Knowing what you eat and when you eat are important pieces of the weight-loss puzzle. I don’t care if you keep track in a Dollar Store notebook, on eTools or in a Weight Watchers weekly Tracker (members can pick up Trackers free in the Weight Watchers meeting room), if you want to gain control over your eating habits, you have to write it or type it, somehow, somewhere and consistently!
Now you might think that I only keep track of what and when I eat and my physical activity. While those things are super important, what I rely on most to really stick to my eating plan is to jot down my feelings and thoughts. My “why’s.” When I go out to dinner at a really fantastic restaurant and enjoy the experience without overindulging, I make a note of how good I felt as I walked out of the building. I’m really specific with what I write like, “I loved the way I still felt comfortable in my clothes even after such a delicious meal,” or “I’m really proud of myself for only taking a 2 forkfuls of dessert,” or “I’m glad I didn’t walk in starved.” If I allow the opposite to happen and have foods that I can’t even begin to honestly assign a close-to-accurate PointsPlus value to, I do try my best to come up with one, but more importantly, I take the time to record how I felt and what I was thinking that somehow gave me the “all clear” to go ahead and eat with abandon. It’s a real eye and mind-opener to get in touch with what drives me to overeat.
When I eat unhealthfully, I pinpoint what drove me to do it, I’m always looking BACK through my tracker or food journal to see what I did really good, where I need to step up my game and feelings associated with what I eat. By playing Monday morning quarterback, I’m able to decode why I acted the way I did.
Here’s what I mean:
Looking back on my food journal for the past few months, these are some of the reasons that I came up with to “excuse” myself from being in control:
- The food was there in plain sight and available. If I didn’t have it, I would feel like a victim.
- I talked myself into believing that all kinds events were truly “special” occasions and that food was the featured guest. (aren’t all occasions special and does food really, truly and honestly make them more special?)
- I deprived myself of the right nutrients during the day. (Yep, looking further into what I wrote down, the evening that I chowed down on the pasta and dessert was brought on by not eating an enjoyable, healthy lunch beforehand.)
- I felt uncomfortable, tired, bored, stressed, happy….whatever!
- I paid good money for the meal and I was going to finish everything on my plate.
- I talked myself into believing I could get away with it again…just this one time…again.
- I was with so-and-so, and God only knows how much she likes to eat and push food!
- I’d make up for the splurge by exercising more “tomorrow.”
We all have excuses; I’m no different than you and you’re no different from me. But if we want to lose weight (or maintain our weight), we’ve got to do things differently than we had done as we were putting on the pounds. Tracking is one of those behaviors we need to adopt. It forces us to take responsibility for the choices that we make and if we use it for more than writing down food counts, it can be our main resource in figuring out and righting our personal eating patterns and behaviors.