You probably already know that a weight-loss journal is a way to track what you’re eating and drinking each day. But it can be much more than this. A weight-loss journal is an indispensable resource on your path to better health — if you know how to use it to your advantage.
Follow these tips to create a journal that will serve as a guide and inspiration as you work toward a healthier you.
1. Record your feelings and emotions
A weight-loss journal can give you an amazingly clear picture of your eating habits — if you include information beyond what’s on your plate. Stress, mood, and your state of mind can have a big impact on when and what you eat. Before each meal or snack, record your emotions with a simple one-word system. Words like stressed, excited, anxious, calm, tired, happy, and bored are all helpful adjectives that can, over time, show you whether certain emotions are leading to particular eating habits.
2. Take note of your location
It’s true that where you eat can affect what and how much food you consume. For instance, eating on the couch in front of the TV often leads many people to eat more than sitting at the dining room table. Having this information may encourage you to stop eating in places where it’s easy to eat too much.
3. Include eating start and stop times
It’s not just what you eat, but when you eat that matters when it comes to building healthier habits. In your weight-loss journal, include meal times, and be specific about when you start and stop eating. This can tell you two things: whether your meals are satisfying enough and whether you’re eating too quickly. If you’re eating too frequently, you may need to add more protein or fiber to help fill you up. And try to take 15-20 minutes to eat your meals, chewing slowly and enjoying your food. This can help you feel full with fewer calories.
4. Make hydration a priority
Drinking enough water is an important part of better health and helping you shed pounds. But, many of us forget to drink enough water throughout the day. Keep a running tab of your daily glasses of water in your weight-loss journal so you can be sure you’re getting enough. It may be helpful to break it up into time periods throughout your day. For instance, set a goal to have 4 glasses before lunch and another 4 before dinner. That way, you’re not trying to play catch up in the evening when you realize you haven’t had enough.
5. Use your journal to help you achieve health and wellness goals
Think about the main reasons why you want to keep a weight-loss journal. If you have a specific weight you’d like to reach, jot that down in your journal. But think about other goals that have nothing to do with a number on the scale. Maybe you want to cut back on processed foods and eat more vegetables. Perhaps you want to replace soda with water. A weight-loss journal doesn’t have to be about only weight loss. Recording what you eat and drink is a great way to change habits for the better and improve your overall health because it will show you exactly where you are in your journey and will help you determine the next step.
6. Be timely
Throughout our busy days, it’s surprisingly easy to forget how much — or even what — we ate and drank all day. So, get into the habit of recording your meals and snacks as soon as possible after you eat. With today’s technology, there are ways to do this even on the fly. If you don’t have time to write down or type at that moment, use a voice recording on your phone. Later, you can go back to your recording and write it all down in your journal. Or, take a photo of what you’re about to eat and use it later to write down the portion sizes in detail. At the end of the day, delete your photos or voice recordings once they’re all safely documented in your journal.
7. Catch all the little details
It may seem like extra work at first when you’re recording every taste of food you have while cooking or every sample you try at the store. But, you’ll find that collecting all of this information is necessary if you want a useful and accurate journal. We all know that little bites can add up to significant calories, so putting them all in your journal will only help you. And, you may find that you’re less inclined to have all those little bites in the future when you know you need to write them down.
8. Input your fresh food nutrient data at the end of the day
It’s often difficult to add up all your calories and nutrient numbers for things like fresh fruits and vegetables because they don’t have a nutrition facts panel. If you’ve recorded what you ate using the methods in #6, you can go back later and use a website or app to add up those details. Fresh produce is usually lower in calories and fat, so waiting until later to record this information likely won’t make or break your calorie intake goals for the day.
9. Don’t forget about exercise
Any activity you get is a step in the right direction, so you’ll want to record it and celebrate your exercise in your weight-loss journal each day. Knowing your daily activity level can also tell you whether exercise is boosting your mood and energy levels (it probably is!).
10. Make it uniquely yours
Keeping a weight-loss journal doesn’t have to be an arduous task or just another thing on your long to-do list. If you find little ways to make it customized for your needs, you may enjoy recording your weight-loss journey. If you’re using a hard copy, choose a notebook with a cover and pages you like. For apps, be sure you check out reviews and how it works, and find one that is visually pleasing, reliable, and fun to use.
Are you ready to take the first step toward a healthier you? Talk with Garcia Weight Loss about our personalized weight-loss programs that help you look and feel your best. Contact us today for your no-cost consultation!
Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on August 2, 2018