One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

WEEKLY QUESTIONS

Do you Food Journal?

38 Comments 2843 views

Weekly questionI’m asking this weeks question out of pure curiosity. If you are regular reader you may know I have varying degrees of food journalism (food journalism?? not sure if that makes sense, but that’s how it came out of me and I’m going to run with it.)

These levels have evolved over the last 3 years of losing and maintaining a weight loss.

Level 1 – In my head.
I don’t think I’ll ever not at least be conscious of what I’m eating ever again. When I’m in level 1 it’s normally when I’m feeling in control, having consistent weigh ins and overall just living in the weight maintenance zone.
Level 2 – Just Food.
When the bites, tastes and licks are getting out of control and I’m noticing an increase in ‘between meal’ eating I start to at least jot down a basic food journal, no points, calories or anything just a running list of everything I ate that day.
Level 3 – Food with Points.
The scale’s gone up a bit and I need some accountability. That’s when I full out and start to weigh and estimate points while food journaling.
Level 4 – Weekly Commitment.
(AKA full blown Weight Watchers). The scale is up and I need some serious accountability. This is when I make a weekly commitment. Track my points daily and use/track my weekly allowance point. I also call this level my “weight loss mode”.
Level 5 – Pre-planned Weekly Journal.
This is Food journaling to the max. In the morning I plan lunch and dinner, estimate the points, calculate how many I have left for breakfast and snacks. It’s really a daily way to plan each day and have points accounted for before I eat them. This is the way I journaled for the majority of my weigh loss.

I may be a little fanatical about the food journaling but for me it really was/is the only way. So I’m real curious what works for you.

Do you Food journal? and if so, How do you do it?




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Discussion

There are 38 comments so far.

    Sarah

    July 1, 2008

    First? Really? Yeah!

    I’m an iffy journaler. When I’m not too busy and when I’m not doing bad I journal. But sometimes it just doesnt work out. Take last week for instance, I was working on getting back into the whole WW and journaling groove so I decided to do the “getting started” 20 points thing. I did great Monday thru Friday. Journaled, stayed in point range. But Saturday and Sunday. I left my journal in my car and didn’t even think about points when I ate my Indian food, hot dogs, birthday cakes, and hamburgers.

    So, yes and no. It’s something I’d like to get better at and something I’ll have to work at.

    Sarah

    Christie

    July 1, 2008

    I like to keep a food journal. I feel best when I am in level 5 of journaling. That’s when I can actually see the scale going down and I am “in the mode”. It takes a lot of time sometimes though when I am in level 5 so I slip to level 3. I can still lose weight this way but I am a lot more lenient (aka lazy) about writing stuff down.

    Lately, I’ve only been doing level 1 and I have been seriously been suffering weight wise so I really want to get back to level 5. Maybe once all the weight is gone I can go back and forth between the levels but I really need to stay at a level 5 to keep losing.

    Scrangie

    July 2, 2008

    A food journal is the only thing that works for me. I use either SparkPeople or The Daily Plate to keep track of what I’m eating every single day.

    It really makes you focus on nutrition when you see the numbers staring you in the face. Apparently I never get enough calcium, way too much sodium and not as much protein as I’d like.

    I also like to go back and look at what I’ve consumed in the past, really fascinating to see how it’s evolved from processed food to more whole foods.

    Sabine

    July 2, 2008

    Yes, I food journal. I print out a chart for each week (several weeks at a time). I write small and use my own shorthand and often just arrows to the next day’s column because I tend to eat the same things for awhile. I’m 53 and have been doing this for years now, with lapses during which I have gained weight. I’m sure I’d weigh over 200 pounds if I ever really let myself eat whatever I wanted. It’s a bit of work to weigh and measure (sometimes having to guess at the calories) but it’s so totally worth it. I wish I had not let myself regain the 30 pounds I lost through TOPS. Now I’m slowly losing again.

