If you've made a resolution that requires you to change your behavior -- eat less, move more, stop watching so much television, read more books, etc. The key to achieving success is to write it down, especially if losing weight is on your list.
"Putting a pen to paper and keeping a daily journal of meals and snacks is one of the best strategies of successful dieters," says Dr. Christopher J. Mosunic, a licensed clinical psychologist and registered dietitian at Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, Connecticut, in a prepared statement. "Keeping a food diary is like exercise, it will always help you lose if you do it consistently." More importantly, the writing habit "is one of the top predictors of weight loss success," Mosunic adds.
Experts have found that journaling can help when you are trying to reverse behaviors because not only do they make you accountable (yes, you have to tell the truth) but they can help you identify behaviors that could be sabotaging your efforts. For instance, if you're keeping a log of the television shows you watch you may find that you're watching additional programs only because you're not turning the television off. Another example is that you may realize that you eat something sweet at 4 PM everyday when you may just be thirsty. By knowing these things which would just happen if you didn't consciously write them down you can take steps to change them. By seeing patterns in your behavior, you can determine ways to change that behavior.
Recent studies found that people who blog, post to Facebook or tweet have success in whatever their goal is, especially weight loss. The reason why social media works could be because the accountability isn't just to you, it's to your peers and cyber-acquaintances. Either way, keep a journal to achieve your resolutions is easy with these steps from Dr. Mosunic:
Keep it simple. The best journals are easy to keep and understand. Dr. Mosunic keeps his own journals on Microsoft Word documents.
Write everything down. "It's part of the practice of just being responsible for what you consume [or do]," says Mosunic.
Share your journal. "It's always best to have someone who reads it," says Mosunic. Knowing that someone is cheering for you may help motivate you to do the right thing.
So if you have a resolution (or two or three...) in 2013, start writing so you can build on them in 2014. You can certainly use any paper journal or online document to do this, but there are lots of online journaling tools. One suggestion if losing (or gaining) weight is part of your new-year plan: try CalorieCount.com, one of our sister sites (we don't share an editorial affiliation, however). This site includes food-label and calorie information for thousands of food items. Signing up for a free account lets you keep an online food journal, and the site will keep track of your intake. You can also track a goal weight an log daily excercise.