You is busy. You is tired. You is overwhelmed.
I hear ya. I is too.
It’s hard to find time for everything I need to do (which explains why I’m working on this piece at 3am). How on earth am I supposed to find time for the optional stuff in life? You know, like getting an oil change, washing the windows, or going to the gym?
Wait. Those are optional, aren’t they?
Seriously, though. For many of us, going to the gym -- or any kind of exercise -- feels like a luxury. It shouldn’t be. It should be a priority. Our health is important.
That’s why the last Wednesday in September is designated as Women’s Health and Fitness Day. Events take place across the country, including exercise demos, health screenings, and workshops. The focus is on helping women to make smart choices about their health, like scheduling in regular physical activity.
While workshops and demos give us info and inspo, what we really need is a commitment to our health goals. I know this from personal experience. I suspect we all do. Whether it’s increasing physical activity, cutting down on caffeine, or decreasing screen time, follow-through is hard. We set up all kinds of roadblocks for ourselves:
- We make excuses. (“I’m so tired today. I’ll just have one more cup of coffee. And then I’ll start cutting down on caffeine tomorrow.”)
- We don’t make it a priority for our time.
- We get discouraged when we don’t see results.
- We’re not honest with ourselves about the effort we’re making.
- We might be scared to set a goal, lacking the confidence that we can achieve it.
- Or we might have a goal (“I want to run a marathon!”) but have no plan to get there.
This is where I start hawking writing journals. Sorry. Not sorry. Bullet Journals® and trackers, in particular, are perfect for helping us achieve health goals. Here’s how to max out the potential of that cute notebook you've been saving for just this purpose.
State Your Goals
What do you want to achieve? Dream big. Maybe you want to go on an extended bike tour. Maybe you want to drop a few dress sizes before your wedding. Maybe you want to become a vegetarian.
A big goal like that can be scary. But as a piece at Verywell Fit points out:
One cool advantage of keeping a bullet journal: you can set your goals on a daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly basis. That multi-level approach helps break your goals down into manageable pieces as you work toward long-term success.
To train for a bike tour, you could start by cycling for a set amount of time daily and gradually increase that. Or, to become a vegetarian, you could start by observing Meatless Mondays. And then, over time, you make vegetarian meals on other days as well.
Studies show that just writing down your goals can help you accomplish them. But having an action plan (those manageable pieces) is crucial. As Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
Choose Your Trackers
You can track virtually anything in a Bullet Journal. (And, btw, if you need the lowdown on what a Bullet Journal -- aka bujo -- is exactly, I’ve got you covered.) Food/calories consumed, water intake, sleep, exercise, caffeine, stress, moods, and self-care can all be tracked. For inspiration on how to track these things in a blank notebook -- or for ideas on what else can be tracked -- check sites like Pinterest and Instagram. Just take it easy and don’t get overwhelmed.
Some of the bujo spreads out there are amazeballs, intricate and artistic. But, wait. You don’t have time to exercise or get enough sleep as it is. How are you supposed to find hours to create bujo spreads to track DOING THOSE THINGS? Amirite? Plus, some trackers just aren’t relevant to you. I don’t take supplements, so I don’t need a supplement tracker, you know?
Pinterest and Instagram are great for inspiration but don’t be afraid to put your own spin on things. Choose trackers that will work for you -- both because they track what you need to track, and because they work for your aesthetic and your available time.
Complete Your Trackers
Depending on how intricate you make them, your trackers might take a few minutes or a few hours to set up. But once you’ve got them made, it’s quick and easy to maintain them. You can do this as you go. For instance, every time you polish off a bottle of water or a workout, pull out your writing journal and mark it off. Or, you can take some time at the end of the day to update all your trackers at once.
Max Out the Potential of Your Trackers
Trackers are valuable for a few reasons:
- They motivate us and serve as a reminder to get stuff done. It’s fulfilling to check stuff off our list, or to watch our trackers fill up with colorful notations.
- They help us build new habits. As I mentioned above, sticking with health goals can be tough. But every time we check something off in our tracker, we inch closer to creating a life that we do habitually.
- They show us what works for us. Maybe you want to start meditating as part of your self-care routine. But your trackers show you don’t do it consistently, and when you do try to meditate, you end up feeling frustrated and out of sorts. Meditating isn’t for everyone. It’s okay -- actually, it’s great! -- if your journal reveals what tools don’t work for you. That way you can let them go and move on to find tools that do work.
- They show our progress, which is encouraging. I know this from my own weight loss journey. Watching numbers on the scale creep downwards was a huge motivation to keep going.
As Erin over at The Petite Planner points out, journals and trackers don’t “guarantee success. But they are a great resource for motivation and accountability.” And that’s just what we need to keep our health goals on the front burner. So pull out a cute notebook -- like SohoSparks's Sunrise Journal -- and kick your journey off with gusto.