A journal is a practical tool to help you organize, plan and reflect. When it comes to managing your weight and getting real results, it can help you map out a strategy for success and track your progress. But more than an accountability tool, it’s also an outlet for expressing your emotional and physical experiences on this challenging journey with weight and health.
Maybe you’re not enthusiastic about journaling, but you’re lacking concrete goals for your health and steps to achieve them. Maybe you’re attracted to the creative possibilities of keeping a journal, but you’re not sure how to make it a practical tool that will get you results and keep them. To start a journal you can truly find benefit in, consider these tips and guidelines.
What Makes a Useful Health Journal?
The Right Format
Do you like using a pen, pencil or marker and writing on physical pages? Are you more attracted to digital platforms like taking notes on your cellphone, tablet or computer? Identify your favorite way to plan, organize and reflect. Choose a format you can commit to with consistency.
An Inspiring Design and/or Layout
Buy or create a journal that brings out your creativity and honesty. A visually appealing design can be inspiring to write in, like one with a lot of vibrant colors or one with a minimalist style. If you’re a serious note taker, consider a journal with lined paper and enough room for you to capture your complete thoughts. If you enjoy sketches, calendars and blank space for creative thinking, go with blank paper or a journal with an agenda component.
Writing Down S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Use your journal to map out goals that are S.M.A.R.T. — specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based. Write your goals in the very first pages or keep re-writing them along the way for emphasis. Keep them in a place you’ll look at often so they’re always in mind.
Tracking for Accountability
A journal can be a great way to analyze and modify your everyday behaviors like eating, exercising and sleeping. Use it to write down the foods you most frequently consume and estimate your daily calorie intake. Track the average amount of physical activity you get each day/week and the types of activities you enjoy most. Want to track your sleep habits? Write down what times you go to bed and wake up and rate your sleep quality on a scale of 1-10. Use this information to make improvements where they could be beneficial.
Write Down What Your Body Tells You
Are you constantly hungry, tired or irritable? Write it down. Does a certain food or activity cause pain or discomfort? Write it down. How do you feel on a specific medication? Write it down. Make it a habit to listen to your body and record both negative and positive symptoms. Use these notes to discuss your weight management plan with your healthcare provider.
Journaling can be very cathartic. Use it to express how you’re feeling emotionally and mentally throughout your health journey. Whether you’re energized, burned out, inspired, frustrated, angry or proud, record your feelings. If you’re not much of a journalist, consider using stamps that summarize how you feel on average each day/week.
Reflect Often on Your Journey
Every so often, look back through the pages of your journal and reflect on your experiences. Use this time to identify what’s working in your favor and what might need adjustment.
No matter where you are on your health journey, even if maintenance is your only goal, a detailed journal is an excellent way to stay focused and on track. Use this tool to practice mindfulness, expression and progress. Want more helpful tools for your journey? CLICK HERE.