Are you a note taker? I like to make a big list just so I can check off all the tasks I have completed. In fact, sometimes I write down the irrelevant things just so I can check them off.

Are you laughing?

Am I the only one that likes to do that? Maybe it’s just a quirk in my personality but if it works it works and the same principle can be applied to your wellness routine. Writing it down on paper or noting it in your phone may just be the trick that will help you achieve your wellness goals.

Self-monitoring is the organized recording of relevant behaviors. It may include recording calories and portion sizes of food consumed, recording water consumption or keeping a food diary detailing fat, protein and carbs.

A workout journal is also a great tool to keep a record of time well spent. The simple act of writing it down may promote persistence. There is much evidence of the benefits of self-monitoring for both reduced food intake and exercise. Food diaries provide a good reality check and awareness of foods consumed, mindless eating or emotional eating.

I have one client (you know who you are) who writes down everything, and I mean everything, and averages his weight each week as well as the days he works out. That way he can compare each year and enjoy seeing his accomplishment on paper. By the way, he is over 65 and a picture of wellness. So self-monitoring is really working for him.

Perhaps this method will work for you. You can be as detailed as you like, whatever works with you and your busy lifestyle. I have even had clients just take pictures of their food and send it to me, they do not take the time to write it down but yet it is logged and monitored. Let’s look at other reasons to self-monitor:

     » Self-awareness — Makes you more aware of calories consumed or workouts that have gone by the way side. Yes, I really did eat three brownies, or oh my I have not worked out in three days.

     » Accountability — You are accountable to yourself when you write things down, but it can also pro-vide a way to be accountable to someone else such as a trainer or coach.

     » It works — Research shows that people who write down what they eat six days a week lose more weight and keep it off as compared to ones who just monitored intake sporadically.

     » It allows you to monitor your progress — Writing down goals both short term and long term will help healthy habit adherence. It is important to have measureable goals so you can track progress. Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., is fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Mass. Dr. Westcott said “The more improvement you see on the page, the better your physical results will be. Every day you can see some improvement in the numbers, maybe you can do an extra rep or increase the weight a bit." The point is to write it down so you can see it on paper.

     » Provides a sense of accomplishment — Looking back over your workout journal can provide a great sense of accomplishment and provide the motivation it takes to keep it going. Losing weight on the scales and looking over your food diary will let you know just how you lost that weight, through a combination of good food choices and physical activity.

See you in the gym and don’t forget to check it off your list.

Linda Stollings is a wellness consultant in Bristol, Tenn. Email her at

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