Friday, August 17, 2012

using Evernote as a fitness journal - part 2

using Evernote as a fitness journal - part 2


Last week I wrote about using Evernote as a fitness journal in its most simple form - a digital spiral ring notebook.

Remember Everything with Evernote

This basic format is a great way to get started, and for a lot of people it's all they'll ever need. You write down what you did for each workout, and how you felt, and you're done. Then, whenever you're in the mood for some motivation - or when you want to see a specific workout you did - you just scroll backwards through the notes. Easy peasy - no setup, planning, or forethought required. Done and done.

* Food and Fitness Journal together - you can make notes about your meals (and snacks) in the same digital journal. Now you'll have all your information in one place for easy review!

Like I said - this digital spiral ring notebook will be sufficient for a lot of people. But some of you will want more: more details, more searching and filtering capabilities, more ways to analyze and trend your data. If you're in this camp, I've got good news for you - this is where Evernote excels.

Evernote's Structure - Notes, Notebooks, Notebook Stacks, and Tags

When you start learning about Evernote, you'll see these key parts in the way Evernote is set up:

Notes - these are your individual notes where you'll jot down your information. Think of them like a sheet of paper. (an infinitely long sheet which can have text, pictures, scans, and audio on it, but a sheet of paper nonetheless.)

Notebooks - these are your file folders. In a paper world, you put all your sheets of paper (notes) about a particular topic into a file so they stay together and you can find them later. You might have files for vacation, your cell phone plan, and redecorating the house. For the purpose of your fitness journal, you only need one notebook.

Notebook Stacks - these are the drawers in your file cabinet. You might have one drawer for home stuff, one for the kids' stuff, and one for your office stuff. Inside each drawer are all the file folders about that similar topic. In Evernote, you might have notebooks for your San Diego, San Francisco, and New York vacations, which could all be grouped together into a Notebook Stack called Vacations.

Tags - tags are a unique feature which makes Evernote more powerful than a paper system. Imagine if you put a yellow sticky note on all the receipts in your various files. The cell phone receipt from Verizon gets a yellow sticky. The hotel receipt from San Diego gets a yellow sticky. And the new tile from Home Depot gets a yellow sticky. Now imagine you could somehow look at everything that has a yellow sticky, at the same time.. That's what tags let you do - any note, any notebook.  And each note can have multiple tags (yellow sticky for receipt, blue sticky for being important, and pink sticky to show you can shred it next year.)

Your Evernote fitness journal will focus heavily on tags. (at least the way I envision it - but you might be the kind of person who doesn't like others telling them what to do. :)

At the same time, you want the whole process to be fast and easy, right? After all, if it takes you 5 minutes to note that you ate an almond, it's probably not something you're going to use.

Putting it all together

Each time you do or eat something, you'll make a quick note. (you can even do this on your phone in about 5 seconds!)

food journal

Breakfast in the morning:
  • click New Note
  • type "Breakfast 8/17/12"
  • type "Raisin bran w/ skim milk and hard boiled egg - approx 300 cal"
  • add tags: Food, Breakfast, Cereal, Egg
  • click Save
  • *bonus - using your phone you could even snap a photo of your meal, which would be part of the note.


Workout later that day:
  • click New Note
  • type "Workout 8/17/12"
  • type "Fit-20 routine - 3 pull-ups, 6 push-ups, 9 sit-ups, 9 squats - 13 rounds in 18 minutes. Felt great for 5 sets, then it got hard. had to take a break before the last 2 sets.
  • add tags: Workout, CrossFit, Pull-ups, Push-ups, Sit-ups, Squats
  • click Save

And so on throughout the day.

You might have 7 or 8 notes by the end of the day. 50 notes by the end of the week. That's ok - you have an infinite amount of space in your digital journal.

The more information you have in your fitness journal, the more the power of Evernote becomes more evident.

Let's see what Evernote can do..

Imagine you're a week or two into your new routine, and you want to look for some trends..

Click on the tag for Breakfast, and immediately all your breakfast notes come up. You can scroll through and see what you've been eating in the morning - hmmm, looks like you're doing great here.

Next you click on the tag for Snacks and scroll through the 32 notes. Wait, 32 snack notes in 14 days - uh oh. Now you start to see where some of those extra calories are coming from..

From a workout perspective, you can click the tag for Pull-ups, and see all your workouts that have contained this exercise. Well look at that - you could barely do 3 on your first day, but yesterday you did 3 sets of 4.. Not bad!

Sample List of Tags

If I was starting an Evernote Food and Fitness Journal today, here are the basic tags I would start with:

Types of Meals:
  • Breakfast
  • Snacks
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Dessert

Types of Food:
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Bread
  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Potatoes (I might give French Fries its own tag - is that a bad sign?)
  • Vegetables (you can add tags for specific veggies)
  • Fruit (you can add tags for specific fruits)
  • Trail Mix (you could use Nuts and Fruit instead.)
  • This is a decent list to start with; I would then add new tags for additional foods as they come up in my diet.

Types of Workouts:
  • Cross-Fit (or Fit-20)
  • KettlelBell
  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Versaclimber
  • Shadow Boxing

Workout Exercises:
  • Short Runs (for me, this would be running 1/4 mile or less as part of a cross-fit workout)
  • 100-Ups
  • Miles (this would be a longer run, 3-4 miles)
  • Pull-ups
  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Burpees
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Mountain Jumpers
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • DB Swings
  • DB Renegade Rows
  • DB Thrusters
  • Inverted Rows
  • Sprints
  • Etc - add a tag for each individual exercise you do.

Obviously, you'll want to modify this list to include the food and exercises you're eating/doing.

Coming Soon

In future articles we'll talk about additional tips and tools for counting calories and spotting trends within your journal.

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Getting started and have questions? Using Evernote and want to add something? Anything else I've missed? Please let me know.

Happy journaling.

-Chris Butterworth

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