    Laura Brandon

    July 2, 2008

    i do, every day of the week but saturday. i use sparkpeople’s nutrition tracker, and i love it! i’ll probably keep doing it during maintenance too. if i ever get there.

    melissa

    July 2, 2008

    I’m pretty informal about journaling. For the first part of the day, I just keep a running total in my head, but after dinner, I normally write it out to make sure I’m right. It also helps to make sure I’ve gotten my fruit and veggies in. I don’t do this very systematically though because I have random sheets of paper everywhere with numbers on them. I’ll write my points on anything! Most of the time I lose my sheet and have to rewrite it. Sometimes I type them on my blog which is the best way because then I can’t lose it!

    coral

    July 2, 2008

    I was crazy about it when I first started WW 8 months ago, but have been really slacking the last couple of months. I’ve been getting so upset that I haven’t been losing weight, but the last week or so I’ve gone back to journaling…and now I know why. The taco meal that we’ve been eating once a week, I was thinking that it was so good, but I actually brought it home and weighed things out…holy smokes! I was totally underestimating the amount of meat I was putting in, and it DOUBLED the total meal points.

    So yeah, even if I know I’ve gone over, I’m making sure to write EVERYTHING down, until I get the portions right again. I got overconfident and lazy, and gained.

    Geri

    July 2, 2008

    Yeah, I have to journal. It’s what keeps me in the right mindset between WW meetings. I find that if I don’t have my journal, I go awry very quickly!

    I work between your level 4 and 5, though I’ve tried level 5 alone but found it too restrictive (you never know when your housemates will eat your cheese, or forget a crucial element of your brown bag lunch!)

    I have a stationary fetish, so I use a really nice green leather journal and a pink pen. I also use the journal to record weight loss, and things I want to remember from my weight watchers meeting. It’s like a little project book!

    Tara from Portland

    July 2, 2008

    I, like you have varying degrees of “journalism”. I normally journal on SparkPeople (since I am always near a computer, sad I know) but since sometimes I tend to eat the same foods I don’t journal. The past 2 weeks I have been in what you call your stage one, just keeping mental track since I haven’t really went overboard. So far it is working out ok.

    Lorraine

    July 2, 2008

    I a ww pointless maintainer for over a year. I dont track journal or count. I do a Wendy style way . I wish I could count and joural but my personality is too lazy to figure points out. I lost 50 1bs and was never good at knowing exactly what points I had even when losing.
    I think I eat more when I coun t but lose more when I dont when I’m in my losing mode.

    Tamela

    July 2, 2008

    I’m always conscious of what I eat, and I tend to go between writing everything (with points) or just counting in my head. I do think I need to commit more to 100% journaling. It helps me track my fruit, veggie and water intake much better.

    spunkysuzi

    July 2, 2008

    I find i have to journal to keep myself accountable i also pre-plan what i’m eating so i know exactly what i can have and if i have any leeway left!

    Anonymous

    July 2, 2008

    I do not journal, never have. I feel by journaling it makes food the focus of my day..and after many years of it being the focus,,I have conquered that “demon” (mine) and I’m a pretty “normal” person..In other words I finally eat healthy,,and have not craved certain foods like I once did,,For me its simple mind over matter,,It only took,,many many years..But I can say..I am there..

    Later Gator

    July 2, 2008

    I do Core, so I only keep track of my non-Core points. I’m waaaaaaaaay too lazy to write everything down, though I do note what foods are triggers and when I’m eating out of boredom/stress/nervousness, etc.

    Sulyn

    July 2, 2008

    I am a lifetime member who just returned to WW a few weeks ago. So far, I am averaging about a loss of about 3 lbs. a week. It is because I am journaling at level 5. I have to plan ahead or I know from experience I will blow it. I also have to have the accountability of weighing in front of someone each week. I made the decision to return to WW when I realized I had gained almost all of my weight back. I let life get in my way; I am determined not to do that this time. I know journaling is a key element of the lifestyle I am learning to live. I already feel better, and I know I have to do this for me.

    bojooki

    July 2, 2008

    i am also in maintenance mode and do a very similar tracking system that you do.

    amy hartling

    July 2, 2008

    I have tried various free online food tracking programs (fitday.com, spark people, etc). I do journal food (most days) I also am a level 5 but in my head. In the morning, I plan out what I will have for lunch and dinner trying to decide if I am going to go with 0pt soup and bread for lunch. I am currently using selfdietclub.com, since I need to watch my carb and protein take. If one of those programs doesn’t have the nutrition values, I use Calorieking.com. It is packed with fast food items as well as everything I have ever searched for, but it costs monthly to track your food. For times when I don’t write it down, i don’t lose. I also have a handy-dandy notebook that I keep track of foods calories, fat, fiber, carbs and protien. It is kind of a running list. I also have stashed a few recipes and shopping lists for reference. But, I prefer to use the online method because it get a graph that shows the breakup of food how what percentage of values I am eating.

