My Journey in Journaling

erinjournalingI kept a diary in third and fourth grade to chronicle the inner-workings of my 8-year-old mind. It was a little green diary, with a gold lock and key to keep my brothers from snooping. I was quite faithful, and although now and then I would go for months without writing, I would always return and apologize to Diary as if she were a person. I wrote, in simple sentences, about books I read, crushes I had, and whether or not I’d taken my bath yet. When my mom found Diary and sent it to me about a year ago, it was like getting a birthday present in the mail. My husband and I both read it until we cried, although I didn’t allow him to read it while I was present (third grade can be quite embarrassing).

I used to love journaling. It can be very cathartic and a good frame of reference to look back on. But unlike many in the fitness community, I’m not nor have I ever been a diet journaler. I remember the first time I tried to count my calories. I was probably in high school, and I got bored with it after breakfast.

So when I received the Diet & Fitness Journal in the mail, I thought it would be a great experiment for me. A non-food-journaler, journaling. The excitement!

Many, many people—Jenn included—swear by journaling their daily meals, snacks, nibbles and activities. Whether on paper or online (Jenn uses PEERtrainer for accountability), those who journal are said to lose more weight than dieters who don’t write down their meals. The rationale being that if you have to write all of your food down, you’re more likely to consciously think about what you’re eating and therefore eat better and control your portions.

I was excited to get my journal in the mail. It’s a slim, black book, and the band with the logo on the cover can be removed so that you’re not announcing to everyone that you’re carrying your DIET & FITNESS JOURNAL! (The spine of the book does indeed say “diet & fitness journal,” but I guess it’s more discreet there.)

I opened up the book’s crisp, fresh pages and set about filling the lines with my diet and fitness adventures. That was one thing I loved—not only does it have your food log on the left-hand page, but also a fitness log on each right-hand page so it’s about all aspects of wellness. There’s a spot for calories, fat, sodium, carbs, fiber and protein, but you can choose to be as specific in your food log or as vague as you want. There are even cute little boxes you can check for your fruit and vegetable servings and your glasses of water! Very easy to use and very informative, the first 36 pages are chock full of fitness and nutrition basics that are great for anyone just starting out on their wellness journeys. There’s even a handy reference in the back with common foods and their calorie counts.

But for all of the positives and awesomeness of the journal, I just couldn’t do it. I tried. For some people, writing food down will make them think about ingesting that cupcake. For me, writing my food down doesn’t change anything. I won’t avoid a cupcake because I write it down; I enjoy my cupcake and eat healthier at my next meal. When I wrote “Bad Journaler” in the notes section after taking a week off, I took it as a sign that it wasn’t working for me.

So while I fully support and recommend food and fitness journaling for some people and this particular one is an awesome choice, I have no shame in admitting that it’s just not for me. I’ve changed a lot since high school, but that’s one thing that hasn’t changed. —Erin

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  1. Jules says:

    I am right there with you Erin. I journal every morning. It is my daily meditation. If I don’t journal, I miss it. It’s like how some explain exercise, which unfortunately hasn’t made it into my schedule either.

    Using a food and exercise journal usually ends in the same way as you. It, along with the water, has been the biggest frustration of my weight watcher plan. Along with the exercise. Maybe if my feet and my mouth had to do the writing, I might have greater success!

    Thanks for the great post!

  2. I’ve just started food journaling again to get me through the holidays. I make it a practice to just notice what I’m eating WITHOUT being critical. It’s fascinating to see where the hiccups in my eating habits are, “at mom’s house – kept eating mixed nuts,” etc… I keep a small wirebound notebook in my purse.

  3. I bought a small diet journal in February and used it exclusively until I joined Spark People in April.
    Oh boy, it was a great help to me! I wish I still had it — but I gave it to someone else after I joined SP.
    I still track my food daily — for me, it’s my greatest tool in this long journey.

  4. tish says:

    funny i can blog and write in my own personal journal…once you put a diet journal in front of me i automatically go into commitment phobe mode. go figure. those that can do it are hard core awesome “stick to it-ers”. i bow to them.

  5. not to ignore the awesome article but i am LOVING the new site! awesome job girls!

  6. vicki says:

    I signed up with a personal trainer recently who had me keep a week’s worth of food logging. I continued with the practice. It doesn’t necessarily stop me from downing the cupcake but it does shed light on my habits, which isn’t bad.

  7. I’m just starting again with food journaling and am HOPING that I can stick with it. 🙂

  8. katrina m says:

    i did hard-core food logging for about a year before my wedding, in which time i lost about 80 pounds. it DEFINITELY works. after the wedding came the honeymoon and life, and i fell off the food logging wagon and bounced around a few times, i think i may have hit my head too…. since falling off the wagon, i have had a VERY hard time getting back on (and have gained a good 20 pounds back, which is AWESOME, right??)….

    i totally think food logging works (and i’m another sparkpeople fan, that site is AMAZING!!)…. but i also agree it takes a lot of determination and will power.

  9. Kim says:

    I’m with you, Erin. I can’t seem to get into journaling either. I do FitDay.com off and on to keep track of calories and exercise, but it’s so darn time consuming! I’d rather spend my time burning more calories than writing down that I burned calories! 🙂