If you're serious about your workouts and diet, you should get serious about a fitness and nutrition journal.
Many, in exercising and dieting, do so with a journal. Many (probably more) do not. But why are journals or logs helpful, and why should you consider keeping one?
Journals allow you, or rather, force you, to plan goals, think about periodization, adhere to different rep patterns, track progress, maintain a level of exertion, and hold yourself accountable to that process. Research has proven those trying to lose weight are more successful when doing so with a journal than those who fly blind. So how in depth does this exercise and diet journal have to be? Well, we here at 1R have used a diary for all types of fitness and nutrition goals. Some ended out being really intricate, and others just served to provide a little framework. Doesn't matter you know? The point is, keep one if you’re serious about seeing results.
Listen, everyone knows that goals of any substance are tough. “I want to bench press 315 pounds by next March” or “I want to lose 5 pounds over the next 6 weeks” sound great, but how are you going to accomplish them. With a plan. But adhering to the plan is in many respects the toughest part. Why do you think so many New Year's resolutions fail?
And thus the journal! Keeping track of your workout and diet (or better yet, both) offers you a quantifiable way to set goals and measure results so that you can build muscle, gain strength, and burn fat. How can you strive to lift more weight than you did the week before if you can't remember what you lifted the week before? You'll often find yourself thinking, "I had a great workout...," but in comparing it to the previous week, discover your progress wasn't as good as you thought. That capacity to compare and contrast allows you to determine where you are, where you were, and where you need to be if you’re going to continue progressing forward.
Closely tied to the data set you accumulate through a journal, is the accountability that comes along with it. Many who start fitness programs or diets often deviate from them occasionally. Heck, many jump ship all together. But keeping a log helps keep you accountable to the course you've set. It verifies you're actually following the guidelines of your plan. Suddenly there's a record of that extra Twinkie, or that skipped set. Now you'll understand how staying up late that one night correlated to a poor lift the next day. With more accountability comes a higher tendency to stick to the course. Now you might think that sounds crazy, but watch what a difference it makes (ESPECIALLY on the nutrition side).
Those who don't keep journals see them as too time consuming or too hardcore. Wrong. Journals come in all colors, shapes, sizes and flavors. While one journal may measure every ounce, calorie, carb, fat and protein, of every food you've eaten, yours can absolutely show "cereal" or "oatmeal" as what you had for breakfast. Whatever works, whatever keeps you progressing, whatever keeps you accountable. That's exactly what you need your journal to be. Just don't dismiss an exercise and food journal as too much work. Instead understand that it’s a road map to help you accomplish your goals and one that'll greatly improve your chances to succeed.