Do you hate tracking your food to lose weight? Do you find yourself doing it for awhile then stopping at some point or even resisting to track your food in the first place? This has been the experiences for my clients over 35.
They’ve tracked all the things. Calories, macros, points or writing down their food in a food journal. I have my clients write down their food in a food journal. That is the simplest way to see how you are fueling your body and to get really connected with how you eat and why you eat.
For some of my clients they have a love-hate relationship with tracking their food. Many of them get angry at what they see in the food journal and they *think* they just cannot look and see what they ate. Grown women!
I find this so fascinating because you know you ate the food, your body knows you ate the food so simply writing it down isn’t hurting you. You know what IS hurting you?
All the stinky thoughts you have about what you see written down in your food journal. Your thoughts make it mean something bad about you.
You’re thinking is negative, judgmental and punitive and when you think negative thoughts like that, you hate tracking your food.
It’s not uncommon for women to resist writing down their food or to make excuses about why they are too busy to write down their food. Please! It takes 2-5 minutes to write down what you ate for the day. Anyone has that time and with phones, it’s simply.
But I say the REAL REASON you hate tracking your food and you resist doing it or stop doing it is because of what you think. And because your own thinking makes you feel bad, you stop tracking your food even though you know logically, writing down what you eat helps you be more mindful and lose weight.
Women often remove the stimulus to think stinky thinking. They *think* the food journal is making them feel bad, when in fact, it’s their own thinking. So in a thought error, they remove the stimulus (the food journal) instead of dealing with the real problem which is their stinky thinking and the negative thoughts they have about themselves.
This is what I call mindset and it’s 80% or more of what I work on with clients. In my weight loss program, I use the food journal as a tool to help bring up the stinky thinking my clients have so I can coach them around their thinking.
Women are always trying to change their bodies in an attempt to feel emotionally better about themselves. That doesn’t work. You have to emotionally feel better about yourself in order to physically change your body.
That means you have to learn the tools to deal with thinking and mindset FIRST so you can emotionally feel better before you can lose your physical weight. Does that make sense?
So even though you hate tracking your food to lose weight and you might feel in despair that you can never lose weight because you just can’t seem to get yourself to do it. Well, I have wonderful news! You CAN learn to support yourself and use food tracking in a positive way to help you lose weight.
But first, you must learn how to change your mindset around food tracking. You can’t force yourself to do things from a negative place. That means we have to change how you certain view things like food journaling first.
Listen to the podcast episode so I can coach some of your thinking around food tracking so you can start working on this now!
In this Dish on Ditching Diets Podcast Episode 64, You Will Hear:
- Why You Really Hate Tracking Your Food or Why You Do It For Awhile Then Stop
- Why Removing The Stimulus (the food tracking) Is A Thought Error
- Negative Thoughts Causing You To Stop Tracking
- A New Way For You To View Tracking What You Eat
- Why You Can’t Change Your Body With Judgement & Shame
Listen To The Full Podcast Episode:
Why You Hate Tracking Your Food Podcast Transcript
Today we’re talking about tracking your food and why, maybe you do for a while then stop doing it or you find yourself not wanting to track your food.
You say things like – it’s too hard, it takes so much time, I’m too busy, I’m too stressed, I don’t need to track my food or maybe you say I don’t like what I see when I track my food.
Anytime you have a moment like this you have to STOP and understand what’s really going on underneath that. Because none of those thoughts are truthful or helpful. They may feel true to you – but they are not the truth and I will explain more why that is in a minute.
The thing about weight loss that every woman over 35 MUST understand is that you HAVE to track your food to lose weight. You can’t lose weight without increasing your awareness of what you eat, how much you eat and the behaviors you have with food.
You will not lose weight without tracking. And if you’re someone who refuses to do it and says these things like – it’s too hard, it takes too much time, I’m too busy, too stressed, I don’t like it etc. – then you more than anyone need to be tracking what you eat.
When clients begin working with me this can be a barrier for them bc I will ask them to keep a food journal and either in the beginning or somewhere down the line they will say they don’t want to do the food journaling anymore or they don’t have time or whatever.
Common sense would tell you that if you are so desperate to lose weight and feel amazing in your body that you would do things that logically you know would help you lose weight. Writing down your food helps you lose weight.
It holds you accountable, it gives you structure, it helps you see the data like how consistent you are, where you’re doing great and where you have an opportunity to get better. But we always seem to turn off our common sense when it comes to losing weight.
