HodgeonRepeat blog - assorted stack of journals

Write “It” Out: The Benefits of journaling for Weight Loss

Are you an incredible calligrapher who can create beautiful bullet journal spreads?

Do you like to write and write in a stream of consciousness to release your emotions?

Do you find it satisfying to tick off boxes in trackers and logbooks?

Do you keep a food journal, or use diet or fitness trackers?

Welcome to the wonderful world of journaling! For many of us, writing “it” down is a satisfying act and a powerful tool for helping us reach our weight-loss and wellness goals. There is evidence that people who keep a food diary lose more weight (one study found twice as much) than those who don’t record their food intake. That’s great news for all of us that like to put pen to paper and journal, track, draw, or write it all out. Journaling for weight loss works! There is a powerful connection between the act of writing down what you eat (documenting it makes it real) and consuming fewer calories (awareness influences choices).  Let’s explore the benefits of journaling for weight loss.

HodgeonRepeat blog - benefits of weight loss journaling -
black woman journaling

Luckily, writing can take many forms to track, organize, plan, evaluate, reinforce and reflect on our health journey. With all that flexibility, journaling can support you as you strive to form new healthy habits and increase accountability and awareness. Surprisingly, while I’ve always journaled, I wasn’t always successful when it came to journaling about my weight-loss efforts. Not until I shed my perfectionistic ways and adapted a format that fit my needs. Here’s what I found out about journaling through my imperfect practice.

Journaling for Weight-Loss Worked (Until I Stopped Working It)

For years, I was told to write down what I ate as a tool for helping me lose weight. From my earliest memories in grade school, high school, and beyond, my weight-loss attempts involved tracking where, when, what I ate, and how much I exercised. I knew it worked—somehow, the simple act of writing down what I ate and how much I exercised upped my level of awareness and stoked my motivation to stick to my food plan.

HodgeonRepeat blog - author's collection of journals
My collection of journals. I’ll use any type of journal — beautiful, leather-bound ones, functional trackers and composition notebooks.

I’d be moving along with my daily journaling, enjoying the act of checking off habit boxes, writing stories and jotting down meal plans when something would cause me to veer off my food plan. It could be a party, a vacation, an unexpected binge on a favorite food when my guard was down. That one slip would turn into days of off-plan eating, and the journaling would go bye-bye. I’d try to pick it back up, but somehow re-starting (and reflecting on my past journal entries) felt like a failure. I’d blown it.

Writer’s Write (There’s Always a New Journal)

I would wait a few months and then try again (usually with another new journal and food plan). As a writer, I have journaled since I could hold a pen. I’ve always owned an assortment of journals devoted to various writing projects—work-related, book ideas, health trackers and planners. As you can read from my weight-loss story, I did manage to lose weight. I threw out my old ideas about motivation (and my desire for perfection) and focused on “imperfect” consistency. Besides eating a whole-foods diet and exercising regularly, I kept a weekly journal to note my progress, weight loss, body measurements, and experiences.

I didn’t write down everything I ate, although there were weeks when I included meal planning to ensure my adherence to my food plan. Instead, I kept a faithful description of the journey. Instead of throwing in the towel at the first sign of off-plan eating (or a dip in exercise), I persisted through my imperfection and slowly lost weight.

My journal tells the story, and it’s from those experiences and lessons learned that I write my blog here at HodgeonRepeat. Journaling is a powerful weight-loss tool. Whether you choose to track daily meals, count calories, organize weekly meal plans, or log your workouts, using a journal can help you process your thoughts and feelings and observe patterns and habits objectively. It will become like a companion during the long road to weight loss. A weight-loss journal can be a place to:

HodgeonRepeat blog - benefits of weight loss journaling - food diary gratitude journal and stack of journals

write down everything you eat,

write down your daily thoughts and emotions,

write and commit to weekly goals,

reflect and track progress and obstacles, and

log data (weight, workout frequency, and type, meals, body measurements).

The benefits of journaling cut across many of the practical (and emotional) areas of our life. Here are some of the benefits I’ve found through my practice of journaling, tracking, logging and taking notes:

Increased Awareness and Accountability Through journaling, you can increase insight into your eating patterns, daily habits, and behavioral triggers. The awareness can create time and distance between our impulses to act and our thinking and decision-making about whether we should. With greater understanding, we also feel more accountable for the outcomes of our actions.

Reduces Stress Working through your feelings by writing them out can provide immediate stress relief. It’s a coping mechanism that works by allowing you to release your emotions, express your ideas and worries and reduce the internal angst and stress that the build-up of emotions has produced.

Solves Problems Writing out pros/cons lists or details and thoughts about problems can help us categorize them, put them in perspective and figure out an action plan for moving forward.

Process Feelings Journaling can help us answer the question: How do I feel? What’s going on with my emotions right now? Why did that set me off or make me feel a certain way? We can vent frustrations, describe feelings of joy and gratitude and connect with our inner thoughts. Reason and insight start to surface as the words come out. Drawing pictures can also help us process emotions.

An Act of Self-Care We talk about self-care a lot these days because we need comfort. Writing helps us create the time and space to consider our feelings, desires, hopes, and dreams. We have the opportunity to put a voice to our struggles, and through that release, we create a safe space to figure things out. Giving ourselves that room to figure it out is an act of self-care.

Reduces Feelings of Loneliness This one may surprise you, but I’ve found journaling can feel like I’m talking to a good friend at times. When I’ve felt (and written) about feeling alone or being lonely, the act of writing has offered me companionship. Your thoughts can become the voice of a “friend.”

HodgeonRepeat blog - health tracker on clipboard

Monitors Trends and Patterns Through journaling, we can see general trends in weight loss, eating behaviors, emotional states, body measurements, and behavioral triggers. We can look back at past journal entries with a different perspective and change behavior over time.

A Place for Goal-Setting Journals offer a great place to write down actionable S.M.A.R.T. goals. Writing a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goal has some accountability built into it, making it actionable and achievable.

A Place to Capture Your History Journaling tells the story of your life (capturing a snapshot of important phases of your weight-loss journey). Looking back on those experiences helps solidify your new lifestyle and hopefully leads to maintaining your healthy habits for years to come.

Organizes Resources Your journals will document new ideas, hold interesting facts and information and organize resources, so you don’t forget them. It keeps ideas handy and accessible.

Promotes Mindfulness This is a big one! A food journal can promote mindful eating by increasing mealtime awareness. It documents what, how, why, and when you eat in a way that hones in on all the specifics that matter. Through the act of recording, you are in the moment.

Builds Intentionality Writing is a powerful act that can help manifest your goals into reality. Writing builds intentionality, reinforces commitment, and drives changes in behavior over time.

Creative Expression Tapping into your creativity and organizational skills to categorize, sort, and visualize your thoughts, goals, and ideas is a powerful way to attack habit formation from different angles. Bullet journaling, for example, is a creative expression, a habit-forming activity, an organizational tool, and a place to build intentionality (all while enjoying self-expression).

How are you journaling? Drop me a comment and let me know how journaling has helped you lose weight, meal plan, track habits, and offer an outlet for creative expression!

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