Due to adding in some “off program” items this week, I wasn’t down as much as I wanted to be, but I still lost 1.6 pounds (and that was after having pizza yesterday!). I’m still not back down to the lowest weight I’ve achieved (260.4 on 1/25), but I’m planning to blow right past that this week.
The neat thing about having done this the last two Sundays is that it prepared me to be an object lesson in this week’s meeting, in which we talked about the importance of tracking (or preplanning) to stay on target.
Those of you who know me well know that I’m not the kind of person who deals well with chaos. I’m not a last-minute kind of girl. Tell me what needs to be done and the day it needs to be finished by, and I’m very happy to bust my rear to get it done. But when I don’t have a schedule, when I don’t know what the “plan” is, or if things are just “floating” in the mesosphere with no set timeline or direction, that’s when I start losing ground.
In addition to preplanning my menu for the week the last two Sundays, I’ve also spent some time on Sunday evening writing out a to-do list for the projects I need to get accomplished by week’s end. The list includes everything from my freelance work to my own writing projects to housekeeping duties. Last week, it seemed like every time I marked something off the list, I added two more things. But it was nice at any point during the day to be able to refer to it to remember what I needed to do and when it had to be finished. And to see everything I’d marked off. Did I get everything done? No. About seven of the thirty-five items had to be brought forward to the top of this week’s list. But since I’m working on-site at the Clever Factory tomorrow (I know, I said I didn’t want to do that again for a very long time. But work is work!), it’s a good thing I’d already started this list last night, because now I know I need to get a couple of those small projects done tonight.
So in the meeting this afternoon, since I was thinking about having done both of these things—the menu and to-do list for the week—I started thinking about them together. Sure, if I hadn’t written a to-do list for the week, I’d still remember most of what I needed to get done. But there are a lot of things that could have fallen through the cracks (take the library book back, answer interview questions for someone’s blog, dedication & acknowledgments for Menu and Ransome, etc.) if I hadn’t written them on that list. Keeping track of what we eat when we’re trying to lose weight is the same way.
Do you remember exactly what you ate yesterday? How about three days ago? But you’re frustrated that you’re not losing weight. Could it be that you sat down with the bag of pretzels (yes, fat-free) in front of the TV and by the time LOST and Top Chef were over, you’d eaten at least half the bag? Or by the time you get to Friday evening and everyone wants to go out to eat and you want to indulge in one of your not-so-calorie-friendly favorites, you don’t know what you’ve eaten all week up to that point to know whether or not you should indulge.
Most of us underestimate exactly how much we’re eating. Our idea of what a portion is has become totally skewed by what we’re used to seeing on a plate at a restaurant. Did you know that one serving (or portion) of meat should be between three to six ounces? That’s less than half of what you get on a “lite” plate at most restaurants. Look at the palm of your hand. For the average person, that’s about a “portion” of meat. When’s the last time you ate only that much? Not me, that’s for sure! (And that’s why I do the “core” program instead of counting points.)
Writing down everything we eat sucks. There. I’ve said it. It feels like punishment. But most of us also have eating habits that make it easier. Do you eat the same thing for breakfast every day? Then write that down once and figure out the Points, Calories, Carbs, or however you’re eating healthier, and nickname it (Oatmeal Breakfast; Egg & Bacon Breakfast) and just write down the name and the total number or information you need to track instead of each individual element.
Preplanning a week’s menus not only helps me cut down on deciding to eat out at the last minute or just pick something up because I’ve put off cooking until it’s late and I now don’t feel like it. It isn’t set in stone. I can change it if I want to. There are two additional benefits to preplanning: (1) I can plan ahead and save my “bonus” Points for special events I know I have coming up (pizza yesterday, eating at Panera this coming Saturday) so that I’m not using up those calories during the week and then get to Saturday when I’m going out and realize that I’ve eaten myself into a deficit and can’t have what I really want. (2) I make a grocery list of only the food items I need to fill in what I don’t have in the house for that week’s meals, saving me quite a bit of money on stuff I might otherwise buy, thinking I’ll eat it that week; but then I don’t, and, if it’s perishable, it ends up going to waste. And if I needed to (like a week like two weeks ago when I was working on-site for a client all week), I would then have all of Sunday evening to cook meals ahead of time so that, again, the temptation to just pick something up on my way home in the evening wouldn’t be there.
Here are some other ways in which preplanning and/or tracking what you eat when you eat it can help us lose weight:
1. We’re more aware of how much we’ve eaten.
2. It explains what happens at the scale at the end of seven days.
3. If something works, we can keep on doing it; if it doesn’t we have a better idea of what needs to change.
4. It’s a record of our success.
5. It keeps us accountable.
6. It helps us make healthier choices.
7. It makes us aware of all those BLTs (bites, licks, and tastes) we take throughout the day, if we stay true to writing down everything that passes our lips.
8. It takes the guesswork out of losing weight.
9. It’s a good way to figure out if we’re balancing our diet according to our program and/or the food pyramid for healthy eating.
10. We’re more likely to make smart choices if we know we’re going to be writing it all down.
How can you track?
Well, if you’re a WW member, you should be getting a little paper tracker booklet each week at your meeting. You can also purchase a three-month tracker, or you can sign up to use the E-Tools on the WW website. (And there’s apparently an app for the iPhone, which means there’s probably one for the Blackberry if you have one of those.)
But you don’t really need anything that fancy. A small notebook/stenopad will do. Or if you don’t want to track by hand and you want someone else to figure out the calories, fat, fiber, and carb content of what you’re eating, www.fitday.com is a great resource. You can track everything from your food to your exercise and lots more there.
So who will make a commitment to try tracking this week? In addition to planning out my meals, I’m going to try to post a daily exercise tracker here on the blog.