Keeping track of what you're doing on a daily basis, also known as self-monitoring, is an important skill to learn as you work toward your goals. Is it worth the effort? In one word—Yes! If you are unsure about the need to self-monitor, here are some benefits of this valuable skill. Self-monitoring helps you make healthy lifestyle choices by:
- Increasing awareness by becoming more aware of your habits and the factors that influence the choices you make. For example, you may learn that you tend to eat too much in the late afternoon or when you're tired or stressed.
- Providing a measure of your progress. You can see how your daily choices are moving you toward or away from your goals. Reviewing your records often can help you see what choices are in line with your dietary and physical activity goals.
- Helping you plan. You can use your journals to plan your eating and physical activity in a way that best fits your life. It also helps you find solutions to things that stand as barriers to your success.
- Increasing motivation and commitment to change. You can use your journals as a reminder that your goals are important to you and that your health is worth the effort.
Set Up Reminders
To fight life's challenges and demands, create reminders to keep you on track.
- Put your physical activity plans in your calendar to remind you to stay active.
- Keep a basket of fresh fruit on the counter or in your office as a reminder to have a healthy snack.
- Set a reminder on your computer at work to take an afternoon walk.
- Pack your lunch the night before and leave it in the very front of the refrigerator so it is the first thing you see in the morning.
- Have your buddy send you a text message reminding you of your exercise plans.
- Write out your goals and put them somewhere where you can see them.
- Put up a sticky note reminding you to go to the grocery store to purchase the items needed to make a healthy dinner.
Replace one behavior with another one. This is a great way to make healthier choices that usually don't take any extra time or effort. Here are some great alternatives:
- Go on a bike ride with a friend instead of going out to a movie.
- Have oatmeal for breakfast versus a pastry.
- Watch your favorite show while at the gym versus sitting on your couch or sit on the floor and stretch while watching TV.
- Bring your lunch to work instead of eating out.
- Instead of reaching for food, practice deep breathing when stressed.
- Wash your car by hand versus going to the drive-thru car wash.
- Choose a grilled entrée versus a fried one when eating out.