A fitness journal will help you improve your fitness level, but you may be wondering how to get started. Take a look at a week-long excerpt from a real fitness journal, and I’ll reveal what the journal tells us when we analyze the data.
Did you read my post on how to get fit and stay fit by using a fitness journal Are you still a little unsure of what you need to do and if you have the time? If you answered yes, then check out this sample week from Hannah to help motivate you to start your journal today! I’ve added my six-week evaluation to give you an idea of how simple it can be to play detective and improve your fitness journey.
Here’s week three of Hannah’s initial six-week fitness journal, so you can see what she is writing down each day. Hannah’s been completing her journal on her laptop every evening and she spends about two minutes on it each day.
Fitness level: Beginner to intermediate
Loves: Being active but has been lacking energy and motivation
Hates: Getting bored of repetitive fitness routines
– Monday 12/02
Feelings: Good day, happy but tired, on phone with sister 2 hours tonight.
Activity: 30min jog before work. Ran for at least half time / walked the rest. Could have done better.
– Tuesday 12/03
Feelings: Great day – very happy but tired this morning.
Activity: 60min cycling class. 20min gym w/ weights.
Body: Feel great no complaints.
Nutrition: Great day 8/10 but skipped lunch for a meeting.
– Wednesday 12/04
Feelings: A little stressed – hubby out of town for work.
Body: Calves are tight but not too bad.
Nutrition: Bad day 5/10
– Thursday 12/05
Feelings: Stressed and a little moody. Hubby still gone. Sis called for long phone chat.
Body: Everything hurts
Nutrition: 5/10 Ate healthy foods but did not eat enough today – I was too busy!
– Friday 12/06
Activity: 30min run (actually only ran for 5 min the rest was a brisk walk)
Body: A little tight in my legs but better than yesterday
Nutrition: 10/10 perfect eating day 🙂 Stayed on plan 100%
– Saturday and Sunday
The basic fitness journal data over the six week period varied slightly but a few consistent patterns were immediately apparent, and I felt they were affecting Hannah’s ability to stay with her nutrition and fitness plan. After reviewing the journal and having a chat, I came up with a few suggestions.
Hannah needs to keep her journal every day. Leaving out the weekend means she isn’t thinking about all the activity she’s adding by walking around the shops and cycling with her daughter. My first piece of advice was for Hannah to acknowledge that she is active every day, even if she doesn’t go to the gym.
As we talked, Hannah revealed she was logging her journal on her computer during the week and she avoids opening her laptop on weekends. I suggested keeping notes in a book or on her smart phone as well. Specifically for Hannah, I recommended that if she uses a notebook, she should keep it by her phone because she usually chats to friends and family every night.
Hannah’s husband often travels for work and when he is out of town, she feels stressed and her activity levels plummet. To resolve this, I suggested that for each trip her husband takes she tries to organize for a family member or babysitter to watch her daughter at least once, so that she can work off some tension in the gym.
Alternatively, she can set up an activity evening with her daughter. Although it sounds like hard work—she could simply choose a fun dance-based workout video on YouTube or walk around the block. So long as Hannah moves and laughs, she should look on the evening as a success. This tactic may help alleviate the stress caused by her husband being away and add some extra activity into Hannah’s week.
Late nights on the phone or computer with friends leave Hannah feeling tired the next day and skipping workouts. My suggestion is to try and set an earlier cut-off time, because sleep is essential for good performance and energy. Planning a weekly hike with her sister may be a great way to catch up and exercise at the same time.
On Wednesdays Hannah’s calves feel tight, so I suggested finding a new exercise class that is more fitness-level appropriate. Although I hate to discourage people from exercising, for Hannah it sounds like her Spin class is too intense and she needs to drop down a level before building back up to that class.
By choosing a lower-level class Hannah won’t feel too sore to exercise for the rest of the week, and if she adds exercise on Wednesday and Thursday, she’ll ultimately feel more fit.
Hannah’s good at meeting her nutrition goals most of the time, and her main problem is skipping meals. If she prioritized meals or had healthy snacks on hand, then she’d be better able to stay in control of her diet and avoid missing meals—something that can lead to energy slumps and overeating later in the day.
When we spoke, I also found out Hannah’s hydration on non-workout days was under the recommended healthy amount. Her explanation is that on scheduled workout days she makes an extra effort to stay hydrated. Now that we’ve talked about hydration, this is at the front of Hannah’s mind and she’s committed to drinking more, but she’ll need to remind herself again and her journal will be a good way to keep track of this.
I hope you enjoyed taking a peak at Hannah’s fitness journal and can identify with some of the real life struggles associated with her weight loss and fitness journey. I understand that life is busy and some days you may forget to enter your journal data, but the most important thing is to be 100% honest with yourself and those helping you progress. Incomplete data is easy to work around, but creating a perfect, but false, account makes it impossible to detect ways to improve.
I hope you feel excited enough to give fitness journaling a try. I can’t wait to hear about all of the discoveries you make while playing personal fitness detective. If you don’t already have a journal, try keeping one for six weeks. And whether you have fitness journals going back for years or weeks, please let me know what has helped you and hindered you. We can all learn from each others experiences! Remember that health and activity should be part of your everyday journey. Enjoy the ups and downs, watch out for the bumps in the road, learn from your mistakes and celebrate your successes along the way.
Samantha Clayton is responsible for all activities relating to exercise and fitness education for Independent Herbalife Members and employees. Through in-person training sessions, educational tools and materials, and her blog (www.discovergoodfitness.com), she ensures that the important role of exercise as part of a healthy, active life is understood by all. She also helps create, organize and promote employee fitness programs and activities as an integral part of the company’s corporate wellness program.
A native of Liverpool, England, Samantha initially worked as a consultant for Herbalife for two years and led the Herbalife24-Fit program, the company’s first comprehensive fitness training program and DVD series.
Before joining the corporate ranks, Samantha was a professional athlete. She represented Great Britain in the 2000 Sydney Olympics in both the 200m and the 4x100m relay events. Prior to the Olympics, she won two medals in the Olympic AAA trials – a silver medal for the 200m and a bronze for the 100m – as well as a silver medal in the 4x100m relay during the European Junior Championships in 1997. Her personal records include 11.40 seconds in the 100m and 23.02 seconds in the 200m.
Samantha is a personal trainer and group exercise coach through the American Fitness and Aerobics Association (AFAA) and International Sport Science Association (ISSA).