The Benefits of Keeping a Journal

So, you’ve finally dusted off your trainers and decided to start exercising on a regular basis but do you have actually plan for what you want to achieve, or are you just aimlessly trying different things in the hope that something will work and give you results that you want?

If you have you have read my post Often all you need is a little Motivation and did all the things I recommended in it, then you already know what type of exercise you want to do, where you are now in terms of fitness and why you personally want to start a regular routine.

Now, I want to share with you the benefits of keeping a journal of all your training efforts and how it can really help in keeping you on track for achieving your ultimate fitness goals and that stronger sexier self that you deserve to be.girls-women-happy-sexy-53364Goals

When you want to change major things in your life you need to have a plan of action and specific goals that you want to aim for. Getting a healthier and fitter lifestyle is quite a big change especially if you are normally someone who is a bit of a ‘coach potato’ that lives on processed or junk food because you don’t have the energy to do anything differently.

If your main goal is quite a big one that can make a significant change for the better then it will take time to reach it. So you need to break the ultimate goal down into much smaller and more achievable ones first. This way it is easier for you to constantly achieve the mini successes throughout your journey. Doing this not only makes you feel good about yourself and the mini achievements you make, but also greatly helps in keeping you constantly motivated to get to the finish line.

Getting started

So you need to start a journal, now you can either do this by writing in down in a notebook, starting an Excel spreadsheet on your laptop or using one of the numerous fitness apps and forums that are available online. If you’re a sharing kind of person who would like to try and motivate others whilst you are on your personal journey, you could also start your own blog or website to log your progress.

Whichever way you choose it is going to help you achieve your short and long-term goals, as it makes you accountable and gives you a written record of all the hard work you have done so far. From this you can monitor how much progress you have made, be able to see what’s working and what is not and where you might want to change things.

What to log exercise wise…
If you are going to do some weight training then it is fairly simple to log and the main things you want to include are:
1- The date you exercised.
2- Different exercises performed.
3- How much weight you lifted
4- How many repetitions and how many sets you did.
5- The amount of rest you had between sets.
6- Whether you found them easy or hard to do.

If you are doing a cardiovascular type of exercise then how you get the information will vary depending on whether you are using the equipment at a gym or not. Most aerobic equipment will give you a reading of the different things you need to log, though it’s not always totally accurate for each individual. fitbit-trackersI personally prefer to wear fitness tracker like the Fitbit Charge whenever I exercise, as it will give you more accurate information that is specific to you. Whatever type of cardio exercise you do though you or however you measure it you want to be logging the date and the following things:
1- Type of exercise
2- How long you did it
3- The distance you covered (if applicable)
4- Your heart rate
5- Calories burnt

Other things to note down…

Make a log of the time of day you trained and how much sleep you had the night before, a fitness tracker can also record both of these for you.
Also jot down whether you have been eating properly and the mood you were in before you started and during the exercise. I have found that the time I choose to train along with my sleep and eating habits can make a big difference to my mood, motivation and training intensity. So, logging these down will be useful so that you can identify when you perform at your best and whether you need to get more sleep or address your nutritional needs.

You also want to log along your journey your weight and measurement changes and progression photos if you choose, as you start to see all the changes.

Finally make sure you write down how you feel after the exercise and how good it felt to have done something and completed another small step.


It’s for your benefit

Be truthful in your log, as it is primarily for your benefit no-one else’s and can greatly help you in the long run. Even if you do have a bad day and don’t actually complete your planned workout or don’t give it as much enthusiasm as usual, still write it down as it all helps and is a good reference to look back on. Remember though if you are constantly not working out as hard as you could, you may to look at why, because if you constantly don’t put in enough effort your progress will be a lot slower.

As you can see by keeping a detailed journal you will be able to monitor how much you have achieved and also work out where you might want to make changes in your routines to get better results. It is also a good reference to see if you need to include more rest days in order to let your body recover properly and therefore prevent injury.

I hope that you found this information useful and start logging your fitness journey. If you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to leave them below as I’d love to hear from you…

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6 Responses

  1. Anna says:

    Great article!

    One thing I can add as a wanna-be fit person. I have these moments in my life when I want to do some exercise regularly and then I lack motivation again for a while… then get back to sport… and forget abou it again.

    This one thing I can say about journaling is that it helps to keep track of all your activities and motivates to work on all of your goals in life. As a not-very-fit person, I can recommend this tool to everyone. I have to admit that coming across the text on keeping journal on your blog really kind of motivated me to take up some excercise 😉 Thanks.

  2. Sue says:

    This was very informative and helpful. Although I journal all the time about other things, I have never done it for fitness. My main goal is to become healthy and stay active; I just retired from an office job where I primarily sat all day.

    I have found it hard to get into an exercise routine so I just started yoga using a DVD that is helping me loosen up my body. I am hoping that this will help me get started on other forms of exercise. So, thank you for your help.

    • Emma says:

      Hi Sue,

      Congratulations on your retirement and starting to do some physical activity. Doing yoga is a great way to gently ease you into doing other types of exercise. Now you have more free time, why not also start taking short walks so you can enjoy the scenery whilst being active.

      I’m pleased you found this helpful and keeping a journal does help especially when you are just starting out. It will also keep you motivated to stay active and have a long healthy retirement.

  3. Gabriela says:

    I write down my workouts with the sets and reps but I usually don’t put the weight in. This makes me think that I should start recording my workouts with more detail (what you have in your ‘what to log’ section) so I can really progress.
    I do have a Fitbit that tracks my cardio which I really like having. I actually like it even more for tracking my sleep.
    Thanks for this though. It would probably be easiest to keep this ‘journal’ in my phone so I’ll do that!

    • Emma says:

      Hi Gabriela,

      It’s good that you are recording the reps and sets you are performing for each exercise, but it is a good idea to also log the weights. You want to be gradually increasing these to make your workouts harder and therefore get the results you want. The Fitbit Charge 2 is great for logging your cardio and I also love the fact it keeps track of your sleep patterns. I’m pleased you found this post helpful and yes it’s a great idea to keep your journal on your phone, so that it is handy for you.

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