Most people assume that losing weight is all about eating healthy food and exercising regularly. While both are important for weight loss, sometimes it’s more about shifting a mindset and figuring out not only why it’s important to lose weight, but how to do it. Many people are trying the keto diet — a high fat, low carb diet — and are having fantastic results! Just read about the fantastic low carb diet results in the Body Reboot book. The book tells us how to make healthy life choices and stick to them. It’s true that a diet can have incredible results, but to follow through sometimes that means applying additional techniques. Thankfully, there’s a simple brain hack anyone can try. It’s called journaling, and it’s time for everyone to get writing.
Eat This, Not That brings up a few studies that revealed startling truths about writing in a journal. Those who regularly journaled lost double the weight! That’s not all, either. Check out some of the other findings below:
In 2008, the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that among 1,700 individuals, those who journaled daily lost double the weight compared to non-journalers. And a 2012 study from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics discovered that, out of 439 women, those who kept a food journal lost about 13 percent of their starting body weight compared to the 8 percent of those who did not journal.
The power of the food journal is that it keeps you accountable and makes you more aware. You are less likely to grab that piece of chocolate cake if you know you have to write down later and face the ultimate critic (AKA you). Plus, you become more aware of the emotions tied to your food or the habits you’ve fallen into. Perhaps you find that you crave fatty snacks around 4 p.m. When you sit down and ask yourself the simple question “why” in your journal, you realize that 4 p.m. is peak stress time at work. The following day, you come prepared with a healthy snack to munch on at 4 p.m.; maybe you even do yoga before work to prevent your stress.
Journaling is a scientifically-proven weight loss tool, but it can help you with so much more than just that. It can be used to track your step-by-step progress in fitness or your success at work. Whatever you use it for, there’s one downside to journaling: it’s downright hard. It’s burdensome to consistently write in a journal every day and difficult to face your emotions head on. But, trust us, just one short journal session a day can help you keep your word when it comes to weight loss.
A woman named Charmaine decided to journal her weight loss efforts — in a total of 14 journals! It turns out, according to CNN, that she had incredible results. Of course, it also took a lot of discipline, but journaling helped her reach her goals in more ways than one.
Charmaine Jackson can tell you what she ate on any date for the past five years.
She can tell you how much she exercised, what kind of mood she was in, how much water she drank — even if she watched television while mindlessly munching away.
All she has to do is flip through the pages of her 14 journals.
The reason she began her daily record keeping was simple — she wanted to lose weight and keep it off.
It may sound extreme, but it paid off. Since she began keeping journals, Jackson is half the person she used to be — going from 260 to 130 pounds.
“(Journaling has) really helped me get an idea of what my behaviors are, what my patterns are, how I can make change for myself for good,” she said. “You wouldn't see it unless you look at it over time and you really get a chance to see this worked and why.”
“(She) is great proof of the benefits of self-monitoring in the weight loss and management process,” said Dr. Jessica Bartfield, a bariatrician at Loyola University Health System who sees both surgical and nonsurgical patients battling their weight.
“The easy answer to weight management is calories in, calories out,” Bartfield said. “But there's actually a lot of other factors that affect how much you're eating.”
Bartfield said other factors include a person's hydration, sleep duration, sleep patterns and emotions. She asks many patients to rate their hunger and thirst while they are eating.
“(Journaling) helps them recognize where they might be missing out and skipping meals, or going too long in between meals and therefore leading to overeating at subsequent meals,” she said.
While you’re journaling away you should also consider writing down metrics which should include what you weigh, should eat, and the energy you have, among other data points. Medium also suggests being honest but still being patient. It took some time to get out of the habit, so it’s going to take some time to get back into working on your health.
It is an age old quote about tracking metrics from business to relationships, and it also finds its home with fitness and health. Track what you eat, what you weigh, what you look like in the mirror, your measurements, your workouts, how much energy you have.
Your scale weight can be the most tricky measurement of all, because there are so many variables that go into it. Water weight, when you get on the scale, types of food you’ve eaten all play into that number. Keep tabs on it in 2–4 week averages. If you are hard on yourself with the day to day numbers, you could lose motivation real quick.
