Tracking your symptoms = improved health


According to the Pew Research Center, sixty-nine percent of U.S. adults track a health indicator like weight, diet, exercise routine, or symptoms. Of those, half track “in their heads,” one-third keep notes on paper, and one in five use technology.  Nineteen percent of smartphone owners have downloaded an app to track or manage a health concern.

Why do people go to the trouble? Because tracking symptoms gets results. The same study found that

  • 46% of trackers say that this activity has changed their overall approach to maintaining their health;
  • 40% of trackers say it led them to ask a doctor new questions or to get a second opinion; and
  • 34% of trackers say it’s affected a decision about treatment.

So if you’re not tracking your symptoms, you’re missing an easy opportunity to improve your health. All of the systems below make it possible for you to better understand how triggers, therapies & side effects affect how you feel day to day. Because they help you see patterns and trends you might not otherwise see, they can point you to ways to increase your overall wellbeing.

These days, there’s something for everyone. You can use paper-based systems, some of which are editable. (Because I have a shop on, some of my fellow shop owners are offering special discounts specifically for our readers.)  Of course, there are also electronic apps for your phone or computer, and online, membership-based systems.

This week, we’ll look at paper-based options. Next time, we’ll examine apps, and part 3 will take a look at online and membership-based systems.

Daytimer/Dayrunner: I’ve used Daytimer’s paper-based system for years, along with my iPhone, to keep myself organized and on track.  I like having my datebook next to my desk, and it’s small enough that I can take it with me anywhere I go.  I use it to track symptoms as well as to schedule chores and tasks.

Phone:  800-225-5005

Filofax: Filofax is a British-based paper-based organization system.  They also offer various sized paper booklets and calendars to keep you organized.

Phone:  800-345-6798

I think the best spiral-bound health journal on the market is the BodyMinder Workout and Exercise Journal. I used this 224-page journal for years and it helped me see patterns, track trends, keep my food intake healthier and regulate my sleep. It’s so well designed and organized, you can fit darned near anything and everything on two daily pages. It’s also got some extra pages so you can note test results, medical history, pharmacy information, notes and questions. At just 8.5 inches by 6 inches, it’s easy to keep nearby or stow in a drawer. It’s also got a vinyl pocket to hold appointment cards and receipts. To order by credit card, call (800) 888-3392.

Downloadable, paper-based trackers

FreshandOrganized @ is offering our readers a 20% discount throughout May 2013.  Use discount code PSHEALTH20, and try these terrific downloadable trackers:

TidyMighty @ is offering our readers a 10% discount throughout May 2013. Use discount code 10off and try these downloadable trackers:

Other health trackers are available on at

Patti Stilley Schmidt is a health coach, counselor and consultant. She’s a chronic illness survivor, with years of experience managing, researching and advocating to improve the lives of the chronically ill, especially those with stigmatized illnesses. She’s been a peer counselor, support group leader, national advocacy organization board member, and has written dozens of articles on these topics, along with the book Mold Warriors with Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker. She is finishing up a Masters degree in Clinical and Counseling Psychology degree at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia.