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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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