In Part 1 of the series, I talked about my food philosophy and my first strategy for helping me maintain a healthy approach to food: BUILDING YOUR BOUNDARIES.
Today, I’m moving on to a second strategy called REVIEW AND PREVIEW: my strategy for keeping aware of what I’m eating and to helping me adjust my choices on-the-fly to stay consistent.
Before you can REVIEW AND PREVIEW you must be aware of what you are eating. I’m far enough along in my journey that I’ve refined what/how I eat–I’m aware day-to-day what I’m eating. However, at the beginning of my health changes, I was NOT…not even close to knowing what I was putting in my mouth! So how do you become aware of what you eat?? By journaling!
Wait, wait, wait!!
Before you stop reading and lump me in with the rest of the so-called experts, just let me explain! You might be surprised by my approach!
When I first started to change my health I journaled and counted calories…and at different times throughout my journey…just not all the time. When I began training clients of my own, I also advocated they journal and count calories. These days however, I’m advocating for journaling…but NOT to count calories or to create your own personal confessional.
What?!? That makes no sense!! Keep reading…I’ll explain it all!
At the start of my changes I truly had no idea what I was eating…either in terms of food groups or in total calories. I journaled with pen and paper to figure that out. Because I wasn’t using an online app I found websites that gave me calorie counts and went that route. Most days I journaled up until dinner. I ate lots of casseroles for dinner at that time and had no idea how to break down the calorie counts for a serving. So, I counted what I could, left room at the end of the day for a dinner meal of about 400-500 calories and guesstimated that I would finish the day at about 1800-1900 calories. No one told me to do this. Why I chose that number I’m not sure, but it did work for me as I did lose weight.
What I just described above is 100% truth…but it is only a portion of the truth of my journaling habits. Keep reading….
At the start of my changes I was very perfection focused. (Oh, who I am kidding?? I still am! The difference is I’m aware now of how detrimental striving for perfection is…I wasn’t even aware of that habit of mine during the beginning of my transformation. Luckily I’ve learned a few more things since then and having to be perfect is slowly going by the wayside!) Anyway, I hated the very idea of writing down what I ate that was “bad” for me…so I didn’t. By “I didn’t” I mean two very different and distinct things:
- I didn’t eat the food because I didn’t want to write down the “bad” choices AND
- I didn’t write the “bad” food down because I didn’t want to see that I actually ate it. (henceforth known as “Ignore it and it will go away!”)
Neither of those two things were contributing to my health…at least in terms of mindset and long-term habit formation! Thankfully I learned and evolved and moved away from the idea of certain foods being “bad” and simply ignoring what I didn’t want to deal with.
What I learned during my own experience was basic journaling (writing down every bite consumed and calorie counting) really wasn’t effective for changing my mindset, but it would have been effective for showing me what foods I ate…assuming I had journaled everything and reviewed my journals for patterns. I DID NOT journal everything…only the “good” food…nor did I ever review it for the sole purpose of learning. The old-fashioned method of journaling wasn’t effective for me…and I’ve found it really hasn’t been effective for my clients either!
So based on my own personal experiences and what I’ve learned as a trainer from my clients, I’ve developed a journaling strategy AND a behavior strategy that help make looking at your food choices not feel so shitty!
First off, the journaling strategy: journal according to major food categories versus calories consumed. **See image below.**
For each serving of a food, mark a tally next to the appropriate food group. What you want to see at the end of the day is more protein, veggies, and fruit; some dairy, grain, and fats, and little junk. If you eat MORE of the good, whole food you’ll be exactly where you need to be. Be certain to keep track of the “junk” food though, too. Not because it’s bad per say, but because you want to show yourself if you’re eating more of it than you realize.
This easy approach to journaling gets you in touch with understanding what you are ACTUALLY eating–which is super important when you begin to change your health. You’ve got to know what you are doing currently so you know what to change! Journaling is a useful exercise for learning, not something that you want or need to do forever…so look at it as just that: temporary!
Now that you are aware of what you are eating, we can now get to the behavior strategy: REVIEW AND PREVIEW.
When you are faced with an option to indulge in something that isn’t healthy (but oh sooo yummy!), do this:
— Take a quick peek through your journal and REVIEW the last several days. (Or if your journal isn’t handy, just think back and try to recall what you’ve had.) How many tally marks next to junk? How many days did you have equal servings of junk to the good fuel? Have you been eating very well, with consistently good fuel?
— Then think about what is coming up in your schedule, PREVIEW the next few days. Will you be seeing friends for drinks? Do you plan to eat out? Meeting a co-worker for lunch? Are you at home having the meals you planned?
Your decision in each, separate moment will be determined by what you find when you REVIEW AND PREVIEW!
Examples to consider: If you’ve already had lots of indulgences for the week, maybe skip this one and opt for healthier choices. If you’ve been sticking to healthy all week long, but know the next three days you aren’t home and plan to indulge, maybe skip this indulgence knowing what’s to come. Or perhaps you’ve done alright the past few days, but know you are going to be home and eating quite healthy, so this indulgence makes sense right now.
This REVIEW AND PREVIEW strategy also works for movement! I use the strategy just as much for how I eat as for how I move. I know the benefits of moving, but that doesn’t mean I always want to do it! There are days I’m just over it. But I also know that “I don’t feel like it!” can easily turn into days of ignoring what is best for me and my health. REVIEW AND PREVIEW has helped me a ton in this department!
Again, examples to consider: On that craptastic day when I want to stay in bed and read and nothing else, I do a quick REVIEW of what I’ve done for exercise the past few days. Then I do a quick PREVIEW of what is coming up for me. If during REVIEW I’ve missed a couple of days then the answer doesn’t require me to PREVIEW: I’m moving that day for sure! If I REVIEW and see I’ve moved consistently the past several days, but my PREVIEW shows I have morning appointments the next two days that will mess with my morning routine, I know to get my butt to the gym today just in case of a miss coming up.
REVIEW AND PREVIEW means you have to give pause. Give pause and apply reason to your unique situation! <—- This is the part that most people balk at. Having to make determinations based on circumstances isn’t easy and doesn’t have a cookie cutter answer. But the very reason it’s difficult is the very reason it works: you have to use your thinker and trust yourself!!
It’s what I’ve been harping about and will continue to do so: that path to success is finding WWFY!
Coming up next will be Part III in the How To Eat blog series: Lead with Protein!
I want to help get you get healthy. And I want to help you get healthy in a way that works for you, your body, and your lifestyle. Health isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. Interested in more of what I’m about and my approaches to health? Get signed up for my weekly newsletter here —–> http://eepurl.com/bM_c_D
Also at the end of this month I will be releasing the Meal Planning Blueprint! This is a free resource that is going to help you create an arsenal of recipes you will use, help you build a repeatable meal rotation, and get all your recipes housed/organized in one easy-to-use binder. Keep watching my Facebook page for more announcements and the sign-up link!