Why Should I Journal?

While maintaining a journal sounds like a time-consuming thing, it truly is beneficial!  There are many apps to aid in tracking your meals (MyFitnessPal), your workouts and stats (FitBit).  These are incredibly helpful, and honestly are crucial to my fitness journey.  However, there are things that these apps just can’t track.  In addition, you have to go from app to app in order to see your information rather than have it all in one place.  In order to know exactly what works for our bodies and what doesn’t, we should be journaling.  For example – do sweet potatoes fuel your body and aid in digestion, or have you found that they cause bloat for you?  Would you actually know which food causes issues if you aren’t journaling?  If we had a great night’s sleep one night, then an awful night a few days later, can you go back to your journal to see if something was different on those days?  

Let’s look at tangible benefits from journaling!  There are many websites, including medical ones like Kaiser Permanente, that encourage journaling, and list the benefits.

1. Journaling helps you achieve goals.  “If it ain’t written, it didn’t happen” applies here!  When you use a journal to list your goals, it can help you keep track of your inventions and progress.  Writing your goals down and listing the steps you’ll take can help keep you moving forward, and keep you motivated.

2. If you keep your journal close and make writing entries a daily habit, you can easily track your progress by looking at past entries.

3.  Seeing your progress can keep you motivated!  Once you begin to feel that you’re in a plateau, you can see how far you’ve come!  Seeing results can keep you moving and boost your confidence.

4. It seems obvious,  making journal entries will also improve your communication skills – both written and spoken.

5. Even if you’re tracking your meals in an app, keeping a journal of your meals and any adverse reactions can be extremely valuable!  You’ll have a definitive record of foods, seasonings, and any reactions (bloating, extra gas, upset stomach, indigestion, etc.)  

While some people keep journals for various reasons, you could easily combine several into one journal.  For example, instead of having a fitness journal, a food journal, and a daily/memory journal – include it all in one.  Having a written record for each day’s workouts and meals in the same journal with weekly progress updates, goals, thoughts, obstacles, observations, etc.  is your best reference and guide book for future progress.  

It might seem overwhelming, but this journal will be for you, and you alone.  YOU make it exactly what YOU need, which means you can tweak it as you go along.  Add what you need or want, and cut what you don’t want!  Some things you might want to track and keep record of for your fitness and health transformation journey might be:

* Starting weight and body measurements, clothing size

* Day 1 progress pictures

* Long-term and short-term goals

* Your plan, step by step, for achieving your goals

* Track daily workouts; this will give you visible proof of your progress.  So list:

  • Type of workout (class, run, walk, lifting, yoga, etc.)
  • Distance, time, exercises, sets, reps & weight

* Track daily meals, to include all snacks, drinks, salad dressings – everything.  Make notes for any reactions (good, unpleasant, or just different) you notice after eating.  List serving sizes.

* List your daily water intake

* Every two or three weeks, update your progress photos, weight, body measurements

* Make entries about any changes in your sleep (quality, quantity), energy levels, clothing sizes, mood

* Make entries about any illnesses or injuries, even if one day you’re feeling more fatigued than another.

Once you have a written record of all of these things, you have the perfect resource to review when something seems off.  Go back to see if you’ve noticed it before, and what seems to be the same or different from your day to day activities and nutrition.   This can be truly helpful in the event you develop a food allergy, or something in your workout routine aggravates an old injury or inflammation issue.  Keeping a record of your goals, observations, and plans as well as your daily activities gives you tremendous insight into your progress.  This can certainly keep you motivated when you look back to see just how far you’ve come!  Remember, we’re looking for ALL of the non-scale victories!!  You could find some hidden treasures of progress tucked away in your journal entries!  

It will likely help to find a really pretty notebook to start your journaling; something that you’ll look forward to digging into!  Maybe get a set of really pretty pens to go with your new journal.  Then get started!  You might find that you begin to look forward to writing things down and/or that it relieves some stress in the process! 

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