From my experience, the single best thing that helps people focus on their health is to maintain a Health Journal for a few weeks. Start by using it to record food and drinks consumed, sleep, exercise and so on. After a week or so, with a picture built up, you can focus on making little changes for the better. Later, use this same Health Journal as a meal planner, especially so that you can highlight ‘vulnerable’ times such as dining out and travel.
Having a plan keeps many people on the straight and narrow as they have something to aim for; for others, after a few weeks, the added work might be pressure they can do without, but they continue to practice better habits.
Your body keeps an accurate journal, regardless of what you write down.
If you are someone who works well within
We keep track of money going in and out of our bank account; we monitor our telephone bills; we keep a maintenance log for our car. But have you ever logged what’s going on within your body?
I know I’m doing myself out of a job here, but I advise you to ‘be your own nutritionist’ for a while. It’s amazing what you will discover about your body and your health; even more incredible are the positive changes you can embrace.
Here are some of the benefits of keeping a health journal:
1. You think twice about eating or drinking something as you must then go to the trouble of writing it in your journal. Remember, ‘your body keeps an accurate journal regardless of what you write down’. Honesty is important here so that you can learn and take action.
2. You can literally be your own nutritionist — you get a picture of the overall quality and quantity of your food, drink, sleep, hydration, exercise etc. Sometimes we think we are doing well in an area until we stand back and look at the bigger picture.
3. You can also be your own detective. Do certain foods make you feel tired, bloated, or zap you of energy. You may actually have a potential allergy or sensitivity to them which you were not aware of. Consuming these ongoing over time may eventually lead to something more sinister e.g. leaky gut or autoimmune disease — so it’s best ‘nipped in the bud’ early on.
You’ll be amazed at what you can discover and cure through diet and small changes in your lifestyle, without having to incur medical bills or take expensive medication. Only you can know what’s going on within your body, so again, be honest.
4. You can pinpoint other factors that influence how you feel. Maybe your energy is low because your exercise routine doesn’t agree with you; perhaps you are dehydrated, or over- stressed from work and/or kids, which leads to overeating.
5. You can identify triggers that cause you to overeat be that mindless eating or emotional eating.Perhaps certain moods or emotions set you off, or a certain taste; for example, sugar, causes you to crave for more. Once you identify the triggers, you are then in a stronger position to address and resolve them.
The ultimate goal is to focus on satisfying hunger, with deliciously healthy foods, so that your body is adequately fuelled to physically and mentally perform.
In getting healthier, I suggest making many small changes, as opposed to adopting a fad or a diet that is not sustainable. Your Health Journal is a fantastic tool in identifying these small tweaks which you can then incorporate into a healthy lifestyle. You’re looking at not just what you eat, but how you eat (mindfully), why you eat (to fuel your mind and body) when you eat (when you identify hunger — not by the clock, or social pressures). Try journaling for week or so: note down all the things that influence your health on a daily basis, such as:
- Meals and snacks Number of hours of sleep
- Time and type of exercise
- Number of glasses of water
- Amount of alcohol, coffee, juices, sugar, and other specifics you want to monitor
- Any symptoms or emotions you may want to track e.g. mood, bloating, energy levels, hunger levels
I sincerely hope that you find both journaling, and reviewing the bigger picture, a rewarding experience in helping you attain your health goals. The tool is there for you to use at any point in the future should new symptoms arise, or as you reassess and make new health goals.
Get a copy of Health & Vitality’s Health Journal
To our health,
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