So you've decided to start a fitness routine? Congratulations. You have done your research, joined the gym and got your shoes. With the help of the gym staff, or perhaps with your own research you have organized your program and training days.
Now you are wondering if you can be bothered with the hassle of keeping a journal, recording every exercise, meal, thought and feeling in a book (along with actually getting yourself to the gym). All seems a bit much doesn't it? How much benefit can a journal really offer anyway? You'd be surprised.
Why Keep A Journal?
Keeping a journal can make or break your training progress. I made this discovery three days in to my first organized fitness program and realized first hand what all those 'fitness gurus' had been talking about. It was a cold, grey Wednesday and I was tired. Maybe I should skip the gym? Surely one day won't hurt?
But when I considered that I would have nothing to report in my journal for that day I was forced to think twice. After weighing up the pros and cons I promptly grabbed my gym bag and headed off, preferring to fill the pages with activity over leaving them blank. This is the first moment I was glad I had listened to the advice and embarked on my journey with journal in hand.
Think of the journal as a road map. It's going to show you the route, help you avoid sidetracking and keep your final destination in focus. Lost your direction? Consult your journal. Can't remember where or why you started? Your journal knows.
| BB.com Workout Journal.
Are you having troubles remembering how much weight you lifted, or how many reps you did yesterday? Maybe you can't remember whether or not you have done enough cardio this week, or if you are making any progress.
Want to figure out the best foods to give you the best results? In a few weeks you journal will be able to tell you that too. The best thing about it is that it is first hand knowledge from your body; it soon becomes a reference so you can avoid pitfalls and find shortcuts designed for you. It is encouraging to see the pages fill and accurately measure how far you have come.
Without a map or a clear game plan it is impossible to get yourself out of a sticky situation. Without a journal it is easier to lose focus and give up. If you don't record it, it can become easier to forget the whole point of what the game is. Good intentions and great ideas become just a passing thought if you fail to write them down.
What You Put In Your Journal...
Two main things you need to record in you training journal are:
- Your exercise routine.
- A food diary.
I like to split mine in two, keeping my exercise part at the front and my food diary in the back. A before photo is also good to include so you can have a comparison in a few weeks, it is better to be able to visually see this as opposed to trying to remember how you really looked. It is a good idea to update this and check in every 6-8 weeks till you reach your goal.
In addition to these things you can also add quotes to keep you motivated, a sample food plan to remind you of healthy food choices, extra cardio ideas to prevent boredom, your goals and reasons for starting the program in the first place so you don't forget.
Your journal doesn't have to be expensive either, Bodybuilding.com sells them for only $ 5.49 for a 12-Week log.
A small price to pay for the benefits it will bring. So before you do anything else, go out and get your self a journal. If you're like me, in 3-days you will be glad you did.
Here are the tips to keep you moving and points to remember, that have helped me through on my less than motivated days:
- Buy a cd/book/magazine you like and keep it for gym use only.
- Change it up; the same old cardio gets boring very quickly. I like to have a focus each week (ex: bike last week, elliptical this week, treadmill next week). This keeps it interesting and keeps your body challenged.
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- Try to workout on the same days and times each week if possible, this way exercise will become a habit not just a hobby. It is a lot harder to break a habit then it is to avoid a hobby.
- Buy a new outfit or piece of gym clothing; it's amazing how a small something new can refresh you.
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- Don't be obsessed with the scales, your weight can vary as much as 5-10 pounds in a day, and remember muscle weighs more then fat so it may appear that you are gaining even when you are losing.
- Even if you are having a bad day go to the gym anyway and make your decision to workout or not when you are there. More often than not once you get started the momentum will carry you through. And more importantly you will feel better for doing it.
- Don't compare yourself to others. Always check in to see how you are feeling and keep the focus internal. It's ok to admire once in awhile but don't let it overwhelm you, everybody is different, and everybody is beautiful.
Also check out: The Importance Of A Training Log!