Why You Should Be Keeping a Food and Exercise Journal

“There’s something about the ability to write about how you’re feeling and look back on it, especially when you thought you’d never get through it.”

I love to write. Whether it’s pounding the keyboard on my computer or journaling with a good old pen and paper, there’s something very therapeutic to me about getting my thoughts out of my head (it gets crowded in there) and onto paper. It’s also a great strategy for maintaining health and fitness goals.

There’s something incredibly simple yet incredibly powerful about journaling your exercise and food.

My exercise journal: variety, hard work - even rest days!

My exercise journal: variety, hard work – even rest days!

In terms of exercise, it’s great to track progress, plus it’s really rewarding to see all the workouts add up and get a visual of how much you’ve been doing. Flip side, it’s a wake-up call if the journal looks really bare.

As for food, it can create awareness of exactly how much and how many calories you’re eating (as much as I try to convince myself otherwise, “fun-size” candy bars DO have calories and they DO add up). It helps you identify where you have weak spots (maybe you’re like me and always get hungry around 9 p.m.) so you can be prepared and plan. It also gives you accountability, (knowing you have to write down that extra cookie might make you reconsider if you really need it).

In that same breath I will caution that, like anything, there’s a fine line between conscious and obsessed. You can see how easy it is to become too wrapped up in journaling, especially on the food side. You might catch yourself always thinking about every little bite, every single calorie. Worse than that, you might become “THAT” person.

You know, “THAT” guy at happy hour who points out how many calories are in the spinach artichoke dip. Buzzkill. Or “THAT” girl at the 4th of July barbecue who keeps groaning she can’t believe she ate a brownie and drank two beers…and won’t shut up about every additional thing she consumes. Annoying. I’ve been around “THAT” person and, trust me, you don’t want to become him/her. You’ll drive everyone nuts and ruin their good time. Double fault.

But it can happen on the exercise side, too. You may find yourself thinking, “Just 10 more minutes on the Stairmaster,” or “Just one more set of squats.” Again, not the point.

Becoming obsessive with what you eat and every workout isn’t the goal here. The goal is to eliminate mindless eating and make sure you’re eating enough of the right foods. It’s to  figure out your own eating patterns and set yourself up for success as much as possible. The goal is to help plan balanced workouts and stay on top of strength goals. It’s to keep track of mileage and make sure skipping leg day “just this once” doesn’t become too-frequent an occurrence. And it’s to prove treats and rest day are good things and should always be included – if they’re missing from your journals, you’ve got some “work” to do!

Do you keep track of your food and/or exercise? What benefits have you realized from keeping a food or exercise journal? Comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311.

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