As we continue or restart our fitness programs next year, fitness experts suggest two things that may help us stay motivated and stick to the program: Make workouts an appointment, and track our progress in a journal.
There are calendars, planners and journals made specifically for these purposes.
Over the years, some readers have told me that jotting down their workouts in their schedule helps them plan their week or month and prevents them from being sidetracked. Remember to be flexible and have a backup plan for when an unexpected event or circumstance requires postponing or canceling a workout.
Journals are a great motivational tool. You can write down how much progress you're making and set goals to keep from being stuck in a rut. You can track your mileage, steps taken and heart rate, among others, and note how your workout felt that day. Look at it at the end of the week or month, and you may see exercise patterns.
Here, a look at some fitness calendars and journals:
"Fitness Journal" by Streaming Colors. You'll need highlighter pens to use this 16-month calendar/journal. Designate a color to each health or fitness action or accomplishment and color in the spaces allotted for each day according to what you've done. For example, a triathlete may use three colors: one for swimming, one for cycling and another for running. Another workout enthusiast may use the same three colors for a different purpose: one for weight-training, one for cardiovascular conditioning and the third for stretching/yoga.
Men's Health Calendar. Write down your goals in this weekly fitness pocket planner and review your accomplishments during the weekend. The schedule is divided into blocks of 10 minutes.
Pedometer Weekly Planner: If you're a walker, this may be the boost you need. Set goals for the number of steps you intend to take each day, and add up your mileage by the weekend.
The Complete Runner's Day-by-Day Log and Calendar. If you're aiming for a 10K, half- or full marathon, it's essential to plan your training. You can set distance and speed goals, then record what you actually did so you can make the necessary adjustments. You also can note routes. The log also contains a bar graph for recording weekly mileage and a chart for races.
Hewlett-Packard's free downloadable monthly fitness calendar template. This template has colorful illustrations of women working out. Print out 12 pages, one per month for a year's worth, then write in the dates. You also can download "stickers" to mark your workouts. Go to h71036.www7.hp.com/hho/cache/327-0-0-225-121.aspx.
The Ultimate Workout Log. This log can be customized for beginners as well as longtime exercisers. Each week has four pages for tracking cardio and strength-training workouts.
Put these calendars and planners where you can easily see them every day. Choose a time of day or night to "check in" so it becomes a habit.
I wish you a healthy year filled with fitness!
(Lisa Liddane is a health and fitness writer for The Orange County Register and an American Council on Exercise-certified group fitness instructor. Write to her at the Register, P.O. Box 11626, Santa Ana, Calif. 92711 or send e-mail to email@example.com.)
(c) 2004, The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.). Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.