Your mirror and measurements are your best friend when it comes to noticing physical and fat loss changes.
Be honest and watch all of your metrics improve with enough patience and consistency.
An author on Women’s Health wrote about why journaling worked for her and what type of prompts she followed to encourage herself to continue to make positive life-changing decisions. It seems like it worked for her, so maybe if you combined it with a low carb diet it could help you too!
By journaling about the things I really enjoy, focusing on my responses, and making them a reality, I felt so much happier. That meant I didn't need to turn to food to experience joy anymore. As a result, over the next couple of years, I lost 40 pounds—almost effortlessly (really!).
If you’re struggling with your weight and dieting, I want you to know that it’s usually not about the food. It’s often about the fact that you're not taking care of yourself and you're filling those voids with foods that give you pleasure. To conquer that issue, try tackling the journaling prompts I used to get started figuring out what your needs actually are. Spoiler alert: it's probably not a bag of chips. When you write your responses, you should feel happiness or light up a bit at the thought of the things your soul craves. When you feel that, you'll know that you’ve hit gold. That’s the real you speaking, and it’s time to listen.
What are some other things you should jot down in your journal? VeryWellFit recommends writing down the nutrition data for the foods you eat (which is extremely helpful if you’re counting carbs while on the keto diet), and also writing down what time you eat. Writing acurrate notes will help you take note of what you can improve.
Your weight loss journal should also include nutrient data for the food and drinks that you consume.
Record your portion size, keeping in mind that your portion size may be different than the serving size listed on the Nutrition Facts label. If you do not know the portion of the food you ate, you can eyeball your food intake to get an estimate.
If you don't have a Nutrition Facts label available for the food you eat, use a nutrition data website or app to get important information like calories and protein, fat, carbohydrate, and fiber grams.
You may find it easier to do this record-keeping all at one time at the end of the day instead of taking the time to do it little by little as the day progresses.
If possible, try to jot down the time you start eating and the time you finish eating. Recording your meal times and meal duration will help you see if you are eating too fast. Many dieters (and non-dieters) eat too quickly.
You will also notice if you are eating too often. Some dieters find it helpful to eat on a regular schedule rather than grazing all day long. Eating too often could be a sign that you are not eating balanced meals. Frequent eating can also cause weight gain or diet failure.
If you’re really going to give journaling a go WebMD says you should know your reasons and the format you’d like to try. If you’re on a low carb diet, you can keep yourself accountable by writing down the number of carbs, fat, and other nutritional facts you’re eating daily. This should hopefully help you continue to lose more weight and create new positive health goals.
Food Diary Tip No. 1: Know Your Reasons
If you know what you hope to gain from your food diary, you can make sure you're recording the type of information that will help you in that area. Fletcher advises people to be clear about their intent, whether it’s to become aware of hidden food triggers, notice problematic eating patterns, or just make sure they're eating a healthy diet.
Food Diary Tip No. 2: Choose Your Format
Kerri Anne Hawkins, MS, RD, a dietitian with Tufts Medical Center's Obesity Consultation Center, uses several types of food diary forms for her patients. She tells them to fill out just what works for them; they can even create their own system, like using sticky notes.
Keeping track of carbs, fat, and fiber grams will be helpful for people with diabetes and other medical conditions. If you have type 2 diabetes, you might find, for example, that meals high in carbohydrates or meals high in saturated fat may cause you trouble. Or you might discover that your blood sugar levels improve when your meal or snack contains a certain amount of fiber.
Write down other items you think are important, such as how you felt (physically and emotionally) when you finished eating, what and how much exercise you got that day, any medication you took, and your blood sugar results, if you have diabetes.
Journaling combined with the ketogenic diet can be a powerful pair. To get started on your health journey (and make new, positive decisions!), check out the Body Reboot book. Good news: You can get a copy of the Body Reboot book if you help us cover the cost of shipping! Check out this page to find out whether we still have any copies remaining.
Sources: Medium, Women’s Health, CNN, VeryWellFit, WebMD, Eat This, Not That
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