Tracking/Journaling

This week’s question comes from the lovely and very intelligent, Comrade GoGo.

I know you need to keep careful track of your food intake as part of the WW program, and I was wondering: Do you prefer keeping a pen-and-paper log, or do you do it on your computer? Do you enter all your food at the beginning of the day and then stick to that plan, or use some other strategy?

Comrade GoGo, that is an interesting question, especially right now.  Depending on what stage I’ve been at in this journey, the answer has been different so I think I’ll answer it every way from Sunday.  In all the instances, I have been using the tracker that you get at the WW meetings, since I’m paying a fortune for it anyway.  Just this week I switched to a 2008 date book.  It has larger pages and more room to make random little notes.  I now mark down my exercise and also how I’m feeling on any given day.  I would really like to understand the pattern that leads me to those 3 or 4 giveup days a month so they can stop catching me off guard.  I will always be a pen and paper girl.  While I LOVE my laptop, it’s too easy to erase things and never know that you made the change.  With paper, the crossed out or whited out parts are visible and since I’m anal retentive, I don’t like the page to look messy so I don’t change things.

At the very beginning: I wrote down every single morsel that I put in my mouth.  I planned my menu the night before, wrote it all down and totalled the points.  As soon as I was done doing that I would take it into the kitchen and get all the food for the next day ready based on what I wrote down.  I would go so far as to pre-measure my cereal and milk for breakfast and get out the bowl and spoon I was going to use.  Lunch got made and packed and dinner was taken out of the freezer to defrost.  I knew myself well enough to know that the beginning stages were going to be pretty draining emotionally so to ensure my compliance with the plan, I devoted 20 minutes to the next day’s success before I went to bed.  I never strayed from what I had written down.  Once it was there it was the gospel, not to be messed with.  I also carried out weekends the same way that I did my weekdays.  This carried on for probably about 2-2.5 months.

About 3 months in:  I had memorized the points value of most things that I eat and because I am slightly repetetive (read: obsessive), what I ate for breakfast and lunch never changed.  I started leaving dinner open so that I could decide what I wanted based on what I felt like.  I tended to write it all down that evening for the day I just had, usually just before dinner so that I could make an informed choice on what to have.  Around this time I also started allowing myself the occassional unplanned treat (eg. Starbucks at work) so I would need to put this into the calculation before dinner to make sure I wasn’t going over the points for the day.  This carried on until a couple of weeks ago.

Currently: Now that I’m trying to slightly increase my calories every day I am back to writing everything down the night before so that I am in complete understanding about what my day is going to be like, food-wise. 

Why I am so committed to writing my food down: This is a part of the program that I will never, ever give up.  I will admit, sometimes it’s a pain in the rear to write the same stuff down day after day after day, but I believe that the benefit outweighs any annoyance associated with it.  For any of us who may have eaten secretely, felt shame about food, tried to lie to ourselves about what we ate, the food tracking is an amazing tool that if nothing else, forces you to be honest with yourself.  No one else ever has to see it and you don’t even need to look back at them if you don’t want to.  But taking responsibility for your food choices is so important.  It brings everything out of the dark and makes you own up to it.  The couple days that I forgot to write it out or where I just didn’t feel like it are days that I didn’t feel as in control of the whole process as I could have.  I know there are people who write their food down who are not on the WW plan who do it just for the accountability it gives them.  There are people like me who, once it’s written down, refuse to change it (which is probably a bit militant for most people).  And there are people who are successful even if they don’t track. 

My suggestion for anyone starting out or who is still in the beginning months, write it all down, IN PEN.  Take the guesswork out of the equation and document it in black and white. 

So this week’s question from me to you:  Do you track your food?  How do you do it and why? 

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2 Comments

  1. Bev said,

    February 9, 2008 at 9:16 am

    “I devoted 20 minutes to the next day’s success before I went to bed”

    What a profound statement. This alone would probably almost guarantee anyone’s success who tried it. Healthy eating and in particular WW, takes planning and preparation to work. There is no option to just ‘grab something quick’, unless it has been planned and prepared in advance.

    That was an excellently written and very informative entry, way to go!

  2. Marueze said,

    February 9, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Great Post…All I can say is obviously it paid off. Great inspiration for others to get back into the habit. 🙂


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