The 7 elements of a great wellness journal

Apple Google Spotify Overcast Youtube

You've probably heard that a journal can be a great tool, but if you're like me, most of the structured journals you buy are just too much work. In episode 594 of the 40+ Fitness Podcast, we discuss the core elements to make a great wellness journal.


Let's Say Hello

[00:03:15.950] – Allan

Hey, Raz.

[00:03:17.250] – Rachel

Hey, Allan. How are you today?

[00:03:19.420] – Allan

I'm doing better. I had a cold for a few days, and so I was down, but I'm back and I'm doing well.

[00:03:25.240] – Rachel


[00:03:25.890] – Allan

Just catching up.

[00:03:28.050] – Rachel

Glad you're feeling better.

[00:03:29.780] – Allan

How are things up there?

[00:03:31.300] – Rachel

Good. Would you be surprised if I said I found a new run club to join?

[00:03:37.350] – Allan

How many days in a week are there?

[00:03:38.950] – Rachel

How many run clubs are not enough? Pretty much. And actually, it's not my fault. It's Mike's Fault. My husband Mike's Fault. One of the ladies in our local running club in the city that we live down in Middleville, she works at a brewery up near Grand Rapids, and she said she's been looking to start up again. They used to have a run club, and my husband said, wait, you don't have a run club? We should run there. So we took a field trip up there and ran a loop with a bunch of friends, and everybody loved it. And so our local brewery called Railtown Brewery has started up their run club, and we will be there tonight. As a matter of fact, you do.

[00:04:22.550] – Allan

That run club and then drive down and do that run club.

[00:04:26.030] – Rachel

Yeah, we're hitting them all.

[00:04:28.060] – Allan

Like shuttling kids to soccer practice.

[00:04:30.490] – Rachel

Exactly it.

[00:04:34.870] – Allan

I do have a couple of things to talk about. I got a message from a guy and he was looking at the retreat that I had scheduled that was actually supposed to happen a couple of weeks ago that would cancel because there really wasn't any interest. People were telling me it was just the timing was bad or this and that. So I am going to try one more time to have this retreat here in Bocas. And so I'm looking at right now, August 28, and that'll run through September 1. Because it's low season here in Bocas, I will be able to lower the price, particularly for the VIPs that are staying at Lula. And you'll be able to get cheaper airfare, cheaper flights, I mean, cheaper rooms. All of it will cost less this time of year. So I'm pretty excited to be trying to do that and see if that happens. But I'm just going to try it. This episode is supposed to go live kind of in the middle of June, but go ahead and message me or go to the page 40 plusfitness. Comretreat and sign up. If I don't have sign ups by about the first or second week of July, I'm going to pull the plug again because I can't put money into something that's not going to happen.

[00:05:51.330] – Allan

So you can be interested or you can actually sign up, two different things. So don't just tell me you're interested. Go ahead and go to this page 40 plusfitness.com retreat and go ahead and sign up. And if I get some sign ups, then we'll have this thing. I was pretty excited about it before, and then it kind of fizzled out and didn't happen. I hope this one will. So please do go check that out. And I also have a few slots left in my personal training for the twelve week Shed the Fat program. So if you're interested in that, one of the interesting things to think about is that if you do twelve weeks training, you're going to be in a lot better shape when you come to the retreat on August 28. So consider that, consider checking that out and you can go to 40 Plusfitness.com, message me from there and we can talk about getting you on the twelve week program.

[00:06:50.130] – Rachel

Awesome. That sounds great.

[00:06:52.020] – Allan

All right. So are you ready to talk about journaling?

