As often and as accurately as possible I keep a health diary. As a type 1 diabetic I record my blood glucose levels, insulin and carbohydrate intake, and activity. Type 1 diabetes is a very complex condition to manage and keeping a diary vastly helps in this shifting process.
I have also used this diary, which has expanded over time, to record my health, my stress levels, what I have done, and achieved, exercise, and how I have been feeling. It has been essential to supporting myself whilst following specialist diets and elimination diets, and changing my relationship towards food, and also a practical and useful way to cope with the health conditions and difficulties I have. I use it as an all-encompassing record, which I can use to analyse, keep track of, and encourage myself.
it’s become the most valuable motivational tool I have.
Previous to keeping a diary, I felt lost in a maze of illness, pain and difficulty. At first I balked at the reality of my life which it forced me to confront, preferring to be vague about what I was coping with, as that was a way to cope, just to plough on and do my best. It was very painful to come to terms with what had happened and likely would happen to my health, far easier to ignore as much as I could what was going on while getting on as best I could. But I realised that in order to get the most from life and give myself a chance,
I needed to take control and really face what was going on head on.
Keeping a food diary is a great weight loss tool (check out my advice on losing weight sustainably), but also if you are trying new things, adjusting your lifestyle, trying to eat more healthy foods, or using foods to heal and cope with health conditions, a diary is a valuable reference; you can go back and see what you ate and did, and how it may have affected you. You can also look back and use it as a menu when you are short of ideas, or just want reminding of all the different things you’ve made and eaten.
WEEKLY and MONTHLY REVIEWS
I have a weekly review, and a monthly review. It gives me a practical way of keeping track of the effects of food, exercise and lifestyle on my health, and of the research I have done and the way my understanding changes. It gives me a space in which to think clearly, and, especially if you are ill, stressed, very busy, or tired, or all of the above and more, a clear, objective head is not a given.
Every month I write down my goals, the things I need to do, the things I am afraid of doing and what feels impossible to do. And then at the end of the month I go over what I have done, and list my achievements. Which is always a good thing. Let’s face it, getting out of bed every day and facing the world head on is an achievement sometimes, so smashing the things I felt were impossible to do is just fantastic! And I need reminding of that. The mind all too often quickly moves on and normalises achievements.
keeping such a record allows me to recognise what I have done and how far I have come.
And also what I need to improve and the evidence of how capable I am of doing that. It enables me to get to where I want to be. Merely lost in the maze of my mind, such objectivity and structured encouragement is unlikely. A symptom of coeliac disease, type 1 diabetes and fybromyalgia is ‘foggy head’, and I need structure to make the most of my life and to cope optimally. Naturally I am a more creative and less organised person, but recently especially, I have had to push myself to my limits to really whip myself into shape. I want to get the most out of life, I want to be more efficient, and I want to simplify things and make them easier and more achievable, and my health diary helps me no end.
BEING MORE POSITIVE
It has also made me more positive about myself. As this log/diary keeping process has developed, I have realised how easy it is to be negative about yourself, in the language that you use especially, and I have become kinder and more supportive to myself. The way I see it now is, the mind can be very negative. I am not. I have to get round it, cajole it, encourage it to believe in me. And it works!
My health diary is my tool for helping, encouraging, and keeping tabs on myself, it is my positivity, and record of my negativity (I have to admit that some complaining does go on!). But overall it is my commitment to myself and my future, which is growing. I recommend that you do the same, develop something that works for you and the demands of your life. Don’t worry if you miss an entry, just do it when you can and try to build up a routine.
GO FOR IT!
Please do share your experience of being keeping a health diary, or any other method you use to keep track of things and to keep positive and motivated, and to express yourself too. Feel free to leave a comment or to contact me X X…