After you develop and begin a new fitness plan, it can be difficult to track progress and gauge whether or not the plan is effective. One way to consistently evaluate the results of your plan is by using a diet and exercise log, which gives you the opportunity to record information about what you’ve eaten and done every day, how you feel as a result and how your body has changed over time.
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Keeping track of what you eat and drink on a daily basis is a good way to find out how many calories you’re taking in and what you could stand to cut out of your diet. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or simply maintain a healthy weight, making notes about your diet will help you stay on track with choosing healthy foods. Record everything you eat and drink daily, and if you can, record the calorie count and general nutritional information for each item as well.
The amount of physical activity you have every day is directly tied to your weight and overall health. Write down all of your exercises in your log, as well as major physical activities that you do, such as walking to and from an errand or cleaning your house for an hour. As your weight and body shape begin to change, you’ll see how the results correlate with the amount and type of exercises you choose to do. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders recommends writing down how you feel during workouts and anything that might cause you to skip a workout as well.
How to Use
In addition to writing down the exercises you do and the foods you eat, the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports recommends writing down your weight when you begin your log and updating it periodically as you continue with your fitness plan. If you want to get really detailed and search for small variations in the results of your plan each day, you can also follow the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ suggestion to record the times you eat and exercise, your hunger and energy levels and your daily and long-term goals.
A sample entry might be as simple as “Walking, 45 minutes, ate normally” or as complicated as “Walked for 45 minutes at 4 p.m. at a brisk pace. Felt energized afterward with slight muscle soreness. Breakfast at 8 a.m. was oatmeal, grapefruit and toast. Lunch at 12:30 was a bean burrito and a side salad. Dinner at 6 p.m. was one chicken breast with brown rice and asparagus, with a peanut butter cookie for dessert. Weight today is 165.” The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders notes that log comments don’t have to be extensive, giving examples of “Stretching felt great” and “Yoga helped me relax.”
Depending on your schedule, stop to evaluate the information in your log every week or month. Compare your current weight, energy level and feeling of overall health to the measures when you started, and evaluate how any changes in your diet or physical activity have affected those factors. You can also consider your general fitness plan and judge whether it’s working well or if it needs modifications.
Tracking Your Calories
Closely monitoring your calorie intake and the calories you burn during exercise helps you take ownership over your health. Tracking your calorie intake is simple, but often time consuming. Check the nutritional information of every product you consume and add the caloric data together. Speak to your doctor and determine an ideal daily calorie intake, and then compare this number with your average daily intake. When tracking the calories you burn during exercise, use machines at the gym that require you to input your weight, as these machines are typically more accurate than those that don't ask your weight.