Reach your goals, track your habits

When it comes to reaching wellness goals, it's crucial to hold yourself accountable for making healthy choices. Using a tracking method can help. These include journaling and using a health device and apps.

By Thom Rieck
Thom Rieck

When it comes to reaching wellness goals, it's crucial to hold yourself accountable for making healthy choices. But that's often easier said than done. Is there a simple strategy that can help? Yes. You can use a tracking method such as journaling or a health device and apps. Research has shown that people who track their efforts — whether it's the number of steps they take a day, the quality of their sleep or what they eat at each meal — are more successful at reaching their health and fitness goals than those who don't.

Tracking helps create self-awareness and accountability. It provides feedback and reflection, helping you identify positive and negative behavior patterns. Tracking can also be a strong motivator because it allows you to see progress, big or small, toward your goals. Yes, it takes a little getting used to in the beginning, but over time tracking becomes an effortless and rewarding habit.

From writing in a journal to using the latest electronic gadget, there are many ways to track health data. Experiment with several trackers to find the one that works best for you. Recording your goals and actions in a paper journal is an easy and inexpensive place to start tracking. You can also explore digital trackers, which are available on most online health or weight-loss programs, such as The Mayo Clinic Diet. Wearable devices such as activity trackers and smartphone apps are also a good way to track your information on the go. Don't be afraid to move on to a different tracking system if the one you're using becomes too cumbersome or unhelpful.

Constant tracking can be a big commitment, so after a while, you may want to transition from tracking to monitoring. For example, instead of recording every meal throughout the day, you might record one day's worth of meals in a two-week period. Remember that the ultimate goal is to create healthier habits so that you can achieve your health and fitness goals. If you find that you are starting to slip, you can always increase the amount of recording to get back on track.


  1. Identify a specific, realistic health and fitness goal that you would like to achieve in the next six months, and brainstorm some ways you can make it happen.
  2. Do some research to find a tracker that fits your needs. It could be paper based or digital.
  3. Decide how often you want to track your metric. For instance, if you're tracking nutrition, you may want to record your meals daily. But if you're tracking your waist circumference, you may only want to do this once a month.
Dec. 30, 2016 See more In-depth

See also

  1. 3 ways to get closer to achieving your goals
  2. Make healthy habits stick
  3. 5 do's and don'ts for staying motivated
  4. 3 ways to avoid secondhand smoke
  5. 7 signs and symptoms not to ignore
  6. Energy management
  7. Animal bites: Do you need a tetanus shot?
  8. Are you doing everything you can to stay healthy?
  9. Belching, intestinal gas, gas pains and bloating
  10. Bone health tips
  11. Cancer-prevention strategies
  12. Cellphones and cancer
  13. Colon cancer screening
  14. Plastic surgery
  15. Do adults need shots?
  16. Don't save leftover pain pills
  17. Exercise: Check with your doctor
  18. Find meaning in the small things
  19. Flu Shot Prevents Heart Attack
  20. Functional fitness training
  21. Overcome obstacles to your goals
  22. Healthy holiday habits: How to get back on track
  23. Hand drying
  24. Hand-washing tips
  25. Healthy habits that boost happiness
  26. Healthy heart for life: Avoiding heart disease
  27. Heart attack prevention: Should I avoid secondhand smoke?
  28. Home Health Hazards
  29. Brown fat
  30. How social support spurs you
  31. Break the busy cycle
  32. How well do you wash your hands?
  33. Injury Season for Snow Blowers
  34. Investing in yourself
  35. Is antibacterial soap a do or a don't?
  36. Keep the focus on your long-term vision
  37. Liposuction alternatives
  38. Lost in Space
  39. Making progress towards your goals
  40. Mammogram guidelines: What are they?
  41. Make over your mindset to make time for your health
  42. Measles vaccine: Can I get the measles if I've already been vaccinated?
  43. Medical family tree
  44. Coronavirus disease: What is it and how can I protect myself?
  45. Infographic: Organ Donation Donate Life
  46. Infographic: Paired Donation Chain
  47. Infographic: Pancreas Kidney Transplant
  48. Personal health records
  49. Personalize your wellness journey
  50. Stick to healthy-eating goals at social gatherings
  51. Posture: Align yourself for good health
  52. Posture check: Do you stand up straight?
  53. New Year's resolutions
  54. Secondhand smoke
  55. Creating a wellness vision
  56. Sitting risks: How harmful is too much sitting?
  57. Good posture tips
  58. Back exercises
  59. Proper lifting techniques
  60. Stop multitasking and focus
  61. Thirdhand smoke: What are the dangers?
  62. Want good health? Build a solid base
  63. The benefits of gratitude
  64. Travel Safety
  65. Triclosan
  66. Using if-then statements
  67. Vaccines for adults
  68. What are superbugs?
  69. What are superbugs and how can I protect myself from infection?
  70. Air purifiers and smoke