Journaling Your Way To Weight Loss

Many of​ my diets have been unsuccessful over the​ years. I’m not proud of​ that fact,​ but I do feel that many of​ my failed diets have taught me valuable lessons. it​ is​ extremely important to​ try to​ learn something from each diet that goes south. if​ you don’t learn anything,​ your mistakes will be repeated.

One of​ the​ best ways to​ learn from your mistakes is​ to​ start writing in​ a​ journal. a​ journal is​ a​ personal tool,​ and I wouldn’t normally tell you how to​ use one. But I feel I must share with you some of​ the​ ways I learned to​ use my journal.

For starters,​ write down everything that you eat,​ as​ you eat it. This may seem strange,​ but as​ I’ve mentioned before,​ many of​ us do actually forget some of​ the​ things we​ eat during the​ day,​ especially the​ small stuff. This is​ especially true if​ we​ are continually snacking. Do you remember how many handfuls of​ Sugar Frosted Flakes you munched on​ today? Was it​ two? or​ was it​ more like nine? You must be precise in​ order to​ gain any benefit from this technique. Don’t write down that you ate “some” M&Ms. Write down that you ate “three handfuls” of​ M&Ms. at​ the​ end of​ the​ day,​ you can take out any calorie counting booklet and add up your total calories for the​ day. You can be the​ judge. How many calories did you consume? Was it​ a​ good day,​ or​ a​ bad day? if​ it​ was a​ bad day,​ which items made it​ so? Can we​ cut back on​ that tomorrow? Great!

Don’t cheat,​ and don’t fudge (no pun intended). if​ you try to​ pretend that you didn’t eat all that ice cream last week,​ and you tell your friend that you stuck to​ the​ diet but still gained weight,​ then you have more problems than just being overweight. Most of​ my friends can tell when I’m lying anyway.

If you can’t be honest with your friends,​ you have to​ at​ least be honest with yourself. if​ you aren’t honest with yourself,​ that’s called denial,​ and that will do nothing but continually frustrate you. When you weigh-in,​ you will find that the​ scale remembers everything you ate. a​ record of​ where you slipped up on​ your diet is​ priceless information. Don’t deny yourself that feedback.

A second type of​ journal entry could be your weekly problem log. You only need to​ fill out this log for weeks that you didn’t lose weight. You need only summarize what you feel are the​ reasons you did not lose weight this past week (stress,​ holidays,​ a​ sale on​ brownies,​ etc.). Here is​ a​ sample log:

WEEK 3: I ate an​ entire chocolate bunny,​ or​ two.
WEEK 7: I thought the​ chocolate sauce was nonfat.
WEEK 9: Chocolate. Never mind what,​ just chocolate.
WEEK 11: we​ had no trick-or-treaters,​ and I ate all the​ fun-size Snickers because they were bothering me as​ they lay there.

Trends often emerge within a​ problem log. in​ this case the​ trend is​ chocolate. the​ appropriate correction is​ to​ eat less chocolate,​ preferably no chocolate. Yes,​ life is​ unfair.

The challenge then is​ finding ways to​ lower your intake of​ chocolate. the​ best thing I could do to​ help myself is​ to​ stay away from 7-Eleven stores. we​ all have our secret little places that we​ go for our “fixes.” Resist the​ urge to​ go to​ them and pretend you need a​ vegetable fix,​ or​ a​ fruit fix instead. Take a​ big bite out of​ that carrot and say out loud,​ “Yes,​ oh I needed this so much.” Make sure no one is​ within earshot first.

Not everybody’s problem log will be filled with “chocolate” entries. Some people will drink too much alcohol (oops... multiple problems),​ while others will eat too much junk food. Others will drink a​ 12-pack of​ soda per day,​ while still others will eat as​ much meat in​ a​ week as​ some of​ us do in​ a​ year. the​ point is​ that by using a​ log in​ this way,​ you will be able to​ see which items or​ events most severely affect your weight-loss.

A journal can also be used for keeping track of​ your exercise sessions. Keep track of​ how many hours you exercise per week and what type of​ exercise you perform. it​ is​ also helpful to​ have a​ weekly exercise goal in​ mind as​ you journey through your diet. This can be expressed in​ calories or​ in​ hours,​ whichever suits you best. the​ goal is​ a​ constant reminder to​ include exercise in​ your weight-loss plan.

One of​ my favorite ways to​ use a​ journal is​ to​ regroup and reorganize after a​ terrible weigh-in. I tend to​ write down whatever I’m thinking at​ the​ moment just to​ get the​ pen rolling. Often the​ first few words reveal my mood,​ and I’m not often a​ happy camper. Here are some examples:

January 6 - Okay Johnny,​ what happened? Wait,​ let me guess,​ you shouldn’t have eaten at​ McDonald’s three times this week. When will you learn to​ stay away from those places? Are you on​ my side? or​ are you just going through the​ motions?

January 27 - Let me just say one thing...WHAT’S WITH the​ FOUR PIECES of​ CAKE at​ the​ WEDDING? What could you possibly be thinking? Your plan was to​ stick with vegetables this week. Did you temporarily forget that cakes are not in​ the​ vegetable family? What can you do to​ keep away from that junk next week?

February 17 — Ok,​ this week is​ shot. Seems to​ me that we’re having a​ lot of​ blown weeks,​ aren’t we​ Johnny? And didn’t we​ have this same conversation a​ few weeks ago? Yes,​ I think we​ did? Wait! Maybe there are some other areas of​ your life that we​ could screw up too. Why should we​ limit it​ to​ dieting...

You might think I’m being a​ bit harsh on​ myself in​ these journal entries,​ but I get all of​ my frustrations out right then and there. I usually stop being upset with myself after a​ few paragraphs,​ and then I write some positive goals for the​ upcoming week.

Keeping a​ journal of​ your thoughts and reflections concerning your diet each day is​ also helpful. No topic that pertains to​ diets is​ off limits. Sample topics might include: Have you been drinking eight glasses of​ water each day? Did you blow it​ big time last night at​ dinner? Have you had a​ revelation or​ breakthrough in​ your diet strategy?

It is​ important to​ focus on​ what has been negatively and positively affecting your progress each week. It’s helpful to​ review the​ past week’s journal entries over the​ weekend or​ on​ whatever day you choose. This serves as​ input to​ your diet planning process. Throw out what doesn’t work,​ and welcome whatever does work for you. as​ you reread your journal,​ you may be surprised at​ what you have written. Was that really you who wrote that paragraph three weeks ago? Did you really eat all that in​ one day? or​ “My God,​ I’m so paranoid.” You’ll be amazed at​ how many states of​ mind you find yourself in.

Within your own journal,​ you can do more than write. I like to​ draw pictures of​ the​ restaurants that are safe to​ visit,​ and I like to​ draw pictures of​ and make lists of​ the​ foods that I can and cannot eat,​ separated by a​ big thick impenetrable line that I drew and did not dare cross. I even tried to​ draw an​ apple fritter at​ one time,​ but it​ didn’t look appetizing. it​ looked more like a​ poorly groomed,​ ugly hairpiece,​ but that’s not the​ point. I knew it​ was an​ apple fritter and I knew I couldn’t eat it. That type of​ stuff works for me; you must find out what will work for you.

Remember,​ however,​ that the​ journal won’t do the​ hard work for you. the​ journal can help you see trends in​ your eating behavior,​ but you are going to​ have to​ reverse the​ bad trends on​ your own. So please learn these lessons well,​ and if​ you need to​ start your diet over,​ like I have done many times,​ start over with conviction.

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