In this blog, I want to talk about using electronic logs. Most of us have mixed feelings about these weight loss tools. On the one hand, they provide excellent information to help us make successful educated choices concerning our dietary intake. On the other hand, maintaining the practice is all-consuming. With that in mind, let me share some of the benefits of tracking your intake as well as some of the pitfalls.
When should you use an electronic log? Obviously, when weight loss is the goal. It is probably not worth the investment of time and effort otherwise. The person who would benefit from logging is motivated by data, likes to be autonomous and involved in their change process, and overall has a positive self-image. When should you NOT use an electronic log? If you have suffered from disordered eating, have a poor self-image with negative thoughts or self-talk, or become very rigid with rules. Under these conditions, electronic logging may exasperate your struggles.
What I like most about logging is it helps me achieve my goals while allowing my favorite “cheat foods” in moderation. I call this achieving freedom within boundaries. For instance, today I really wanted popcorn. And, when I eat popcorn I don’t eat just 1-2 cups. I like a big bowl. So, I used my log and was able to determine that my bowl of popcorn cost me about 460 calories! Yes, that is a lot, and more than we recommend for a snack. However, in order to allow for that without exceeding my daily budget, I had a veggie salad with a small amount of cheese and vinegar only for dinner. In this way, I enjoyed the freedom to eat a large bowl of popcorn without breaking the bank and feeling frustrated either that I am deprived, or that I cannot achieve my goals.
If I wanted to improve my system, I would have needed to plan for that popcorn in advance and design a better day around it. But, still I understood before eating it, that my dinner would have to be drastically altered and that was what I chose.
Obviously, logging is not for everyone. Many people would continually override the data and eat whatever they wanted; thus, negating the use of the log. But, for others, it is an excellent way to peacefully enjoy your favorite foods and still meet your health and wellness goals. The main objective if you give it a try, is to
be patient with the learning process and don’t give up. We all have days that don’t make the log, or days that clearly exceed the boundaries, but if it does become part of your lifestyle most of the time, you will still be successful. Logging certainly gets you back on track more quickly than without it. I am presently using, My Net Diary. Other popular apps are My Fitness Pal, Lose-it, and Livestrong’s My Plate. Without these helpful tools, mindless eating can really steal our success, peace, and joy.
If you haven’t tried logging in a while, you might want to give it a try as we near the holiday season. It may help you stay your course during this challenging time.