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The value of journaling for weight loss

journaling

With the current viral pandemic, I have had more time to take care of personal goals. One of my goals is to write a short autobiography for my children and grandchildren. As a young person, we were encouraged to keep a journal. Because of my goal, I decided to reread letters I had sent to my parents while I was in college, on a Mission in Bavaria, during medical school and my life in Manhattan, Kansas. Reading my journal during these challenging times, helped me remember good friends, colleagues, successes and other challenges in my life - it was uplifting to me!

In our efforts to help clients lose weight, the use of a personal journal is encouraged. Journal information would include: plans, frequent weight measurements, exercise information and new/changing habits in eating experiences. The journal is important to help us realize why we are eating at specific times, why we are overeating or bingeing and why we are eating specific types of foods. The journal helps us to understand ourselves.

It is revealing, while reopening our clinic, to witness many clients who have gained weight (an average of 5-6 pounds) during quarantine and the lack of exercise during that same time frame. It is a revelation to clients when they experience the effects of exercise or lack of exercise on their weight. Recently, I visited with a client who during his youth was very physically active. As an adult his long-term occupation was sedentary and as a result, over time, he has doubled his weight.

Consider this client. If he had kept a record of his weight, noted what things in his life were of interest to him and which activities he enjoyed, ten or twenty years later he may reread his journal and gain encouragement to deal with some of these issues during challenging times. Or, he may have noticed earlier that his sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating patterns were causing weight gain and he could have made changes before he doubled his weight.

I hope that some of you will consider keeping a journal related to exercise, emotions and eating habits. The CDC found that in people who lost weight and kept it off, frequent measurements of their weight and eating habits was an activity that helped with weight maintenance/loss. This information helps us measure our successes or failures and to learn from them. Added to other data about our lives, we may learn some of our strengths and weaknesses in terms of overall health, which includes our weight status.

For more informatoin about Ascension Via Christi Weight Management in Manhattan and Wichita, please visit: viachristi.org/weightloss

About James Gardner MD

James Gardner, MD, is a Manhattan primary care physician who serves patients at Ascension Via Christi Weight Management.