Write It Down, Watch It Happen

How maintaining a journal can help keep you accountable as you work toward your fitness goals

November 7, 2011

IF YOU ASK ANY of my personal-training clients, they'll tell you I've suggested that they journal everything they eat so I can see--even if they were uncomfortable doing it.

People constantly ask me why they can't seem to lose weight or reach their goals, no matter how clean they eat and how much they exercise. But once they keep a food journal for at least a week, they're shocked at what they find. Little did they realize how many times they stopped off at the office M&M jar. These calories add up fast: One pound equals roughly 3,500 calories, and one handful of M&Ms each day adds up to more than half that in a week! That's not including the morning coffee with cream or bites of your son's ice cream before bed.

Journaling is a way to write down your thoughts, feelings and emotions. It doesn't have to be about nutrition if that's already a strong point. Maybe you have a lot going on in your life or you want to get stronger in the gym. Maybe, like me, you take on a lot of responsibilities and need to journal to keep from falling behind. Food journaling; recording the weights, reps and sets you use; note-taking; and diary-writing are all productive methods of staying focused, achieving your goals and--believe it or not--reducing stress.

I don't always write down what I eat (I usually eat the same things every day) or what my workouts are (because I change them up so often). However, I'm a huge list-maker and note-taker. I have sticky notes everywhere and my agenda is in my purse at all times. This allows me to stay on top of things and gives me a sense of accomplishment as I cross items off the list. If I have an idea, I jot it down so I don't forget. I take after my mom in this respect; when I was younger and couldn't fall asleep, she'd tell me to write down what I was thinking and then lie down. It worked every time.

Each person has a unique way of journaling; there's no right or wrong way to do it. But if you have trouble reaching your goals or your life gets crazy and hectic at times, give it a try. Hopefully it'll work as well for you as it does for me!

NICOLE'S JOURNALING TIPS

1/ Get a small notebook, a sticky notepad or an agenda book. Decorate it and make it your own. Keep it with you.

2/ Determine your goal and write it on the first page. Do you want to lose/ gain weight? Get stronger? Reduce stress? Feel accomplished?

3/ Be consistent. Journals are always fun to look back at. I still have workouts from high school and daily nutrition logs from 10 years ago. Hilarious!

4/ Be honest with yourself. No one else has to see it.