How to Keep a Weight Loss Journal

Weight loss journal

Successful long term weight loss for most of us is about making small and progressive changes to our daily exercise and eating habits.

To help us make those changes, keeping a simple weight loss journal or diary can be a great help.

This article discusses why it's a good idea to keep a weight loss journal, what to record, some possible formats and provides some examples of journal entries.

Why keep a weight loss journal

Do you remember exactly what and how much you ate on Monday of last week and how many kilojoules or calories you consumed and burned?

Or do you remember exactly how far and how quickly you walked last month?

If the answer is no, then you could benefit from keeping a weight loss diary to plan and track your weight loss progress.

Even if the answer is yes, you too could benefit from keeping a weight loss diary because eating the same thing everyday and exercising for the same length of time and intensity is likely only to help you maintain your status quo, not help you lose weight and become fitter and stronger.

Here are some of the great things a weight loss diary can help us do:

  • Clarify and focus our weight loss goals
  • Break down our goals into manageable chunks
  • Plan future activity and eating patterns
  • Record our actual activity and eating patterns
  • Record other important "peripheral information"
  • Keep track of our progress towards our goals
  • Better understand and manage our eating habits and portion sizes
  • Break unhealthy and emotional eating
  • Take guess work out of the weight loss equation
  • See how balanced our diets and lives are
  • Improve our nutrition
  • Stay motivated
  • Stop unconscious eating
  • Overcome the hidden barriers to our weight loss success
  • Understand the relationship between our eating habits, our exercise habits, our lifestyle habits and successful weight loss
  • Understand which of life's stresses impacts us the most
  • Understand our sleeping patterns
  • Track our blood pressure, cholesterol levels, Body Mass Index, etc
  • Provide a hard record of our successes

Things to record in a weight loss journal

One of the reasons more people don't currently keep a weight loss diary is because they think it needs to be complicated and time consuming to be effective.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Keeping a weight loss journal should be simple and shouldn't take up a lot of our valuable time.

Like most things weight loss related, starting off slowly and as simply as possible and progressing gradually is the key to successfully starting to keep a weight loss journal.

A good starting journal might record:

  • Our weight loss goal
  • Our daily activities/exercise
  • Our daily food and drink consumption
  • Our current and progressive weight
  • Our current and progressive body measurements

Later on, we can also start to record things like:

  • The amount and quality of sleep we get
  • Our daily energy levels
  • Our daily emotions

None of the above need be complicated.

For example, recording our food and drink consumption doesn't mean we have to start looking up the calories of everything we put in our mouths.

As you'll see in the examples below, all we need to do is record exactly what we eat and drink and when.

Adding why, if the reason is anything other than hunger, can be handy but isn't included in the examples below. Simply knowing that we've eaten three slices of super supreme pizza for lunch or a four egg omelet for breakfast is enough information to help us plan eating a salad sandwich or two and half slices of super supreme pizza for lunch and a three egg omelet for breakfast next time.

Likewise, the exercise component of our diary needn't be overly complicated.

Knowing that we walked for 25 minutes each day last week or that we did three sets of 15 dumbell curls with 3lb dumbells will help us to plan walking for 26 minutes a day or do three sets of 15 dumbell curls with 5lb dumbells next week.

Just be careful not to miss anything, especially small items that can be easily forgotten or overlooked later.

The key here is to record everything we eat and all the exercise we do immediately after eating it or doing it.

Weight loss journal formats

Keeping in mind that our weight loss journal doesn't need to be complicated to be effective, but can be as sophisticated as we would like it, we can use any of the following to record our daily weight loss information in:

  • A simple Exercise Book
  • Any form of Diary
  • A scrapbook
  • Any loose leaf folder or file
  • An Excel Spreadsheet
  • An online diary, forum or blog
  • A specially designed computer program diary

Weight loss journal entry examples

Here's an example of what a fairly basic day's diary entries might look like:

Date: 01-01-2013
Goals: Weight - 80kgs Waist - 80 cm
Food:
Time Food Description Portion Mood Thoughts
6.30am Natural Muesli w/Milk 1 bowl Good Very satisfied
Apple Juice 1 glass " "
9.00am Water 1 glass - -
10.30am Yoghurt 250ml Happy Feeling healthy
Chocolate Biscuits 2 Very Happy Didn't need these.
Cup of tea 1 cup " -
11.15am Water 1 glass - -
12.30pm Turkey/Salad Sandwich 1 Flat Tasted Great
Diet Coke 1 can " Needed a sugar fix
1.30pm Water 1 glass - -
2.30pm Mandarin 1 Good -
6.00pm Grilled Chicken breast 1 small Tired -
Mixed vegetables 1 cup " -
Bread 1 slice " Didn't need this
Wine 2 glasses " Nice drop!
9.00pm Hot Chocolate 1 cup Good This'll help me sleep
Comments:
Pretty good day. Must try to cut down on the chocolate biscuits!
Need to drink more water.
Exercise:
Time Exercise / Activity Duration Intensity Thoughts
5.30am Walk on treadmill 30 mins Light A little faster next time.
12.00pm Walked around park 20 mins Light Beautiful day!
Comments:
Try walking with light dumbells on the treadmill.

Conclusion

Successful long term weight loss for most of us is about making small and progressive changes to our daily habits, particularly with regard to the level and intensity of our physical activity and the amount and types of food we eat.

To help us plan and keep track of those small changes, keeping a simple weight loss journal can be a great help.

This article discussed why it's a good idea to keep a weight loss journal, what things are useful to record in a journal, some possible formats for weight loss journals and provided some examples of journal entries.

A journal can be started on any day of the year so why not start one today?

Good luck and thanks for visiting weightloss.com.au.

Copyright Ultimate Weightloss.

This article was written by Scott Haywood.

Scott is the editor of weightloss.com.au. Scott has developed an expertise in fitness and nutrition, and their roles in weight loss, which led him to launch weightloss.com.au in 2005. Today, weightloss.com.au provides weight loss and fitness information, including hundreds of healthy recipes, weight loss tools and tips, articles, and more, to millions of people around the world, helping them to lead happier, healthier, lives.

You can follow Scott on Google+ for more interesting articles.

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