Effective Weight Loss Journal – Pro Tips.
A Journal Can Help You Create Goals and Maintain Progress.
Writing in a journal to help you transform you body and life (for weight loss or otherwise) should be so much more than just a ‘dear diary’ experience.
When we think about weight loss we often jump in without considering factors like habits, family, co-workers, business dinners. It can be overwhelming (which is part of why the majority of weight loss efforts fail before they’ve even begun).
Here’s your ‘how to’ manual on setting up your journal for maximal effectiveness. We’ve seen this work time and time again, so don’t take this lightly. A journal is your very best friend in this journey. It’s a way for you to create contingency plans but also to create a snapshot of your thoughts, opinions and image of yourself right now and use it to remind you of why you’re doing this.
Writing a weight loss journal is a way for ‘present you’ to encourage ‘future you’.
When you’ve got your journal, here’s the three steps you need to take (in order):
Purpose: Create a comprehensive listing of reasons why you want to do this and create a sense of urgency.
Weight Loss Journal Page 1: Get It All Out
Draw a thick line across the middle and vertical half of the page, breaking the page into quadrants. On the vertical axis write “I” in the top left side, and “NI in the bottom left hand side. These letters are to represent IMPORTANT and NOT IMPORTANT. On the horizontal axis write “U” and “NU” on the left and right at the top. The letters are to represent URGENT and NOT URGENT.
your front page of your journal should have these headings
When you’ve done that, start filling in the boxes, writing all the reasons you want to lose weight. Examples of urgent and important reasons might be health related, a wedding or family event coming up soon, a problem you’re facing that needs immediate attention. Remember that this is your perspective right now. Be honest, you’ll be the only one reading this. Some reasons will be about pain, anger, suffering. Others will be about small things that aren’t necessarily earth-shattering but that you’ve missed and would like back. Write it all down and don’t hold anything back.
Page 2: Your Goal(s), Your Support Network, Your Pledge To Yourself
Weight Loss Journal Page 2: Your Goal(s):
Here’s some stuff you’ve likely heard before, but bears repeating. Goals should be SMART. See the below visual:
Write down your goals using the above as a template. Yours might be weight focused, but feel free to throw a couple of others in there as well that are related – pant size, a key activity or task you’ve been struggling with – let your imagination go but follow the SMART rules.
Now break that down into 3 blocks of time and adjust the goal accordingly. If you’re doing a 50 day challenge, make it ‘to lost 10 lbs by day 15’ then 20 lbs by day 30 then 33 lbs by day 50. When you create smaller mini-goals you give yourself the chance to set your expectations and then rise to the occasion to meet them.
Weight Loss Journal Page 2: Your Support Network:
What is a support network? Well, let’s take a look at how you’ve done in your past efforts, shall we? Where did you fall down? It’s scary to tell others about your goals/efforts because if you fail, well you’ve got to look them right in the eyes, don’t you? If you didn’t actually tell anyone, well then – did you really mean it?
Were you really ready to dedicate yourself? It’s a question worth thinking about. Do you have the courage to make this time different? To tell others? To (gasp) ask for support? For people to knock the candy out of your hands, to not offer the donut to you when they’re being passed around the office and to invite you along to events but not treat you like a leper for not drinking alcohol as much as you normally would?
Top Half Of Your Support Network Page:
For the top half of this page you’re going to write down the people you’ll be able to lean on for different things. Think about where you went wrong before – who would be the best friend for telling you all the reasons to keep working out? Who do you know that makes the healthiest lunches that they bring to work all the time? How is it that your co-worker is able to refuse those brownies when they get passed around at work? You want a list of about 4-5 people you can ask to ‘keep an eye on you’ over the next 50 days. They’ll be grateful for the opportunity to help – and you’ll be grateful and feel more committed to changing once you’ve asked them.
Bottom Half Of Your Support Network Page:
For the bottom half of this page you’ll want to write down how you’re going to let your social network know. This might be your family, your facebook, your co-workers. Either way, get yourself out there and start talking about it. Whether it’s a whiteboard on the fridge at home or a commitment to post some comment on your progress with this challenge on your own facebook then commit to it and write it down. This is where you’ll write your commitment out and see it through. Post at least weekly.
Weight Loss Journal Page 3: Your Pledge To Yourself
While there are many aspects I think the weight loss TV shows could do better (you listening out there, tv producers?) one of the areas I love watching is when they look back at themselves where they were.
In the video (told to the camera just before they first come in and start their journey) the ‘then’ person tells the future themself-version all about how much pain they’re in, how much they need this and why they need to keep going.
Now it’s time for you to do this for yourself. Write this story for yourself as if you’ve just achieved your goal. Talk about how happy you are for your future you, remind the future you of the things you used to hate that you don’t have to live with now.
Weight Loss Journal Page 4-?: Let’s Get Our Journal On!
Almost there – just a few minutes of set up left and you’re ready to go.
You’ve got yourself motivated, you know exactly where you’re going to go when you need help and you know all the different reasons why you’re doing this in the first place. Here’s how to track your progress. Note that you don’t have to journal EVERY day. But commit to when you’re going to journal and do so.
On the 4th (and every page afterwards from here) you’re going to have the following headings:
1) My world in 7 words or less: This is your summary of how you’re feeling at this moment in time. Eg “Losing weight, feeling great. scared of snacktime”.
2) Stress Response Retraining:
Fill in the rest of this statement: “Today when I was stressed instead of reaching for food to feel better I ______. That made me feel _______”. This is important as it helps us remember what worked for us and what didn’t.
Here’s an example: “Today when I was stressed instead of reaching for food to feel better I looked at pictures of cats. That made me feel warm and fuzzy because you know, cats!”
3) Food you ate today: Just like it says. Include portion sizes or calorie counts if you’re on a day where that’s important.
4) How you felt 30 minutes after each meal: As best you can remember – this will help you know if that was a good mix of protein, fats and carbs but also help you know when you tend to feel sluggish. Our hormone profile can change depending upon what time of day it is and what carb/protein/fat profile we’ve just eaten. In the early stages of eating expect to feel unusual simply because your body is missing sugar rushes and 7 hour energy boosts and is in part detoxifying. The first week is always the hardest. Once you’re past that, you’ll feel a world better. This journal will help you see that.
5) Weekend Summary:
At the end of the week (or on a day of your choice) you need five headings – this will help you get a sense of a weekly review but also allow you to weigh in or try on a pair of special pants you’ve been wanting to fit into again.
- My score out of ten for this week for eating on plan:____
- What I can do to improve the above score by 5% next week:____
- How many times did I work out:____
- My weight/dress/pants size is now:____
- Any other changes I noticed about my body or anything else this week:
The effort is worth it – of course, this is simply what I’ve found works with my clients who have had the commitment to create and keep a journal. A simple youtube video search can bring up a world of opinions on what to make. For something a little more ‘colorful’, if you’re into cutting things out of magazines (other than letter of the alphabet for ransom letters, hopefully) then here’s a video below of someone else’s journal setup rule:
Happy journalling! From all of the personal trainers in Denver and around the world thank you for taking care of yourself and being proactive with your own health. It makes it so much easier when our clients stay on top of their behaviors the other 23 hours in the day when they aren’t in here working out with us!