Rising levels of obesity and metabolic diseases globally make weight loss one of our biggest challenges. Fixing this pandemic is going to be tough. Research informs us that a staggering 45% of people are currently trying to lose weight. People need all the help that they can get. And a weight loss journal can be part of that solution.
There are hundreds of weight loss programmes, fad diets and even scams, which promise quick and easy results. But science and the rising tide of obesity show us that many are destined for failure.1 Here at the Diet Whisperer, we have solutions proven to work all over the world as well as in our own clinical settings. Our plans give you the knowledge and strategy to plan your Whisperer journey to good metabolic health, improved mental health and weight loss. And you will learn those skills that keep you lean and healthy for the rest of your life.
Self monitoring is a cornerstone of weight loss
It is a daunting task to start your Whisperer journey and help and support is needed to succeed. A supportive partner, family and friends are the keystones of success. For many people another important element of success is self-monitoring. Self-monitoring means recording your actions: what you eat, when you eat and when you fast. It is sure-fire way of helping you on your Whisperer journey. And this is where a weight loss journal comes in.
a weight loss journal is a proven way of increasing the success of your weight loss journey
Self-monitoring using a journal is the bedrock of behavioural treatment for weight loss. Weight loss journals, whether in digital or analogue form provide a repeatable, easy way of self-monitoring. Numerous studies have confirmed the benefits of self-monitoring with a diary or journal in weight loss.2 The degree of success is quite remarkable. During a 16-week weight loss programme, the chance of substantial weight loss increased by 8% for those who completed their weight loss dairies.3
Another recent study looked at the effect of self-monitoring on success in a weight loss trial.4 The most successful people were those, who had the most frequent diary entries and who completed their diaries more times during the day than others. As time went on the time taken for diary entries reduced, from 23 minutes per day to 16 minutes at the end of the 6-month trial. People who lost over 10% of their body weight were journaling approximately three times per day. As the study progressed, less time was needed for journaling, but the beneficial effect persisted.
Not just does self-monitoring help with losing weight but it also helps in the long-term maintenance of weight.3
Why does journaling help?
Keeping a dairy or journal helps you to become *aware *of your current behaviours. This increased awareness highlights the circumstances associated with unhealthy behaviours, which in turn allows change. Once you recognise a repeated pattern of behaviour, you can do something about it.
You may identify triggers for unwanted behaviours. You may look at your diary and find that you snack when you are feeling low; you may be an emotional eater or eat out of boredom? Once you identify your pattern of snacking from your diary entries, you plan a different response to avoid the snacking.
Achieving successful weight loss means changing your habits, changing when you eat, what you eat and many other aspects of your life, such as improving your sleep patterns. Changing any habit is difficult, requiring adjustments to your actions, and self-monitoring is an important part of those adjustments. Habits take around six weeks to change, and your diary will help you to document your progress.
It is universally accepted that people routinely underestimate the amount of food that they eat.5 The snack at eleven, the chocolate in front of the TV or the nibble from the fridge before going to bed. All are easily forgotten. But keeping track contemporaneously helps to set the record straight. Committing to a diary means that there is a good chance that you will record all your food and snacks. You will then be able to make healthier choices, by seeing your behaviour in black and white.
Determine your goals to triumph
To help you succeed in your weight loss journey, it is a great idea to set goals.6 This is a proven way of increasing your chance of permanent weight loss: so even if you are sceptical, we urge you to do it. Journaling helps you to make and record your goals and for this reason alone, a weight loss journal becomes a useful exercise.
Your goals need to be strong: vague phrases such as “I want to look better” or “I want to lose weight quickly” are not the best for helping you. Instead set goals which are specific and are time limited. For the Whisperer journey, a goal such as “I will lose 12kg in 12 weeks” is a strong goal, that will shine like a guiding light throughout your journey.
Goals will help to drive your motivation and writing them down is a powerful tool. Looking at them in black and white makes your goals feel real, more tangible, and more achievable.
At any time, should your enthusiasm fade or you feel challenged by your weight loss journey, revisiting your goals will give you added support and increase your will to carry on. The best advice that we can give you to help in your weight loss journey is to set goals, write them down and refer to them, should any doubts arise.
Figure 1. Diet Whisperer Weight Loss Journal 100% of income of our journal income goes to charity
What is a weight loss journal?
A weight loss journal, or diary, is a way to track what you eat and drink each day. It also records other behaviours, such as fasting, sleeping and snacking. Weight loss journals come in different shapes and sizes, digital, analogue, and personal digital assistants. The paper diary has been the subject of the most scientific studies.7 There is little to choose between the different forms of journal, and this really comes down to your personal preference. Our Diet Whisperer Weight Loss journal is a paper back, and we’ve ensured that it is super easy and quick to complete, small enough to take to work, and is hopefully a very practical aid for your journey.
In your diary, you record the timing of your meals, as well as your EatSpan—the time from the first morsel crossing your lips in the morning, to the last one at night. Except for black tea, black coffee and water, remember drinks count as well! Reducing EatSpan alone is an effective weight loss strategy, even if your food intake remains the same. The optimal EatSpan is under 8-hours. Recording your FastSpan allows you to see how your intermittent fasting lengthens, as your weight loss journey progresses.
Drinking enough water is always an important priority but is even more important when you are losing weight. On average, 20% of your daily water consumption comes from your food and as food is reduced during your weight loss journey, adequate water consumption is important. Tracking your water intake and ensuring that it is optimal, contributes to your success.
Documenting your metrics allows tracking of your progress. Collecting your metrics over time provides you with an instant assessment of your improvements. Our Diet Whisperer Weight Loss Journal has graphs where you document the changes as the weeks go by, showing you exactly how your journey is progressing.
How to manage your diary
Most people are not very good at remembering how much food they eat. Many studies have shown that people routinely underestimate the frequency and the amount that they eat. The Sky Racing Team, under Sir David Brailsford’s stewardship were aware of this human frailty. All the team riders had to photograph everything that they ate throughout the day and send this to Sky HQ! It is not that we deliberately lie; it’s just our natural optimism bias!
Ideally, you should record your food, at the time of the meal. It’s easy to regard this as unimportant, but it is time well spent. If you are unable to complete your dairy during the day and you plan do this at the end of the day, photographing your meals or alternatively a voice recording may do the trick for you.
Many studies show that people are more successful if diary entries are regular and frequent. You should aim to have a daily entry to your journal and ideally an entry after each meal.
When you measure your metrics, make sure that you do this at the same time of day. Ideally, weigh yourself first thing in the morning, preferably with no clothes, (but otherwise always wear the same clothes), after going to the loo and before you have had anything to eat or drink. Your waist measurement should be done at the same time.
Make it fun!
A weight loss journal should be for you, a deep insight into one of the most important journeys of your life. One where you reset your metabolism, reverse disease, and lose weight. It is a personal account of who you are, where you were and where you have reached. Celebrate it and make it fun!
- Obesity and metabolic disease are the greatest global challenges to health.
- A weight loss journal is a proven way of improving the success of your weight loss journey.
- Self-monitoring is of proven benefit in weight loss.
- A weight loss journal allows self-monitoring.
- Setting powerful, realistic goals increases the success of your weight loss journey.
- A weight loss journal helps to identify unhealthy behaviours and the triggers associated with them.
- Identifying unhealthy behaviour patterns allows planning of alternative responses
- People who journal every day, after each meal are more successful in their weight loss journey, than those who do not.