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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 December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

More About Living a Fulfilling Life

Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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