Feeling discouraged is something we all experience at certain times in our life. It can be discouragement about family, friends, a job or living space, but more often than not it comes down to discouragement we feel within and towards ourselves. We are constantly at battle with our own minds. We think and think to the point where we feel mentally exhausted, and the battle between negative and positive still rages on. I’ve spoken with a few people lately who are feeling discouraged. Whether they are coming in for the first time or have re-gained some of the weight they’ve lost, a common question I’m asked is: “How did this happen?”

With so much going on in our daily lives, it sometimes seems near impossible to focus on something as “meaningless” as documenting what we eat. For one thing, we might feel there’s not enough time, and secondly we believe we can keep track of everything in our mind. However, at the end of the day when we try to remember what we ate, more often than not the “extras” are forgotten. “Extras” eaten when we’re making dinner, “extras” eaten off a co-workers desk, or “extras” like sugar in our coffee tend to be forgotten about the minute they’re consumed. The reason I say this is that “extras” can often be the culprit if you’ve regained (or haven’t lost) weight, despite what seems like healthy eating. Because they are small and go unnoticed, the weight gain is slow, and you may not even realize it is happening.

I’d like to give you a personal example. First off, I’m not a big fan of November. November, to me, is dark, dreary and damp; my mood tends to go downhill in November, and it affects my eating. Last November, I was grabbing extra protein bars throughout the day, eating more after dinner, and picking at various things every time I was in the kitchen. By mid-December, I noticed my pants were too tight, and I literally said to myself: “HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?” Over the holidays, I saw my brother-in-law; he had lost 10 pounds and was in great shape. I asked him how he did it, and he said: “Well Doug, one day I just decided to write down everything I put in my mouth. By doing this, I became aware of all the things I was snacking on.” He FORCED me to follow his example and document everything; he was like a hawk: making sure that if I grabbed even one grape I was writing it down. As frustrated as I felt about his vigilance, I was amazed at the result. Just by having an awareness of what I was eating, I was able to lose the weight I had gained, and was even more motivated to exercise and make healthy food choices. This November I’ve been noticing the same pattern happening with my eating, so I started writing everything down again.

Writing down what we eat also reminds us of the healthy habits we’ve worked hard to create. It is so easy to slip back into unhealthy habits, and because we feel comfortable with them, we can fall into old routines without really noticing. Always think about how you feel when you’re on-track with your eating and exercise. Gaining weight happens slowly and sneakily; by being aware of everything you put in your mouth and documenting both food and exercise, you’ll never get to the “HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?” stage. Know your body. Be aware of your mental battles, and try as hard as possible to always let the positive mind WIN. This is easier said than done, but thinking positively becomes a force of habit the more you compel yourself to do it. In turn, you will believe in your ability to change, and you’ll be more inclined to stay on track with eating and exercise because of it.

It is important to always remind ourselves of our goals and visualize how we’ll feel and look when we accomplish them. Use this imagery to encourage yourself to document what you’re eating, get your heart pumping and remind yourself that you CAN do this, no matter what obstacles lie ahead. We are in control of our choices, and being in control allows us to make the decisions that will help enhance our lives.

Keep on trying.
You are in control.
You CAN and WILL achieve your goals!
Never give up.

Dr. Doug