One of the most effective things you can do in your weight loss journey will surprise you – because, curiously, it has nothing to do with diet or exercise at all.

It’s simply this: keep a journal.

You should write down everything you eat, the time you ate it, and how you felt before and after eating it. Then you should do the same with your exercise routines – what you did, how long you did it for, and how you felt. And, of course, do the same with all your measurements, so you can track your progress (and do remember it’s the long-term trend we’re interested in, not day-to-day fluctuations in your weight).

OK, so why go to all this trouble?

There are lots of reasons but the two biggest ones are:

1. Anything measured improves. It’s a quirk of human psychology.
What we think happens is your subconscious is alerted to the fact you want to achieve a goal and your continually measuring progress kicks it into gear to help you reach it. This is SO important because it works even if you just measure and don’t make any conscious effort to improve the results you’re measuring.

2. Human perception and memory is really, really bad. If you trust to your memory, it’s going to be coloured by your emotional state. So, if you eat a meal when you’re really hungry, your memory tells you it’s smaller than it was; if you’re really tired during or after exercise, your memory tells you it was harder than it really was and that you did more of it (this is connected with the advice not to go shopping when you’re hungry – you buy more than you want or need because your stomach is telling you what’s in your hands is smaller than it really is!).

By writing it down you have a permanent and objective record of how you’re doing, where you’re going and how you’re getting there.

There’s another benefit, too.

You see, I recommend you make your Journal a daily-commitment. Write down EVERYTHING, even if it’s not connected with your weight-loss per se.

If you have a great idea, write it down; are touched by the lyrics of a song, write it down; hear a funny story, write it down; have one of those “aha!” moments, write it down.

You can use any kind of notebook.

There’s only one “rule”: it mustn’t be loose-leaf and preferably it’ll be bound like a book (spiral-bound is OK, but it’s too easy to tear out “unpleasant” pages!).

However, while anything will suffice, I DO recommend you buy something of high quality. Why? Because it’s a psychological thing: if you’ve paid for a leather-bound journal with hand-made paper, you’re going to be motivated to fill it with ideas, goals, and words of quality and style.

But, no matter what kind of notebook you do choose, you’ll be amazed at the difference a journal makes in your life.