Coach: “How was your week? Can I please see your food journal.”
“I eat the same thing every day.”
“I’m losing so I must be doing it right.”
While all of these things might absolutely be true, there needs to be a little further understanding of the importance of the food journal. Our most successful clients (those that have lost the weight and are keeping it off long-term) journaled all the way through the phases until we were sure that maintenance was attained and that habits were instilled. Some maintenance clients still journal because it helps them feel more accountable and reflect and track their nutrition and how their body responds to the fuel.
So if you’ve stopped journaling or used one of those excuses above, I’ll explain the “why” behind the food journal and, for those of you that are already journaling, I’ve included some tips to use it as your most powerful weight loss tool.
What the Journal Is NOT:
The journal is NOT our way of judging or pointing out every little thing you’re doing wrong. It’s not about us looking for mistakes and trying to catch every little one. Let that go, we are here to help.
What the journal is:
- The journal is our best tool to help you. It allows your coach to look at your behaviors and patterns so that we can be preventative in potential problems in the future. For example, if you’re someone that eats the same thing every single day, we can offer suggestions because we understand that maintaining your weight loss is extremely difficult without variety. Also, variety helps you feel satiated, provides more nutrients, and keeps your digestive track more regular. We also look for the potential of forming new habits that will be hiccups in maintenance. The client that choses a chocolate drink mix for breakfast, chocolate soy puffs as their lunch protein and then chocolate pudding for snack, technically hasn’t done anything “wrong” on the protocol. However, we have created a new craving for chocolate at meals which will not go over well in maintenance. We really want to help you have the most success while feeling good physically and mentally.
- The journal is YOUR best tool to help you. Yes, when used correctly, the journal can help you find what works best for YOU. Everyone is different and while we provide a blueprint of a plan, sometimes we have to make tweaks for each person based on their size, metabolism and level of activity. You can look back at your most successful weeks and find out what works for you (and what doesn’t).
As I mentioned above, our most successful clients keep up with the journal. This doesn’t mean that the client was perfect and it also doesn’t mean that they are out in their car scribbling in their journal minutes before their appointment (yes, we see you). They take it seriously and it makes a difference. Not to mention, you will get your best bang for your buck out of the coaching fee at IWM.
Still struggling to journal? Take some advice from those that do it well and give it a good effort.
Tips from our most successful clients:
- Pre-write in your journal – yes, go ahead and write down your plan for the week. If you need to make a change, then just notate that in the journal. This will allow you to be intentional about your food and think ahead for any potential difficult situations. Shhhhh…don’t tell our clients that this is our secret way of getting them to plan.
- Details Matter: “salad” can mean a million different things, so tell us about what’s IN the salad or what dressings you used. Include any change in a script…something as simple as an Anti-inflammatory will change the water weight on the scale so it’s important that we know this prior to your weigh in. And we can all name numerous situations in which a client thought their missing little detail wasn’t important yet it was hindering their weight loss the entire time. Gum, cough drops, salad dressings, coffee creamers, chewable vitamins…the list could go on and on. Details matter.
- Especially write down any deviation – two things happen here: 1) you take ownership of the slip-up and 2) your logical side of the brain takes over the emotional side and gives you a little slap on the wrist.
- Connect with your journal – use it daily and use it often. Record any changes in how you feel like headaches, stomach aches, hunger, low energy, constipation and even questions that you may have for your coach. Try not and wait until the end of the day to write it all down.
And one final tip about the journal…remember to record your Non-Scale Victories as well so that we can cheer for you too! Maybe it’s a drop in pant size, moving a notch on the belt, climbing stairs or simply attending an event in which you didn’t allow food to detour your plan. Relish in the victories that remind you that it’s about more than just weight loss.
If journaling in our little booklet isn’t for you, try journaling differently. There are journaling apps, you can open up an email to us, heck, we don’t care if it’s on toilet paper (as long as it’s clean), just bring us something to help you. And – kale stains on the pages are just a bonus for us. We love a messy journal.
We believe in journaling so much that we’ve even bribed with an entry into our monthly drawings when you bring us that competed journal…if it takes bribing, that’s okay with us, we will call it “positive motivation.”
Happy Journaling Friends!