You’ve probably heard of food journaling and how it can help you identify habits that aren’t serving your health, but have you ever tried creating a bullet journal? The bullet journaling trend, also called “BuJo,” first took off a few years ago (simply search #bulletjournal on Instagram to see what we mean!).
So, what is a bullet journal, exactly? Think of it as a combination of a day planner and diary that helps you organize both your professional and personal lives, and serves as a creative outlet, too. It can be an incredible tool for helping you organize (and stick to) your weight loss goals — research shows you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down regularly.1 All you need to get started is a bullet journal notebook, which can be anything you can write on, from a basic spiral notebook to a fancy planner.
Getting started: How to bullet journal
Photo by @planwithlaken on Instagram
Bullet journaling is different than regular journaling because you’re using a short-hand method called rapid logging,2 through which you abbreviate and sub keywords, images and short phrases for longer sentences. This method comes in handy for helping you stay organized and accountable to your goals, as it’s quicker and more efficient than writing out long sentences — and more fun, too.
Using bullets (of course!) is a key part of bullet journaling, as it allows you to visually categorize everything. For example, you can use:
• to mark tasks or things you need to do (i.e., your weekly grocery trip to pick up vegetables and fruit)
- to take notes or remind you of things (like remembering to drink more water)
o to indicate events or moments you don’t want to forget (such as regular weigh-ins)
Breaking it down further, you can use other symbols to represent the status of tasks (it can be so satisfying to cross things off a to-do list!).3 Try these:
- A ✔ or X to indicate a task is complete
- Draw a line through the task to indicate it’s irrelevant (or to remove it from your list)
- A > or < symbol to move a task to a different date or section
If you want to go a step further, you can also play with signifiers, or special symbols that draw attention to a particular item. Try these:
- An asterisk (*) to indicate priority
- An exclamation mark (!) to mark something important that you want to remember — whether that’s a personal affirmation, meaningful quote or smart idea
You don’t have to get too bogged down in the details of doing bullet journaling “right,” however. The key is to come up with a visual system of markings that work for you. Plus, you can get imaginative with the way your bullet journal looks as you get the hang of it. You might choose to experiment with different fonts and colors (go wild and order a megapack of fine-tipped markers on Amazon!), or even glue inspirational photos or cutouts to the pages to remind you of your goals. Have fun with it by sneaking in some doodles and drawings. Think of it as a creativity outlet as well as a tracking and accountability tool.
Using bullet journaling for weight loss
Photo by artursfoto on iStock
First, decide what you’d like to keep track of in your bullet journal. Some suggestions are big-picture things like your health and weight loss goals, broken down into nutrition-related things such as a food diary, your cravings and your water intake. You can also track movement-related items, like your daily step count and workouts, and even how much sleep you’re getting each night.
It can be very motivating to see the healthy improvements you’re marking down on paper, and help you realize that your actions are making a difference — whether that’s seeing the number on the scale decrease or noticing you have increased energy throughout the day. (If you need inspiration, check out “Finding Your Weight Loss ‘Why.’”)
Bullet journal ideas
There are many ways to use a bullet journal for weight loss, and you can pick and choose what works for you. Here are some ideas:4
Tracking weight loss: Take a full page to map out a weight loss chart timeline. Chart your current weight and goal weight vertically, and space out dates (weeks or months) along the horizontal axis. You can flip back to this page with each weigh-in to chart your progress (or recognize where you’re plateauing or gaining, and use that information to discover patterns in your eating or movement that may be causing them).
Tracking body measurements: Similarly, you can sketch out a table to record your body measurements, such as your waist, thighs and upper arms. Taking measurements can be a useful weight loss tool to emphasize your progress.
Tracking sleep and workouts: Make a chart that tracks your sleep with columns that indicate what time you went to bed and what time you got up. Total the hours, then use a color to indicate sleep quality: i.e., if slept through the night, woke up multiple times or tossed and turned. You can use this same method to track your workouts, including the duration, what activities you completed, and how you felt before, during and after.
Tracking nutrition: You can make macro or calorie tracking fun by implementing a color-coded method for nutrients like lean protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fats in your bullet journal. Design your own handwritten spreadsheet to track your intake, marking when you hit your daily goals for each nutrient. Bullet journaling is also useful for creating meal plans, mapping out what you’ll eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks each day, as well as adding in grocery lists. (If you’re following the Jenny Craig plan, your meal planning and calorie counting is done for you, but it can be a fun way to check off your meals each day!)
Creating a bullet journal can be the boost you need to feel excited about reaching your weight loss goals this year. If tracking your progress digitally is more your style, you can download the Jenny Craig mobile app, which helps keep you accountable with trackers for meals, drinks and exercise, as well as reminders to celebrate your successes. Get tips for downloading and using the app to the fullest here.
Ready to take the first step toward better health and weight loss? Book a free appointment with a Jenny Craig weight loss coach to get started!
Kelsey is a Chicago-based journalist specializing in wellness and travel who writes for publications like Shape, Cooking Light and The Wall Street Journal. When she's not working, she loves trying out new healthy recipes and traveling as much as possible.
Favorite healthy snack: plain Greek yogurt with a few chocolate chips
Reviewed by Briana Rodriquez, RDN
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and reviewed by certified professionals.
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