Ready to set out on your health and fitness journey? Recording your progress can help you find your way more easily, with fewer detours. I'm a personal trainer, fitness coach, and martial artist. In my previous career I spent decades making things easy for people to understand and use. I specialize in behavior change, and my focus is on people starting out.
This journal is for you if you're developing new fitness or lifestyle habits, investigating food sensitivities, discovering effective symptom-management strategies, or just monitoring your health.
I also have several health challenges of my own. I track all sorts of fitness, health, and nutrition data, in a variety of apps. But couldn't find a journal that offered the flexibility to bring it together in one timeline, where I could see the cause-and-effect relationships between my inputs (food, sleep, activities, exercise, medications, meditation, etc.) and outcomes (health, mood, energy, symptoms, etc.). So I created my own!
My spacious design puts each day on one page, with a timeline for all your inputs and outcomes throughout the day. There are no cutesy graphics, coloring pages, or overly-restrictive fields, just roomy spaces to write what's important.
You'll Get These Four PDF Files
- A simple Cover sheet.
- A worksheet for Your Starting Point.
- Daily Pages for tracking your foods, meds, and activities throughout the day.
- Weekly Pages for recording your progress and setting goals.
Each PDF is a single page. Print and use as many of each as you need. They are black and white only (no need to waste your colored inks), and designed to be printed one-sided on an ordinary home printer (no bleed). There's room for three-hole punching or stapling along the left margin.
Because these are loose sheets (not a bound book) you can take a single sheet with you in your purse, pocket, or pack, to use discretely at the office, a restaurant, or event. Bring it home at the end of the day and put it back with its fellow pages. And if you lose one page, it's not a tragedy.
Getting the Most from Your Journal
The more details you track the more easily you'll be able to find patterns and make associations, especially when you look back over past days and weeks.
The Top Section
This is the place for noting how you start the day, and anything that might affect your whole day:
- Include the day and date on each page. This can be helpful when correlating things later, such as noticing how you started getting low heart-rate alerts on your phone about the same time you went off a medication.
- Record how well you slept, and for how long. Sleeping well is essential to good mental and physical health. If you use a sleep app you can find details there. I include hours slept, and hours in deep sleep, and whether I had any trouble sleeping.
- Note how you felt when you woke up. Energized? Spaced? Achy? Stuffy? Does that relate to anything you did yesterday, or foods you ate the night before?
- See those four blank spaces near the top-right? Use those for anything you'd like. I track my heart rate variability (HRV), weight, and any changes to medications (starting, stopping, changing dosage, did I use my rescue inhaler, etc.). You might track your blood pressure, hours worked, temperature, steps walked, etc. Any stats or brief notes that help you see changes from day to day or trends over time.
Timeline of Inputs and Outcomes
Use these lines to write down everything you're tracking, in order, throughout the day:
- Note the time in the left column
- Write down your "inputs" in the second column — the foods you ate, your activities and exercise, any medications, meditation or self-care sessions, etc.
- Make a note of any "outcomes" in the third column — how you feel, any new symptoms, or any that eased up. Suddenly tired? Need your inhaler? Headache went away? Write it all down.
- Use symbols and connecting lines. See in the example image how I put a box around MED for medications and an oval around ACT for activities. I use an exclamation point in a triangle for alarming findings, and a question mark in a circle for things that bring up questions. I also use NEW with sun rays to show something I've just started, like a new medication, or introducing a new food or activity. These symbols make it easy to quickly find those things when you are reviewing your notes. I suggest drawing lines between things that could be related ("Ate strawberry pie," and "Major sneezing fit," for instance.)
The Nine Boxes at the Bottom
These are for writing your "bottom line" observations in nine major areas. You don't have to use them all every day. They are available when you have something to say.
- Activity and Exercise — Did you have an active day? Walked all over the county fair? An awesome workout? Or did you have to work a long day, sitting at your desk?
- Stress, Mood, & Self Care — Note how you are feeling. Cranky and tired? Excited about a new project? Did you meditate today, or take a mindful walk? Maybe you got a massage!
- My Notes — This space is for whatever you need. I use it for a very brief comment on what kind of day it was. "Cleaned out the garage." "Met a friend for lunch." You might use it to track blood glucose observations, or some other information that's unique to your particular situation.
- Overall Health — What's the big picture of your health today? Feeing great? Great! Fighting a cold? Uggh. Write it down.
- Symptoms (Better/Worse) — Were you sneezing all morning? Did the swelling in your feet go away today? Hmm... Interesting. Make a note of these things.
- Food Sensitivity Notes — Did you experience a reaction to a food? Do you suspect something you eat might be causing you trouble? Maybe this is day 5 with no coffee, or you just added tomatoes back into your diet. How are you doing with that?
These last three boxes are in the bottom row so it will be easy for you to scan through the journal and quickly find the most important bits that might need action or suggest changes.
- What Worked / Went Well Today? — Problems naturally draw our attention ("Oww! My foot hurts!"). But it's important to also to note and remember the things we did or experienced that worked well. "Spent the day hiking in the desert and had no allergies for the first time in months!" "Drank plenty of water and had more energy all day."
- Ideas & Realizations — What hypotheses did your experiences today suggest? Did you have any "aha" moments? "Onions might be what's irritating my gut." "Slept like a baby at a hotel. Maybe I need a new mattress!"
- Questions — Finally, what questions do you have, either to figure out yourself, or to ask your doctor? "Why does my reflux get worse on an empty stomach?" "This med isn't working as well as I'd like. Is there a different one I could try?" "Am I ready to add running to my fitness routine?"
This is your journal. Do whatever you need to do to make it useful to you. Highlight important points. Leave spaces blank when you have nothing to say there. There are no rules.
This resource — refined and optimized over months of use and testing — can help guide you on your way to a healthier life. The data you collect can make you a better advocate for your medical care. I hope you'll take advantage of it.
Suggestions or Requests?
I'm planning several more specialized Journals, and will be offering this and others in printed, bound versions as well. I have one planned that is essentially this same journal, but with bigger spaces for writing (two pages per day) for those who need the size to see and write more easily. Is there anything you'd like to see included? A special type of journal you need? Send your ideas to me at Linda@GoYouFitness.com.
You'll get four PDF files for printing your own Journal pages at home. Buy it once, use it forever.