As a personal trainer, i only see my clients between one to five hours a week, depending on their availability. But there’s 168 hours in a week! While not everyone is open to the idea (because of one reason or another), one superb way to keep each other updated and track progress is by keying in information on the things they eat and the exercises they’ve done. This keeps them accountable to themselves (and a simple way of updating me) of the things they’ve been doing/eating. While having me face to face for training is all well and good – it’s the time that they’re away from me that needs to be ‘accounted for’. In addition to that, these apps also help in ‘moving’ them towards their fitness and health goals.

While writing down stuff using pen and paper may seem passé these days, food journal apps are available to help us keep track of our eating and exercising habits. That’s a welcome bit of news for us because virtually everyone in Singapore owns a smartphone.

We may as well add one more function to our smartphones, and install an exercise and food journal app that keeps track of what we eat and how often we work out.

Take a look at some of the reasons you should have a food and workout journal app:

It’s easy. Since most of us own a smartphone, we don’t have to bring a stuffy pen and paper journal to keep track of our food intake and workout results. With these apps, all we need is to enter some info on our phone and voilà! We’ve got the records to prove it.

That’s actually the point of apps and smartphones. They’re there to make things easier for us.

It refreshes your memory. It’s easy to lose track of how often we work out, and what foods we eat. With the food diary apps, you can note down what you eat along with the nutritional information. Since it’s a smartphone you’re using, you can even take a picture of the food in your selfie.

Human memory is a very tricky thing, and often we remember what we want to remember, which is often not what is real. A food diary app is an historical record, and that’s one way of making sure our memory doesn’t play tricks on us. As the historians would say, if it’s not recorded, then it didn’t happen.

It can track your progress. Selfies are not such a bad thing, especially in this context. If your aim is to lose weight and look trimmer, then selfies can prove whether or not you are succeeding in your progression towards your goal.

For a more measurable approach, you can also note down the number of calories you’ve consumed over the course of the day, the number of calories you burned, the number of reps and the amount of weight you achieved in your strength training, the distance and time for your cardio workouts.

With all this info, you can then see for yourself if you there is actual progression. If the pattern shows regression or a plateau, then you can pinpoint the cause and make your corrections. And if you are, then you can give yourself a “congratulations” and a pat on the back, and perhaps one small reward to help you be motivated in keeping up your efforts.

Even personal trainers can use these apps to track our client’s progress and help plan changes or tweaks to the client’s training.

You can see where you are deficient. With accurate records, you can tell much more accurately if you are neglecting your cardio, or missing out on crucial elements of your strength training. You may be forgetting too many leg days that your upper torso is becoming chiseled while your legs still look puny.

It’s the same case with your food. Are you eating too much carb, or perhaps not consuming enough protein? Are you taking in too many calories? Now you have more than just a vague idea of what to correct—now you have actual evidence of regression you can’t just ignore.

You may discover what’s your “weakness”. With a journal app, you may not just realize that you’re eating too much junk food. You may even discover what’s triggering it. Once you become conscious of every time you eat, then you will suddenly take notice not just what you eat but when and why?

Do you get the cravings for some chips and other junk food when you’re at your desk reading some boring report? Maybe it’s when you’re at home and you’re watching your favorite TV show. Maybe you keep on missing “leg day” for your strength training because you schedule it on weekends when your friends are always asking you to hang out in malls and clubs all day and all night.

Apps can make you fully conscious of all your triggers. And once you know, you can then take steps to avoid the “sins” you’ve been committing. If you get the munchies every time Game of Thrones comes on, then perhaps you can prepare in advance and have some healthy fruits or salads in the fridge. And maybe you can reschedule your leg day, or perhaps knowing turn off your smartphone until you’ve finished your workout.

You can make new plans more effectively. Now that you have a clearer idea of what you’ve been doing and what needs improvement, you can then make the proper amendments to your current efforts. Do you lack protein? Shop for more fish and lean meat, and log them for your next meals. Too many sweets? Buy less—in fact don’t buy them at all.

If your workout results are plateauing, then perhaps you need to make some changes in the exercises you perform. Muscles adapt very quickly, but you need to challenge them all the time. You may need to do some alternative exercises, or even just switch the order that you do them.

People have been writing in their journals for centuries. Now in the 21st century, it’s time for you to keep a journal so that you become much fitter and healthier. In the fight against obesity, knowledge is half the battle, and journal apps provide you with the knowledge you need to succeed.

Give it a go, I’d suggest journal the first two weeks – if time doesn’t permit, you can stop after. The information from the first 2 weeks is crucial in identifying the things and habits that’s been around all these years 😉

Yours in health,

Coach Sharm, Personal Trainer, MSc

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