I know that when I talk about journaling for weight loss, I will get some eye-rolls. And I get it.
As a kid and a teenager, I thought that keeping a diary or journal was about as lame as you could get.
But here I am, an adult who believes that journaling can help you achieve weight loss and all of the other health goals you want to rock.
Today, I am sharing with you my methods for journaling for weight loss success and better overall health, including mental and emotional health.
Before we jump into why journaling is so powerful for weight loss and how to get started, I want you to go over and grab the free download I created for you, 12 Journaling Prompts to Help You Start to Feel Amazing Naked.
If you’ve never used journaling for weight loss, this guide will help you get started by offering the reasons behind the practice, as well as 12 prompts to get you started if you aren’t sure where to begin.
I Was a Journaling Drop-out
I already told you that I was a journaling failure in my earlier years. I’m not saying I never tried it. I did.
I got my fair share of the fuzzy, 5-year diaries with the little key to unlock them. And I may have written in them once or twice but that was it. Total diary dropout.
Journaling, however, didn’t get its start with a bunch of tween girls writing in little 4 x 6 fuzzy books with locks to keep their little brother out.
Journaling is actually an ancient practice that has been traced all the way back to 10th-century Japan. It’s a practice that has stood the test of time and can be found in nearly every culture now.
When I talk about journaling for weight loss, I am not talking about the little diaries we had as kids.
Why Should I Journal?
I have the ladies in my weight loss programs journaling for a specific reason; not just to write down who our current crush is or how our best friend stabbed us in the back.
I believe that journaling can be an extremely valuable tool for your physical, emotional, and mental fitness.
But before you begin keeping a journal to help you lose weight, you need to be clear on why you are doing it. It’s not enough to do it because I say you should or because other people do it. You have to want to do it. You have to see the benefits you’ll receive and want them more than you want to quit.
I have a client who just wasn’t finding her way with journaling but it turns out, she was trying to power through a guided journal that wasn’t lighting her up at all.
If you want to be successful in using journaling to guide your fitness goals, you need to do it for personal reasons.
You have to have a greater goal than the journaling itself.
Otherwise, it will never become a practice you look forward to and you will most likely not maintain it long-term.
So before you go buy a pretty new journal…before you set really high goals as to how often you’ll write in it…determine your reasons for wanting to do it.
How Journaling Changed My Life
My own journaling journey began several years ago. I was struggling with overcoming some negative emotions in my life and I knew I needed to do something to get a handle on them.
I’ll admit, when my mentor suggested journaling, I was pretty resistant to the idea. I’m a diary dropout, remember?
But she gave me some questions to work through every day to make it easier to stay with it and so, I decided to give it a try.
What I found was that I couldn’t even be honest as I wrote. I felt like my English teacher was going to be checking it or something. I wasn’t free to be myself. I wasn’t being 100% truthful.
And if you feel that you can’t be honest in your own journal, you can’t expect to make progress with your limiting beliefs or emotional hangups.
Instead of quitting, I decided to use a guided journal for a while to help me get used to journaling every day and to get more accustomed to answering challenging questions. Eventually, I began to enjoy it.
And now? I crave it every single day.
As I shared in Episode 33 of this podcast, my morning journaling sets the tone for my entire day. There is a definite connection to learning to journal and my increased sense of self-awareness.
It has also helped me to slow down as I move throughout my day which in turn helps me to make better choices all day long. Better food choices, better parenting choices, and better responses to frustrations and negative emotions.
Journaling has truly changed every area of my life for the better. And it can do the same for you. Grab the prompts here.
What Does Successful Journaling Look Like?
Remember how I said that when I first started journaling, I didn’t feel free to write what I was really feeling? That I was afraid someone was going to judge me for what I wrote?
It’s super important when you begin journaling to understand 2 things –
- Journaling is for forward-thinking. No trash-talking yourself. Your journal isn’t the place for calling attention to every mistake you make or for calling yourself a failure. Your journal is the place where you set intentions for your day. It’s a place to capture your dreams and the goals you want to reach. Allow your journal to be a positive and uplifting place for you with no room for negative talk.
- Journaling is for creating a vision of your future self. I go so far as to write in a way that some of my vision has already come to pass. I share how I feel because of the changes I’ve made and the goals I’ve reached. This is one way to keep my journal positive and to feel great about completing the practice every day.
Before we jump into more specifics on journaling for weight loss, let’s talk about journaling in general.
There isn’t one right way to journal. There are several different methods and you should know that where you begin isn’t likely where you will end.
I want you to go into journaling with an open mind and a willingness to work through the process. That’s the only way to make progress. Just don’t quit.
You can find various techniques of journaling online but I like to keep things super simple so I am only going to share what I do and you can branch out from there.
