Journaling For Results.
There is no right or wrong way to keep a journal or, in this case, a weight loss journal. It can be the saving grace when it comes to long-lasting weight loss and may help you understand your habits and change them into healthier habits. The great thing about a weight loss journal is that it is yours, and you can tailor it to fit your needs to give you the best results.
The first step is to decide what you would like to document in your journal. Some patients that I’ve talked to log each meal, daily liquid intake, nutrients, and exercise. You don’t have to add the exercise if you just want it to be about changing eating habits. Food journals can help you chart what areas need help and how to plan future meals and snacks to deter you from making bad decisions. You could even chart where you were while eating meals so that you can see if certain situations lead you to overeat or eating bad foods.
Including portion sizes of each food and drink are essential. Being accurate in your logging will help you keep a close watch on your full days eating habits to see if you may be overdoing it. Seeing a complete account of each day might enlighten you to things you may not have been thinking would add up. It can help you immensely on your ultimate journey.
TIPS AND TRICKS
It can be helpful to choose a journal that speaks to you. If you like the feel, look, or pages of a journal, you are more likely to want to use it. Go to whatever store is near you that has journals and peruse the options until you find the one that will work for what you want to chart. You don’t necessarily need to find a weight loss journal that has already been formatted. You can even just choose a notebook with lined pages. Format it to your own needs and lifestyle.
WHAT TO CHART:
- Before Photos
- Yearly Goals
- Food and Nutrient Data
- Eating Environment Data
- Daily Emotions
- Daily Struggles
- Medical Issues
Patients I have talked to in the past have sworn by before and after photos, and Let’s face it, anyone on a fitness journey takes before and after photos. Although embarrassing at times, it is the best way to see your results. It is a visual way of recording your weight loss journey, and if you are a visual person in any capacity, this is something you will want to keep in your journal.
Setting annual goals help you to set realistic monthly goals. Most fitness goals don’t just happen overnight, and creating good habits can take a reasonable amount of time. Setting annual targets and giving yourself time to achieve them is realistic and will help you not to be too hard on yourself when things are not happening as fast as you want them to. It can even be fun to cross off your goals one by one as you reach them and see yourself getting closer to completion. Setting yearly goals can boost your confidence and help you realize that you can achieve anything you put your mind to, as long as you do the work, and stay motivated. Don’t set too many, though; it will be overwhelming.
Food and Meal Data
This is where you want to record your food intake and beverage intake. If you are on a pre-op diet or recovery, this will help you stay on track and maintain or start that healthy lifestyle; you will need to see those yearly goals completed. You can record what you eat and when you eat. You can record the nutrition label information. Calorie Counts can be helpful. It can also be useful to record how long you took to eat, to make sure you aren’t eating too quickly or often.
Eating Environment Data
This can be beneficial for those who overeat in specific environments. If you tend to eat more in social situations where you aren’t paying close attention to portion sizes, or if you are an emotional eater and you binge at home. It can help to record where you eat and what is happening around you to help you realize what isn’t working for you, and how you can change it. What situations you should stay away from, or just be more aware of yourself in those situations. This can be extremely helpful to you.
Be ready to face the emotions that will pour out. Most of us did not just wake up overweight, so as the pre-op struggle starts, and the post-op emotions surface, we see how things must change to get healthy once again through the weight loss journey.
Recording things you struggle with on a day-to-day basis can help you spot trends that will help you change bad habits or find situations that continue to pop up that maybe you would want to reevaluate. It can help you learn how to overcome struggles by noting them daily and can even give you the motivation to read past struggles and remember how you got through that day.
Charting your milestones will help immensely with confidence and with the record of your journey. You can go back to this section when you need motivation as well if you are having a hard day. You can pick for yourself how and what you want to chart in this section. Some things people chart would be fitness milestones, weight milestones, you can also chart measurements here if you would like. The sky is the limit.
This is an important section. Let’s say you overeat post-op, or you eat the wrong thing during recovery, and it causes a medical issue or a reaction. This is a great place to chart things to stay away from. Things that have caused you heartburn, or have set your recovery process back. You can keep track of things you need to avoid, and it is a hassle-free way of keeping yourself on the right path for recovery.
Again, you can do this section; however, it works best for you. Some print out a calendar and chart their fitness for the month; others do it weekly or biweekly. Whatever will keep you motivated and on track. This is also a great place to track your water intake and make sure you are drinking enough water and staying hydrated.
A journal can be a fun, helpful way of charting your Weight Loss Journey, pre, and post-op. Reach out to your Facebook Support Group and see if anyone is doing one and how they have seen success.
Pam Tidwell, a Pompeii patient, is so grateful she began her journal before her surgery. She recorded the whole process, from before and after, and says it has been unbelievably important to her success.
“It was so helpful because as I have progressed, I can also reflect to see struggles, hurts, and success. In my weight loss journal, I get to track progress, daily struggles, emotions, I include before and after photos, and milestones. I plan on doing this for years to come.”
If you are wanting to chart your nutrient intake, as a beginner, it can be daunting. Some websites and apps make it easier to chart and learn how to chart. These websites and apps can provide more details on calories of specific foods along with proteins, fats, carbs, and make it easier to understand nutrient labels or know what specifically is in food if there is no label.
Along with charting what you eat during a specific meal, it may be beneficial to chart what time you are eating these meals as well. It will help you reflect on how long in between each meal you are feeling hungry and when you can add in your snacks to prevent you from overeating. It is also beneficial to look over where you are eating empty calorie foods that aren’t keeping you full. This can lead to overeating.
Recording emotions and just doing the standard journal-type entries may seem unrelated; however, emotions play a significant role in some peoples eating habits. If you are trying to get over being an emotional eater, it is a one day at a time type of deal. At the end of the day, reviewing not only your nutritional data but what emotions you experienced that day may help you see where you are overeating and possibly what you can do to prevent that from happening.
It is easy to be hard on yourself when you make a mistake or see that emotions are triggering you. This is a journey; it is not a cure. Use the tool to recognize areas that need work and then work on those areas one at a time. Take it easy on yourself and realize that you are not going to be perfect every day. As long as you are working on yourself and working towards your goals, you will find success.