Everyone says if you track your food and write down everything you eat, you will be more successful on your weight loss journey. We make a vow to begin “tracking”. And we are sure that this will be the answer to our weight loss success because we all know that we will write down everything that we eat. And since we never want to write down “a bag of M & M’s” or 10 Oreo cookies because someone may see it, we are convinced that this will work for us and the only entries we will see are egg whites, broccoli, chicken, tuna, turkey and all those foods that are “good” for us.
The excitement mounts as we get a brand new notebook for the task, or we add a new app to our phone that will give us the nutritional information of every food out there in the universe and will help us keep track, and we start fresh with our new plan for journaling our food intake.
We all know how happy we were when the first day of school came around and that new notebook looked so fresh and we vowed to write with the same color pen every day and write in our perfect handwriting and keep it looking brand spanking new for the whole semester. And after the first 2 weeks of school, we couldn’t find the pen, we wrote notes too quickly to be neat, we wrote a note or started doodling on the front cover or we needed a piece of paper to throw out our gum and ripped a sheet out and next thing we knew our beautiful notebook wasn’t looking so good anymore. By the end of the semester, it looked like it had a rougher semester than we did.
When we add a new app to our phone, we are obsessed with that app. We show it to everyone singing its praises and telling anyone who will listen that this is the app that will change our lives. We spend countless hours trying figure out everything the app can do. We google everything that may have an impact on our use of that app. And our faces are always in our phones.
The first few days as we are tracking our food, our trackers look perfect. We see entries like this: 3 oz of chicken, broccoli, salad with lite dressing, brown rice, etc. Then we have an oreo cookie and we tell ourselves, I will be honest and write it down so I can see where my downfall began. I will analyze my feelings and try to figure out why I had to have that cookie. Then you have a second cookie and you convince yourself to write that down also because after all, who wouldn’t have a slip-up of 2 cookies every now and then. The next day, you grab a handful of M & M’s and you hesitate about whether you want to write it down or not because now a pattern is forming of “cheating” every day and if someone were to look at your tracker, they would see that you have no self control. And it continues and the next thing you know you stop writing it down or using your app.
Well I had an “Ah Ha” moment last night about this. I had had a great day foodwise and had written down everything I had eaten for the last 2 days. I am involved in a weight loss challenge at the gym I attend and decided to start tracking again. I arrived home last night after eating dinner out and a gift had arrived. It was my birthday on Monday and I received a beautiful gift from my son and his girlfriend of chocolate covered strawberries. Everyone knows how much I LOVE chocolate covered strawberries. I opened the box and they looked amazing. I knew they were expensive and how much they wanted me to enjoy them so I decided to have one and planned on writing it down. Then I decided to try another one. After all they won’t stay fresh forever. Well by the time I was finally finished I had eaten 4 of them. I woke up this morning and decided to write it down in my new journal that I began using just for this new challenge. But I also decided to write down what I didn’t eat. For instance, I usually have 2-3 dove bliss dark chocolates a day as a little treat. Well Monday and Tuesday, I didn’t even have one. And I wrote that down. My other son and daughter in law brought me cake pops on Sunday for Valentine’s day and I was really contemplating eating one Monday night and decided against it. So I wrote that down too. At breakfast Monday morning I skipped the butter on my wholewheat toast and only had one piece. That was a victory and I wrote it down. We went to dinner at Outback Steakhouse last night and everyone knows how good the bread is there but I didn’t even have one piece. I also skipped the salad there because it comes with the most amazing croutons and I knew I wouldn’t be able to not eat them. So I wrote it down. And you know what?? It felt good. It felt good to see the things I didn’t have and I realized what those things would have cost me not only calorie wise but in my mental attitude.
So from now on along with the foods I am eating I am also going to keep track of the things I turned down in the interest of staying healthy and on track. Those victories are just as important as the victories of the days we don’t slip at all. Write it down. Write down everything you didn’t eat. And it will make you feel so good as you get more and more in control that you will be more excited about writing down what you didn’t eat as opposed to writing down what you did eat.
We can never un-eat what we ate. Not writing it down or tossing in the towel on your goal to track won’t negate the calories. So learn to celebrate the little victories each day …in this case, the things you didn’t eat.
Did you skip a dessert? Do you usually eat 6 cookies but you stopped at 5? Did you remove the bun from your burger? Did you go to your room to watch tv instead of eating a bag of chips on the couch?
Whatever your small food successes may be, they are yours and you deserve to pat yourself on the back!
Taking the time to recognize that you are making progress will help lift your self-confidence. Of course, still celebrate the good food you did eat, the pounds that may be coming off and the other significant milestones in your health journey.
But remember, It’s in those small personal victories, that sometimes only you know, that when celebrated will boost your self-esteem