Knowing who we are and what we think can sometimes get lost in our day-to-day life. We struggle to find our inner voice amidst the sea of appointments, work commitments, and chores that make up our daily routine. Journaling and expressive writing (writing to express your emotions) can help uncover thoughts, habits, and beliefs.
What if I told you that journaling could also help you achieve your healthy eating and fitness goals? Health and fitness journal prompts can help guide your intention for sticking with weight loss, fitness and other self-care goals.
A consistent writing practice can improve your self-awareness and help reveal the “you” that exists beyond your everyday actions and routines. It’s like peeling back the curtain on the inner workings of your thinking to uncover the unanswered questions about who you are and what beliefs and daily thoughts drive your routines. Through a journaling practice, you can learn about your behavior patterns and make connections between any recurring ideas you have. It’s a tool for self-reflection that helps you identify and pursue inroads to change.
I know I’m not alone in my struggle to stay consistent in following a healthy diet and exercise plan. For decades before I lost weight (and settled into a comfortable long-term maintenance routine), the only thing consistent about my desire to maintain healthy habits was my inconsistency.
On Monday and Tuesday, I was on top of things; I usually veered off course by Wednesday (as weekly stressors piled up) and called it quits on my food plan and exercise routine by Friday. The weekend was coming! I’d start again on a Monday (not always that following Monday, but some Monday). The only consistent habit I had to support my commitment to health goals were the moments of clarity and reason that surfaced as part of my internal dialogue during my journaling. But I kept at it, and eventually, my consistent effort paid off.
Think Less About Conformity and Accountability (and More About Consistency)
Writers write, so I always have a notebook. I scribble menus or grocery lists, furiously write stream of consciousness journal entries and generate pros/cons lists. These different forms of writing give substance and form to my ideas about healthy habits. I’ve settled into a weekly journaling practice that has stuck. I journal—whether I’m on a healthy eating plan and exercising routine or not. It’s not so much about accountability as it is about reflecting on my health and fitness journey.
Journaling reminds me that even in my inconsistency, my stumbles and falls, I have tried. With every subsequent journal entry, I have returned to trying. I’ve become an expert at trying. String enough of those efforts together, and you are on your way to long-term success. It’s not perfection we are after in following our wellness goals; it is acceptance of the process of trying (over and over again) until we achieve incremental milestones.
Journaling: Health Benefits
Journaling about your emotions and events that have caused trauma or stress can be a powerful act with immediate and long-term benefits. Expressive writing can work in the present moment to reduce stress and a negative state of mind. Here’s a wonderfully comprehensive list of journal prompts related to every emotion imaginable. You can use these prompts to work through feelings such as anger, anxiety, fear and inadequacy.
There are also some documented long-term positive health outcomes to expressive writing, including reduced blood pressure and improved working memory, sports performance and immune system functioning. Seeing this list of health benefits made me think about creating journal prompts to help process thoughts on healthy eating, exercise and self-care. Why not explore health-related issues directly in expressive writing sessions to uncover patterns, habits, and ways of thinking that are (or are not) supporting our wellness goals?
If you haven’t journaled much or feel that your writing has gotten stale, I offer these journal prompts as inspiration. Open a journal, notebook, diary or pad and use one of these prompts to get your ideas to take shape. I’ve organized them around healthy eating, exercise and the mind/body connection.
You can start with a few minutes of free writing and then pick a journal prompt from one of these categories. Mix it up according to your mood, your need for reflection or as a boost for your internal motivation.
Journal Prompts for Healthy Eating:
- What would happen if I ate healthy, unprocessed foods for one day? How would I feel, and how would my day change?
- Which healthy foods feel like abundance and pleasure to me? Are those foods in my kitchen right now?
- If I could only choose three healthy (whole) foods to have with me on a deserted island, what would they be? Why?
- If I were to share my meal with a hungry family struggling to put food on their table, what would I serve them? How would I feel about that?
- How would it feel if food choices weren’t a struggle? What would I do with that extra emotional energy?
- What meal (foods) feel best in my body? How is that different from eating foods that don’t agree with my body?
Journal Prompts for Fitness:
- Can I recall a time when movement felt good? What was I doing, and how was my body engaged?
- What are two of my body’s greatest strengths or abilities?
- Are the weeks that I exercise different from the weeks that I don’t? How?
- If I could exercise only once per week, would I do it or think it wasn’t worth it? Why, why not?
- In 10 years, how do I want my body to look, feel and move as I do my daily activities? Do I think that is possible?
Journal Prompts for Mind/Body:
- Is my self-care routine connected to my favorite activities, people or places? If not, why?
- Where do I go when I want to rest my mind, unplug and relax? Is it a place, a state of mind or both?
- How does exercise affect my mental outlook?
- When was the last time I felt deeply happy? What was going on at that time?
- If I could do anything I wanted for three hours, what would I do? Describe the setting, the activity and any other people involved.
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