Resetting my health goals and tracking.

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Good afternoon, readers. It has been a long time since my last self-portrait. I have been so thoroughly brain-focused lately as I finish up the semester that I just needed a little bit of something tangible, a note to myself that non-brain parts of me exist.

As soon as I started thinking about that, I started thinking about how much I miss enjoying the non-brain parts of me, like the sweet moment where my body stops fighting the exertion process. I miss that space right before the endorphins hit, where everything and nothing feels, just feels, all at once.

Then I realized how long it had been since I felt that all-at-once space.

I got distracted, very distracted, by toys on my quest for better health. No surprise there. I like toys and I like data and I like tracking data with toys. But between Fitbit, HealthMonth, SparkPeople, DailyMile, and RunKeeper … I’ve lost the motivation to Do amidst all the Record.

self-portrait, april 2011 So I’ve reset. I’m using two tools now: SparkPeople for physical metrics and The Ice Plant’s Five-Year Diary for everything else.

SparkPeople was the first health-tracking website I joined a few years ago. Initially I was pretty turned off by the design, which seemed cluttered and ridden with things I didn’t need like homepages and message boards. I still think it could stand a redesign, but I like that it is a one-stop shop for tracking exercise, food/water consumption, and overall health goals. I also like the book and the iPhone app. Everything about SparkPeople seems focused on being positive about being healthy, which I appreciate immensely.

So far as the other type of health, I have always kept a diary, but my diary goals have simplified over the years. I used to want to archive it all, but there are many dull moments that I do not need to preserve for posterity. (Insert self-deprecating aside about my tweets.) I do, however, see a bit of value in comparing snapshots of my mental state over a few years. If nothing else, I hope to discern cognitive patterns more easily this way.

Here comes the five-year diary, making that stylish and easy for me. And I get to use my pens. The paper isn’t the best for fountain pen ink, but it is better than average. I like — theoretically, at least, for a few years — the ability to see little moments from my past right there on the same page.

So that’s where I am right now. And you? How do you track your health goals?

4 thoughts on “Resetting my health goals and tracking.

  1. Thanks to EA Sports Active 2 and my own stubbornness (mostly the latter), I ended up with patellar tendinitis in February. Not only did it sideline me from further exercise programs, it impacted so many other areas of my life. Carrying the toddler or laundry or anything heavy up and down stairs, babywearing instead of using a stroller, going for hikes and walks, using the elliptical, and so much more became things I had to either stop entirely or take very, very easy.

    I have a blog I should probably be using for writing about this, but the somewhat abridged version here is that any health goals I had prior have taken a backseat to getting my knees back on track (pun intended). I did five weeks of physical therapy and have a home program to basically build muscle around my knees. It’s not something I thought to actively track and/or record, but I should probably start trying since I’ve been lax. I believe the instruction sheet said I should do the exercises once a day. These days, I’m lucky if I get once a week. Setting realistic goals and tracking them would be a good start…

    When I was tracking my workouts, I tried out a variety of apps and online tools, but never found anything I was completely happy with. In the end I used pen and paper, or just a few notes in a special notebook in Evernote.

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    • Crap, I just closed this window before hitting “submit comment”. Trying again …

      I am so sorry to hear about your knee injury, Allura, but very glad you are getting back on track!

      I have successfully set once-a-day habits by placing their “props” where I won’t miss them or have to go searching for them. For example, I want to write in my diary every day, so I put the diary and a pen I love to use right next to my bed. Either I do it first thing when I wake up or right before I go to sleep because I can’t avoid looking at it.

      Maybe you could put your instruction sheet by the bed, in the bathroom, or at the computer — somewhere you will see it every day. After a while, it may be easier to do the thing than to ignore it. 🙂

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  2. I bought a bike recently so that I can commute to the Alameda Ferry Terminal and back (I leave it in Alameda and walk from the Ferry Bldg. to my office in SF). My commute was one area that I felt I could consistently build in some exercise, since I usually crapped out when I got home. So far, I am really enjoying the bike (despite 2 flats in 3 weeks) and my back is cooperating this time around!

    When I don’t ride the bike, I try to haul out the Wii Fit and do some cardio, strength and yoga training.

    As for recording it, I just joined Daily Mile and I found a Moleskine Wellness Journal at Alexander Books, by my office (they also have a Cat Journal but I demonstrated GREAT RESTRAINT). I just bought the journal, so I’m only beginning to fill in the sections. I will keep a food and exercise record, though I won’t get into to calorie counting because obsessing over food in that kind of detail never ends well for me.

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    • Although I am rotten at replying to your bike-riding tweets, I am absolutely watching with enthusiasm as you pedal off into physical and mental health! I love it!

      The Wellness Journal looks wonderful. If I weren’t so attached to my fountain pens, I’d love to use that.

      Calorie-counting was helpful for me initially because I truly had no idea how much I was consuming. It is less so now, but I still appreciate protein- and carb-counting, at least until I have a better feel for the amounts of each in what I eat.

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