How to Use a Guided Journal
I always recommend that people start with a guided journal if journaling is new to you or you’ve not been a successful journaler in the past.
A guided journal is exactly what its name suggests. It is a guide.
If you’ve never journaled or you’re a journal dropout like me, a guided journal can help you begin to get in touch with your inner feelings and longings.
Sometimes we have trouble accepting ourselves as we are and so trying to get in touch with our true selves through a journal can be difficult. Using a guided journal can help you to slowly process your thoughts and to gently go deeper and deeper into accepting yourself.
Using a guided journal also helps in making the practice a habit. If you know that every day you’re going to be staring at a blank page that’s just waiting for your innermost thoughts and dreams, you might be tempted to skip it.
I mean, who looks forward to that kind of pressure?
But using a guided journal gives you a way to slowly dive in without all the pressures of a blank page. And for most of us, that’s very helpful. It allows us to form the habit in a gentle way so that we begin to want to do it rather than having to do it.
When you first get started with journaling, set your journal by your coffeepot or your moisturizer so that you see it first thing in the morning.
And then every morning, take 2 minutes to set your intentions for the day. You may get through all the prompts or you may stare at it without writing anything.
It’s all okay. Whatever form those first few days take, go with it. Keep showing up. Keep picking it up and at least reading through the first couple of prompts and just see what happens.
Pretty soon, you will begin to form answers to some of the questions in your head and you may find yourself grabbing a pen to write them down.
Take it slow and easy. Don’t expect too much of yourself. Don’t pressure yourself to the point that you quit. Just try to commit to at least picking it up and reading the questions every day.
Some people find that they stay with a guided journal long-term because it helps them stay focused and not quit.
One caution I will give regarding guided journals: don’t let it become another item on your to-do list. If you find yourself writing in the journal just so you can check it off your list, you’ve lost the reason for journaling.
Journaling should be a time of connection and reflection. If you find that your guided journal allows you to go deep into yourself and you like using it, stay with it for as long as you want to.
Free Flow Journaling
This is the type of journaling most people think of when you say the word “journaling.” It also seems to be the type that brings out raw fear in most people.
Free flow journaling involves blank paper, pens, and you.
When you sit down to free-flow journal, it can take many different forms:
- You can make lists.
- You can write your intentions for the day.
- You can write paragraphs or simple phrases about who you’re trying to become and the steps you’re taking to get there.
- You can write about how you’re feeling about certain things in your life; fears, anxieties, hopes, dreams, goals, etc.
You’re going to write about you. What you’re trying to accomplish; who you’re working to become; any changes in your life you’re making, whether health-related or other; the goals you want to reach in your life, health, and business.
The main benefit of free-flow journaling is that it basically forces you to be more present with yourself and your thoughts and feelings. There are no questions to guide you into deep reflection.
Free flow journaling forces you to connect with your thoughts and what’s going on inside you on a deep level. As you connect with those thoughts, you begin to relate where you’re trying to go with what’s going on in your head.
Journaling allows you to make those connections which in turn allows you to figure out where you’re holding yourself back or holding onto limiting beliefs.
Journaling is your opportunity to take the things you know you want and commit them to paper.
Why Is Journaling So Hard?
If you’ve ever sat down to journal, you know it can feel harder than pulling a baby tooth that’s not ready to come out yet.
As women and moms, our minds are so filled with information that it can be extremely difficult to get to the root of our thoughts, to the good stuff. We are responsible for remembering so many things that those things crowd out our deeper thoughts.
Journaling forces us to dig deep down below the thoughts of what to buy at the grocery store, which kid needs shoes, and what time the appointment is to our true feelings and desires.
The problem with getting to those deep thoughts is that our mind doesn’t want us to.
The 2 Parts of the Mind
Our mind is divided into 2 parts: the conscious and the subconscious.
- The conscious mind is the part that dictates what happens in our brain.
- The subconscious obeys whatever the conscious mind is telling it.
This comes into play when we’re journaling as feeling like we “should” write about something instead of digging down into the part of ourselves that can bring about the greatest transformation.
For example, if your journaling page looks something like…
- Drink 8 glasses of water
- Exercise for 45 minutes
- Play a game with the kids
- Etc., etc., etc.
…you can see that your journaling is more giving yourself orders than it is diving deep into what’s holding you back from becoming the person you want to be. There is no transformation in a list like that.
How to Use Free-flow Journaling to Access Your Deepest Thoughts
One of the ways I help women with free-flow journaling is by suggesting that when you sit down in the morning for your 2-5 minutes of setting your daily intentions, you keep the pen on the paper, moving, until you feel like you’ve actually gotten somewhere.
I don’t care if the words coming out of your pen are something like, “I don’t know how to answer this question. It’s too hard and I don’t know what I’m supposed to say. I just know I have a thousand things to do today and I don’t know how I’ll get them all done…”
What I find is that by emptying yourself of all the conscious thoughts taking up premium real estate in your mind, you begin to get down to the subconscious thoughts where true transformation is possible.
