It’s 5:30 on a dark winter morning. I hit the snooze button again. No part of me wants to exercise. In my bleary-eyed stupor, I think of the cute new running shorts I will earn if I meet my monthly goal. Reluctantly, I lift the blanket, turn the alarm off, and put my feet on the cold floor.
After my workout, I put a sticker on my calendar to show that I exercised that day. Eventually, those stickers will turn into my reward for meeting my goal. At the end of the week, I look back at my tiny, round, brightly-colored stickers and know I found time to work out. I’ll also see those little stickers that represent a bigger goal accomplished, such as completing a new triathlon or an intense workout I didn’t think I could do.
Here are some ideas for how you can track your own fitness and boost your exercise motivation:
1. Create A Vision Board
I keep a vision board listing my goals along with pictures and words that represent those goals. For example, a picture of a swimmer represents the coached group I’m joining to improve my technique. The images on your vision board can represent your feelings, too. My vision board includes a beaming, flag waving colour guard dancer for the joy of spending time on creative activities. You can increase your chance of achieving your goals by documenting them in a specific, tangible way.
2. Create A Training Plan Using A Calendar Or Planner
Break your goal into steps on a calendar or in a planner. How you document the steps in your goal will depend on what they are and how you visualize it. Options range from a simple checklist to a colour-coded chart full of stickers. Erin Condren, founder of the eponymous planner company, says, “Maybe it’s writing in a certain colour, or maybe it’s adding a certain sticker. There’s no wrong way to plan.”
I write my triathlon training plan on a calendar I see every morning. A friend created a chart of her strength training workouts, with boxes to colour for each set (10 squats, 5 burpees, etc.). A grid notebook, bullet journal, wall calendar, or weekly or monthly planner can work for this, too.
3. Follow Your Progress With Stickers
For my friend with the chart, the process of keeping track is enough of a motivation. On the other hand, I require a prize. At the end of every month, I count the workout sticker total. The cost of my reward depends on how many times I exercised (11-19 stickers = reward under $15. 20+ stickers = $16-$40 reward).
If it helps to give yourself a reward along the way, use your documenting to track workouts, calories, or any other measure of progress, and reward yourself.
4. Use Selfies To Record How You Feel
When I started running with my now-regular running buddy nearly three years ago, we took selfies after just about every run. The selfies gradually stopped, and I missed seeing the weekly proof of our accomplishment. So, I started taking selfies again.
Print out pictures of when you feel toughest, whether it’s with friends after a race or after a workout you didn’t want to do but you still did anyway. Put them into a journal or planner and write about how powerful you felt or how hard you worked. You can decorate this as much or as little as you want. You can also just keep the pics on your phone.
Check out the blogs of the journal or planner companies and use whatever ideas work for you. “Some people really go to town with stickers and colour-coding and some keep it simple with just pen,” Erin Condren says of her company’s planner users. “Do whatever works best for you and don’t compare yourself to the calligrapher you follow on Instagram.”
5. Combine These Tips In A Way That Works For You
Try a few different techniques and do what helps you reach your goals. If just putting stickers on a calendar is motivation enough for you, then go for it. You can put it all into a single fitness journal, combine your wellness documenting with your regular calendar, or keep it in an app for documenting.
Suzi is a Type A mum who writes about organization, fitness, parenting, and other subjects of interest to fellow Type As.
She blogs about fitting in fitness as a working mom and as a very amateur triathlete at www.thereisatri.com.