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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.

Why You Should Keep a Fitness Journal to Jumpstart Weight Loss The Truth Behind Rapid Weight Loss and the Best Way to Shed Pounds 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 March 25, 2020

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

1. Exercise

It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

2. Drink in Moderation

I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

4. Watch Less Television

A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

5. Eat Less Red Meat

Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

6. Don’t Smoke

This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

7. Socialize

Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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9. Be Optimistic

Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

10. Own a Pet

Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

11. Drink Coffee

Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

12. Eat Less

Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

13. Meditate

Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

15. Laugh Often

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

17. Cook Your Own Food

When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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18. Eat Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

19. Floss

Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

21. Have Sex

Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

More Health Tips

Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
[2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
[3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
[4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
[5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
[6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
[7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
[8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
[9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
[10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
[11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
[12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
[15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
[16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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