Journaling Your Weight Loss for Better Health
When it comes to the journey of weight loss, reflection can be a powerful tool to help us see how far we have come and to help us achieve our future goals. As such, journaling can help us survey our diet and lifestyle practices as part of developing healthier habits. Author of ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ Stephen Covey explains:
Writing is a powerful way to sharpen the mental saw. Keeping a journal of our thoughts, experiences, insights, and learnings promotes mental clarity, exactness, and context...
This is why Dr Arun Dhir, a leading Australian Bariatric Surgeon, encourages all patients to journal as a self-care practise, as it can be extremely useful when it comes to understanding our habits, thoughts and feelings surrounding weight loss. Dr Dhir’s journal for weight loss surgery patients, ‘Creating a New You’ is a practical and simple way to check on your progress, food intake and daily actions that impact your health and happiness; and helps to transform negative feelings towards your weight to help you overcome challenges with self-compassion.
The Science of Journaling
You might be wondering how the simple act of writing can be so profound when it comes to weight loss. Firstly, journaling can help identify feelings that lead to comfort eating or resistance to exercise, which can shed light on behavioural habits that emerge in certain situations. Beyond this, scientific studies suggest that reflecting on our daily perspectives can transform our thoughts and habits by altering brain neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to reshape and rewire thought pathways that influence our actions.
To explain this further, consider the following analogy:
Think of the brain as a hill covered in fresh snow, with thoughts and feelings as sleds gliding down that hill. As one sled after another goes down the hill, a small number of main trails will appear, and every time a new sled goes down, it will be drawn into the pre-existing trails, almost like a magnet. Journaling loosens the trails ingrained by our past habits. In time, deeply worn trails start to disappear, and the sled (our thoughts and feelings) can start to go in other directions creating new pathways that lead to healthier ways of thinking and living.
Other habits such as mindfulness meditation and quality sleep also promote neuroplasticity, which helps us learn and implementing new healthy choices.1,2 These are also encouraged within Dr Dhir’s patient journal, promoting a holistic approach to help you meet your goal weight and sustain healthy habits.
How to Start Journaling
A few minutes of writing each day for at least 30 days helps to create new mental pathways of clarity that help to cultivate healthy habits.
Start by recording daily meals, water intake, exercise and movement, and supplement intake; writing down any interesting insights you’ve had. By doing this, reflection can crystalise our insights, shine light on little gems of wisdom, and build a collection of information that can spur more understanding later on. Consider asking a loved one to join you on a 30-day journaling experience so you can hold yourself accountable, whilst setting a positive example for people around you.
Consistency is Key
Be curious and check in with yourself daily using the ‘Creating a New You’ journal, and see what inspiration, motivation and wisdom surrounding weight loss reveals itself. When it comes to weight loss, consistent behaviour is the key to supporting healthy habits, and journaling is a way to ensure we are staying on track. Remember that attaining optimal health is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, and it’s all the little changes and habits that add up to our success.
Read more on Dr Dhir's thoughts on how you can journal your way to positive change here.
- Raven F, Van der Zee EA, Meerlo P, Havekes R. The role of sleep in regulating structural plasticity and synaptic strength: Implications for memory and cognitive function. Sleep Med Rev. 2018 Jun;39:3-11. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2017.05.002.
- Lardone A, Liparoti M, Sorrentino P, Rucco R, Jacini F, Polverino A et al. Mindfulness meditation is related to long-lasting changes in hippocampal functional topology during resting state: a magnetoencephalography study. Neural Plast. 2018 Dec 18;2018:5340717. doi: 10.1155/2018/5340717.