Weightloss is not only a physical journey, but also a mental game. According to statistics, nearly 40% of American adults are considered obese. Often times, emotional eating is at the core of weight gain, coupled with continuous stress which increases cortisol -- making it more difficult to lose weight. Using an online weight loss journal can help with both the mental and physical aspects of weight loss.
People often confuse a weight loss journal with a food diary. A food diary is an effective means of tracking what you consume daily. A food diary helps people stay mindful to what they are putting into their body. More often than not, people don’t realize the sheer volume of food they intake daily unless they track it meticulously with either a phone app, or by writing it down. In the words of Joe Rogan, “write shit down”. The act of “typing it out” or “writing it out” in a notebook forces you to stay mindful of what you decide to eat. A weight loss journal is somewhat different. It could include details about the adjustments you made in eating patterns, but it usually contains more of an emotional element to your journey towards health and wellness. Let me explain.
Emotional Benefits of Journaling
Staying fit and healthy is not a ‘one and done’ endeavor. It is a lifestyle with a growing list of decisions that you need to make daily. Life is chalk full of ups and downs, emotional highs and lows, endings and new beginnings. Add in the continuous financial pressure of modern life, needy children, ailing parents, and global unrest – maintaining a level of fitness is usually an afterthought. The modern American is focused on how they will make next month’s mortgage payment if they are laid off from their job. But what if there was a path to a life that required self-reflection, introspection, and a commitment to bettering yourself daily that resulted in a myriad of emotional and physical benefits? Besides daily physical exercise and good nutrition, journaling is by far one of the healthiest habits that you can form.
Particularly journaling for weight loss. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Maintaining a journal to write about your journey towards a goal weight. Two primary ways it helps are:
Most people are inundated by information on social media, the news, their kids, their bosses, their co-workers, and the list goes on. Although people might act like they “care” when you vent your frustrations, do they really? You guess it. No, they don't. And if you think they do, you're kidding yourself. Unless that person is facing the same challenge or truly has a vested interest in your success, chances are they are listening to about 50% of what you are saying while waiting for their turn to talk. Maintaining an expressive weight loss journal is an excellent “outlet” for the frustrations that you will likely experience. Don’t believe the ‘fad diet’ gurus who tout an easy and quick way towards lifelong weight loss. It simply is not true. To lose weight and maintain a high level of fitness, you will experience setbacks and frustrations along the way. What better way to chronicle your frustrations without boring your co-worker or spouse? Why not ‘unleash’ into a journal and save yourself the embarrassment of tearing up while telling your spouse how badly you wanted to eat that Boston Crème Pie donut you saw at Dunkin Donuts? Save them the drama, save yourself the embarrassment, and tell your weight loss journal!
When I first physically transformed myself by losing 35 pounds nearly 25 years ago, the first 3 weeks of adjusting to a lifestyle of sub 2,000 calories was difficult. I was accustomed to eating 5,000+ calories per day. Needlesstosay, my body was in shock from calorie restriction. Although 2,000 calories is more than sufficient and very healthy, my mind was accustomed to large quantities of every type of food. I remember reminding myself to take things ‘one day at a time’ and focus on why I was adjusting my lifestyle. I also remember writing out the reasons why I wanted to lose weight in the first place. As an adolescent, I was overweight and often bullied by others – my neighbors, kids at school, and even my own brother. To combat these deep-rooted insecurities, not only did I need to transform physically – but the mental aspect was even more difficult. By journaling, I was able to direct my emotional suffering into something positive. Rather than eating more or sabotaging my life in other ways, I flipped negative into positive by losing 35 pounds over the summer and have maintained that weight loss for 25+ years.
I cannot say that a weight loss journal will work for everyone. Americans are impatient by nature and it feels like everyone is seeking a quick fix. Atkins was hot and trendy in the 90s and low carb has been the craze since then. Now it's morphed into Keto. Ultimately, maintaining long-term health and well being comes down to your mental and physical state. Staying mentally fit with journaling, while staying physically fit with exercise seems like a commonsense approach to overall wellbeing.
Here are a few ideas to get you started with a weight loss journal:
Embrace the times of discomfort. Not everything in life is going to be easy. You will feel discomfort, you’ll feel unease, and you might even lose some sleep. So what? Journaling helps you think through those complex emotions without giving up on your end goal. With that said, analyze how you are feeling on a day-to-day and intentionally direct your mind (through writing) towards a better outcome. Perhaps you are breaking through a food addiction to dairy and you feel lethargic the first week off dairy. That’s okay. Don’t give up. Write about how you feel. Perhaps you are lacking a specific nutrient that milk or cheese was giving to you besides the calcium. Maybe you're deficient in Vitamin D and need to supplement since you cut dairy out of your diet. Or perhaps you should consider a meal replacement (non-dairy) shake. Writing it out in your weight loss journal will help you reflect on potential solutions to feeling better.
Start the day with daily intentions in your weight loss journal. Let’s face it, waking up after a poor night of sleep sucks. The last thing we want to do is get dressed and go to work. When I was on my weight loss journal, I recall feeling groggy in the mornings as my body adjusted to a new lifestyle. I was tired, irritable, and could easily ‘snap’ at a family member over something inconsequential. My willpower was tapped. It was all being spent on maintaining strict adherence to calorie restriction and exercise. What I found is that forcing myself to bullet out my daily intentions helped redirect my focus in a more positive way. I’m not saying it’s a panacea or cure-all to weight loss, but every tactical advantage helps when facing challenging obstacles. It helped me.
Forgive yourself by expressively writing it out in your weight loss journal. Alright, we will all face the day when we ‘fall off the wagon’ by storming out of the house and heading straight to Burger King, Taco Bell, or McDonald's. Screw it, you’re heading there to get the greasiest hamburger they have with an extra-large fry and regular coke (screw the diet coke!). You find a nice parking spot outside the fast-food restaurant and tear into your meal – reminding yourself that you ‘deserve this’ for putting up with what you do in life. Within 30 minutes, you hate yourself for not being able to control an impulse. Instead of complaining to your spouse or significant other of how “fat” you are from one slip up, why not take this opportunity to forgive yourself? It's much healthier than giving ‘voice’ to your lack of discipline and spreading negative energy to others in your household. Use your weight loss journal to forgive yourself. Act as if you are an authority figure talking to a different form of yourself and write it out:
“I understand how hard it can be to lose this weight. Although I don’t approve of this behavior, I can see why you cracked in this situation. Let’s work together to find ways to prevent this from happening again in the future.”
It might sound a little crazy to do things like this – but again, the tactical advantage is what you need to stay ahead of the curve. These little ‘mind games’ are tactics that can give you the competitive advantage necessary to achieve lasting change. After all, life is just one big mind game that you are playing with yourself. Give yourself every tactical advantage possible.
We hope our weight loss journal ideas help you achieve better health and wellness outcomes. At JournalOwl, our goal is to provide everyone with a safe space to connect with others and receive the type of support necessary to overcome some of life’s greatest challenges. Don’t go at life alone. Journaling is just one component to overcoming some of life’s toughest obstacles like weight loss. Compliment your weight loss journal by joining one of JournalOwl’s live community support groups. This is different than a Facebook group. We protect your anonymity and allow you to share your journal with others to provide feedback, coaching, and advice on what you could be doing differently to achieve better outcomes. The problem with social media group channels is that your full name, city/state, and friends are often visible to others. Many of life’s most difficult challenges are not something we want to advertise to everyone. By journaling on a private & secure platform like JournalOwl, you maintain your anonymity while overcoming significant challenges and helping out others along the way.