Becoming healthier is a process and not an overnight fix. You have to be in it for the long haul and keep your “eyes on the prize.” For many, it’s easy to lose interest along the way.
You can avoid that by tracking your progress. After all, it’s easier to stay on track when you see that your actions are turning in positive results.
Whether you want something basic or more technology-advanced, there are many tools out there that fit any budget and desired features.
Cost: $0 or less than $5
Your food intake is just as important as your physical activity when trying to become healthier. Each day write down what you’ve eaten in a notebook. At the end of each week, review your food intake and consider your goals. Are you indeed eating more vegetables? Did you actually drink one less sugary drink that week? How can you improve the following week?
Food weight scale/measuring cups
Cost: around $10 - $20
We might laugh at the serving sizes written on our food packages (who eats one cup of cereal these days?!), but it’s important to keep track of your calorie intake when you’re trying to lose weight. You can easily do that by following the serving sizes listed on food packages and listing the corresponding calories in your food diary. Remember that in order to lose weight, you need to burn more calories (through physical activity) than your intake.
Body weight scale
Cost: around $20 - $30
While many people view the scale as an enemy, it’s your friend when you’re trying to lose weight. Weigh yourself weekly and write your numbers down in a notebook to see how you’re doing.
Cost: $0 - $30
Taking more steps each day can lead you to a healthier body. See if you can take more steps from the previous day by taking the stairs, parking further from the door, walking more laps around the neighborhood or going to a coworker’s cube instead of sending your short e-mail.
Also, some smart phones already have step counters built into them. See if your phone already tracks your steps, or download an app to do so. Some apps, like the “Breeze” app, will also provide you with notifications of activity level and encouragements throughout the day.
Blood pressure monitor
Cost: $30 - $60
Keep your blood pressure in check by monitoring your blood pressure daily. Normal blood pressure is 120/80.
Cost: $80 - $140
If you want something more technology-advanced than penciling in your numbers in a notebook, an activity tracker might serve you well. Most of the activity trackers in the market today are worn on a wrist and can track steps, distances, calories burned, active minutes and sleep hours. You can then sync your information to your computer or smartphone.
If you haven’t been physically active lately and/or have any health concerns, make sure you talk to your primary care provider about your health goals.