How to Use a Bullet Journal to Reach Health and Fitness Goals

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Ideas on Using This Trend to Improve Your Health and Well-being

Woman writing in a journal
yulkapopkova/Getty Images

Looking to get in shape, eat right, lose weight, feel better—or all the above? For help in reaching your health and fitness goals, try keeping a bullet journal: a surprisingly fun, easy-to-use, highly personalized approach to fine-tuning your daily habits and making long-lasting change.

Part planner and part diary, the bullet journal (developed by designer Ryder Carroll) is a system that you can use with any notebook and a pen.

With the help of a bullet journal, you can track a number of factors known to have a huge impact on your health, including your diet, exercise regimen, sleep routine, and stress levels.

Recording your daily, weekly, and monthly achievements is a cornerstone of bullet journaling. There are many ways to mark those achievements—as well as your shortcomings—and track your progress in reaching your health and fitness goals.

Research shows that tracking your efforts to make healthy changes can set you up for success when it comes to issues like weight loss. Not only helpful for keeping organized and on top of your goals, tracking your progress also helps you to stay motivated and maintain your momentum.

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Getting Started With Your Bullet Journal

Using a Bullet Journal to Reach Your Health Goals
Cathy Wong

As far as supplies go, a notebook and a pen or pencil are all you really need to begin your bullet journal. Once you’re ready to start, there are plenty of blogs and websites that can guide you through setting up your journal.

Such resources offer lots of great info on the basics of using your bullet journal, including tips on making the most of your journal’s index and other key elements.

Before you get started, try searching social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest for ideas and inspiration on using bullet journals to reach your health and fitness goals.

Remember to focus on building a bullet journal that best suits your needs, and don’t be afraid to get creative with layout and design.

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Setting Your Health and Fitness Goals

Using a Bullet Journal to Improve Your Health
For each of the three areas, try writing down one to three goals for the month. Cathy Wong

As you get going on your bullet journal, take the time to clearly outline your health and fitness goals. Be specific: Are you aiming to run a half-marathon, start up a meditation routine, drop a jeans size?

In some cases, bullet journalers seek to gain better control over a chronic health problem. Others focus on improving their diet, such as by phasing out processed foods or cutting back on sugar.

One cool advantage to keeping a bullet journal: you can set your goals on a daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly basis. That multi-level approach helps break your goals down into manageable pieces as you work toward long-term success.

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Creating an Exercise Log

Using a Bullet Journal to Track Your Strength Training Workouts
Fill in the number of repetitions and sets. Cathy Wong

Exercise logs can take a variety of forms, such as a weekly calendar that outlines your physical activity for each day. You can also zero in on specific types of workouts.

For example, you might consider creating a chart that tracks your strength training routine, including a record of each exercise that details the number of reps completed in each set.

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Keeping a Food Diary

Using a Bullet Journal to Keep a Food Diary
Cathy Wong

In a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2008, researchers determined that keeping a food diary could double your weight loss.

As you track your daily food intake, use your bullet journal to cultivate healthy habits (such as by recording the number of vegetable servings you’ve eaten or the amount of water you’ve consumed each day).

After reviewing your diary each day or week, add notes to help you fine-tune your meal planning. Make note of recipes you liked and strategies you tried or would like to try.

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Creating a Monthly Challenge

Using Your Bullet Journal for a Monthly Fitness Challenge
Cathy Wong

Whether you're aiming to run your first 5K, move forward with your yoga practice, or do a 30 day squats or ab challenge, try mapping out the steps you need to take to achieve your goal.

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Monitoring a Chronic Condition

Using a Bullet Journal as a Symptom Tracker
A heartburn symptom tracker. Cathy Wong

In recent years, bullet journals have become popular among people with health conditions, including heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), insomnia, migraines, arthritis, and back pain.

If you’re dealing with a chronic condition, try using your bullet journal to log your daily activities, symptoms, food intake, and medication use.

Looking back on that log can help you identify triggers for flare-ups, which ultimately gives you greater control over your condition. Sharing those records with your doctor can also help enhance the quality of your health-care experience.

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The Habit Tracker: A Smart and Simple Tool for Better Health

Bullet Journal Habit Tracker
Put the goals from your monthly list into a habit tracker. The numbers across indicate the days of the month. Cathy Wong

If you’re striving for better health and fitness, a habit tracker can be one of the most useful features in your bullet journal. Typically organized in chart form, it allows you to track multiple habits all in one place.

When creating your habit tracker, think about the healthy changes that feel most urgent to you. These can include changes to your diet (such as eating veggies at each meal), your exercise regimen (such as hitting 10,000 steps per day), your stress management plan (such as meditating for 15 minutes in the morning), and/or your overall self-care (such as winding down for bedtime at a particular hour each night).

Many bullet journalers also track healthy habits like taking supplements, minimizing screen time at night, and curbing their caffeine consumption.

By marking off the tasks you’ve completed each day, you can easily see where you’re making progress—and where you need to put in some extra effort. Once a certain healthy change becomes a natural part of your routine, try replacing it with a new item in your habit tracker.

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More Bullet Journal Ideas for Reaching Your Health and Fitness Goals

Using a Bullet Journal as a Pain Diary
Your journal doesn't just have to log your symptoms. Use it to see patterns, motivate yourself to try new self-care strategies, or even to express your frustrations. Cathy Wong

When keeping a bullet journal, keep in mind that the main goal is to make your journal work for you. Many times, that means looking beyond the basics of diet and exercise and honing in on what’s most personally meaningful. For instance, you could try keeping lists of inspiring books to read, new places to hike, or healthy desserts to make.

The better your bullet journal reflects your unique spirit and personality, the closer you’ll get to achieving your health and fitness goals and finding more fulfillment in everyday life.

Source:

Hollis JF, Gullion CM, Stevens VJ, et al. Weight Loss During the Intensive Intervention Phase of the Weight-Loss Maintenance Trial. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2008;35(2):118-126.

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