Third Time’s The Charm? Sustainable Weight Loss using Food Journalling

The options and processes of achieving the desired weight and size is endless. The motivations behind achieving them also varies from person to person. It has been a long journey in this ‘get in shape and be healthier’ train, and this is an account of my third long-process attempt to do so.

My biggest issue, which seems to be a common issue to many, is sustainability. Given the immense societal pressure to get things done quickly, I must confess that the previous times I decided to take a long-drawn strategic approach has worked for a while, but none have stuck.

The first time I did this was in 2013. This blog post from that time actually reflected my experiences that time, and all seemed good

It was great overall until I decided that I need to find a way to sustain this without costing a lot of money. and that’s when things went downhill. The personal trainer was the main contributor of the positive impact and once I was no longer able to have that, self-motivation became non-existent. The workouts stopped, nothing changed in the diet and the weight went back up.

January 2015 was when the second attempt phase started. I went back to the gym where I started it all, and signed up for a two-year membership contract. At this point, I have gained a lot of weight from the last time that I was there – the results of 2013 pretty much came undone. I tried to do the Zumba classes, which I really enjoyed doing before. But this time, perhaps partially because of the weight gain, and not doing physical activities for a while, the classes started to hurt my feet. It was an ego blow for sure.

I thought that signing up for a contract with my gym membership will motivate me to stick to it more, but that is not the case at all. I felt little remorse about the money wasted in unused gym memberships. From September 2015 until May of 2016 I never stepped foot in the gym. It was not until I started looking into getting more focused with budgeting my money that I realised that it’s still worthwhile to pay the cancellation fees now than let the money be drawn out monthly for the rest of the contract.

Then I decided to try it again.

This attempt 2016? What is different this time:

  1. I adapted the same mental approach as my financial budgets. I ensured to log in every single item I ate but not be very restrictive about it. The major goal is to be informed about the type of foods consumed and then make changes in a gradual scale. This eased off the pressure and the demoralising feeling of not hitting the ‘recommended minimum calorie limit’.
  2. No salads this time, haha! But on a more serious note, I became more relaxed with the type of food I eat to prevent feeling deprived, and some of them are unhealthy for sure. I make plans while being aware of my pickiness with food. I eat foods that I like, simple as that. The key is in the portion size and the meals I can control like work lunches and meals at home.
  3. Home cooking really helps significantly. The main benefit when the meals are made from scratch is that it is easy to trim or skip altogether the fat, sugar, salt or anything that is not healthy in huge amounts. It also makes substituting easier, such as using lean steak or chicken breast, baking instead of frying.

    A sample of the screenshot from the app I use, Myfitnesspal
  4. Not checking the scale regularly and obsessively but have a method for checking periodically. When I donate blood, they do some tests and that includes checking your current weight. Between when I started food journaling again and the time I donated (5 – 6 weeks) I lost 1.2 kilos, which is huge but also gradual. It will be in a month before my next blood donation and weight check, and that is a reasonable time gap in between checks.
  5. I incorporated a few dietary habits such as drinking tea in the morning and at night. Apparently there are some weight loss qualities with drinking tea. Part of it though is replacing my preferred sweet liquids, particularly hot chocolate and the drop from 20 grams to zero grams of sugar definitely adds up. Lattes are delicious, expensive and loaded with sugar, and I realised how easy it is to replicate the basic formula at home while being control of what’s in it.
  6. Taking advantage of tracking how much water consumed. Drinking water is important to stay healthy overall and manage appetite.
  7. Integrating small achievable, low stress physical activities that I actually enjoy. I re-fulfilled my childhood when I purchased these sticks to start learning Arnis, a martial art form that involves using these weapons. With this, a 10-minute exercise routine is now a part of my morning routine. I tried Yoga for a brief period time but am still struggling to make it stick, so I may use my yoga mat for other things instead. After a month I incorporated a 10-squat-and-10-push-up night-time routine.

As of the first week of July, the app has notified me that I have logged in my food entries for 80 days straight which is wonderful and exciting!

My co-workers have also been mentioning about wanting to add strategies to manage food intake and weight and I made this suggestion to try any of the steps above, in some form or fashion that works with them.

Staying healthy in all forms (physical, mental, emotional) is a lifelong journey and this post or the Lifetime Goals List will certainly be updated  with the progress.







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