Take 12 Steps for Health
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Step 5: Keep Track
Keeping a journal is a great way to track your activities throughout the day – what you eat, how you exercise, amount of sleep, etc. Looking back weekly allows time for reflection and planning for improvement.
Making Healthy Strides
|TRY THIS||INSTEAD OF THAT|
|Journaling Writing in a journal daily not only has a positive impact on physical well-bring, but also provides increased mental clarity, better self-awareness, stress reduction, more effective problem-solving, and better conflict resolution. Writing removes mental blocks and allows for creativity.||Guessing Not having an accurate record of what you’re eating or your life’s daily events can leaving you feeling disjointed, unorganized and out of control. Take the guesswork out and bring in some accountability for yourself by writing down thoughts and food in a journal.|
Write as you Bite
You may ask, why keep a food journal? It’s actually very simple – for self-awareness and accountability. When you are tracking what you eat and drink, you can see a clearer picture of your daily caloric and nutrient intake. Starting a food journal can be easy – just write down everything you consume, with a few ground rules:
Keep it handy. Choose a small portable notebook that you can take with you everywhere.
Write as you bite. That way, you won’t forget anything, especially quantities. Don’t forget condiments, and be sure to include those “incidental” nibbles that are notoriously easy to overlook—like that last quarter of a grilled-cheese sandwich you polished off when your child left it on her plate, or that mini candy bar from the jar on your co-worker’s desk.
Be specific. Record the type and amount of food in as much detail as possible, especially portion sizes.
Take it a step further by recording calories. Look up the calorie value of the foods and drinks you’ve had today, making sure to adjust for the portion size. It’s better to add up the calories as you go, rather than waiting until later.
Most importantly, do the best you can! Tracking your food and beverages can be a daunting task, and can lead to discouragement. If you can’t keep up, start over the next day. Being aware of all food choices you make, as well as the quantity of your consumption can lead to feelings of disappointment. Think of your food journal as a way to look back at all the healthy changes you will make. Being accountable to the journal will assuredly steer you away from foods that are less healthful, and make you feel proud to eat more nutritious alternatives.
Track with Tech
Most resistance to tracking your food intake is typically around the notion of taking too much time or being too difficult. Fortunately, with the help of technology, tracking is a relatively easy and quick process.
Tracking on your smartphone is very convenient. Tracking apps, like MyFitnessPal are usually free and easy to use. You are able to record the food/calories using extensive databases, and get support through an online community of app users.
If you're looking for something that’s not as structured, Evernote allows you to take notes on your activities, and it will sync to all of your devices. You can organize it by date and also insert pictures. This is handy for keeping track of everything you do, including workouts and notes on food triggers and mood.
Without a smartphone, there are still quite a few web-based tracking systems that are free and easy to use. My Food Diary, FitDay, and MyPlate all offer calorie-counting and food databases for tracking daily consumption and activities.
The bottom line – find something that works for you! Take a few days to do some research on what each application offers, and the right one for you can be seamlessly integrated into daily life. Remember, tracking is a great tool... using technology can take most of the guesswork out to make it easier and less cumbersome.
Sources: Health & fitness Technology
Journaling for Stress Relief
When life's challenges seem overwhelming, pick up a pen and write it all down. You do not need to write long and detailed stories of your life experiences. Journaling is simply jotting down your life events and feelings on paper or an electronic device (i.e., computer, tablet, smartphone) on a regular basis. Your journal can help you refine your daily living skills and reflect on the experiences you have recorded. Journaling can also help you deal with stressors that you are not comfortable talking about with others. Stress psychologists have shown that journaling enhances immune function and can alter the course of chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Focus on current stressors. Writing about stress helps you step back and consider your options more clearly.
- Include two things in each entry: First, write what happened --the facts about the objective experience. Second, write your feelings about what happened, what you feel and why you feel it.
- Don't hold back! Write continually for about fifteen minutes with no censoring.
- Don't stress over the spelling and grammar. Let it flow and enjoy the process of communicating important feelings on paper.
- Write whenever you want or feel you need to. If you have been keeping a food diary to track eating, perhaps you can create one journal that combines it all.
- It is wise to keep your journal to yourself. If you write thinking you may share it, you may be tempted to write for that person. A journal is about you and your self-care.
The Take 12 program is free and anyone can participate at any time. This program is designed to:
- Help you accomplish healthy goals each month, with tips to keep you going for the duration.
- Give you access to information - free workshops are available each month on different healthy topics and bulletin boards loaded with information are posted at all the RECenters.
- Provide an opportunity for you to experience fitness and wellness programs offered across Fairfax County.
- Empower you to make important lifestyle changes... you can do it!
- Plus, sign-up to receive the monthly e-newsletter, packed with recipes and healthy tips, upcoming events, and opportunities to achieve your Take 12 goals!