I think the better question is “Is journaling YOUR calories necessary for YOUR weight loss?”
This opinion of mine comes from not only my own weight loss journey but from my experience helping others with their weight loss journey.
I’ve come across fitness influencers who have never journaled a single food item nor counted calories. I’ve come across fitness influencers who journal religiously. Most influencers promote what they believe. I personally have experienced that each person is different. I believe each person has a different need.
The short answer is this….if you attempt to journal your food and find that you constantly fall off the wagon with it…then YES you need to be committed to it for no less than 30 days and I personally recommend three months.
As for “falling off the wagon”??? That means every single excuse you might have. Any and all of the following excuses are just that…excuses and there is an underlying issue that needs to be brought to light. Here are our most used excuses (mine included)…
- I’ve been sick and not eating much anyway
- I can’t seem to find my foods
- I make meals that are too complicated
- I forget
- It’s such a hassle
- I have too much going on in my life
- I don’t understand it
- It’s my cycle time and I have PMS and it’s just not worth journaling my cravings
- It’s the holidays and I know I’ll eat bad
When I start training a client, one of the first things I ask for is about three days’ worth of food journaling. This gives me a clearer picture of this persons habits and I can actually train them better knowing what their energy intake is.
Most of the time getting three days is not too hard but if I think they ate according to what they think I want to see I will ask for a continuous food journal.
Here is my story with food journaling. It’s really a replica of what I see in others.
Taking four months off of work can have huge metabolic changes occur in your body for several reasons. For me this resulted in weight gain of about 20 lbs.
What I didn’t realize is that my metabolism literally went from OVERDRIVE to gear ONE! In that small amount of time all this happened. Eustress (good stress) and distress (negative stress) both create the same chemical reactions inside your body. I definitely had distress going on.
Fast forward and I realize I’m still trying to eat as if my body is in OVERDRIVE. I decide to start journaling my food. Here’s a quick mindset of how that went…
I would journal Monday through Friday religiously and then skip the weekends with my mindset of excuses. After a long period of time I knew I needed to see in black and white what my weekend looked like. I played mind games with my brain. I convinced myself I could eat whatever I wanted Monday through Friday but on the two days of the weekend I had to manage my food intake and journal like they were a weekday.
It was gut wrenching when I finally achieved that weekend journal. It hurt to see just how many calories I was eating on a regular basis every weekend. I promise you it was enough to completely ruin all the hard work I did through the week of eating well. Matter of fact, some weekends it was enough to cover two weeks of Monday through Friday.
I got more serious about my weekends. I had to convince myself I wasn’t “too tired” and that I had to get moving. If you’ve never worked out on a Saturday night I promise it can feel weird! So I started moving more on the weekends and journaling what I ate and managing what I ate better. I also started working on prepping food for the weekdays.
I saw some changes in the right direction but not enough. So I started a calendar that I would use to “average” my calories out. I noticed I was still averaging a pretty high caloric intake and realized I had ruined my metabolism and now had to eat less for a while.
I cannot tell you how hard it is to go from 2500-3000 calories to under 2000. It was hard. But my metabolism just had not recovered yet.
To this day I still journal my food. I focus on getting 20-30 grams of protein with my breakfast and 20-30n grams of protein with my lunch and the rest throughout the day. If I’m going to be exercising a lot I intake more carbs (carbohydrates) than days I won’t be exercising a lot. I make sure I get healthy fats to keep my cells strong yet flexible for energy to flow through.
I also make sure to take my pharmaceutical grade vitamins/minerals because it’s just like “GAP” insurance. It covers what your food can’t give you. People who exercise regularly need even more nutrition because they have higher demands on the body.
It feels good to be on track and in charge! Will I always journal my calories? Maybe I won’t but for now I do to set the example for those who need to be journaling.
So….the most important times to be journaling your calories?
- During your monthly cycle (before, during and after)
- When you’re busiest
- During holidays
- When you MOST DON’T want to!
I challenge you to give it a shot for 60-90 days straight! No blank days. You will be amazed at what comes to light.
If you’re unsure of how to journal or if you’re not familiar with macro nutrients, I am here to help! I thrive on making our basic nutrition simple to understand. Enough that my 11 year old understands it quite well.
Proper exercise and proper nutrition can take you on a wonderful, healthy, less pain journey!
Stay STRONG and Flexible!
Brenda Lee Lewis