There’s lots of great diets, workouts and strategies to get in shape and stay healthy, but probably one of the most effective is to keep a training journal.
Before you spend all the money on the expensive supplements, it's essential to get the basics in place - a training journal is a really important foundation for your health and fitness journey.
There's nothing complicated about a training journal - you can just do it on your phone.
There's two key bits of information that you need to be recording - your food diary, and your exercise programme.
Your food diary is as simple as writing down everything you eat and when you eat it.
Just make a note on your phone anytime you're putting something in your mouth. Include everything - coffee, alcohol, supplements - the lot.
You don't need to be counting calories, but obviously the more information you're able to include in your food diary, the more insights that will give you.
It's great if you're able to sit down and do an end-of-week review. Your food diary will enable you to see if you've got a balanced diet, and where you can make improvements. Could you reduce your sugar intake? Could you boost your protein? Are you getting enough antioxidants?
Even if you don't get a chance to do a detailed review each week, just the discipline of tracking what you're eating will help you sharpen your diet. Subconsciously, if you know that you're going to have to put down your snacks in black and white, then that will push you away from the sugary or processed snack into something a bit healthier.
The second element that you want to be recording in your training journal is your exercise programme.
Again, you can be simply doing this on your phone as you go - do it at the gym, so you don't have to try and remember later the details of your workout.
What exercises did you do? What weights were you using? How many reps? How many sets? What were the rest periods?
The discipline of writing down each exercise session helps to bring some structure to your programme. It also helps you to see how to make improvements. How can you increase the intensity? How can you switch things up?
Track your emotions
While the basics of your training journal are around food and exercise, if you can add an emotional aspect into your journal then this can really help your personal resilience.
Alongside what you ate, and how you exercised, write down how you're feeling. Was today a good day? What made it a good day? What do you need to do to make every day a good day?
Articulating your emotions and feelings - even in a very basic way - can really help to process stuff. If you're feeling a bit rubbish, being able to pinpoint what might be making you feel that way is a really important step in then figuring out how to address what's bothering you.
Reflect on your progress
A training journal works not only because of the discipline that it forces on you, but it also helps you to make the right choices as well as helping you to reflect on why you’ve made the wrong choices.
What’s most powerful is when you look back at some of the earlier entries — what were the goals that I set? How am I tracking against those? Are they still the right goals or have things changed?
To use neurolinguistic programming speak, it’s about becoming “consciously competent” — know what you’re good at, know what you’re not good at, know how to adjust and develop to ensure you are progressing towards the goals that you want to achieve.