "dietary notes" which I have been just noting my sugar intake for the day since this is something I would like to improve and reduce through awareness and monitoring. You may also note your vitamins or supplements, and there is an additional space for notes where I put my rest days if they follow that day of activity (to avoid wasting a two-page spread on no activity).
I have found this log to be highly motivating as I am a person who enjoys being accountable to herself. I love doing a workout just so I can add it to my log for the day. It's kind of like a report card for yourself - you can get high grades or low grades. Since I was always highly motivated by record keeping and grades, giving myself a record of my performance helps to keep me moving towards my goals. In fact, in the lower corner of the right-hand page is a bar graph from 0-100% where you can grade yourself on how well you met your goals. I have to admit the nerd in me loves this part of the journal. The third part of the journal is for record keeping of fitness related expenses: gym membership, equipment, clothing, etc. which is useful to professionals who may be writing off all or part of their fitness expenses when tax season is upon them.
The myfitnesspal app has been an inestimable part of my weight loss over the last 3 years. I have lost over 35 pounds. I could attribute much of that to lifestyle changes: quitting drinking, exercising more, going gluten free, mindfulness, eating cleaner; but nothing is as useful as caloric reduction. Because weight loss basically comes down to the fact that calories in must be less than calories out (you can lose weight eating chocolate cake if you eat the right amount, and you can gain weight eating salad if you eat the wrong amount), this fitness app has been indispensable in my weight loss. So much so that as soon as I stop recording my calories in the app, a few weeks later, my weight starts to creep up again.
It has many features such as calculating your goal for caloric intake for the day according to your height, weight, gender, and activity level (all which you input when creating an account), calculating calories according to portions, subtracting exercise from your caloric allowance, and can even track your water intake for the day if you are trying to improve that aspect of wellness. Overall, I find it an infinitely helpful tool as I can't imagine having made as much progress in the last three years without it. There are even some paid features you can get including a more in-depth nutritional analysis if you are willing to shell out the extra cash.
In the meantime, if increasing your fitness level and shedding some pounds are two goals of yours this season; these two tools will lend an immeasurable amount of assistance to help you achieve your goals and motivate you. The power of monitoring is something that must be experienced. It is a way of making yourself accountable to yourself. But while it is hard work, the results are hard won.
"A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work." - Colin Powell
Please share your experiences in the comments below!
Lighten Up by Peter Walsh was a total game changer for me. Its many exercises such as calculating what percentage of your home you devote to storage (both eye opening and depressing), what percentage of your mortgage is devoted to financing your storage (including attic, closet space, garage, crawl spaces, basements, etc.), and visualizations such as what you desire your home to look like all enable a shift in mindset towards "out with the old!" This shift in mindset that will surely occur after reading this motivational and enlightening text will enable you to make the changes you have been dreaming of for decades. His book is full of exercises, visualizations and practical tips for how to change your emotional attachment to no longer useful items through anecdotes, statistics, relating his personal experiences through consultation and horror stories of over-the-top cluttering, aka hoarding. You will bristle with excitement as you envision your closets no longer overstuffed, your cabinets with only current functional items, and every nook and cranny of your house streamlined to be up to your highest standards of functionality, purpose, and integrity aligned with your vision of your home the way you want it.
I started my journey about 19 years ago with my first yoga class towards decluttering my inner "junk", but it was really about 8 years ago, when I discovered meditation, that my life began to morph into something that closer resembled my standards, vision, and intentions in the outer realm. It was five years later that I discovered the magical art of decluttering, and decided, now that I had cleared the mental clutter, I was ready to be finished with the physical clutter as well. Peter Walsh makes this connection in his book of mental, emotional, and spiritual clutter. Our inner world is often reflected in our outer world; and while sometimes inner chaos can manifest as outer order such as in cases of OCD, for the most part our inner and outer world are intimately connected. For instance, if there is a 40-year-old piano rotting away in the corner and you can't give it up because it was your father's; maybe that is an indication that you still have inner work to do on grieving if holding onto his memory means forfeiting 24 cubic feet of your living room to an old relic that no longer works, no one uses, and is not even remotely satisfying visually. At least that's the parallel Peter Walsh draws in his book through multiple anecdotes. And he has me convinced. There were many items in my house, that although past their functional expiration date (jeans that no longer fit, old photographs with no current meaning, sheet music I would never play again, college poetry textbooks I hadn't studied in 20 years) I couldn't get rid of them despite my best efforts. In a way, reading Walsh's books as well as The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up by Marie Kondo (the KonMari Method) and other self-help decluttering books; these books talked me off the ledge (figuratively speaking). Who really needed 30 pairs of bellbottom dress slacks from the 90s in every size from 0 to 14 stuffing their closet past the brim when they hadn't been worn in over five years? Definitely, not me. I was sold and went on a decluttering spree that lasted the better part of two years and streamlined every closet, drawer, and book shelf in my home; selecting one drawer or closet to work on each weekend for nearly two years straight. And I can say that I'm never going to be finished (I did the junk drawer this morning after being inspired by pictures of a pristine "junk" drawer of my dear - show off - aunt!), but that decluttering is an ongoing project and something that will forever be managed on my master project list (see blog on GTD) for next actions each week.
Managing our clutter, whether it's old nostalgic photographs or that electric cable you have no idea what it is for, should be done systematically and periodically, with a "next action" chosen and designated each week. With constant changes in our priorities, activities, lifestyles, hobbies, habits, projects, household members and intentions we must constantly reevaluate our use of space so that our outer worlds can reflect our highest of intentions and function in the most purposeful way possible. For example, if you have a toy room that no longer is purposeful but a growing waistline, maybe it's time to convert that space into an exercise room. It's all about making sure that our homes mimic our ultimate vision for our higher purpose and calling. If you are devoting large amounts of space to storage and dreaming of your next dream house, maybe it's time to take control of your space once more. You may find you are the only person standing in your way.
May you find peace and joy in letting go of what no longer serves you.
- Betty Lynn