Our children are getting ready to start back to their new school year in just a few weeks, and in preparation, my husband and I have been talking about what new school clothes we need to buy for each of them. Since our school district wears uniforms, our kids have to have two wardrobes, one with their shorts, slacks, and polo shirts for school, and one with their jeans and t-shirts and play clothes. Since they haven't been wearing their school attire for the last couple of months (and have grown considerably over the summer as kids tend to do), we've been taking inventory this week to figure out what pieces each of the boys need for the new school year, and what garments they can still fit into from last year (which isn’t very much!)
So what does this have to do with weight loss? I'm glad you asked!
It all comes down to this...
You have to figure out where you are before you can determine where you're going.
I can’t appropriately buy my kids the new school clothes they need unless I know what they’ve got in the closet. I can think they are good on slacks and not buy any, then when the weather turns cold, find out all they have is one pair of pants that have the knees worn out of them. In the same way, a person can think they're doing all right with how they're eating because they're “balancing” things with a diet soda and a salad occasionally, or bypassing a second trip to the buffet, or eating grilled chicken with rice from time to time, when in reality, their body is not getting the nutrition it needs to thrive, they're gaining weight from all the junk food, and all they’ve really putting into their body is coming up short!
When I first started on my path towards a healthy life through weight loss and exercise, I began my food journal. I did not make any changes to what I was eating, but simply logged the calories (and other nutritional data) into the food journal app I have on my phone. The reality of the number of calories I was regularly eating astounded me! I promised myself I would never treat my body that poorly ever again.
Before I started losing weight, I was not someone who ate multiples of food (sometimes you'll hear of overweight folks who eat like 8 eggs, 12 pieces of toast and a pound of bacon for breakfast, or an entire pizza, 2-liter of soda, and whole bag of chips for dinner). That wasn't me. I ate “normal” meals, in that I was eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, with little to no snacking, and not eating tons of food at each meal. My problem focused more on what food items I did eat. I was eating fast food meal combos for breakfast and lunch most work days, and often having full-sized restaurant meals a few times a week for dinner. When we cooked dinner at home, we used to eat lots of pasta and other heavy entrees and never measured out proper portions. As a result, back then, it was nothing for me to eat more calories in one meal then I do in an entire day now without even considering the nutritional value (or lack thereof) of what I was eating.
Taking inventory is an important first step to losing weight. Let me encourage you to start a food journal of your own. There are lots of great websites and phone apps available that make it very simple and easy to keep track. The one I use takes me less than 5 minutes a day to track everything I eat and drink. When you come face to face with the true number of calories you’re consuming each day, along with the amount of sodium, cholesterol, fat, sugar, and carbohydrates you’re actually taking in, you may be as shocked as I was. It may not be pretty to see the numbers, but it’s worth it if it causes you to start making healthier choices like it was for me!