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Can A Health Journal Help Me? Can A Health Journal Help You?

January 28, 2011 · 38 comments

in Health & Fitness, Life

Have you ever woke in the morning with barely any energy, even though you got plenty of sleep?  Have you ever just jumped out of bed feeling refreshed and energized even though you only got five hours of sleep?  I have experienced both scenarios and many others in between.

I know I am getting older and my metabolism is getting slower.  I am just 43, so it isn’t like I am elderly or anything.  However, I don’t seem to have endless reserves of energy like I once did.  So, to try to maximize the energy I do have, I am going  to create a life health journal for myself.   I will not be recording the events of each day though.  Instead, I will be tracking the following ‘aspects’ of my life each day for thirty days:

  1. Sleep:  I will record when I went to bed and when I woke up. I will also keep track of how I felt when I woke up and how often I got up in the night.
  2. Food:  I do not plan to count calories, but I do want to see how food impacts my mood and energy level.  Therefore I will record generally what I ate and when, and how I felt after.
  3. Water:  I cannot promise I will drink 64 ounces a day, but I do want to see if staying hydrated affects my hunger and energy levels.  I have read that sometimes your body mistakes thirst for hunger, and I want to see if that is true for me.  So, water intake will also be recorded.
  4. Exercise:   I will record what exercise I did and what time of day I exercised at.  I want to see if the time of day I exercise affects how I feel.  (I do know I usually feel great after exercise, but I want to see if I crash later.)   I also tend to get sore knees after exercising and I want to see if I can find a pattern so I can prevent getting the pain in the future.   I also need to see how exercise affects my sleep patterns.   Exercising late in the evening will usually keep me awake, but I want to see if I can find out how late is too late.
  5. Social Life.  I want to track my interactions with others to see if maybe socializing plays a role in my overall outlook.   I am not saying I will be recording conversations, but I want to see how I feel after an evening out with friends.

I am excited to see how my health journal turns out and see if I find new health habits I can employ that will give me more energy and make my bones ache less.  I will share my results after a month and let everyone know what I found out, if anything.

Have you ever gone through a similar exercise? If so, what did you learn?  Would anybody care to join me?

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

The Biz of Life January 28, 2011 at 7:52 am

Good luck with the journal. More activity generally makes people happier and improves their entire outlook on life. I’m going to pass on joining you with the journal, but will remain active.

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Kris January 28, 2011 at 9:28 am

Good idea to keep being active Biz. For me, I need to figure out a few things and I am using the journal as a tool. My arthritis has gotten worse, and I am only 43. So, I want to see if there are certain triggers I am not realizing. Plus, I would love to feel refreshed each morning when I get out of bed.

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Money Reasons January 28, 2011 at 8:37 am

Wow, we did have similar posts today…

Your journal sounds like it will probably have more detail than mine. I was thinking of recording cost of food eaten, exercise and repetitions, weight amount and loss, and a quick blurb about how I feel on that day.

How cool, indirectly, I’ll be joining you 🙂

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Kris January 28, 2011 at 9:29 am

MR, I chuckled when I read your post this morning. I had a similar experience with Sandy at First Gen about 10 days ago too.

Good luck to you! Lets hope for a healthy 2011! (As soon as I get off these antibiotics…)

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Money Reasons January 28, 2011 at 11:15 am

We are all becoming part of the financial borg, with one shared conscious… Resistance is futile! (lol)

Hope you feel better soon!

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First Gen AMerican January 28, 2011 at 7:19 pm

It happened to me again this week. Me and Punch Debt ITF both referenced pee wee herman on the same day. It was totally random and we were talking about two completely different topics.

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Money Reasons January 29, 2011 at 9:35 am

Pee Wee Herman is so specific… That is quite the irony!

First Gen, I think you are reading our minds (spooky music inserted here).

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First Gen AMerican January 28, 2011 at 7:22 pm

I’m really curious about what your findings are. I hope you report back your findings for those of us that are too lazy to do it ourselves. I would also document time outside. Isn’t sunshine supposed to be good for you?

