Welcome back to the Habit-A-Week Challenge after half a month (or more) of holiday craziness and (possibly) indulgence! I am excited to see people trickling back to the blogosphere, ready to tackle some more weight. Now is the best time EVER to get the weight off, and it is all within your power. Make a change today! You'll be SO much happier by spring!
This week we are tackling a habit that is *very* helpful, but a lot of people tend to resist it. It takes effort, ya know, and we all want the effortless way to weight loss. (Not gonna happen). So even if you roll your eyes and think "I am not doing THAT," give it a try, just for a week. You might be surprised the difference it makes.
The healthy habit of the week is: Write it down. This is, in fact, the one single thing that has made my success this time. Writing down everything you put in your mouth is a real eye opener. In fact, I really wanted to make this habit the very first habit of all in the challenge, but I knew people would be resistant so I started with something easier. Now that you've been working on other habits, it's time to try this one. And if you are restarting your weight loss efforts, there was never a better time to tackle this habit!
How to do it: You can use a paper and pen... a notebook... a spreadsheet. You can scribble it on a grocery list. You can start a special journal. Or you can use a free program online like the Daily Plate, FitDay, or Sparkpeople (which I use daily). Doesn't matter what you use; do what you are most comfortable with. Start by simply measuring out ALL of your food (yes, with actual measuring cups and tablespoons) and writing down what you eat. I know at this point some of you are groaning and thinking it is too much effort and you want to find an *easier* way to lose weight. This is NOT THAT HARD, people. If you won't do something this simple, I don't know how you expect the weight to come off. (If you already have something else that is working for you, this doesn't apply! I am directing this comment to people who are sick of being fat but looking for a magic bullet with no work). Anyway, measure your food. You can measure out a serving (read the label) or you can pour your usual amount of food into a bowl and then measure that. Write it down. Do this ALL DAY LONG... every bite. If you eat your kid's sandwich crust, write "one sandwich crust" on your list. If you add ketchup to your food, write it down. If you drink some juice, write it down. If you lick the bowl after you make a cake, write it down. If you pop a few bites of dinner into your mouth as you are prepping it, write it down. Every single bite.
By the end of the day, you'll have a nice list going. Something like this:
1/2 cup milk
1 cup Cheerios
sandwich made from 2 bread slices, half a can of tuna, 2 T mayo.
3/4 cup orange juice
Now if you were writing on paper, you need to add up the calories. It's easier if you write the calories down next to the food as you eat it for things with a label like the Cheerios, and then later you can look up calories for stuff without a label, like the banana. You can purchase a calorie counting book or look things up online. Add everything up and get a calorie total for the day. If you are using the online software I mentioned earlier, it is easier, because the food you eat will most likely be in their database and you just add the food and it automatically calculates for you.
Do this for one week. See how many calories you are eating. Weigh yourself and see if you gained or lost weight. Then adjust your intake accordingly. Simple! Look up how many calories you *should* be eating online here or here or here or wherever else you want to look. See if you are eating too much or too little.
Even if you are not going to be a long-term calorie counter, it's a good idea to do this for one week to see where your diet could use improvement. You can look down your list every day and see where the majority of your calories are coming from. Are you eating too many snacks? Is mayo 25% of your daily calorie intake? Do you eat a lot of calories at night? Not enough veggies? You can easily see what needs to be cut out in order to lose weight. And if you have never done this before, you'll be surprised how much you learn by doing this.
Give it a try. You have nothing to lose but the weight and the misery. If you're already a person who writes down what they eat.. whether for calories, points, exchange programs, whatever... use this week to go back to basics. Stop eyeballing your portions and really measure this week. Be extra accurate about your counting. Pay attention. Examine your intake and make necessary adjustments.
For "advanced dieters": If you already do this, then try writing down your *feelings* on your food intake list each time you eat. Examine the times you are eating, and your emotions. Write down how hungry you were on a scale of 1 to 10. Take this week to think about WHY you eat what you do, and whether or not that is healthy for you. Everyone can learn something by keeping track of their intake and feelings.
I'm off to trudge through the snow and run some errands. Have a super great week!
Moments that take your breath away.
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