My greatest runs of weight loss are always when I write down what I eat. This year I've gone through phases of dilgently filling in my Slimming Magazine 2004 Diet Diary, then getting cranky with it and giving up. There's columns for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and calories, but no space for exercise. Or water consumption. Or random drivel.
I was ferreting around in the Skinny Daily archives, reading all JuJu's entries in the Journal category, and then it hit me. I didn't need a structured diary, I needed a big sprawling book of blank pages where I could run wild. My weight loss caper doesn't fit into neat little boxes. I don't want to write "1 apple, 4 brazil nuts". I want to write "1 apple, 4 brazil nuts" then wax lyrical about what time it was when I ate, what mood I was in and what colour socks I had on. This weight loss thing is such an emotional, complex thing for me, and until now I had been attempting to journal in tiny little Weight Watchers trackers or online calorie counters or the Slimming Diet Diary. It doesn't suit my style at all.
It didn't occur to me before that I could take a less regimented approach. For some reason I thought there was some unwritten Sacred Rule that you had to be all official-like. But thanks to JuJu I've decided to be more organic. I went to Paper Tiger and bought myself a large Moleskine journal with graph paper inside. Moleskines are oh so trendy these days, but I've been using them for years – they're the only notebooks that I've ever actually completely filled and didn't toss away halfway through coz I was bored of them. Best of all, they always open flat, no matter where you are in the book. They are just so comfy and easy to write in.
Anyway, I've decided to be unstructured yet structured. On the first page I wrote "This Week" and wrote a few Mini Missions, concerning running and water intake and wearing my pedometer. On the next page I wrote the date, then:
Which is pretty self explanatory. I can fill that in at the end of the day and get an overall picture in a Bridget Jones "units consumed" sort of way. Then underneath I just wrote down what I ate. Below that is where it gets crazy, I crap on and on about how I felt and what I craved and when. So far it is working brilliantly, I am getting back into that beautiful mindset where I think about what I eat instead of this mindless grazing I've been doing for months and months.
Last night I stayed at my Lovely Boy's house. It is his birthday today and I am cooking him dinner. Last night I was making the birthday cake in advance while he was in the recording studio with his mates – thus leaving me alone with cake batter, the bastard. Normally if I creamed butter and sugar together I'd be sticking in my finger to taste, same goes for the block of Green & Blacks 70% Dark Chocolate melting on the stove. Then I'd no doubt lick the bowl afterwards. But tonight I kept thinking of my journal and didn't want to spoil the page by having to write "6.30PM – Half a cup of butter, sugar and raw eggs". I made sure I had the sink full of hot water and washed the bowl right away.
The smell of the finished cake was incredible — Dense Chocolate Loaf a la that saucy minx Nigella Lawson. I was so aching to pick away at the cracked top but thought of my journal and my sister back home. My sister is on an incredible roll at the moment, losing weight and exercising religiously. I am happy for her but intensely jealous. She knocked on my door at 5.55 AM yesterday to see if I was ready for our run. I said "NO!" and dived under the covers. "No worries, I'll go on my own," she says. This of course spurred me into action and I was dressed in 2 minutes. So last night I thought of her motivation streak as I stood over the chocolate cake. I went and got my journal and sat on the couch, writing a new heading "Mantra of the Week – Would Your Sister Be Eating That?"
So this journal is all over the place (just like THIS journal), but it is helping. I've realised where I have been going wrong. I do well while I am at home with my sister, but as soon as I am on my own or with The Boy I let things slip. He got home at 10PM and we ended up having a slice of cake, even though the birthday isn't til today. But when someone comes home and tells you you're gorgeous and a domestic goddess and is generally happy to see you, it is hard to remember you're trying to drop 20 kilos. Oh fuck it, cake is sexy. Let's eat cake.
But I wrote that down in my journal today. Just because I feel truly loved by someone for the first time in my life doesn't mean I have a green light to get lardy. Hopefully by keeping track of all this sprawling information, I can get back to that place where I was making considered decisions about what I ate. That's the place where I lost some serious weight.