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Kris January 28, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Wouldn’t you need to live in a state that had sunshine?

I do agree that would be a good thing to note. However, it is nothing but gray and cold here. Gotta wait until March at the earliest I think.

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Molly On Money January 28, 2011 at 8:44 am

I like the social interaction category. All 5 play off of each other and make a good group. I’ve always exercised regularly but what I’m surprised with as I’ve gotten older is how much daily exercise plays into my moods. If I don’t exercise for two days I find I get lazy and cranky!

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Kris January 28, 2011 at 9:30 am

Molly- it is funny how much exercise helps. My daughter even sees it in herself and she is only 14. We were both kinda crabby one day and she said ‘we need to go play some basketball’. She was very right. Of course, I am terrible at basketball, but the running is great exercise.

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Molly On Money January 29, 2011 at 10:54 am

I’m terrible at basketball too but it makes my girls laugh HARD to play with me! My Zumba instructor is making us sing during some of the songs we work out to. She says its gets us working our diaphragm…..kinda interesting.

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Kris January 30, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Molly – Your Zumba instructor would kick me out of the class when he/she heard me sing! I am hearing so much about Zumba, but I don’t really know much about it.

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Miss T @ Prairie EcoThrifter January 28, 2011 at 9:10 am

Journals are great for being able to see your progress overtime. They also help you stay focused and on track. I think starting a journal is a great idea. Best of luck.

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Kris January 28, 2011 at 9:31 am

Thanks for the luck Prairie! I would love to really make some great changes this year and have a lot of energy. I hope this journal sheds some light on things I need to change.

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Jenny January 28, 2011 at 10:52 am

Your journal sounds like a great idea. I expect that not only will it give you a record, it will also motivate you into better choices. You will not eat 3 donuts because you don’t want to write that down, etc.

If you drink coffee (or possibly caffeinated sodas), especially a variable amount each day, this might be something else to keep track of. Often when I am feeling sort of draggy by midmorning, I realize that I have not yet had a cup of coffee, and I will often have a headache in the late evening on days where I have not had any.

I am trying to cut back on the coffee though. I don’t want to have to have one just to feel normal. I would like it to be a special bonus instead. But after years of using coffee to drag myself through the night shift…

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Kris January 28, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Jenny, Actually, one of my goals this year is to give up pop, or at least reduce my intake by 90 percent (gotta allow for some slip ups). However, my goal is to get rid of the sugar water, not so much the caffeine. So, I do allow myself some coffee here and there as coffee also has some benefits also.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. If a cup of coffee makes you have a brighter day, then what is wrong with it?

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retirebyforty January 28, 2011 at 12:10 pm

I am so terrible at keeping book so I can’t join you. It sounds like a good plan though.
Keep us updated.
I am generally healthy, but someday I just don’t have any energy and I don’t know why. It comes out at the gym usually. I can’t do any pull up that day or something like that.

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Kris January 28, 2011 at 2:53 pm

RB40 – isn’t it amazing how some days you just can’t get through your exercise routine? I have days like that and it just feels like I can’t breathe enough or drink enough water. It is very strange. I am hoping my little research project will help me get to the bottom of it though.

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krantcents January 28, 2011 at 1:56 pm

The health journal has some merit! I find if I am enthusiastic about what i am doing, the energy is there. If I am not, the energy leaves me faster than I realize.

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Kris January 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Krantcents, that is the total truth!! If I am disinterested, then forget it. I am worse than a child now that I am older, and I cannot pay any attention if I am bored with the topic.

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Linda January 28, 2011 at 5:03 pm

I think it’s a great idea! I’ve gained about 20 pounds over the last two years and really need to get some of the weight back off. One of the issues is that I’m not exercising regularly like I used to.

I can give it a try with you; as a previous commenter noted, I *know* I’d be less likely to eat something awful if I have to write it down.

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Deidre @ TransFormX January 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Its a great idea Kris and I think you will be amazed at what you will discover. I used a similar method a couple of years ago to track my allergies, food and how I felt. It actually was so helpful I was able to identify the many problems caused by bad advice from the ‘allergy & hormone’ Dr I was seeing in Austin. Horrible experience that was!

