As humans, we can be quite good at kidding ourselves, can’t we? Dab hands at pretending. Masters of the vague. If you’re trying to lose fat (sorry, I never say lose weight, because it’s not our heaviness which is the point), then how much we eat and drink is important. Tracking, counting and recording can be extremely enlightening as well as fruitful. I’m not talking about an app where all you do is key in numbers. Oh no, I’m talking the full journal experience where you note everything you eat and drink for a period of time. It’s amazingly cathartic to write 150g cod loin oven baked with three slices chorizo, leeks, peas and half a sweet potato (approx 38g protein, 370 calories) – it makes you feel smug, like you handed in an essay ahead of the deadline. Adding one red Lindor ball (72 calories and sod-all protein) is even better because it shows honesty and, let’s face it, control because the rest of the box is still in the cupboard. Well done!
In my experience as a fitness and fat-loss coach, two of the biggest hurdles clients face are a) snacking and b) alcohol consumption. Eating tiny bits of this and that throughout the day make you feel like you’re not really eating. That leftover pasta on your daughter’s plate, the two teaspoons of peanut butter (out of the jar obv), the banana, the digestive biscuit(s) at that meeting all mount up. Then there’s the wine. The sound of glugging is a beautiful one, promising relaxation, de-stress and reward. (And a terrible night’s sleep). But, at the risk of being hailed as Annie ‘no fun’ Deadman, all of this might be the reason you’re not seeing the results you’re hoping for. Our journal is also the perfect place to log emotions. Confronting the words “Argued with husband. Ate four-finger kit-kat” is a confession but also a release which will help you in your quest for more structured eating. Writing a log of how you fuel your body isn’t obsession. More gentle observation.
Give yourself a week. Log absolutely everything you eat and drink. Yes, even the left-over crusts in your children’s lunchboxes and the Malteser down the back of the sofa (complete with cat hair). With no agenda, no shame, nothing. It’s just a log. At the bottom of each day write a couple of lines about what sort of day you had and how hungry you felt. Or was it even hunger? (And if it was hunger, then try increasing your protein!).
(Originally written for Woman magazine June 2022)