[00:06:55.480] – Rachel



You've probably heard me say more than once that you need to journal or journaling is a good tool. A lot of my guests have said journaling is a great tool for wellness, weight loss, fitness, health, all the way across the board. A journal can be a great tool to help you on your journey. The question is what should go into a good or a great wellness journal? So I want to talk about that today. When you think about a wellness journal, it's going to be custom to how you want to approach your journey. Things that matter more to you may matter less to me, and vice versa. So take these. These are just ideas. You could probably add other things you want to do. Some people will do a whole lot of extra logging, others want a very succinct and concise log. So it's really up to you how deep you go into this. But this is really about learning. This is a tool to help you learn, a tool to help keep you on track, a tool to keep you motivated. And so I strongly encourage you to journal as a part of your journey.

So when I talk about a journal, I basically break my journal into two pieces. So I've got my global, or kind of my planning stage of this. It's kind of the first few pages where I'll go through and break down my goals and my vision. And I usually look at these in a short term, medium term, long term kind of cycle. So my short term will be like the next 30 days. So what are some things that I want to accomplish in the next 30 days that lead me toward my vision? And then what are some things that I expect that I'll do in the next six months? Again, focused on my goals and my vision, and then the three to five years, which is usually a little bit more aligned with just what my vision is, what I want to look and feel like, how I want to be moving, what I want to be able to do. So I break that down into those three phases, the short term, medium term, and long term term. And I have all those documented. And so what I know is that my 30 day goals are going to lead toward me being able to hit my six month goals, which are going to lead towards me being able to hit my long term goals, which are usually in the range of somewhere between three to five years.

So you know that question, where do you want to be in five years? It's kind of that mindset of a vision, what am I aiming at? And then making sure everything I'm doing in between is leading towards that long term. And that's a part of my global approach. The Journal. And that's the front of my Journal. And then, like I said, I've set my 30 day goals. So now I work day to day. And so I set a daily set up. And each day I record a gratitude. What am I grateful for today? And it doesn't have to be anything huge. It can just be that we got rain because I live on an island and we need water. It can be that I had a great evening hanging out with my wife, or I enjoy spending some time with our dogs, or I went for a wonderful walk and just saw a sloth. It could be anything. But what is something today that I'm grateful for? And I do that first thing in the morning. That's the very first thing I do. And then I write my daily intention. What is the thing that I need to do today to move the needle forward?

And so when I'm looking at my wellness, that could be get my walk in, that could be get my lifting in, that could be whole food, it could be get myself into ketosis. It could be a number of different things. But what's my intention today? What am I going to do today? And having just one intention, because I've found if you have too many and you try to do too many things at one time, some of them get lost in the mix. So I have one major intention for each day. The next is basic logging. So if I'm doing a workout, I log my workout. If I'm looking at my nutrition, then I go ahead and I log my nutrition. And a lot of times I will do this on a hard copy just to see that I'm sticking to my goals. If I need more detail, like I need my macros or I need my calories, I typically will key that into an app like my fitness pal. But I may also record some of the results in my journal just to see how I ate today, what I ate today. And then what I do is I kind of look at how today went, and so I say, okay, based on my logging, how am I feeling?

What's my energy level? Based on how I ate yesterday, what do I feel today? And I kind of get an idea, like maybe I'm doing a really good job on my lifts. And so I'm lifting more weight. I want to tie that together with, okay, I've been consistent with my lifting for this month, and therefore my strength is going up pretty well on these particular exercises. And so I kind of take my log and I tie that into key findings, like, what are some of the takeaways that I have from what I did that lends into what went well today? So I'm always going to end a day with what do I feel like I did well on? So I can feel that success, I can celebrate that success in my journal. And then the next step, the next one is learnings. Okay, so did I do something poorly? Did I do something or something didn't go well? And I learned something from this. So what did I learn? Today is the next one, and then the final one is just wins. I finish out the day and say, okay, what are my key wins today?