I still track all my food and know which items I am sensitive to. Did you know millions of people are allergic or sensitive to gluten (the protein in wheat) and are not even aware of it?

Go for it!!

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Suba @ Wealth Informatics January 28, 2011 at 6:34 pm

I just started a journal Jan first week. I have not been using regularly though, as I am out of town for 3 days out of a week, it gets difficult. But if I really wanted, I know I can do. I just keep giving excuses 🙁 I know I have to… Good luck with your journal! Hope you can are much better than me!

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Kris January 28, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Suba- I gotta kick this bronchitis, then I can actually get doing the exercise and such I talked about it!

Good luck with yours too.

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Aloysa January 29, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Very interesting! I hope you will keep us updated about your discoveries. I cannot join you unfortunately) because between my work and blogging I barely have time to do what I like to do such as reading and writing short stories. 🙂 But I will follow your progress!

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Kris January 30, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Aloysa, I will keep everyone updated for sure! I am hoping for some great results!

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Jacq @ Single Mom Rich Mom January 29, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Kris I would check out Quantifiedself.com – here’s a good place to go on there:
http://quantifiedself.com/self-tracking-links-to-get-you-started/

Re. the arthritis, I’d try an anti-inflammatory diet. There’s some sleep and other self-experimentation stuff in Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Body – although I wouldn’t wish reading the whole book on my worst enemy, you might find something interesting in the sleep chapter as well as the info. on self-experimentation. Seth Roberts’ blog is kind of interesting on the self-experimenting. There’s another good site on SE too, but I can’t think of it off the top of my head. 🙁

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Kris January 30, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Jacq- thanks for all the tips. I will definitely check out what you suggested. Pain is a bummer!

I am my own science project!

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Personal Finance 4 All January 29, 2011 at 4:11 pm

This is a really good idea, I might actually give it a shot. I’ve been meaning to keep on top of my fitness in 2011, it was a new years resolution of mine but it didn’t get off to the best of starts! lol

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Kris January 30, 2011 at 2:09 pm

It is never, ever too late to start! You aren’t even one month into the New Year. Get out there and go for a walk, you will be glad you did!

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FinEngr January 29, 2011 at 4:23 pm

This is a really interesting comment especially since it seems like you’ll be focusing less on the actual numbers and more on how it affects your body.

As far as water curbing hunger, it can to extent – but “micro meals” do a better job. The interesting thing I’ve noticed is that the more I exercise, the less hungry I become.

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Kris January 30, 2011 at 2:09 pm

It’s funny F.E., because I have found exercise curbs my hunger too. Napping makes me really hungry though, ironically enough.

I am not having luck with water curbing my appetite. I know broth soup does wonders though, although then you have to think about sodium.

I too have had luck with micro meals. I get too hungry otherwise, and then I eat some really bad food.

I don’t really care about the number of my weight. I care more about how my clothes fit and how I feel.

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Deidre @ TransFormX January 30, 2011 at 12:19 am

Just a thought Kris, have you tried MSM and Chondroitin / Glucosamine
for your knees? I have found that these are very helpful for any kind of joint pain/issues. Plus the anti-inflamatory diet a prior reader suggested will go very well with these supplements.

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Kris January 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Deidre – I do need to to more research on Chondrotin/Glucosamine. I went to a chiropractor that told me you just needed glucosomine, blah blah. It is so hard to know what the bet thing to do it. Regardless, I have to do something. Thanks for the advice.

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101 Centavos January 30, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Hey Deirdre, I’ve tried Glucosamine for my shoulder, and it has seemed to work. Doesn’t work for everyone, though.

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101 Centavos January 30, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Hi Kris, the very best of luck with your journal. Mrs. 101 keeps one religiously, and it helps her to keep track of progress.
For me, I like to indulge in spreadsheet geekery. I track my daily weight, number of chin-ups, push-ups and situps, and recently, steps taken on a pedometer. I then graph the monthly progress and add trend lines to show which direction I’m going. I keep the file at work, so it only takes a few seconds to enter the data.

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