Think about this – if in your job your boss asked you to do your job w/o any data. How could you ever make decisions in your job? How could you ever prove in your annual review that you were doing well?
You couldn’t – so common sense tells us we need to have data if we want to make decisions. Weight loss is about making decisions as well as learning to support ourselves.
If we want to change habits, we can’t just hope it happens. We can’t hope for weight loss without paying attention and writing down what we are doing. How do you even know if your plan is effective is you don’t write it down?
We must have data to measure, and I don’t know about you but I can’t remember what I had last Tuesday for dinner and how I ate last week. If we know weight loss comes from eating a little less than our body needs, then we can just assume we’re doing that all the time without any data.
But what every woman ends up doing is using their stinky thinking and old diet brain that tells them “OMG, I feel so terrible.
Look at what I’m eating. It’s going to take me forever to lose weight. I will never be able to figure this out. I’ve done this a million times. I’m just going to fail again. So, here’s what I should do, I should just quit tracking my food. That’ll solve my problems.”
Your thinking convinces you to move away from the painful thing. The pain is the food journal. Let’s just cut out the food journaling and all my pain will go away.
Instead of using your logical brain which would say “I can look at this and figure out the things I need to get better at and practice more. And if I don’t beat myself up, then I can work on those things.”
But all the women I’ve ever worked with have used the food journal to beat themselves up. They judge themselves. They use their stinky thinking and diet brain that tells them they’re not good enough.
Whenever you’re in a situation where you notice you beating yourself up, the solve isn’t to stop doing the thing. The solve isn’t to stop tracking your food because tracking your food isn’t the thing causing you to feel bad. You are writing down what you eat.
Then you’re having a bunch of negative thoughts about yourself and your ability to change and then you feel bad. You make yourself feel bad. The food tracker isn’t the thing that’s making you feel bad. It’s your stinky thinking.
So instead of using the food journal as an opportunity to figure out how to love yourself, how to change your inner self talk, and figure out solutions to things that trip you up, what most of us do, is we remove the stimulus in a thought error that, it’s causing me pain.
When what it’s really doing is it’s highlighting an opportunity for you to build a stronger relationship with yourself, to end self-beat downs, to stop self judgement to also see the gap between your actions today versus where you want to be. What are the little things that I can do to start moving myself closer to that? That’s what ends up happening.
The food tracking isn’t the thing causing you pain. Your stinky thinking is what is causing you the pain. And this is a thought error because if you stop tracking your food, do you actually feel better? No!
You might get some temporary relief, but you still are going to be stuck and overweight and feeling ashamed, so you don’t feel better by not tracking your food. Eventually, you feel like a failure because you couldn’t do it and begin to think you’ll never figure this out.
So thinking that the food tracking is causing your discomfort is not true. It’s a lie you tell yourself to avoid dealing with discomfort and the real problem which is your self judgement and the stinky thinking. The pain is still there – the shame, the guilt, the weight, the judgement. Get rid of the judgement and self beat ups, not the food tracker.
This is why I say mindset and the relationship with yourself is the most important thing you have to work on FIRST in weight loss and I see so many other coaches and nutritionists miss this.
I can’t tell you how many women come to me who’ve worked with other people and those people only talked to them about food, the benefits of the food, how to eat the food, meal prep. That stuff is helpful, but it only gets you so far.
When I first began coaching women over 35 to lose weight, one of the biggest things I noticed was that women would do things for a while then after a while they would stop doing them.
And I am a critical thinker by nature so I’m always very curious when I see patterns in people. Like why are all these women stopping their food journaling after a while?
I kept asking myself that question over and over. What I very quickly realized was that women are really good at making themselves feel bad. If they can’t be perfect, they feel bad.
They automatically equate lack of perfection to failure. And when they feel like they are failing, then they stop doing things. Because in their mind, they are telling themselves they are failing and then they validate the failure by not doing things anymore. In this case, by not showing up and doing the food journaling.
Now most coaches are going to tell you – if tracking is making you feel bad, just stop doing that. I am not most coaches and I will not tell you to do that. In fact, if you are thinking you don’t need to track or that you’re too busy, stressed, don’t have time, don’t like what you see, etc. I’m going to tell you more than anyone needs to track.
If you’re so stressed and don’t have time, you more than anyone need to write down what you eat because you will absolutely not remember and you will never reach your goals.
