Self Monitoring for Better Health


calendar exercise planAt our healthy weight loss retreat in the (currently snowy) town of Ludlow, we discuss self monitoring often. In a nutshell, self monitoring is periodically taking stock of where you are at with a behavior or habit. For example, I track all of my physical activity on a calendar and if a block of days roll by where I have no activity to report, it is a red flag to me that something needs my attention. My schedule or routine is preventing me from being active and needs tweaking. Three days of no exercise is better than looking back three months later saying, “When was the last time I worked out!?!? How did I get here?” The 10,000 steps program is another great example of self monitoring physical activity.

I self monitor when it comes to my food choices as well. For example I rattled off all the white flour-containing product I’ve eaten lately to my husband last night and another red flag went up. I do not normally eat tons of refined starches, but long work hours and a lack of shopping lately has caused these items to creep into my intake. I will be doing something about this today. Had we not had a discussion about this last night, I might have continued to ignore it until it was a real problem.

Self monitoring can be done on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. I tend to prefer reflecting on my eating habits at the end of the day and my exercise habits at the end of the week. This is what works for me, but there is no right or wrong way to do this. If you are interested in a self monitoring tool for keeping you on track with Mindful Eating, it can be found here. You may find that periodically reflecting on these questions below helps you with self monitoring of physical activity at home:

  • Did I move today?
  • Am I satisfied with my level of physcial activity today?
  • If I’m not satisfied, what prevented me from being active today?
  • How will I address this tomorrow?
  • Is activity becoming easier for me as I progress?
  • Do I need more variety in my choice of activities?
  • Did I discover any new way of adding activity today?
  • What is my plan for making activity a priority tomorrow?
  • Do I need help to make this plan work?

Keeping this list in a bedside table drawer or writing these questions on a book mark used for the books you may read before bed can help remind you to reflect, take stock, and address any issues before they become problems.

What forms of self monitoring do you already use at home? 

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