I regularly like to "track" or observe on paper my personal habits so that I can see patterns to change behaviors. Back in September, I decided to write down every time I ate out and how much I spent. After getting over the shock of my eating out habits ( ie. 12-14 times a week), I decided that both my waistline AND my pocketbook would benefit if I made some changes. Now, I am happy to report that other than my coffee addiction (which I don’t include as "eating out" ha ha), I have reduced the number to 2 times a week. Had I not measured, I wouldn’t have been so alarmed and may not have been moved to change!
On January 1st, I decided to apply the same principle to my eating, just to see what I ate, if I was getting enough veggies in my diet (I was pretty sure I wasn’t!) and see if I was over-consuming (I WAS!). One evening, while at my laptop with a box of ginger snaps next to me, I had to decide if I was willing to write down how many cookies I planned to eat that night. Having to put down in my food journal made me stop, think, and put half the cookies back!
I did this for two weeks and I observed some habits and some trends (although no graphs were created). Speaking of graphs though, some people like to use online journaling sites such as FitnessJournal.org or Nutrition Data.com to have more sophisticated measurements from calories to percentages of daily nutrients to how much if a certain vitamin or mineral you still need to consume that day (WOW, technology is amazing!). My suggestion is if you like this stuff, find a site that works, maybe even one that links to your iPhone (like Fitness Journal.org does) so that it’s convenient. I found that I had to journal on paper once a day because that was most convenient and quick.
Studies of clients on diets who had to write down their food lost twice as much weight as others who didn’t. I would add that if you are one who eats when emotions or fatigue are involved, perhaps adding some notes about your "state" along with what you ate can help you see your relationship to being angry, anxious, tired or lonely. This can be the "awareness" you need to find a true means of dealing with over-eating, if that maybe the case. I hope this helps. Please feel free to leave your comments below!
Sue Shalanski is a physiotherapist and the clinic owner of Reach Physio Solutions who’s taken up this recent hobby of blogging about living a healthier life! If you have topic suggestions for her to write about during the 10 week weight-loss competition that The Chief is running starting this week.