Do you know exactly what you have eaten in the last say or so? How about how much you weigh from week to week, month to month, or even year to year? How many steps did you walk yesterday or the day before that? While it is pretty easy to eat it and forget it, this is not the case when you are practicing self-transparency and monitoring your weight, food intake and even your movement.
Self-monitoring is very easy and will help you achieve your weight and healthy lifestyle goals. By definition, self-monitoring is simply the practice of watching and recording your thoughts and actions and using the information to formulate, follow or realign your health goals
Self-monitoring uses a few tools such as diet journals/logs, regular weigh-ins and measurements and even pedometers. The key is, to be honest and observant about what you are eating, how much you are moving and even how you are feeling.
Benefits of self-monitoring
Here are just some of the reasons why self-monitoring should be part of your health journey:
- You will eat less: Research has demonstrated that when people record what they eat, they eat less.
- You will exercise more and even enjoy it more.
- You will see immediate results. Seeing immediate results is an excellent motivator.
- You will know what works: Tracking what you are eating, and your exercise regime along with your weight and measurement will help you decide what works best.
- Your goals can seem manageable: Self-monitoring is an excellent way to break your big goals into smaller and more achievable and realistic pieces.
- You can be flexible: When you record what you eat, and your exercise patterns measure your efforts on a regular basis, you can be more flexible about things like special occasions or day’s off. Once you know what works for you, you can use this information to create whatever kind of lifestyle schedule works for you.
- You can see how your choices impact your plan: When you weigh in, get measured, etc., and lining these evaluative tools up against what you are doing, you can see just how much or little your choices impact the result.
- You will avoid plateaus: Many times people have great success with their weight only to find themselves on a plateau. If you record everything with 100% honesty, you can see what works and what doesn’t work
Self-monitoring tools that work
Now that you know the benefits, how exactly does self-monitoring work? Here are some very useful and practical tools that will provide you with valuable data to keep you heading the right direction.
The foundation of any self-monitoring program begins with a food diary or log where you write down everything that you eat and your activity in a given day. Both of these things provide insight into what works best for you. If you are tracking things like calories, steps, etc.. do your best to include these. If you are a diabetic, it is useful to track carbohydrate consumption rather than calories.
Other interesting things to note include time of day, a few sentences about how you feel about an hour after eating or exercising. The things that you include in your diary should be predetermined so that you glean the best information possible to reach your health goals.
Top rated food and exercise diaries:
There are numerous ways to keep track of your food intake and fitness the old fashioned way. Here are two journals that will help you meet your goals.
This inexpensive food journal allows you to keep track of important things like water consumption, daily calories, carbohydrates, fats and proteins. This book lays flat for easy recording and has room for up to five meals as day.
Keep track of your activity in this portable journal that allows you to record your cardio, strength, daily goals and even some nutrition notes. With 60 pages, this little notebook is easy to slip into your gym bag and durable enough to take a beating.
Whether you like what you see or not, stepping on a reliable scale once a week may be just the thing that you stay motivated and even encouraged. Keep in mind that the scale is not your enemy, but rather a way to keep you informed. When you combine your food and activity log with your weight records, you can get a good picture of what is working and what is possibly getting in the way of your success. For best results, use the same scale each week ( a reliable one) and be sure to weigh yourself at the same time each week.
Here are two scales that are both accurate and affordable:
Although this scale only costs $ 32.95 it scores big with over 12,000 positive reviews on Amazon. This scale offers instant readings, a large lit display, precision g sensors in .2 lb increments up to 440 pounds. The platform is durable and large and there is an auto calibrate feature and an auto shut off.
This scale measures not only body weight but also % body fat, % body water, % muscle mass and bone mass. Another nice feature of this scale is that it can store data for up to 8 users. These features make it well worth its $44.95 price tag.
Pedometers provide an accurate way to keep track of the steps that you take daily. These little devices are well worth the money you will spend which can average between $15 – $75 depending on just how fancy you want to go.
Although most people get about 3,000 steps per day, 6,000 steps are suggested for health maintenance. It is recommended that you walk at least 10,000 steps if your objective is weight loss. Walking is a very low risk, safe and inexpensive way to stay in shape and keeping track of your steps will show you just how effective it is.
Here are two popular pedometer tools to choose from:
This top of the line fitness tool does a lot more than count your steps. You can monitor calories burned and even stairs climbed. In addition access data about how long and well you sleep, set your fitness goals and earn motivational badges to help you do your best. Sync your stats wirelessly on your computer or on over 150 smartphones.
The Yamax is an affordable tool that claims to be 98 to 99% accurate. You can track your steps, distance, stride, calories and fat burned using this low-cost pedometer. Other features include a 30-day memory and a clock.
If you want to take your tracking to a new level, consider an accelerometer. This device measures frequency, duration and intensity of physical activity. You can find these in a wide variety of prices from $50 to $1,000.
Technology can be an excellent thing when it comes to self-monitoring. If you prefer to use an app on your smartphone to keep track of your diet and exercise, there are plenty to choose from. What makes mobile apps so great is that they are always with you making it easy to keep track. Here are two top performers:
This little app is fabulous at helping you set your goals for weight loss and exercise. It even helps you track your blood pressure, sleep and more. This powerful program allows you to count calories, share favorite meals with friends and even scan food items using your camera and bar codes. One of the best features of this app is the ability it has for you to connect to accountability partners. Who doesn’t need a little motivation from time to time. Keeping track of your exercise and setting personal challenges is also included.
While the free version does plenty, the premium for just $39.99/year is loaded with awesome features such as informative content and tools to manage conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.
Some call this food, fitness, and overall health tracker one of the best free programs available. You can customize your weight loss and fitness goals, store your favorite food items and recipes, count not only calories but also micronutrients and find nutrition facts.You can access even more free tools at livestrong.com such as meal plans, free workout videos and the latest in health and wellness.
For just $29/year you can become a gold member. With this membership, you will have advanced statistics tools, a private community board, a clean eating guide with recipes and tips, priority customer support and more
It counts to pay attention
If you are serious about your health, it will serve you well to be serious about self-monitoring. Although it is unclear as to what extent of self-monitoring is best for optimal performance and compliance with healthy lifestyle plan, it is evident that there are many benefits to becoming more aware .
– Be Well