Many of us start out with our weight loss journey full of dedication and enthusiasm. But as days pass we may have encountered a missed exercise session, an office party, a dinner invitation, bad weather (that does not allow us to go to the gym). Eventually occurrences like this tend to affect our weight loss efforts. We step on the scale only to be disappointed. We may wonder why there has not been any significant changes, after all we have tried to be healthy.
Successful weight loss is a linear event over time. Small progressive changes are what help us achieve our goals. And while we may think we are on track, a diary or weight loss journal can help us pin point days or instances that we may have slipped up and deviated.
Here are some of the ways a weight loss diary can help:
Keeps you focused on your goals:
We may think of all the ways we would like to be healthy. But actually, writing them down gives you these reminders in black and white. They then become hard to ignore.
A handful of chips, a muffin, a slice of birthday cake… these can be eaten in a jiffy and quickly forgotten about. But they add up to the caloric intake of your day. By jotting these down, you know exactly what you have eaten during the day. You can also exercise more to help burn off the excess calories. This keeps you accountable to yourself.
Taking pictures of your food can help give you clarity on the amount and type of food you have eaten that day. What may seem to be a small portion may actually be larger than an ideal portion size. By being careful we can actually cut down on extra calories.
Helps understand other factors:
An approaching deadline may see us downing cups of coffee and eating instant noodles at our desk. Or is stress causing you to crave that sizzling brownie? An additional column in your log could be for stress, emotions or the location you are at. Have you gone to watch a movie and promised yourself you will not mindlessly munch on popcorn? At the interval, you cannot resist the urge and you buy a large tub of popcorn to power through the second half. This can serve as a wakeup call, to help us understand how our external environment also plays a role in our food choices. They also shed light on how stress can influence our choices. If you are confronted with such situations and it is adversely affecting your food intake, you can talk to a counsellor (https://1to1help.net/ecounselling)
Skipping meals can play havoc with our hunger hormones. A skipped meal can cause unhealthy food cravings later on during the day and can lead to overeating/ starvation eating at the next meal of the day. This is because our blood sugars drop and we crave glucose for fuel. Most of the time these cravings tend to be unhealthy and lead to us consuming junk foods or increased portion sized meals.
For those with diseases such as diabetes, cholesterol, uric acid etc. an accurate log can help keep track of calories, carbs, protein etc. consumed as the case may be. This can help while checking blood sugars for example, a high fiber meal may result in good readings. On the other hand, if you have had too many refined carbs this can reflect in the readings.
Points to note while maintaining a food journal:
• Be accurate: Mention portion sizes/ servings
• Be honest: Record all you have eaten. If you are dishonest, the only one losing out is you.
• Be consistent: Record all that you have eaten diligently, do not leave long gaps between recording meals. It is better to record immediately after a meal. Writing down what you have eaten during the day at night is also not a good option, since you may tend to miss out on finer details.
• Decide what you would like to include: Besides the time and foods eaten, also include portion sizes, any deviations, moods, stressors etc. You can also have an exercise log to note what kind of exercises you have done and how many calories you burnt.
• Review what you have written: From time to time, go back and see what you have consumed. A weekly review is helpful and can help you make adjustments and improvements the following week.
As a quote by Trudy Vesotsky says, “Honest self-reflection opens your mind to reprogramming, change, success and freedom.”
With inputs from: