This is a guest post from Coach Dominic Latella. He is a professional swim coach who works with swimmers of all ages and levels. He is currently the coach for multiple swim teams in the Washington, DC area. He has over fifteen years of experience as both a coach and a competitor. He enjoys working with many different athletes. Dominic started the blog Athalon Athlete, in conjunction with Athalon Bars, in order to reach more athletes and to help others achieve their goals.
I’ve been a swimmer for most of my life. As an age-group swimmer (middle
school- and high school-aged), my coaches asked me to track my diet,
workouts, distance, and times. I never took it seriously because I always
thought that it was my coaches’ job and that they should have been doing it
for me. When I went to college, I was asked to keep the same kind of log. I
took it a little more seriously but still wasn’t very consistent. I would do as I
was told — showing up to all the practices and going to the gym. I thought
that was enough. I was wrong.
It wasn’t until I was coaching for my first large team and was asked to write
every day’s workout for all my groups that I realized what a difference it
makes to be able to look back and track fitness and workouts. One of the
teams I coached kept a huge 3-ring binder of every day’s workouts for the
past two years. They had three of these binders — that is six years of
workouts! Every couple of weeks, I would check back to the previous year
and see what the team was working on and how hard they were working on
that exact day, one year earlier. As a coach, it was awesome to see what kind
of progress the team was making.
I am sure you are thinking, “How does this relate to me? I am not training for
a competition. I just want to be healthy.” Since my time with that swim team,
I have kept a log of my own personal workouts. I am just like most people —
I exercise to stay healthy. By keeping my log, I can determine if I am staying
consistent from the previous years, months, or weeks of exercise. Am I
running faster or slower from a year ago? How far was I running and how
fast was I running before I took a break? What has been even more helpful is
logging specific exercise. If I log an exercise and later that week I experience
an injury, I can look back to see what exercise might have caused my injury.
A lot of people think, “If I had a trainer like Jillian Michaels I would be in
better shape.” A detailed training log can replace a personal trainer. If you
are keeping a training log, you can plan your daily workout routine as well as
meals for the week. If you’re serious about your log, you are going to hold
yourself accountable for your failures and successes. People who keep a log
are more likely to stay consistent with exercise and, most importantly, stay
motivated about being healthy — the things most people depend on a
personal trainer to do.
Benefits of Fitness Workouts Logs
If you are reading articles at this blog, I imagine that you are interested in
improving your lifestyle through health and fitness. We all know there are a
ton of benefits to exercising and to following a healthy diet, like reduced risk
of chronic disease, elevated mood, increased self-esteem, improved
appearance, and a wealth of other reasons. There really are no downsides to
living a fit and healthy lifestyle.
Most people don’t track and log their diet and exercise. You may ask, “What
is the point of tracking my health, diet, and exercise? Can’t I just work my
hardest every time I’m at the gym or on the track?” Of course you can, but
most people don’t have that kind of self-control and patience. In order to
maintain a healthy lifestyle we have to stay motivated and consistent. Many
people quit their diet and exercise plan because they feel like they are
sacrificing and working hard but that nothing is happening.
Tracking your health, diet, and fitness can solve this common problem.
Whether your goal is to look great in a bathing suit, lower your blood
pressure, shave 30 seconds off your weekly club 10k time trial, or to just feel
better, you will need a plan. By tracking your metrics, exercise, and diet on a
daily basis, you will be in a much better position to understand what you need
to do to reach your goal. When weight loss is your goal, simply log the foods
you eat and the exercise you perform. Knowing that 3500 calories is
equivalent to one pound of body weight and that you are expending, on
average, an additional 500 calories per day than how much you are
consuming tells you that you can lose one pound per week.
Maybe your doctor has recommended some diet changes to lower your blood
pressure. Use a training log to track the foods you’ve eaten, the exercise
you’ve completed, and your daily blood pressure to see if the changes have
made a difference. See how much sodium you’ve consumed or how much
saturated fat you’ve removed from your diet.
Having your diet and exercise plan in writing greatly increases your chances
of sticking to them versus simply trying to “cut back” on unhealthy foods or to
“exercise more”. Defined goals and plans to reach those goals will ensure that
you achieve what you wish. Sometimes your mind will tell you that you’ve
been exercising regularly but when you look back at your training log you’ll
see clearly and definitively that you’ve actually only averaged one workout
per week for the past month.
Sharing your goals with friends is another great way to stay accountable for
your health and fitness. When you tell at least one other person that you are
going to do something your chances of doing it (just to save face) increase
dramatically. Or maybe you are planning to run your first marathon. Start
tracking your daily exercise including distance, time, and average heart rate.
Watch your time decrease and distance increase and your average heart rate
decrease as you consistently train for your event and you will stay motivated.
Consistency is the key to reaching your goals in relation to diet and exercise.
Changes are not made overnight. Your fitness goals will take time and the
changes you want will come in small increments. With work and family and
day-to-day distractions, it’s easy to lose sight of your goal. It’s easy to say,
“I’m tired I’ll just take the day off.” Just the thought of going to my log and
putting down an unscheduled “day off” gives me the motivation to complete
my scheduled workout.
Staying motivated by logging your exercise, diet, and health will help you stay
consistent in performing your daily tasks. Each entry into a training log will
help you get one step closer to your final goal.
The primary benefit of logging your diet and exercise is motivation. It is much
easier to stay on track if you can look back after sticking to your program for
a period of time and see that you’ve lost several pounds or shaved a few
seconds off your routine neighborhood run. It’s a great feeling to pull up your
weight chart and see that descending line or the ascending graph of your
cycling pace. These visual cues are reminders that you are taking small steps
each and every day toward your larger goal and that it’s working.
Diet and Training Log Options
There is a myriad of ways to keep a diet and training log. I’ve included a
training log page that can be printed multiple times to create a great training
log. I, personally, like to create a calendar on my computer and print it out.
I’ll write comments on whatever events are listed for that day. A notebook
(or, as I mentioned before, a 3-ring binder) is an easy and common way to
create a diet and training log — you’d be surprised how much you can fit in
one. If you decide you want something a little more refined, you can find
training logs at your local bookstore or online. It doesn’t matter how you keep
track of your training or dieting, the important thing is that you keep track of
Here is an example training and diet log, free to download.
Have a great workout,
Coach Dominic Latella