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Friday, January 6, 2012

Write it Down!

What gets measured gets managed. A successful coach in my industry once told me this and I adopted it.  I've always been a note taker/writer so jotting things down comes naturally to me. Other people?  Well, getting them to write anything down in detail is like asking them to spend their weekend cleaning out the garage…every weekend.  If there was a way to impress upon people the importance of logging/recording/journaling, I would do it.  But unfortunately, I only have my words. I‘m not the drill sergeant type and I’m not your mommy so getting you to write it down by calling you a maggot, or nagging you until you move out, aren’t going to happen.  I hope that you’ll simply take my word for it.

Craig Ballantyne, trainer and fitness expert of Turbulence Training fame included journaling as one of his top 10 fitness predictions for 2012.  Meaning, he is convinced that recording what you’re doing is so important that most of us WILL be writing things down going forward. If you’ve committed to getting healthy and in shape then, you’ve committed to logging you’re progress; it’s that simple.  JJ Virgin, my friend and fellow fitness/nutrition expert will not even work with someone who will not “journal.”

It has been said that success leaves clues.  Having these “clues” right there in black and white provides valuable feedback with which to make decisions affecting your program, health and fitness.  It’s like having a toolbox filled with the right tools to create the program that best suits your needs, preferences and schedule. 

Recording your “stats” helps you to:
  1. Succeed with Fat Loss -If you're trying to lose body fat, daily feedback helps you take control of your eating, make better choices and monitor your movement. Keep your calories, carbs, fat, and protein on “budget.” Plan and monitor your fat loss. It’s like having your own private fat loss “bookkeeper.” 
  2. Break Unhealthy Eating Habits -Over eating can be triggered by emotional or social cues.  Journaling helps you identify and overcome the triggers that cause you to eat. Improve your eating behaviors and acquire a healthier relationship with your food. 
  3. End the Guessing Game -A haphazard diet based on guesswork leads only to confusion, frustration, and failure. Take the guesswork out of it by knowing…am I on (calorie) budget today? Can I eat that food? Should I exercise more?
  4. Improve Your Health through Nutrition -Good nutrition is critical for life-long health and peak mental and physical performance. Assess at-a-glance if you are meeting your daily nutrition requirements by tracking your intake of all vital nutrients.
  5. Stay Motivated  -Getting in shape is a long-term goal. But you need to stay motivated every day! Self-monitoring helps you stay motivated and focused. Watch yourself succeed, as each day takes you closer to your goal.
  6. Stop Unconscious Eating -Many people don't take time to reflect on their food choices. But by tracking what you’re doing you become accountable for your food and exercise choices. You won't unconsciously grab for that extra snack when you remember that it all goes down on paper-you will see the consequences of your choices.
  7. Overcome Hidden Barriers to Weight Loss -Barriers to your fat loss can sometimes be mysterious. You may plateau without an obvious cause. Tracking helps you uncover these hidden barriers. You can discover and overcome problem foods, facilitate changing your metabolism, monitor behavioral triggers, and other barriers to your fat loss.
Having “proof” on paper (or online) provides clarity and accountability, highlights your accomplishments, how you’ve progressed, and what elements still need work as you continue to progress and improve.  That serves as a real confidence builder.

Important “metrics” or, elements of your eating plan and exercise program which can be monitored include: calories, protein, carbohydrates, fat, fiber, water consumption, time spent exercising (cardio vascular, resistance training, and stretching), movement (non-exercise movement such as walking), weight, body fat percentage, fat free mass, body mass index, caloric expenditure vs. intake, number and quality (sorry) of BMs (bowel movements), hydration level, and more.

Tracking less tangible values like stress level, mood, hours of sleep and sleep quality, goals, physical symptoms and motivational level, also contribute to providing an overall picture of where you’re succeeding, and where you need to make changes. All this information can be charted and/or graphed to create a visual tool that guides you to success.

Some great online tracking systems include Fitday, Training Peaks (emphasizes cycling), and Vitabot (focuses on nutrition), to name a few. Each has different features and most are continually updating, revising and providing new features for users.  Choose the system that best suits your needs and is the most user-friendly for you.  Each of these systems offer online “tours” you can take to see how they work and free trials so you can try it out yourself.  Many software companies also offer tracking programs that range in price from reasonable to are-you-kidding-me?
I can’t stress what an important role journaling plays in your success.  Two months from now, your enthusiasm and commitment waning, you could wind up a New Year’s resolution casualty if you don’t have a plan.

Don’t become a statistic.  Write it down!

You have permission to do so, free of charge, as long as the byline and
the article is included in its entirety:

Fitness expert and integrative performance coach Jini Cicero, CSCS, teaches intermediate exercisers how to blast through plateaus to create incredible transformations. Are you ready to take your fitness to a whole new level?  Find out now!  Take Jini's "Are you Ready?" Quiz at © 2011 Jinifit, Inc.

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