"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!