Prioritizing a healthy lifestyle can improve all aspects of your life. Why, then, is it often so difficult to stick to health resolutions and goals? According to one fitness blog, 90% of people give up on a workout routine within a few months. Keeping a health journal is a smart way to help a new lifestyle plan stick.
Why Should You Keep a Health Journal?
Modern technology can provide tons of information and guidance on a health journey. Smartwatches can track heart rate and calorie burn, and many apps offer a place to record all of your meals and snacks. However, just because apps can gather a lot of information, that doesn’t mean all of that information is helpful.
A health journal can live in the notes app on your phone, or you can invest in a physical journal with paper pages. Either way, the key difference between tracking a health plan on apps and keeping a journal is that with a journal, you choose what you record.
This way, you can ensure what you’re doing and what you’re saying about yourself benefits you and your health goals. As a bonus, the active step of journaling your progress in your own words helps you feel more accomplished than passively checking statistics on an app.
What Are the 3 Steps to a Successful Health Journal?
Keeping a personal health journal has many benefits, but they only apply if you consistently record entries. Here are three steps that will set you on the path to a successful and useful health journal.
1. Choose a Journal or Planner
There are many options for where to keep your health journal. A notes app on your phone is the most basic, but a more structured word document on a laptop may make your journal feel more official, which can lead to more daily entries.
Investing in a pretty, paper journal or planner is a bigger step that may help you keep your commitment. Choose a journal or planner that has your preferred level of organization and detail. A blank journal is perfect for some people, while others prefer a planner with daily or hourly sections. Some planners also include sections for goal-setting as well.
2. Set and Organize Daily Goals
A health resolution lives or dies on the strength and specificity of your stated goals. Many people fall into the trap of setting goals that are too vague, such as “get in shape” or “eat better foods.” Another pitfall is setting goals that are focused on the results of the goal instead of the process of achieving it.
Avoid these traps by setting strong, specific and concrete goals. An example of a good goal is to exercise for 30 minutes every weekday. Great goals have flexibility but are ultimately clear-cut. In the previous example, you have the flexibility to do whichever exercise or intensity you choose with the specificity of a set schedule.
Make sure your goals are gradual. Err on the side of being less ambitious to raise your chance of success. You can also optionally have a mini-goal that you can achieve even if you drop the ball on your original goal. This could be five minutes of exercise instead of 30. This way, you have still accomplished a goal even on off days.
3. Incentivize Your Goals
The last step to success is setting incentives for your goals. These should be specific and exciting. Buying fun stickers for a physical journal is a popular choice that gets you excited to open and record your progress. You can also set weekly incentives, such as a massage for every two weeks of sticking to your health goals. Writing a countdown in your journal to your reward can keep you on track.
The key to sticking to any personal goal is to be kind to yourself if you forget or fail on any given day. There’s no reason to abandon the whole endeavor because of one mistake. Instead, get back on the horse and journal toward a happier you.