When is the last time you saw someone advertising to a truck driver to keep a food journal?
Have you ever kept a food journal?
Have you ever tracked what you eat, when, and in what quantities?
You might be surprised to find that most Americans eat more than what their brain cares to remember.
Some of you may or may not know, but I found yoga as a means to step into recovery from a long battle with an eating disorder. One that I was told, best case scenario is I would “learn to function in the world on medication.” But something in me said that would not be my future.
Having a food and fitness journal helped me establish a healthier relationship with food, fitness and myself. I used food to not have to deal or feel with anything in life. Maybe you can relate better to the word numb. I wanted to be numb.
But if you want to change anything, and I mean ANYTHING, you must first be aware of it. Aware of what it is you desire to change. And then be willing to step back from your excuses and loaded reasons as to why you are the way you are (be them true or not) and see things as they actually are.
I have worked with thousands of people over the last nearly 20 years and trucker or not, most of us have a skewed perception of what and how much we really eat and do over the course of a day.
Drinking that Diet Coke and Monster at 10 AM every day is so automatic that you most days forget you even do it. But when you don’t have it. Watch out world, things might get ugly.
And when it comes to moving more (some call it fitness or exercise), well we all know the response. I’m to BLANK. Or I do move a lot (except it’s only in small bursts one to two times a day straight off of sitting for several hours behind the wheel.
So what is the benefit of keeping a food and fitness journal?
Well, its really quite simple.
Eating is for fueling, not feeling.
When you track what you eat. How much you eat. Alongside how you are feeling or why you are eating what you are eating. It is important to point out that food does not fix how we feel-talking from experience. And many of us are eating out of boredom, loneliness, oral fixation, sadness and so on. And when we can see on a piece of paper right in front of us what is really going into our mouths only then can we start to do something about it. And when you tie in how you are feeling, well Dr. Phil we may have just found a very important piece to the puzzle.
It is easier to create a plan when you have data.
Have you ever tried to plan a route to get your load from point A to point B but it’s your first time running the load? So that initial time feels like a shot in the dark.
Hoping things go smoothly.
Hoping there are no delays.
Hoping you didn’t miss or forget something.
And because you have no real data to compare to, it’s shot in the dark. It’s only after you run the load that you gather data and then for future loads you can become more and more effective. Food and fitness are no different. Journaling (logging) what you eat and how much you move daily, as much of a pain in the ass as it may seem will only help you be more effective in the changes you desire to make. Those shots in the dark can easily become frustrating. And what if some of the changes you decided to implement weren’t even necessary? And could have been avoided having first collected data. AKA what you ate, and how much you moved in real time.
Fitness really can be at your finger tips. It really can be. It’s available to you each and every day. Except you and everyone else struggling with working out. Is just that, only looking at fitness as exercise. Hitting the gym, heading to a yoga studio or dying as you try to keep up with a P90X video that seems to have skipped absolute beginner mode. And if you are still wondering what yoga can do for you here are 60 benefits for truckers to read up on.
Fitness to me should be an equation incorporating your every day life movements.
Downward Dog Stretch while filling up with fuel + Core Marching while in the drivers seat waiting to unload + wrist stretches while driving + ANYTHING else you can throw in there = WAY more than you would be doing otherwise!
The little things can easily go unnoticed.
Three little packs of ketchup (sugar) here, sugar added to your coffee over there. Sweetened Ice-Tea at 2 PM, and on it goes. All those little things DO ADD UP! And all those little things are usually packed with sugar, preservatives, and you just don’t need it. Let me say that again. You just don’t need it. You want it, it’s a habit, extra ketchup, mayo, sugar, sweetener, and now your body craves it because it’s addicted to it.
But trust me when I say the world will keep turning when you opt out. But in order to opt out, you have to have a true sense of of much you are opting in on those condiments in the first place. So say hello to your food journal. How many ketchup packets, how many sugars, how large is the sweetened ice-tea and what are you feeling when you reach for them?
You might be doing better than you think.
When I talk to people about how much they are moving and what they are eating it is not uncommon to have a slightly slanted view of how good you really are doing. It’s easy to let the few not so great choices cloud our vision of success (talking from experience). Writing down everything can help you gain a better sense of where you truly are in your journey. Trust me when I say lying to yourself will not get you anywhere. And it is vital to celebrate the little wins, and acknowledge what you are doing right.
It is easy to want everything to change tomorrow and when it doesn’t we can easily get frustrated. But let’s be real for a moment and say where you are, and how you are did not happen over night. When I was going through the early stages of recovery I would have a slip up or bad day and think I just suck, and am doing everything wrong. But I had learned how to live this way over the course of 10 + years. So it was unrealistic to allow myself to think that I would be all good in a week, a month, even a year. And to be really honest, it’s been 15 years and and I am STILL working on things. Layer by layer.
Where to start.
Where to start? Seriously, where to start? Overwhelm can easily set in and before we know it we are complaining to our friends that this and that, and the other thing just aren’t working. Maybe it’s because you never really, truly laid out a plan. You never really figured out where to start because you never really stopped and took a week to figure out where you are.
This is a big mistake I see many people make. keeping a food and fitness journal can help you create a clear focus of where you truly are. But you have to be truthful and honest with what you write down, and don’t miss a thing. The will be a part of your brain that will say “this is dumb”, “just give up”, “you don’t need this”. My advice: “throw down some cuss words and do it anyway”. (that was my humor again). You got this. You really do.
So now what?
Well, you start to write it ALL DOWN! EVERYTHING. Don’t miss a thing!
For how long?
No less than three days, but ideally an entire week! And don’t forget to write down what you are feeling as well.
Here is a quick cliff notes sheet of everything to write down in your food and fitness journal:
- Feeling/Emotion Connected
- Are you truly hungry
- What did you eat
- How much did you eat
- Movement: when, how long, how you feel
And most importantly, go easy on yourself. This is day one, step one on your journey to a healthier and happier you. And if anyone gives you grief. Just have them answer to me!
Here are a few suggestions for paper and pen food and fitness journals that could help get you started.
Not a paper and pen kinda person? Try texting to yourself your data. Look for an app. Whatever method you decide, commit and be honest. Because tracking your food and fitness in a journal is step one. And if you can do this, you and I, my friend, can do anything!