Imagine having a friend who is always willing to listen. She sits to hear about your bad days and your good days, listening without murmuring a word as you rattle off what you’ve eaten today. She doesn’t send a judging glance when you admit to breaking from your medical weight loss plan last night.
A friend like this would be saintly indeed, but that is expecting a lot from another human being. Instead of trying to burden a friend with these constant details of your life, the solution you are looking for might be in a journal.
Journaling isn’t for tween-age girls anymore. Journaling is an art form, a way to manage stress and a reliable way to stay accountable to all of your goals—including your weight loss goals.
Starting a Weight Loss Journal
“Listen, dear journal, I will tell you what I will tell no one else.” –Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas
A journal can be a book, a notepad or even a document on your computer screen. There are even phone apps that simulate journals so that you can log in what you’ve eaten today as easily as you can send a text message to a friend. The way you choose to keep a journal isn’t important. What matters is how often you update it, how honest you are with yourself and how willing you are to let your journal help you stay accountable to your goals.
Here are a few examples of what you might jot down in your journal:
- What you’ve eaten today
- How long your workout was this morning
- How you felt before / after your workout
- Stressful situations
- Happy thoughts
- Meaningful quotes
- Things that made you laugh, cry or smile
- Symptoms like headaches, stomachaches or rashes
- How much water you’ve drank
- Alcohol consumption
Several years ago, researchers at Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon wanted to see how much of an impact journaling had on weight loss goals. In August of 2007 they published their results in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. The researchers evaluated more than 1,600 American adults 25 and older over six months. Throughout the course of the study all participants were encouraged to keep a weight loss journal, but the degree to which they kept up with the journal varied.
The participants were instructed on how to eat healthier and were encouraged to exercise regularly so that the researchers could evaluate their weight loss progress. After six months, those who updated their journal almost every day, or at least 6 days a week, lost the most weight on average. The people who wrote in a journal daily actually lost about twice as much weight as those who updated their food logs one day a week or less.
Journaling might be the missing step from your weight loss program. You have the diet plan, you have the workout routine, and you even have the guidance and support of your medical weight loss program, but what is helping you hour by hour as you work to become healthier every day? If you aren’t sure of the answer to this last question, you might want to give journaling a try.