Stick to Your Goals by Jotting it Down.
Keeping a journal is a surefire way to stay on track with your food and exercise regimen because it holds you accountable to yourself. In fact, having helped millions of people lose weight, it’s been proven time and time again that those who track their progress achieve far greater results than those who don’t. If you’re new to journaling and you don’t have a place to track your diet and workouts, you can download and print my Total Control Nutrition & Exercise Diary here. Make photocopies of this page or follow the template in your own journal to track your meals, how you feel, and your daily activities. If you’re diligent with your entries, when you’ve reached your goal, you’ll have a chronicle of your incredible progress to look back on with pride and satisfaction.
Before I explain how to fill out a page in my Total Control Nutrition & Exercise Diary, I want you to first acknowledge where you are today and your starting point. From there, think about what you want to look like in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, etc., and how you want to feel. After you get a good visual of your new look, get your pen and paper, and set some specific goals.
Goal-Setting: Long Term Goals
What do you want to look like?
The important thing is the one you want to reach your goal upon completion of whatever time-frame you’ve set. It can be anything you want, as long as it’s realistic. For example, losing two pounds a week for the next 12 weeks for a total of 24 pounds is an attainable goal you can reach if you’re diligent and consistent for all 12 weeks. However, losing 45 pounds for your high school reunion in a month is highly improbable, and will only set you up for disappointment. Once you’ve chosen a realistic long-term goal, write it down in your diary in big, bold letters. I also highly recommend you take a “before” photo of yourself and clip it next to your big goal, so you can get an honest look at where you’re starting from.
How do you want to feel?
Whether you want more energy, better sleep, less stress, a better relationship with your significant other, or perhaps all four, write it down. Also, think about your health on the inside. For example, maybe you need to lower your cholesterol levels, reduce your resting heart rate, improve your glucose/insulin levels, increase your bone density, etc. Whatever it is, write it down as well.
In order to reach your long-term goal, it’s important to set short-term goals. Perhaps it’s a goal for the day or it becomes your “focus-of the week.” Whether you want to take 15 minutes for yourself, eliminate wine with your dinner, run a mile or increase your fiber intake, short-term goals should represent an issue you must overcome in order to improve your body and help you reach your long-term goal.
Daily Journal Entrees
At the beginning of each week, decide what your short-term goal will be and write it in your journal. At the end of the week, revisit this goal and decide if you’ve accomplished your objective. If you’ve fallen a bit short, make it part of your short-term goal next week to achieve it. Don’t punish yourself if you don’t reach your weekly goals. This will only make you feel guilty and unsuccessful. Instead, divert your attention away from unproductive thoughts like these and focus your energy on re-committing to your purpose and how you will achieve it. Mark how far you’ve come instead of beating yourself up about falling short
Meals and Hunger Level
Before you eat, check off your hunger level – were you hungry, starving or not hungry at all? Then, fill in what you’ve eaten after each meal. Rate your hunger levels again after you’ve eaten (i.e., Are you satisfied/normal, still hungry or overly full/stuffed?). This process will highlight foods that don’t satisfy you or leave you experiencing cravings shortly afterwards. Start to notice your patterns. Notice if you wait to eat until you’re starving, that will typically leads to overeating. Learning your unconscious eating habits and individual dietary needs will allow you to become an independent eater and you won’t need to follow any more diets. Try slowing down when you eat too, so you don’t rush right past satisfied to whoops-full. Experiment with foods that make you feel satisfied, energized, and alert, and enjoy the results!
Don’t forget to track your daily water intake. There are 10 glasses running along the right side of my journal page. Each day, make it a priority to check off all ten!
Workouts Completed & Intensity
Fill in the workout you did for the day (i.e., hour power walk, a yoga class, my Lift Weights to Lose Weight DVD, etc.), and circle the intensity level of your workout. The goal isn’t to exercise at a high level of intensity every day. Even the world’s most elite athletes pace themselves to avoid burnout or injury. Instead, aim for about 3-4 days of moderate or high intensity, aim for two days of low intensity and of course, one day of full out rest.
At the bottom of the page there’s space to capture your daily experiences. Be honest as you write down how you feel, what challenges or frustrations came up for you, etc. Notice any trends that may come up. For example, “Had very stressful day at work and overindulged in Godiva chocolates,” or “Slept eight hours last night, had a great workout, and felt energized.” Be patient with yourself and really use this as a way to look at what’s happening in your life. Remember, day-by-day you’re making baby steps to not only remodel your body but also your entire life.
Reap the Rewards
At the end of each week when you’ve reached your short-term goal (and you will reach them), reward yourself! Avoid using food as rewards as this can reinforce food serving something other than fuel. Instead, take a relaxing sunset walk, or buy a new pair of shoes. Indulge! You deserve it!
When you reach your long-term goal, its party time-go big or go home! Take yourself on a get-away or get together with friends for a day of pampering at the spa. And furthermore, set more goals! Now that you’ve succeeded, you’ll find that there’s so much more you want to accomplish. Set as many goals as you like-just keep them within the realm of reality and you will succeed.