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Published on November 1, 2018

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 August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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