    Estellia

    July 2, 2008

    I don’t know if I can go without a food journal at this point, but in the future I would like to. I use the WW paper food journal mainly because I like the colors and design. Journaling online just doesn’t work for me, I tried nutrihand and it didn’t stick. I journal food points and excercise points and do my weight and measurements in the excel spreadsheet. I think it is nice to know these things and be able to look back at them. I keep notes about hard times, cravings, etc.

    Hip2Homeschool

    July 2, 2008

    I am very consistent in my journaling with Weight Watchers. I have the journal that you can buy from them and write down everything that I eat. I also have a blog to write about my experiences with WW and I journal about what I eat on that too. I am new to WW and have only been a member for 2 months. I have to journal or I know that I will be tempted to cheat!

    Heather L.

    Nellie

    July 2, 2008

    Although I am a few pounds below
    goal weight, I continue to keep a
    track of what I eat and points in
    my Daily Tracker. It is the only
    way I can feel successful. It may be obsessive, but it is one thing
    that I will be doing until I can
    drive with my eyes closed!

    Nellie

    IzzyBeth

    July 2, 2008

    I’ve journaled at all of those levels, except for level 5 – I’m just not that good. I do the best when I journal using the WW website – I slack off and don’t eat as well when I’m not keeping track.

    Kym

    July 2, 2008

    I journal through a new program we are trying out at work, but I only record what I have eaten, I don’t preplan. I also bought a new point calculator from ww, that I love, I can keep up with my points with it and don’t have to write things down twice (on the computer program and a point tracker notepad). I highly recommend the calculator, it is handy for grocery store trips and on the fly decisions.

    Anonymous

    July 2, 2008

    I’m totally at level 5. I plan all my dinners a week in advance (not that it always works out perfectly), plus I plan out my day before it starts, that way I can’t cheat. If I know how many points dinner is going to be ahead of time, I can plan the rest of my day around it. Hopefully I can be less fanatical about it once I get the hang of it.

    Anonymous

    July 2, 2008

    A few years ago WW sold a little pearl points-counting bracelet that had four white “pearls” followed by a gray “pearl;” each pearl representing one point. There was a little moveable “WW” charm that you would move along the bracelet to count points. I was within 10 lbs. of my goal at that point, so I pretty much could recite point values of any given food off the top of my head. I no longer had the need to meticulously journal everything because so much of it was in my head. I bought a point bracelet to keep me on track – basically to keep me honest with what my brain was keeping track of – and it worked!

    I have returned to WW after having fallen away during my master’s program (it’s very difficult to earn a master’s degree and stay focused – but I’m back now, so it’s all good!)

    Since every day isn’t necessarily a “pearls” day (and since the “pearls” quickly tarnished and pealed), I have since made a version of my own points bracelet that looks very trendy and works so well. Best of all, no one suspects that it is my way of counting points! If you happened to know about it, you could easily “read” my wrist to find out how many points I have left in the day.

    Kind of a silly way to track them, but it sure works for me!

    : )

    – Denise

    Anonymous

    July 2, 2008

    I’m a level 5 journaler–have been for about 2 years. I use WW 3 month journals and I save them so I can go back and review as necessary. Over the years, the times that I gained weight was when I didn’t journal. At the age of 42 I’ve decided that this is the way to go for me and I’m ok with that! So, God willing, I’ll be that 75 year old woman who still weighs less than goal and still journals! Donna

    deanna

    July 2, 2008

    Nope. I hate journaling. For me it takes too much time out of my life and I think I just read that someone felt that journaling made food the focus of their day and I have to say that I agree. It’s way too much of a focus now, don’t need to add another level to that.

