Thursday, August 25, 2016

Food Journaling: new tricks, proven strategies

Every time I have successfully lost weight, it was thanks to a combination of strategies. The essential part of this process is food journaling. If you want to know how to successfully have a food journal, read my food journal how to post here. Last summer I challenged myself to journal my food for 100 days. I accomplished my goal and there were results but after 8 years of self experiment, I mean, discovery, I observed new tricks and proven strategies. Let's start with the latter: 

Proven Strategy 1: Low tech works better •  I started my journey 8 years ago by writing down my food intake and goals by hand. Recently, a flood of new apps invaded the market. They do make life simple and they calculate the nutrition, calories, etc. I tried different apps and somehow, I couldn't stick with it for more than one week. I also tried journaling digitally, and it was an awful experience. Low tech works better because somehow, my brain connects more with the information I manually write in the paper. I'm able to self-regulate more if I am using pen and paper. Even during the most tempting time of the day, I can succeed if I write everything down in pen and paper. I can say that as an expert on my own self, paper works. 
Writing everything I ate.
Proven Strategy 2 - Review as an education tool • I have learned that the things I write in my food journal need to be reviewed as an education tool. I simply glance at my choices and make a decision on what to do the following day. On day one this week, I decided that I needed to get a refresher on what a serving of vegetables looked like. I wrote that down in my journal and I got my refresher. The following day was successful because through review I noticed I forgot what a serving of vegetable was and I decided to go after that. Even when I have bad eating days, I review as an education tool. If the bad day was intensified as a product of stress, I decide what I am going to do the next time that situation shows up. Condemnation doesn't help me but education and decision making works every time. 
I really used to like that cup. I think I broke it :(
Proven Strategy 3 - be truthful • no matter how much it hurts. No matter how many extra potato chips I ate, I need to be truthful. Being truthful is an essential part of the process because progress is a byproduct of truth. I can't lie to myself and reach my fitness goals. I need to write everything down. If I don't like the decision I made, I make a better one the next meal. 
I remember feeling healthier when I ate those veggies.
New Trick 1 - get new goals • my goal is similar to my last health goal but I find it refreshing to have a different approach. This time around, I am asking myself these questions: "What is your stretch goal? - What is a specific subgoal? - How will you measure success? - Is this achievable? - Is this realistic? - What is your timeline?" I find that as I get more specific, I can be more successful.  
New Trick 2 - size matters • I have learned in 8 years that the smaller the food journal, the better. Large journals are difficult to carry around with me. Smaller journals are discrete and I can easily take them everywhere I go. I also buy several at a time so I don't lose the habit because I need to buy another food journal. 
New Trick 3 - treat yo self • I find that rewarding myself motivates the good habit of maintaining a food journal. If I am faithful to my food journal I always lose weight, so that's not a reward, that's my goal. A good reward would complement that goal. For small tasks, I am planning of giving myself a small reward. For writing in my journal for 1 week, I am planning of getting a bouquet of flowers. I haven't thought about the next reward but I know it will NOT be food and it will encourage me to keep the good habit intact. 

If I'm eating out, I'm writing it down.
* What do you think? What are some new and old tips you can share on the subject of food journaling?