Why? Because you’re on the path to self-sabotaging, you’re in all or nothing thinking and trying to be perfect.
If you’re not tracking what you eat, what you are really saying is “I don’t care about losing weight. I’d like to keep doing the same stuff I’ve always done all the time and hope for the best.”
Hope doesn’t equal weight loss.
So, if you’re a woman thinking you don’t have to track your food to lose weight, I’m going to tell you – yes you do so you can lay out all your excuses and bring up your stinky thinking.
This is one of many reasons I have my clients right down their food – to bring up their stinky thinking so I can coach them on their mindset around THAT.
I promise you. If you don’t want to track your food, write down all the reasons why you don’t want to track your food. All of the stinky thoughts that you have about it will come up like, “I’ll have to see my mistakes.” “I don’t have time. It takes too long” “I don’t want to admit I ate that.”
Which is funny, because you already ate it, your body knows you ate it and you know it, you’re not keeping a secret from anybody. You’re only deny yourself the ability to find a solution when you don’t write it down.
We try to convince ourselves that tracking food is this long arduous task, but I guarantee if you write about why you’re hesitating to track your food, you will find there will be some thing that you do not like about yourself that is preventing you from doing it. THAT thing you don’t like about yourself is the real thing you have to fix.
You have to fix the real problems in weight loss and if you don’t fix the real problems then you end up on a merry-go-round of losing weight and gaining weight. This is the biggest problem I see.
All these people on social media and podcasts are talking to people about what to eat, what not to eat, how much to eat. But no one tell us how to do it when your brain resists it. How to do it when we are too busy, too tired, too stressed, too mad, too angry, too sad, too this – too that. How do you do it.
They’re not telling you how. They’re only telling you the what. Everyone knows what to do. They don’t know how to push through the resistance their brain gives them.
Habits start in our brain and if no one teaching you how to think different, how to stop the self beat downs, then knowing the nutrition and what to eat doesn’t matter at all because your brain will bring up your stinky thinking and you’ll have a lot of judgement about that and feel bad then you will to stop doing it. It will feel true, but it isn’t true and it’s not helpful.
So, if you’re a woman who doesn’t like tracking her food, I would use this as an opportunity for you to think about, okay. Where else in my life right now, do I do that? I see this happen often with women who are in friendships and relationships.
They’ll have friends that they think are making the feel bad. Now, if your friend is saying truly horrible, means things, yes, then obviously, get out of that friendship.
But a lot of times what happens is we’re around people, and on the inside of ourselves, we’re looking at them and all we’re doing is thinking about how terrible we are next to them. We are creating all of our own misery on the inside.
Then what we do is we start isolating ourselves like, “Well, I don’t want to hang out with them anymore. I’m just going to stay home.”
And the next thing you know, you’re just alone, because all you do is look out into the world and if you don’t learn how to not compare and not judge and beat yourself up, you eventually start cutting off everything, in a misguided attempt to feel better.
But what ends up happening is, you’re not really learning how to feel better, all you’re doing is you’re misguided attempt is, avoiding feeling bad. Avoiding feeling bad, doesn’t translate into feeling better. And that’s what I see happen most often with women.
The act of tracking your food doesn’t make you feel bad. It’s all the negative thinking and emotions that make you feel bad. A woman who truly didn’t have the time to write down what she ate, would find the next easiest solution. Like there are a ton of ways to track food.
You can literally write it down on a piece of paper which is what my clients do, you can take pictures, you can use the Notes app on your phone, you can use the Evernote app, you can use a food tracker app like LoseIt or MyFitness Pal.
I talked about how I lost my 80 pounds in 2009 in episode 52 and how I used the LoseIT app. Tracking was the best thing I ever did bc I learned so much about food and my habits. I learned how to pair foods, I learned how many calories were in certain foods. I never would have lost 80 pounds had I just tried to be good quote on quote.
I talk to a lot of women in consults who will tell me they try to be good and eat healthy. That’s not going to get you very far. That’s the honest truth.
Do you know how many times a client has told me they were good and then we looked through the food journal and realized well, it wasn’t as good as they thought? Our brains like to lie to us.
And likewise, there are so many times with clients when they’ve had a few mess ups – ate a half bag of cashews while they were cooking dinner then as we’re going through the food journal, we realize how amazing they did the rest of the time.
Most women will focus so heavily on the mess up – eating half a bag of cashews that they would totally miss all the successes they had all around that. Again, bc our brain likes to lie to us. But it’s very hard to argue with the truth when it’s in black and white.