    Cintia EUA

    July 2, 2008

    I became a number 5 after atempting to lose weight and not write anything down. It worked for a while but there’s more precision in planning. My husband actually appreciates knowing what’s in the menu as well.
    I hope to be free from writing everything I eat one day. I’m doing to lose weight and to learn how to eat better. Once I do it, I’ll drop it like is hot!

    ratmammy

    July 2, 2008

    I’m between 4 and 5. I journal and have been keepign track of food in one form or another (online or on paper) for the past 6 years or more. I have always been a routine person and i eat the same foods every day but i can deviate from said routine easily by replacing foods that are of equal calories. it helps to journal and to really think about what i’m eating. it’s really the only way to control binging…

    Michele

    July 2, 2008

    I journal on WW on line. I did this all through my weight loss phase and now that I am on maintenance, I have decided that I will continue to journal on line for now. I usually plan all my meals for the next day in advance. I’m just not ready to stop yet. I’m hoping that once I reach one year at goal I will be able to stop keeping track of everything I put in my mouth. For now, I need that accountability.

    Loucnn

    July 2, 2008

    OK since you asked, I am a level 5 WW journaler. I have been for most of my 94 weeks on WW. The weeks I have not journaled I have gains plain and simple. I have a real hard time stopping myself from over eating so journaling is the only way I am going to be able to make it. Take my PDA away and I am kind of lost. I don’t know which would hurt more losing my PDA or my cell phone?

    Tabitha

    July 2, 2008

    I have journaled everything I’ve put in my mouth since I started WW. I have gotten really good at estimating the point value of an item. The only day that I did not pay attention was when I was having a little too much fun at the Sox game. I still only used my points for the day and my weekly points, but it was a bad day. On average I have been losing about 3 lbs a week. I know that if i don’t journal then I will not be successful.

    RooBabs

    July 2, 2008

    I’m somewhere between 3 and 4 (I have gained weight in the last 2 years because I was at 0 or 1- in my head leaves way too much room for imagination and justification). I keep track on Fitday, and I have a paper journal that’s from the National Body Challenge (Discovery Health Channel). I keep track of calories and fat grams, and I keep a running total after each meal and/or snack. That way, at any given point, I know how much I’ve eaten, and it helps to make choices on whether or not I should eat a certain food (or when I’m trying to decide between foods).

    I like Fitday, because it calculates the percentages of Fat, Carbs and Protein, and I’m trying to better balance those. I do some planning ahead for bkfast and lunch, since I take those to eat at work.

    I tend to be slightly OCD, so I actually kind of like keeping a food (and weight and exercise) journal.

    Trish

    July 3, 2008

    I keep a journal, even when I do core. When I am doing flex I pre-plan a rough draft, more of a guideline for the week leaving wiggle room for last minute outings or dinner invites. Then it goes in pen when I eat it in my journal.

    Amy

    July 3, 2008

    I vary. But when I am journaling carefully and tracking the points, I’m always better. I feel better, more in control, and the scale shows it. I was very careful about it when I started WW a year ago, but I stopped being careful about it when I got close to the goal. Big mistake! I gained five pounds back.

    I’m now journaling at about your level four, and it’s paying off. And the more it pays off, the easier it is to stick with it.

    The Roaming Southerner

    July 3, 2008

    I’m between a 4 and 5. I keep WW points with the weekly weigh in (on my own though)…and most days I’ll try and pre plan what I eat but do not usually stick to it. It is just a frame of reference so I do not think, “oh I’ve got nothing to eat so going to McD’s makes sense.”

    Arlene

    July 6, 2008

    Hmm. I really like the idea of the points-counting bracelet. But I’m a paper and pen girl. I use three different colors, switching off between meals so each one is in a different color. I try to keep track daily … but have days when I go off the rails and then eat everything in sight … and when I do that, I stop keeping track because I figure the total will depress me.

    After reading your post, I made a commitment to track every bite, every day … and so far have been sticking to it. I even tracked my fancy Italian dinner with the boyfriend Wednesday night. Ate most of my FPs for the week, but unless I WAY underestimated, I didn’t blow them all. That actually made me feel good.

    Jan

    July 6, 2008

    I journal everything on my Palm Pilot. I always have it with me. I reached my goal in April and was doing pretty good. Then last week I decided not to journal and I gained 3 lbs. I am back to journaling! It is something I can see that I will do the rest of my life.