And so when I talk about the seven things that are a part of my wellness journal, it includes the global, which is number one is my goals and vision. Okay? And then the rest of them are daily. I do a daily gratitude. That's number two. I do a daily intention. What am I going to do today that's most important? That's number three. Number four, logging and tying. So I log what I've done, my workouts, my walks, my food, my sleep, anything I feel like I need to be working on, I'm logging that, and then I'm tying that to what is going on in my life. And then number five is the what went well today? So giving myself a what went well? I know my lifts were good, my walk was good. Maybe I bonked on my walk, and that's what I learned. So that's the next one. Six, what are things that didn't go well today? But I don't look at it from the perspective of didn't go well. It's like, what did I learn? And I learned, okay, maybe if I'm going to do a 15 miles walk, I should actually eat something before that walk because I could bonk.

It might be that I'm starting to feel a little bit of stress on one of my joints, and I might want to ratchet down on that particular lift. And so the things I'm learning today, I want to carry forward. And then my wins. It's very important to celebrate each time you do something. If you hit your goals for the day, you're working towards consistency. You're getting the things done. Celebrate those often and celebrate even the small ones. So I take some time to write those things down. Now, something I also do, which you don't necessarily have to do, is I do a weekly recap at the end of the seven days. So I'll do the global, and I'll do the dailies, and then I'll have the seven day recap. My weekly recap and that's where I kind of flip back through my week and I say, okay, what are some of the things that I did this week that were good? What are some of the things that I learned this week? And I just kind of refocus my next week and saying, okay, based on what I've learned, based on what went well, what do I want to press on?

What do I want to be more intentional on this next week? And that kind of wraps up my journal. I don't do a monthly recap, although I do go back at times and look to see that I've reached my 30 day goal. And then again, if I need to reset that goal, I will recap and reset. But generally my 30 days are probably not going to be too different from my next 30 days building towards my six months, I tend to stick with stuff a little bit longer, but you may want to periodize. You may want to do something a little different. So you may change up every 30 days or every six weeks. Whatever makes the most sense for you. I tend to be a little bit more on the consistent side of doing the same thing. As long as it's working. I don't really shake things up too much, but I hope this has been helpful for you. I do value journaling a whole lot. I do it all the time. It's a pretty regular thing for me. I don't do it all the time, but I do it quite a bit. It is a great way to keep yourself on track.

It's a great way to document what you've done and what works and what doesn't work. You can look at your food and how your energy level is. You can look at your movement and maybe some pain and things that are going on, and it can give you some great information, some great data for you to understand how your body responds to the things that you're doing. So I highly recommend that you do a journal. And if you want to do a great wellness journal, I encourage you to use all seven of the elements I talked about today

Post Show/Recap

[00:15:21.190] – Allan

Welcome back, Raz.

[00:15:22.830] – Rachel

Hey, Allan. So, fun story. I love journaling. It's a great idea, and I have all my athletes do it, although I don't really do it myself. But after listening to how you line up your journal, I think I'd like to give it a try. I know it would be beneficial for myself to do it, but I have seen how successful it is for athletes in particular to journal. So sounds like a great thing to do.

[00:15:47.470] – Allan

Yeah. This is not a boil the ocean, spend a lot of time kind of thing. This is a pretty simple thing. Like, yeah, I do spend probably about an hour, half an hour maybe, going through my goals and my vision. And that's really just every month at the end of the month. So as we're recording this, I'm sitting down thinking about what I want to do for June, what I want the last half of this year to look like. And so as I go through that, I'm like, okay, here's what that looks like. Here's what I want to accomplish in 30 days. And that gives me a good idea of what each day needs to look like. And so that kind of helps with the motivation to know, okay, for me to meet this goal, I've got to look at each day, and this is the contribution that day makes to that goal. And then the only two things that I think are non negotiable is the first one is the gratitude. And the reason for that is if you express gratitude, you cut through stress, you cut through all the down talk, all the negative self talk.

