Pattern: “Gamify Your Workouts”
Pattern Category: Fitness
Pattern Difficulty: Intermediate
Journaling is an important endeavor in my world and I strongly suggest you do it, and the reasons are multi-purpose:
- Journals are a powerful way to track progress, whether with your fitness, nutrition or gratitude
- Journals provide you with an incredibly powerful source of personal data, and when you combine your journals you’ll start to see how decisions you make impact your life in ways you may not expect
- There is power in writing. I don’t know what it is, but I have found that when I write and document my fitness journey, I create stronger emotional connections with the ideas that I write about, and I feel more connected to my journey
- Journals are a powerful “in-the-moment” way to reinforce your goals
- Journals are fun
In general, there are six types of journals that I keep, each of which represents a different dimension of my life:
- Strength Training Workouts
- Activity Levels (Steps, Standing, etc.)
- Gratitude / Emotional Well-Being
I don’t want to give you the impression I have journals upon journals stacked up in closets throughout my house or that I spend so much time writing things down that I don’t have time for living. Most of my journals are electronic and very easy to use “in-the-moment”, either when working out, when I’m taking one of my daily fasted walks (see Fasted Cardio), or when sleeping.
When I sit back to do my reflections, I like to take a holistic approach. I review what I ate during the week, my workouts, how I felt, my emotional makeup, the experiences I had, what I struggled with, how well my sleep was, etc. Having this data at my fingertips has led to some powerful insights into my own life, which has, in turn, empowered me to make life-changing decisions; decisions I would not have even considered had I not had this data.
This pattern is about using a journal to track your fitness progress, so let’s get going!
Pattern: “Gamify Your Workouts”
Theory: Life is about progress and if you’re not being mindful of your progress, ideally through journaling, you’re missing out.
Why? Because journaling provides a unique opportunity to track, and celebrate your progress and learn where you have opportunities to improve.
Think about it: Even if you’re regularly going to the gym, but mindlessly going from machine to machine without a plan and without awareness of your progress, you very likely won’t stick with it.
Even more so, it’s a bummer. It’s really no fun!
On the other hand, when you go back to the gym and you see progress (heavier weights or more reps or less discomfort, etc.), it makes your journey enjoyable and engaging.
And more fun!
Likewise, if you’re not tracking your nutrition, how do you know you’re getting enough essential micro and macro nutrients? How do you know you’re getting enough water? Like I said in the pattern Drink a Gallon of Water Every Day, if you wait until you’re thirsty, it’s too late: you’re already dehydrated.
Our emotions are tied to our wellness, our activity levels, what we eat, how hydrated we are and how well we sleep (among other things). If you’re not keeping track of these most basic and fundamental parts of your life, you’ll be hard pressed to achieve real happiness and fulfillment.
Implementation Tips & Strategies
Use an App: Find a journaling app that matches your workouts and activity levels. Because my primary workout involves lifting weights, I use an app called Gymaholic, which is available on Apple and Android phones. It allows me to create custom workouts and keep track of my progress on a workout by workout basis. I can also specify supersets, giant sets, drop sets, etc., so I can tailor my workouts and fine-tune them to meet my needs. Likewise, the app boasts a series of great reports so I can graphically see how I’m progressing over time as I improve my ability with the movements and make gains on a week by week basis.
Not All Activity is Exercise: Note that it’s important to differentiate between “exercise” and “activity” (check out the Differentiate Between Activity and Exercise Pattern). I personally do Fasted Cardio (generally walking but also HIIT) at specified times during the day, and I use my Apple Watch to determine how many calories I burned. Then at the end of the week, I look for patterns: correlations between activity levels, workouts, life experiences (via photos), emotional well-being, etc. This helps me set meaningful goals for the following week to improve and informs me how my fitness goals are enhancing the quality of my life.