Journaling Your Way To Weight-Loss
Many of my diets have been unsuccessful over the years. I’m not proud of that fact, but I do feel that many of my failed diets have taught me valuable lessons. It is extremely important to try to learn something from each diet that goes south. If you don’t learn anything, your mistakes will be repeated. One of the best ways to learn from your mistakes is to start writing in a journal. A journal is a personal tool, and I wouldn’t normally tell you how to use one.
But I feel I must share with you some of the ways I learned to use my journal. For starters, write down everything that you eat, as you eat it. This may seem strange, but as I’ve mentioned before, many of us do actually forget some of the things we eat during the day, especially the small stuff. This is especially true if we are continually snacking. Do you remember how many handfuls of Sugar Frosted Flakes you munched on today? Was it two? Or was it more like nine? You must be precise in order to gain any benefit from this technique.
Don’t write down that you ate “some” M&Ms. Write down that you ate “three handfuls” of M&Ms. At the end of the day, you can take out any calorie counting booklet and add up your total calories for the day. You can be the judge. How many calories did you consume? Was it a good day, or a bad day? If it was a bad day, which items made it so? Can we cut back on that tomorrow? Great! Don’t cheat, and don’t fudge (no pun intended). If you try to pretend that you didn’t eat all that ice cream last week, and you tell your friend that you stuck to the diet but still gained weight, then you have more problems than just being overweight. Most of my friends can tell when I’m lying anyway. If you can’t be honest with your friends, you have to at least be honest with yourself. If you aren’t honest with yourself, that’s called denial, and that will do nothing but continually frustrate you. When you weigh-in, you will find that the scale remembers everything you ate.
A record of where you slipped up on your diet is priceless information. Don’t deny yourself that feedback. A second type of journal entry could be your weekly problem log. You only need to fill out this log for weeks that you didn’t lose weight. You need only summarize what you feel are the reasons you did not lose weight this past week (stress, holidays, a sale on brownies, etc. Here is a sample log: PROBLEM LOG WEEK 3: I ate an entire chocolate bunny, or two. WEEK 7: I thought the chocolate sauce was nonfat. WEEK 9: Chocolate. Never mind what, just chocolate.
WEEK 11: We had no trick-or-treaters, and I ate all the fun-size Snickers because they were bothering me as they lay there. Trends often emerge within a problem log. In this case the trend is chocolate. The appropriate correction is to eat less chocolate, preferably no chocolate. Yes, life is unfair. The challenge then is finding ways to lower your intake of chocolate. The best thing I could do to help myself is to stay away from 7-Eleven stores. We all have our secret little places that we go for our “fixes.” Resist the urge to go to them and pretend you need a vegetable fix, or a fruit fix instead. Take a big bite out of that carrot and say out loud, “Yes, oh I needed this so much.
” Make sure no one is within earshot first. Not everybody’s problem log will be filled with “chocolate” entries. Some people will drink too much alcohol (oops. multiple problems), while others will eat too much junk food. Others will drink a 12-pack of soda per day, while still others will eat as much meat in a week as some of us do in a year. The point is that by using a log in this way, you will be able to see which items or events most severely affect your weight-loss. A journal can also be used for keeping track of your exercise sessions. Keep track of how many hours you exercise per week and what type of exercise you perform. It is also helpful to have a weekly exercise goal in mind as you journey through your diet.