[00:16:49.860] – Allan

All that stuff goes away, even if it's just for an instant. When you're in a state of gratitude, you just set yourself up to be in a really good mindset. And it doesn't have to be big. It can be just the morning you woke up, your dog was sitting there and looked up at you, and you got down on the floor and petted him, and you just felt that connection with him all over again. He's excited and happy to be in your life, and you're happy to have him in your life. And so you write that gratitude down, and for that instant, your stress is gone. For that instant, all the negative self talk is gone. And then you use that instant to set an intention for that day. And the intention can be something as simple as knowing, okay, this is going to be extremely busy day. I've got all these client meetings, so it's really going to be hard for me to get a workout in, but I want to get something in. So it could be as simple as saying, I'm going to put in five to ten minutes right before breakfast or right before my first call, I'm going to go for a walk, and then I know I've got to walk to my office is five minutes, and I got to walk back after it's five minutes.

[00:17:54.700] – Allan

So it's 20 minutes of walking. And if that's all I can do. And I know that I'm not going to have time to cook dinner because I've only got a little block of time on Mondays to eat dinner, then it might be good for me to pull something out of the freezer that I already had prepped from Sunday. So my intention is pull that out of the freezer and get in at that 20 minutes, and maybe it's broken the way I just tried to break it up. But I set my intention for that. That's my intention for the day, is to do those things. I say usually one thing. Occasionally, yes, I'll throw in a second one. But it's like, that's my intention and what it does, it keeps me on track. It keeps me from having to call out and order pizza. I'm satisfied with 20 minutes of walking when I know I could do 3 hours of walking, but I have to be satisfied with 20 minutes because that's where I am with what I have. And so I just think those two things can help you set up each day to be successful and then to measure that success with, okay, did I meet my intention today?

[00:18:58.730] – Rachel

Well, I love how you said right off the bat that you don't have to boil the ocean. And I think that's a lot of the problem that some people have with Journaling is that like, well, what do I write down? What do I need to focus on? And people get all anxious about it. And secondly, starting with the gratitude part, what's going right? Something positive. And the reason why I think that's particularly important is that it is really easy to find in our lives all the things that have gone wrong or things that are going sideways or things that are just being a pain in the side. But when you start with something that's positive, that things that are going right, something that you feel gratified for, that can learn how to look for happiness and realize some things that bring you joy that you may not instantly think of. So I think that's a really helpful practice. And then you went on to say that I always like to say, if you can't measure it, you can't monitor it. So if you're actually writing things down, what you ate that day and how you feel the next day, well, that could bring some really great insight, right?

[00:20:04.180] – Allan

Because most of us are here. We're here to make ourselves better. We're here to improve our health and fitness. And so data can drive decisions, and without the data, then you're winging it. And for a lot of people, that works. I just keep doing more, and sometimes that works. But for a lot of people, if you're wanting to improve your performance or you're wanting to lose weight, you're wanting to know that you're improving, you need to see it somewhere. So you talked about you keep data on your runs, but you're not really tying that back to, well, what is a bad performance day? What may have caused that that I can stop doing? And so if you find yourself binge eating or eating at midnight, waking up in the middle of night eating, or you're pulling into a drive through that you didn't intend to pull into, what was going on? What was going on when that happened? I'm reading a book with a guy we'll talk about in probably a couple of weeks, and he has this thing for Krispy Kreme, and he was living in a city that didn't have them, but there was one a few miles south of where he lived on a certain highway.

[00:21:13.850] – Allan

And every time he got on that highway, whether it was the intent was Krispy Kreme or not, his internal brain took him to that store. It was almost like automatic. He didn't want to stop. Even if he told himself he wasn't going to stop. He found himself in that parking lot. And so it was a question of him thinking through, why am I sitting where I'm sitting? Why am I doing what I'm doing? Why am I getting the results I'm getting? And he had to come to that. Self awareness and a journal is a great tool to take you through that process of learning what's going wrong and how you can prevent it, seeing what's going well. So not just thinking, oh, I ruined everything with that one meal. And I can't tell you how many times I see that on social media of someone saying, I've destroyed three weeks worth of work in one day or one meal. But they feel that way. But when you actually sit there and say, well, what did I actually do? And what did I learn from it?