So just keep writing nonsense until the nonsense stops coming out and you begin to write what’s buried in your mind that you haven’t wanted to talk about or maybe even admit.
If we only ever journal to-do lists and orders for ourselves to follow, we will never connect with our hearts and our deepest desires.
The Subconscious Is a Protector
Your subconscious is a protector. It will go to great lengths to protect you against painful thoughts or anything that makes you feel bad.
But if your conscious thoughts are always negative, your subconscious is going to begin to manifest negative feelings.
However, if you begin to think more positively, your subconscious will step up to the plate and happily provide you with more positive feelings.
You have to understand that your subconscious works very hard to keep you in your comfort zone. If you ever hope to escape the comfort zones that hold you back, you have to do the work to get into that more positive frame of mind so that your subconscious will follow.
“Just Do It” Journaling
I know that journaling can seem like a scary practice. Maybe you’ve failed at it many times and you just don’t think you have it in you to try again. I get it.
But what I would say is that you never know what’s going to happen until you try.
Maybe you’ve always tried free-flow journaling and you just need to use a guided journal for a while to get you in the groove of doing it every day.
Maybe you need to do the same question or a couple of questions every day for a week. Or a month. Or 6 months. Maybe you need to revisit those same questions every day until you feel like you’re digging deep and actually answering them from deep inside yourself.
Remember, there is no journaling police who are going to check to be sure you’re “doing it right.” There is no “right.”
If you need to consider the same question in your guided journal every day for 6 months, that is perfectly fine!
Benefits of Journaling
As a weight loss coach (you can learn more about coaching HERE), I see women every day who are overweight not because they have a food addiction, but because their subconscious thoughts are almost 100% negative. And to quiet those negative thoughts, they eat.
When I get these clients into the daily practice of journaling, they inevitably come back to me and say something like, “Hey Amanda, since I started journaling I feel more at peace with myself. I’m not digging in the pantry every day at 3:00 looking for what all I can eat.”
You won’t see the results of journaling in your first week or maybe your first month.
But I can promise you this – if you continue plumbing the depths of your subconscious and pulling those thoughts and feelings up and getting them out on paper, you will begin to see a transformation, first of your thoughts and then of your actions.
Journaling allows you to create a vision of who you want to be and to make a plan for getting there. It allows you to see that transformation is possible. Writing about it (conscious mind) makes your subconscious follow the plan for change. And this affects your everyday choices.
I have some clients who use a process called episodic journaling. This is simple journaling during certain episodes they go through.
Let’s say I have a client who finds herself eating ice cream every night at 9:30 no matter how much she doesn’t want to eat that ice cream.
What I will do is give that client some questions to work through when she finds herself standing at the freezer door again at 9:30.
And maybe she doesn’t even write anything down but just types a few notes into her phone. (FYI – I support my clients through the Marco Polo app so this woman can literally voice journal to me what’s going on.)
Episodic journaling can be helpful when you find yourself in any type of emotionally flooding event that brings up an unwanted behavior.
Again, the subconscious obeys what the conscious mind thinks so you need to get those negative thoughts out in whatever way works for you and replace them with the choices you want to make.
How Journaling Affects Weight Loss
Now that you know why you need to journal and the different forms it can take, let’s chat quickly about how journaling affects weight loss.
Obviously, writing in a journal doesn’t make your appetite change or make you want to eat great food all the time.
What journaling does is help you get to know yourself. It allows you to really delve deep into who you are and who you want to be. And as you get into your subconscious thoughts, you begin to see where you sabotage yourself and how you set yourself up for failure through negative thinking.
You start to make better choices once you understand why you made poor ones, and when you understand who you really want to be and what it will take to get there.
Good food choices tend to follow making the decision to find more clarity in your emotions which allows you to make better choices in every area of your life.
How much money have you spent on quick fixes? On fad diets? Has it worked for you or do you find yourself right back where you began?
If you’re ready to break those cycles of negativity and finally figure out who you want to be and how to get there…if you’re ready for real transformation…no more fads. No more quick fixes.
Grab a journal and begin the process of true transformation.
You don’t even have to spend any money!
Some of the questions you will be considering every day are:
- Why do I want to change my life?
- When I look in the mirror, I see…
- What do I want more of in my life? Less of?
These questions and 9 more are waiting for you when you download my free guide, 12 Journaling Prompts to Help You Start to Feel Amazing Naked.
You can become the person you’ve always wanted to be!
If you’re ready to change your life…if you’re ready to lose the weight and Feel Amazing Naked…I’d love to guide you too. Complete the application for coaching HERE.
And remember, Done Is Better Than Perfect!
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