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How to Start a Fitness and Health Journal

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Setting realistic goals for ourselves can be a difficult task, especially when it comes to our health. Once goals are set, many people find themselves becoming impatient with the lack of quick results and give up after a few months or even days. When it comes to the body, it's important to remember that just because you can't see the changes your body is making, doesn't mean changes are not being made. Keeping a fitness journal will allow you to track changes and visually see results when a mirror or scale is telling you otherwise. If you're not seeing changes in your journal after a month, then you have everything written down so it's easier to go back and see what needs to be done differently in your daily routine.

Quote of the Week:

"I have never taken any exercise, except sleeping and resting, and I never intend to take any."

- Mark Twain

First, it's time to get a journal. This can be a word document on the computer, a 75 cent notebook, a $10 custom journal from a bookstore, or a binder with loose paper. Whatever you decide will keep you motivated to stay on track should be what you choose. You will also need to purchase measuring tape, a scale, and a small pocket book. Once you have your necessities, it's time to get started. Write your own personal goal. Think of how businesses have mission statements. Your goal is your mission statement, so you'll want it to say more than "I want to lose weight". You'll also want to make a realistic goal. "I want to lose 30 pounds in two months" is a far too aggressive goal that sets you up for failure. Here is an example of a goal or mission statement: Go for your Goals!"I want to be 130 pounds by August. I am doing this for myself (make sure you're doing it for yourself) to... (fill in the reason you're doing this. It may be to improve your self confidence or improve your overall health, but make sure you know you're reason). If I lose motivation, I will seek support from (parent, friend, trainer, etc). I will exercise a minimum of 150 minutes (or more, your number should not be less than 150) per week. I will cut high calorie and fatty foods from my diet. I will resist the temptation of fast food and pre-packed processed meals. By following these steps, I will make a difference in my life." This example covers your goal, the date you hope to achieve your goal, the steps you're going to take, and who will support you. It's important to have support. Determine who you will go to when you need the extra motivation. Let the person know you are choosing them so they're aware of your goal and their responsibilities. The next step is to find your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). There are plenty of BMR Calculators available online or you can find your BMR using the Harris Benedict Formula. The Harris Benedict formula determines how many calories you need to eat to maintain your current weight without exercising. When making calculations, make sure to calculate what's in the parenthesis first. Women=655 + (4.35 x weight) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age) Men= 66 + (6.23 x weight) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age) Next, you'll determine your calorie intake by multiplying your BMR by physical activity: Little to no activity = BMR x 1.2 Light Activity = BMR x 1.375 Moderate Activity = BMR x 1.55 Very Active = BMR x 1.725 Extra Active = BMR x 1.9 Healthy LifestyleIf you're goal consist of losing or gaining weight, it's time to determine how many calories to cut or add. One pound of weight is equivalent to 3500 calories per week. If somebody has a high BMR, they're able to reduce their calorie intake by 500 to 1000 calories per day. As a rule of thumb, calorie intake should never drop below 1200 per day for women or 1800 per day for men. You're not trying to starve yourself. You're trying to determine how many calories your body needs for optimal functioning. The next calculation to include in your journal is your Body Mass Index (BMI). Again, there are online calculators or you can use this formula: BMI = [weight/ (height in inches x height in inches)] x 703 Below 18.5 is underweight 18.5-24.9 is normal 25-29.9 is overweight 30 or above is obese Next, you'll need your measurements so pull out the measuring tape you bought. Track the measurements of your bust (measure at the nipple), chest (directly under bust), waist (smallest part of waist), hips (largest part of hips), thighs (largest part of thighs), calves (larges part of calves), upper arm (largest part above elbow), and lower arm (largest part below elbow). At the top of the page in your journal, create a chart that will allow you to fill in your calculated and measured information. You can do this weekly or biweekly. Date Weight BMR BMR w/activities Daily Calories Measurements: Bust Chest Hips Thighs Calves Upper Arm Forearm You'll want to carry your small pocket book in your purse, pocket or bag. In your pocket book, write down every thing you consume including food, beverage, and even gum. Anything that has calories needs to be written down. Write down what you ate, how many calories it had. Be mindful of servings. If you drank a 32 ounce Gatorade, this would not be considered one serving. This would be four servings at 50 calories per serving, so you would record is as 200 calories. Add these numbers to your journal at the end of the day. For the fitness section, you should have a plan written out so you can best utilize your time during workouts. You'll include what you did for cardio and strength, as well as how long you did it. For example, you will document if you walked, jogged, ran, sprinted and how long you did each for. If you did cardio outside, make sure to include the surface your cardio was done on: flat, uphill, or downhill. Now, analyze what you could do to make your cardio workout more of a challenge for the following week (increase incline and/or speed on equipment, include more uphill paths, switch between sprinting and walking). As you stick to your routine, you should see your endurance rise. Stretch!For the strength section you will include strength building exercises you performed. When performing exercises, it's best to do sets. For example, if you're doing bicep curls with a dumbbell, you should aim for four sets of twelve. You should include the amount of sets completed and also how much weight was lifted. As time progresses, you should see the amount of weight you can lift increase. Don't forget to stretch after your workout. These are just a few guidelines to get you started. It's your journal, so if there are things you want to add or remove, that's perfectly fine. Do what will keep you motivated to work towards your goals and good luck with your results! Author Bradley P. White has been a practicing pharmacist in Ohio for 13 years. He focuses his practice on healthy living and wellness. He educates people on how to correct nutritional deficiencies to avoid illness and disease. To get a copy of Bradley's Free book How To Avoid A Lifetime Of Illness and Medications visit his site.

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