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Why You Should Keep a Fitness Journal to Jumpstart Weight Loss

Why You Should Keep a Fitness Journal to Jumpstart Weight Loss

Having a fitness journal is a personal topic to me. In fact, if there’s one thing I probably regret the most in my previous years in the gym, it’s not keeping a proper journal.

It would’ve made all the difference.

One question at my exam to getting the national fitness certification, where I placed in the top 3 of the whole country, was “Why one should keep a fitness journal.” You know a topic is important if the authorities print it on an official exam.

Here are 17 reasons a fitness journal can help you succeed in the gym and beyond:

1. The Key To Celebration

Progress equals happiness. – Tony Robbins

One of the most encouraging acts you can ever do in your life is to track your progress. If you’ve set goals, it’s absolutely crucial for you to know if you’re moving any closer.

As Tony Robbins, a top-notch motivational speaker and author, said: Progress is happiness. It’s one thing to crave progress and another thing to start measuring it. Here’s when the workout journal comes in handy.

2. Better Guidance

If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable. – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Imagine if a coach could analyze your whole progress, your weakness and your strengths in less than 5 minutes, without you telling him any word? Well, that’s what a fitness journal is for.

If you have paid to be coached by a professional in the fitness industry, why not make his life and your progress easier? Use a fitness journal. It’s less hassle for both of us, trust me.

3. Keep That Competitive Edge

A group of friends of mine once downloaded a running app. The goal was to keep each other accountable and maybe lose few pounds. What started as a harmless activity resulted in a fierce competitive battle.

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I heard stories of a friend that went for a run at 11pm just to beat the daily mileage amount of a competitor. After 3 months, nearly all of the ambitious contestants were in the best shape ever. Competition is a great tool – use it to your advantage.

Using a fitness journal can facilitate competition, as all of the information are in one, tiny place. Show a gym buddy of yours your journal and see what happens.

4. Reducing Your Willpower

The last thing we all want is to put more stress on our plates. Why should we consciously note down our progress? Shouldn’t the gym clear our heads?

Yet a workout book can actually lessen the willpower that we need to get to the gym. The fitness journal takes the decision weight off our shoulders that is needed to start the task.

There’re only two steps to this strategy: 1. Plan your workout in advance and 2. simply execute it.

5. Face the Truth

We live in an illusion. Our brain is determining our reality. The fitness journal helps you see the truth. It’s hard to argue with ink.

We think we simply have “bad genetics”, yet when we look at the written down intensity in the fitness journal it turns out that we haven’t exhausted ourselves properly for the last 6 months. No more excuses here.

6. Accountability to Yourself

A coach holds us fully accountable. A fitness journal keeps us accountable partly.

By looking at our past achievements, we can set the goal to achieve more. A fitness journal can foster our ambition.

7. See Patterns

I was blind, but now I see. – Bradley Cooper, Movie: Limitless

Ever wondered why you don’t feel fit during a day and then make personal best on another? A fitness journal can help you see patterns in your behaviours. What gets measured gets managed.

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8. The Joy of Task Completion

You know that feeling when you cross of something on your to-do list? It feels awesome. Why not have that same feeling after going to the gym?

If we write down the results of our training, we get a dopamine rush. It makes us think we’re in control of our destiny.

9. Know Your Weakness

Ever noticed that you’re bench pressing more than you’re squatting? In the journal, you see it in writing.

A fitness journal points out your weaknesses and shows you the areas that need improvement.

10. Minimize Variables

The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. – Albert Ellis

What if your goals were basically guaranteed? Next to having enough reason, we also have to minimize variables. We have to control all there is to reach our goals.

11. Prevent Excuses

You’ve noticed that you haven’t made any progress? Look into your fitness journal. It’s most likely not your genetics.

If we write our progress down, we can see what works, and what doesn’t. This way we can prevent excuses.

12. Minimize Injuries

Feel a sting after doing shoulder exercises? Make a note in your fitness journal.

Before starting the next workout, go through the old workout and act accordingly. Often injuries accumulate after multiple trainings. We can minimize the occurrence of injuries by writing it down in our journal.

13. Condition Yourself to the Workout

A lot of professional athletes have routines before they start their training. They either wear a certain wristband, like Lance Armstrong, or have other interesting routines. Success leaves clues.

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Routines increase our performance. Taking out your journal before entering the gym floor tells your brain that it’s go time.

14. Look like a Pro

“Have you seen that guy training with a fitness journal? Yes – he must be taking this gym stuff serious.”

Do you want to be a pro? Act like one. Fake it until you make it. Looking and acting like a professional becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

15. Know Who to Associate With

The rock band Van Halen had a now-famous “No Brown M&Ms clause” in their gig contract. A standard concert contract called for them to be provided with a package of M&Ms backstage. But with no brown ones.

Even a single brown M&M in that package, was enough for Van Halen to cancel a scheduled appearance without notice and usually destroy the whole backstage room in a rampage.

The M&Ms clause was included in Van Halen’s contracts not as a cause of laughter, but because it served a practical purpose: to provide a simple way of determining whether the technical specifications of the contract had been thoroughly read and complied with.

The fitness journal could be your brown M&M clause when dealing with your fellow gym members. Did that guy just tell you to do a certain workout? To evaluate the advice, scan for a workout journal nearby.

If you don’t see one, you can just disregard his advice altogether.

16. Parkinson’s Law – and Why Your Time Is Valuable

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. – Parkinson’s Law

The Parkinson’s Law also applies to your fitness results. If you don’t give your workout a max. duration, it will go on for hours on end.

Pre-determine the sets, reps and exercises that you want to do beforehand. Then go into the gym and execute.

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17. Focus on You

While I’m a huge believer in motivation through a competitive spirit and external factors, in the end, this journey is about becoming a better you. A healthier, faster, stronger and better person altogether.

The fitness journal can help you keep your focus on where it should be — on you. In the end, all the notes that you take are focused on your progress and your decisions.

How to Start a Fitness Journal?

Starting a fitness journal is simple and easy. You either buy a pre-written book which makes it even easier for you or you buy a blank notebook.

The variables to track are

  1. your repetitions
  2. the total amount of sets
  3. your exercises

But you can also track your sleep hours, your rate of percieved exertion (RPE), your daily caloric intake up until your pre-workout intake of caffeine in milligrams.

I recommend you to start with the 3 basic variables noted before and then add additional ones, once you feel comfortable. The mantra with a fitness journal, as it is with general fitness, is consistency. It’s better to start small and be consistent than to start big and be unsteady.

Take the fitness journal with you every time you go to the gym and then write down your notes after finishing the set. After a couple of workout days, this becomes second nature and won’t take any time or brain resources at all.

Final Words

The reason most people don’t have a fitness journal is, that they assume it’s not worth it. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

There are plenty of reason to follow a fitness journal. From being a proven blueprint, creating motivation to being a facilitator for personal growth. Having a fitness journal is an absolute necessity if we’re serious about reaching our fitness goals.

In fact in my opinion, having a professional journal can make all the difference.

Featured photo credit: dylan nolte via unsplash.com

More by this author

Florian Wüest

Qualified and experienced fitness trainer and online coach.

The Truth of Rapid Weight Loss: How to Actually Shed Pounds Why You Should Keep a Fitness Journal to Jumpstart Weight Loss How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss? How Vegan Bodybuilding Diet Keeps Hunger at Bay While Plant Based The Biggest Myth Debunked: The More Protein You Eat, the Faster You Build Muscles?

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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