Sunday, April 25, 2010

Put it in Writing

I was watching the Biggest Loser a couple of weeks ago when personal finance expert Suzie Orman made a guest appearance. Based on all the contestants’ finances, Suzie Orman predicts who will win the Biggest Loser contest for the season. She accurately predicted last year’s winner mid-way through the season. This year, she was going to pick one contestant based on his finances, but when she found out that he didn’t write down and track what he was eating every day while on the show, she decided to bet on a different contestant to win.

You may be thinking what does the shape of your finances actually have to do with whether you’d win the Biggest Loser? And furthermore, why is writing down and tracking what you eat every day such a strong indicator of your success with weight loss or management? I’ll address the first question now. Budgeting and weight loss or management actually require many of the same principles. If you don’t watch your finances, or what you eat the numbers can really add up, and quick. The more you watch and manage both, the more successful you’ll be. I know exactly how much money I have in any of my bank accounts at any given time. I have a spreadsheet tracking my income and expenses so that I know what’s left over each month. Whenever I log into my online banking, I am never surprised at what I see, I know exactly what to expect. If I spend a little more one week than anticipated, I compensate the following week and spend less. I use these same principles when it comes to managing my weight. Every day I write down what I eat (or if it’s the weekend, I at least tally it in my head). At the end of each day, I write down my total for the day. If I eat more than expected one day (i.e. a birthday dinner, weekend BBQ, holiday, girls’ night out, etc.), I compensate the following day by getting right back on track and eat healthy. Again, just like my finances, I’m never surprised with where I’m at and this puts my mind at ease. It is a much better feeling to know that even if you overdo it now and then whether it’s financially or with food that you have the ability to do so because 1. You’re fully aware of your situation and know that you can do so and 2. You’re responsible 80% of the time, so you can allow yourself to be “out of control” every now and then without risking your progress. I would much rather be aware of both my finances and food choices than ignore them and one day wonder why I’m in debt or gained 10 pounds. If you stay on top of both, you’ll never have to be in that situation.

As for the second question I posed about writing down what you eat, I believe (and apparently Suzie Orman does too) that this is ESSENTIAL to being successful in losing or managing your weight. Now, of course there are plenty of people that don’t have a problem with their weight and don’t write down what they eat. Lucky them! But, there are A LOT of people (me included) who need to write down what they eat to be accountable. I’m getting to a place where I am pretty in tune with what I’m eating that I don’t have to write it down anymore, but I still like to because it really does keep me accountable. If I write it down, I won’t want to eat an extra this or that because I know I’ll have to track and face it. If you’re not writing down what you’re eating and trying to lose weight, how do you know what the problem is with your diet? It’s much easier to eat a few chips, have a few pieces of candy, or a bite of this and that when you don’t have to write it down. If you had to write down all your little unaccounted for nibbling throughout the day, you might be shocked how all those little things can add up (just like how all those cups of coffee at Starbucks can add up at the end of the month). Also, I’m guessing if you’re not writing it down then you’re probably not measuring out what you’re eating or conscious of nutrition facts either. As I’ve said before, most of us don’t know how to eyeball a correct portion, or how much fat or calories are in some of the foods we eat. If you’re aware of what’s in your food, measure out correct portions, and write it all down, how can you not be successful in managing what you’re eating? It forces you to come out of DENIAL. It forces you to see your problem areas and address them.

My advice is this, if you’re struggling with either losing weight or maintaining your weight, write down everything you eat for one week without making any tweaks to what you eat for the week. In fact, write down what you ate yesterday too so you really can’t tweak anything. At the end of the week look back and reflect on your choices. What did you learn? Did you learn that you’re not sure if you ate a cup or two cups of cereal in the morning? Are you unsure how many calories are in your dinner? Are you constantly snacking on candy at work? If you really want to understand what to change, you have to first know what your problems are, just like your finances! I challenge you to write down what you eat because it truly will help you succeed in your goals. Also, understand that all your small decisions add up, so remember to look at the big picture. Let’s put it this way, if you buy a tall cup of coffee at Starbucks for $1.50 (doesn’t sound like much) five days a week, you’ve spent $30 on coffee for the month!! Think how much you could save each month if you just bought a $14 bag of Starbucks coffee and brewed it at home for the month? Same applies to food, if you find out that you’re eating 150 calories in candy at work every day that adds up to 3,000 calories a month. Personally, I’d much rather eat the 250-calorie bowl of ice cream once a week and save 2,000 calories than eat unsatisfying junk everyday at work.

So remember, the more aware you are the more easily you can address any issues that arise with minimal effort. Track what you eat, and you’ll never get on that scale and wonder how you gained 10 pounds. The more you know the more power you have!

No comments:

Post a Comment