As I have mentioned many times, I am on the Weight Watchers plan. Aside from the POINTs system, one of the things that Weight Watchers is known for is having you log everything you eat. That means every meal, every snack, and every BLT, or bite, lick or taste, as they say in Weight Watchers parlance.
Beyond Weight Watchers, doctors and medical/government agencies also encourage you to document what you’re eating, as it forces you to be accountable. I’m sure it is a helpful strategy to be that transparent about your eating, but it’s something I go kicking and screaming into doing.
Point blank, it’s not fun to have to be accountable for your eating. I am notorious for being diligent about tracking my eating during the week, capturing every meal and snack perfectly, and even seeing the scale move down by 3 or 4 lbs., but when it comes time for the weekend, according to my Weight Watchers food log, it’s like the weekend never happened, and the weight loss I saw during the week is either diminished, or turns into a gain. (Yes, there are other reasons why the scale could go up, like water retention, but I’ll be honest and say I know I’m not always eating “on POINTs.”)
The weekend is the time I tend to eat the most, and I’m sure for me that there are some feelings of entitlement involved. Like, “I should be able to have pizza, French fries and buffalo wings because I had such a stressful week.” When I am going through a stressful period and want to leave it behind me, I’m often not tracking my eating. There is no honesty or disclosure about how much I’m eating.
The only problem with that is that in the long run, you can’t hide from the numbers on the scale. You can’t hide from your pants fitting more snugly, or your body getting tired from a walk up a few flights of stairs. Somewhere, eventually, the eating that you tried to hide from yourself will catch up with you.
This past week, I have been trying to reinforce a commitment to the Weight Watchers program by logging everything I eat–even on the weekend. Again, Monday through Friday were more or less easy to do (although I start to go off the grid on Friday), but on Saturday, the challenge set in.
Not at breakfast or lunch, but at dinnertime. I went to a barbecue at a friend’s house, and had a little bit of everything–a hot dog on a bun, a turkey burger on a bun with a slice of American cheese, a chicken wing, an ear of corn, and 2 servings of brownies (though they were the legendary “diet Coke brownies,” so it could’ve been worse). And then I didn’t want to face the truth about what I had eaten.
I attempted to calculate the POINTs in my head, and I knew the tally was high. I absolutely did not want to face the music. But in the morning, I relented and did the tracking. And then I found out it wasn’t such a big deal after all! My eating hadn’t exceeded my weekly allotment. (Sunday ended up not going well, as I found myself in a social situation and did not push for something healthy to eat, but I did track everything I ate, and I still saw a 1.4-lb. weight loss on the scale on Monday.) I felt better having tracked and seeing that I went overboard (but not as badly as I tend to think I do) than assuming I had blown it, and that there was no point in me continuing to track, or eat well for the rest of the week, because I had blown it.
I have to admit there is some good to tracking every bite, then, huh? I really knew that for myself, and then also by reading the story of Brian Stelter, the New York Times reporter who has a Twitter account devoted to disclosing his eating and has ultimately lost 90 lbs. It’s just so hard to own up to why I don’t track, though. To admit that sometimes I don’t stay on plan. To admit that sometimes I am not doing everything in my power to control my eating. To admit that sometimes I don’t make the healthiest choices. Although this truth is hard to face, facing it has set me free, in a sense, because now I understand that I have the power to make less damaging decisions when it comes to food, even when I am not eating my best. And that my decisions to eat less than healthy, when they are the exception during a given week rather than the rule, won’t necessarily derail my weight loss momentum for the week.
I will use this information to inspire myself to track, even when there will be a deficit. This will challenge me to reduce the POINTs deficit numbers and stay in the black with my eating. And I hope that, ultimately, it will train me to take the self-blame out of my eating and just acknowledge that I have good days and bad days.
Do you track your eating, through a program like Weight Watchers or SparkPeople, or on paper? Or are you totally against it? Leave a comment and tell me about your concerns about the process, or your challenges and triumphs!