I was in high school when I first started counting calories. Back then I thought it was magic. This amazing formula where I simply keep track of everything I ate, wrote it down, added it up and ensured I did more activity than I ate.
I bought a huge book at Barnes and Noble with thousands of foods listed and I perused every label I could. In some ways food journaling was a little like actual journaling at that point – the way I ended each evening, rewarding myself with smiley faces, exclamation points, or frown faces.
Fast-forward a bit (more like double my age) and I’m no longer in love with meticulous calorie counting. Even though it is probably easier, more convenient, and more accurate than it ever could have been using my giant book, it no longer represents a fitting end to my day.
For a couple of years, I was a dedicated MyFitnessPal user. I fussed around scanning and typing and registering. It did a fantastic job of documenting what I was eating and balancing that out with the data from my Garmin watch.
Somewhere along the line UnderArmour, who purchased MyFitnessPal, had a serious data breach on the app and didn’t tell us. And I realized how soul-numbing it is to be enslaved to entering everything you ever eat.
It also just wasn’t sustainable.
So I started experimenting with other things.
The first involved just “watching what I ate”. It took the gaining of more pounds than I care to admit before I realized that idea wasn’t working.
On to Plan B. This involved using my regular Bullet Journal and just making a list of what I ate with whatever feedback and details I felt like including. This was able to stop the shocking trend Plan A had initiated, but it wasn’t undoing anything.
AND… Plan C. This involved researching, downloading, testing, and hating all other food journal apps. There are an amazing array of options out there – from those letting you just take a picture of your plate to various MyFitnessPal like platforms. Ugh. Moving on.
From all these experiences I determined a few things about what I was looking for:
- Something I could have with me or be easily accessible WITHOUT fussing with my phone.
- Something that involved accountability, WITHOUT counting every stinking calorie.
- Something that would allow me to reflect on WHY I was eating something or WHEN I tended to eat in particular ways. I wanted to figure out and identify patterns (or at least be aware of what they really are). None of the apps let me do that.
- I wanted a place to be able to write out my exercise plan for the day with the meal info and without running a separate calendar.
So, like I always do when I need something, I hopped on Amazon. After about 15 minutes of browsing, for less than $10, I found exactly what I needed.
A journal-sized floppy food journal with spots to track your “review” of your meal, a note about why you ate it, and a place to record exercise. It covers 12 weeks, then you get a new one.
It took me a few days of staring at it on the table before I committed. Then I set it on the kitchen counter where it stays. A couple times a day I jot down what I ate, reflect on what was going on or how it went, and I move on. No staring at my phone, fumbling around with barcodes and whatnot.
Coupled with some other changes, it is the best thing to happen to food journaling since that huge book from Barnes and Noble.
The ultimate goal from here is to hopefully change back to recording the information in my Bullet Journal, once I’ve finished the journal as it is a bit redundant. Or, maybe not.