Journaling can help you get healthy

March 15, 2017

By Bonnie Pace, MS, CNS, LDN, Personal Training Supervisor

There is one common theme that comes up when research is conducted on those who have lost weight and successfully kept it off. It’s not the amount of calories consumed or the volume of carbs, or any diet-related trait. It’s the fact that those who lose weight — and keep it off — journal. A 2012 study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics discovered that those who journaled lost 13 percent of their body weight, compared to 8 percent in those who dieted and did not journal.

Journaling creates awareness, and therefore mindfulness. Journaling helps you become accountable to yourself. It brings together actions (such as eating more vegetables or less processed food) and the power of your mind to process how those actions help or hinder you reaching your goal.

Journaling can also help you explore the reasons why you are eating. Are you stressed, bored, tired? Did you not sleep well the night before? When you write down not only what you eat but how you are feeling, it helps you explore the emotional connection with food. By realizing the powerful reasons you may be eating poorly, or overeating, you can strategize how to address them in a healthier way.

There are many ways to journal, from beautiful hardbound journals to high-tech apps. One of my favorites is MyFitnessPal.com. Although it tends to be calorie-focused, it does have thousands of restaurant meals and packaged foods in their database. The ability to look up foods before you order or purchase helps you become a better-informed consumer. It can be very eye-opening when you look up your favorite coffee drink and discover it has a day’s worth of sugar!

Journaling is hard. It is time-consuming. It requires you to be honest and accountable to yourself. But it is worth it. So whether you jot down notes in a spiral notebook, use sticky notes on your calendar, or type your food into your app, start journaling for your overall health and weight loss success!

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