[00:22:17.630] – Rachel

Well, that's an interesting part of the written word, too, is that if you're truthful in your journaling, so you went out and had a wonderful birthday dinner with a loved one and celebrated with a wonderful dinner and delicious dessert. There's a lot to be grateful for and happy about in that moment. And when you write that down in your journal, you can tell yourself that you did not just sabotage everything you've been working for. That was one meal. And then you could write down what you're going to do the next day. You're going to have your normal, healthy breakfast and your normal, healthy lunch and your normal, healthy dinner, and you're back on track. Literally one meal is gone. You could be fine about having done that and move on to the next day. And maybe if you see it down in writing, you'll feel better about it.

[00:23:04.750] – Allan

Yeah. And then again, I always like to close out on a positive note. I like to start on a positive note with the gratitude, and I like to close this out the day out with what were one of my wins. And so if my intention was just to walk the 20 minutes and eat the prepared meal, pull it out of the fridge and have freezer and have it ready for tonight, and I did that, that's a win. Those are both wins. And so I can say I walked my intention and I ate my intention, and I met my intention. That's the day. And so, again, if I can stack more days like that on top of each other across those 30 days and those six months, I'm going to be where I want to be.

[00:23:45.660] – Rachel

That's awesome.

[00:23:46.500] – Allan

Or really darn close, for sure.

[00:23:49.390] – Rachel

Now, when you have clients Allan do you have them do a journal or write anything in a journal?

[00:23:55.060] – Allan

I've talked through it with them. I'm not a prescriptive coach, so I can tell them. It's like I think that there'd be a lot of value to you journaling and I think a lot of them poo poo the idea because it sounds like work, always asking me to do work, but I do hold them accountable. And we do talk about these different tools because what's going to work for me might not work for you, but I strongly encourage most people. It's like if you're trying to figure something out, you want to have a plan, you want to measure to it and you want to learn from it. And so the weight loss and fitness thing is a learning exercise. And we talked about this before we came on air. Was it's important? Because we're not going to stay the same. We might know ourselves today, but tomorrow we might find ourselves in a whole different body, a whole different set of circumstances.

[00:24:55.380] – Rachel

That is right.

[00:24:56.460] – Allan

And if that were to happen, then we would need to relearn some things. We need to reapply and approach things from a different way. And so it's a consistent as we age, growing, changing, evolving, and hopefully evolving, like really getting better. Because we learn these tricks, we learn these tools, we learn what works and then we keep applying and we keep learning and we keep getting better. And a journal is kind of the key tool it is to make that happen. Because your inner dialogue is often going to tell you, oh, you had a horrible day, go eat some chocolate. And there you are eating chocolate at the end of the day, which was actually a really good day, except for one thing, and your whole internal dialogue focused on that one thing. You still got your 20 minutes in. You still did this. Okay, this went off the rails. And so now you're punishing yourself effectively for that. And that's that internal I call the fat bastard doing that thing. And so you just keep pushing gratitude, intention and learn. And that's the value of a journal is it gives us a tool to do that.

[00:26:13.180] – Rachel

I love that. Plus the positivity how you start with a gratitude and end with a win. I think that's so helpful. I think we can be our own worst critics, but when we write something of gratitude and write down one of our wins, we can quickly change our critic into our best cheerleader.

[00:26:31.160] – Allan

Yeah, well, it's been great. I'll talk to you next week.

[00:26:34.910] – Rachel

Rachel take care. Allan you too.

Music by Dave Gerhart


The following listeners have sponsored this show by pledging on our Patreon Page:

– Anne Lynch– Ken McQuade– Leigh Tanner
– Debbie Ralston– John Dachauer– Tim Alexander
– Eliza Lamb

Thank you!

Another episode you may enjoy


Share because you care.


Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Leave a Reply: