We have heard it all our dieting life: “keep a food journal, it will keep you accountable for what you eat.” That advice always failed me, the best I could ever keep a food journal was through breakfast, I did not want to leave written evidence of my eating behavior.
But there is one time in my life I kept a journal, words and feelings scribed on the page. That journal chronicled the first year following my weight loss surgery. The weight loss surgery experience is profound. It is a physical and emotional Mt. Everest. I dare say there is no other change a morbidly obese person will ever undertake that is as emotionally significant as weight loss surgery.
There are two reasons for keeping a journal: first to have a release for your thoughts and feelings; second, to have a record of your experience. For many people it is less painful to be honest about our feelings when writing them down rather than speaking them. If we write them down we don’t have to hear them aloud. If we write them down we are not vulnerable to sharing with someone else. For me, writing my feelings on paper was like sweeping the floor – I could gather the debris and toss it out – I no longer had it cluttering my mind.
Secondly, as a record, your journal will become priceless. Perhaps on a daily basis we cannot measure our growth, our strengths and courage as we experience the weight loss transformation. But if we have a reference we can deliberately and honestly measure our progress. We can turn to the journal when we are feeling defeated and relive milestone moments we have recorded. One of my greatest moments during the weight loss was fitting in size 12 jeans. Imagine it: size 12! I do not want to ever forget that moment, and I will not because it is in my journal and it is a success I visit often. Record those magical moments to relive later, it is worth the time and effort.
A journal can be a lovely bound writing book, a simple steno tablet, a computer document or even an online blog. Video journaling to share is now possible with so many free video sharing websites available. In journaling, you can commit to daily entries, or write when the mood strikes. You can share your travel log or keep it tucked away and private.
Some patients elect to keep a weight loss scrapbook and they document their transformation with pictures and captions. What an excellent pastime and celebration of the weight loss, to record in pictures and words the transformation. Others use log sheets to mark progress, specifically fitness log sheets. They begin day one recording walking distance and speed. Looking at a log sheet is an excellent measure of progress. It can be used to identify trends and spot problems. It most certainly is a place to record accomplishments and highlight new records.
Do what is right for you. This is your experience: please, do yourself the favor of recording your journey.