Tracking your food – gives you structure, accountability, data to show your consistency, it highlights where you’re progressing and where your greatest opportunities for improvement lies.
And if you don’t want to track your food, you have to STOP and understand what’s really going on beneath that. What thinking is going on for you? Most likely it’s judgement and shame.
Here’s a real example with food that I see repeatedly with women and it’s an example of why you need to track your food.
So, a lot of my clients when they begin working with me, are under eating meals and over-eating snacks late at night. And they’re trying to stop snacking. They’re really hyper focused on stopping the snacking when the snacking really isn’t the REAL problem.
The real problem is they are under eating meals, their skipping breakfast and eating a tiny lunch and not eating enough calories overall. The snacking is a symptom. But they can’t see that because they don’t have the data. You can’t figure out the pieces of the puzzle and find solutions without data.
Here’s an example with exercise that I see repeatedly with women and it’s another example of why you need to track your food and exercise.
Many of my clients do exercise and when they come to me they are overtraining, but they can’t see that. All they know is they’re exercising, hungry all the time, not losing weight and tired.
When they begin tracking and I educate them on how exercise impacts hunger, weight loss and our energy, they begin to be able to draw conclusions using their food journal that their overtraining is tied to their symptoms. I talked about overtraining in episode 62 if you want to go back and listen to that.
Here’s an example that I see repeatedly with women and it’s another example of why you need to track your food.
A client will come to me saying complaining they didn’t do anything because they’re so busy and now don’t believe they can lose weight. They will literally come to a coaching call beating themselves up which if you’re a client of mine you know that’s my number one rule. You’re not allowed to do that, yet fascinating enough women try to do that. It’s almost like they’re trying to convince me they’re not good enough. I find that so fascinating. You want help, yet you’re trying to convince me you’re coach how broken and hopeless you are. But anyway, I’ll look through their food journal and see all the amazing things they did. Instead they had 2 or 3 days that were challenging and that’s all they see. Out of the 14 days between our coaching calls, they only had 2 or 3 days that were challenging and yet, that is all their brains saw. That is a great example of self judgement and you heard me talk in the last episode about how that needs to stop. Instead of beating yourself up, looking for solutions.
Now these are just 3 examples of how food journaling helps you, but can you see how important it is to write down what you eat? I hope you do.
Remember what I said earlier – many of us write down what we eat then we use it as an opportunity to beat ourselves up and judge ourselves. If you’re using it to judge yourself, that’s the real problem you have to fix in your weight loss. No food plan, meal plan, coach or number of calories will ever fix that. The real work is in your mindset and in the relationship, you have with yourself.
And if you’re not tracking your food or not willing to track your food, then you have to stop and understand what’s going on beneath that. There’s always some stinky thinking under there. It’s taking too long, I’m too busy, I’m too stressed…
Let’s take the I’m too busy – it takes 2 minutes to write down what you eat. The mindset has to be I have two minutes to write down my food so I can change my life and lose weight for good. It’s taking too long – if you think it’s taking too long it’s bc you’re not writing down your food and seeing on purpose all the areas where you ARE making progress. You are too fixated on the areas where you still have practice to do and skills yet to develop. You’re not giving yourself credit for all the amazing things you are doing. Again, beating yourself up. The mindset has to be I’m willing to look more for what’s right about me then what’s wrong.
I’m too stressed – this one I love. Yes, let’s not pay attention to what you eat bc you’re too stressed. Bc when you don’t pay attention then you can eat whatever, however you want with no accountability and you will stay the same which feels amazing. No – wrong mindset! Think about how you feel after that. Disappointed and fearful you won’t lose weight. Stress will never go away. It’s always going to be part of life – knocking at your door when it’s most inconvenient. If you think you can’t lose weight when life is stressful, how are you going to lose weight? You won’t! Bc stress will always be there.
The mindset when you’re stressed has to – today is the most important day for me to take 2 minutes to write down what I eat bc I usually turn off my brain when I’m stressed. Today I’m practicing the new me and the new me doesn’t turn off her brain. Tomorrow I will feel proud of myself for paying attention to me so I can lose weight.
Like I said in the beginning, most women try to move away from doing the thing that they think is causing them pain – like the food journal – but the food journal isn’t the thing causes the pain. It’s the thinking that causes the pain. The thing is just the stimulus that brings up your stinky thinking. Change your thinking and it will change your life.