According to an article on WebMD (which apparently first came from Good Housekeeping) entitled The Single Best Way to Lose Weight, journaling is the single best way to lose weight. According to the article, most folks have no idea how much they eat and if you make it a rule that you write it all down, you tend to eat less and lose weight by default. Wouldn't that be awesome? (Well I can tell you right now I didn't lose anything this week.)
Now originally I was thinking I'd just journal for the month and then do my monthly check-in, but it's really a waste of time. When I tell my clients to journal it's for a week or two, never a whole month. The idea is to identify patterns of behavior, triggers, habits you're not aware of and to target them and I feel that after a week I have really gained all I'm going to from just journaling. So, here's what I've found.
Diet Journaling Tools
The first tool I tried was a handy diet journal at http://www.webmd.com/diet/food-fitness-planner/fitness-log but I had some trouble adding foods because I am a home cook. So I needed a way to record my own recipes and determine their nutritional content. You can record additional foods in the WebMd journal, but you have to know their nutritional content first. I was excited to see that http://www.nutritiondata.com has this feature, but it doesn't work. Very disappointing! But I was able to find what I was looking for at http://recipes.sparkpeople.com. However, from what I can see you have to share in order to save your recipes and I don't feel like sharing so I can't save. Bummer. But I can save the nutritional information from recipes on the WebMD site so I guess it's okay...
All of this got to be rather cumbersome, so I looked for something that had more of what I wanted and that's when I found http://www.myfitnesspal.com which seems to be the best of both worlds and it has an app for a smartphone, which I can't use. It also links you Facebook which I might play with a bit. Best of all, I can share or not, whatever I feel like doing. And, it has tickers:
Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Weight Loss ToolsCool
While journaling online is handy and a little bit fun, it's not practical when you spend half your life in the car so I needed something I could take along with me. Some solutions have smartphone apps which would be awesome if I had a smartphone or my husband's Kindle Fire, but I only have my little old Kindle Keyboard and I rather like it. I have an app on my Kindle called Notepad which suits my needs just fine although I did look for a journaling app and couldn't find one. Someone who knows about apps should take note of that. I want a journaling app for my Kindle keyboard, mkay? I know probably nobody is making new apps for the Kindle Keyboard.
When I tell my clients to begin by journaling, the idea is to discover their dog's natural patterns as well as to identify triggers for unacceptable behavior and habits that may need to be broken or adjusted to reach the goal. So that was really the goal for this journaling project. So here is what I found.
1. I actually have a lot of good eating habits.
- I don't get a lot of calories from beverages. Aside from my morning cup of coffee, I drink only water and skim milk.
- I always eat breakfast. (I frankly don't understand how anybody can function without it.) And my breakfasts tend to be pretty healthy. Usually oatmeal with raisins, cinnamon and pecans OR a scrambled omelette with veggies and feta cheese and a banana. Occasionally I have pancakes, but we're talking once a month at the most. I have found by analyzing my recipes, however, that my breakfasts aren't the healthiest and have adapted my recipes accordingly.
- I am disgusted by super-sweet things. When I do have a sweet tooth, it can usually be satisfied by a few semi-sweet chocolate chips or a piece of dried fruit.
3. The "junk food" I eat is usually of the fatty and salty variety. I love gravy, french fries, fried chicken, chips, the fatty bits on meat, cheese.
4. Most of my eating of all the wrong things tends to happen when I'm on the road.
5. I also eat when I'm stressed.
6. I will eat as long as I am at the table and I eat a lot faster than my husband and infant son. (My older son scarfs down his meal and bails. He doesn't stick around for the conversation.)
7. I will continue eating as long as there is food within reach, even if I am not hungry.
8. I get almost no exercise. I do the occasional "how to walk your dog on a leash" lesson, but these only last about 30 minutes maybe once a week and I do as much standing around shouting orders while they walk as I do walking myself. Other than that, my exercise consists of pushing a cart around the grocery store for an hour once or twice a week.
9. I drink a lot of water.
All in all I think the journaling project was useful and enlightening and I will continue journaling for the duration of my weight loss project in order to keep track of my progress.
Days journaled this week: 5
BMI calculation: 32.76
Waist measurement: 42.0
Hip Measurement: 45.5
Waist to Hip Ratio: .93
(WTF! Not the early success I'd hoped for. Oh well.)
Next week's goal/habit: Get active
Some other interesting links I've found: