What 40 days of keeping a food diary has taught me

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August 2012

 
 
 


 
 

BREAKFAST

1/2 avocado

1 glass honeyed soymilk

1 banana

1 string cheese

 

MID-MORNING SNACK

CLIF chocolate chip bar

 

LUNCH

chicken sandwich

 

MID-AFTERNOON SNACK

1/3 c grapes

1 c sliced mangoes

 

LATE AFTERNOON SNACK

1 banana

 

WATER: 4 liters + innumerable little cups of green tea and other teas

 
 

***

 
 
 

Notes:

This is an impromptu review of the last 40 days since I started doing a public food diary. Like I said, I’ve been trashing posts on this blog to make your browsing easier. In the beginning, I only wanted to keep a food diary for at least 2 weeks, and have been consistently been honest and accountable every single day. I didn’t get the chance to look back as I go, and now that I’ve skimmed through all posts under the ‘food diary’ tag, it turns out that yesterday’s post marks the 40th day I’ve been doing it.

That’s when I thought I should do something about it.

I didn’t promise to keep posting food diary entries every single day forever. So I think now is the perfect time to stop doing this for now, take a good look back and see what I’ve learned. I might want to do this again, but perhaps in a different approach – since I know I will be eating out a lot once I land safely in Jakarta :) Trust me, I have lots of plans to review the best places to dine in my hometown, pictures included! :) (in the hopes of attracting worldwide audience to come and take a look at Indonesia’s capital city, instead of flocking to Bali!). I’ve met people who didn’t know where Indonesia is, or what city Indonesia’s capital is, or go so far as to thinking that Bali is the capital city. Anyways.

 

So what’s the most important thing that I’ve learned out of this?

Actually, there’s more than one. We’re gonna take a while. But we’re going to break it down one point at a time.

 

Mindfulness. Being aware of everything you put into your mouth. How much, how often, how nutritious they are, and how it changes your physiology. More often than not, I think twice about eating that little extra handful of almonds, either because my stomach already registers fullness or I’m lazy to update a published blog entry :p There are days when I have those midnight snacks, especially if I need to stay up all night to do my assignments. However, practically 80% of the time throughout these 40 days, I always have my last meal by 5:00pm.

Being timely. Being organized in how often I eat (every 2-4 hours, usually), which affects every area of my life (Good habits are contagious, aren’t they?). I am the kind of person who blames the external factors for my own poor time management skills when it comes to keeping up with my classes. Well, it’s been difficult, and I vented too many times throughout this 40-day journey on my food diary. However, I can still sit here and breathe a huge sigh of relief, because I’ve succeeded in managing 3 major classes in just 8 weeks.

In addition to that, one thing has changed: Just as how I religiously eat breakfast at 7:00am, lunch at 12:00pm, and some light meal at 3:00pm, I now organize all the things I have to do and cut them down into smaller chunks, instead of working on one big project within one day. That doesn’t only apply in my school life too. Ever since I started a fitness journal, I’ve been consistently doing at least 10-minute runs once a week. I’ve missed a run before, but the most important thing was the consistency. After that week came to an end, in my head, I thought about going for either a very long run or 2 days of running the next week to make up for it. It’s that kind of mind trap again – that I have to do starve myself after a big meal, that I have to run more than I can after missing my last workout, that I have to stay up all night to do everything because I have been so afraid of failure that I never touch the project even for a bit until the deadline draws near. Which brings me to my next point…

Let go. Letting go of that fear. I’m guessing this is the same case for procrastinators too. Either you’re afraid you can’t keep up with the challenge or simply failing at it. Really, consistency has been something that changed my mindset: One of the greatest things my instructor has taught us is to be consistent every week. Missing deadlines is an absolute no-no, because a client will never hire you for any more future projects. A poor work is more forgiving (although still, especially if you’re in the visual arts, effort comes through). Even if you’ve done a flawless finish one or two weeks after the deadline, few clients will pay you or even use that painting in the end. In that case… there seems to be no room for procrastination, right? Right after you’re assigned to a project with a tight deadline, all you can do is just jump into it right away and don’t think twice about that one idea in your head, or two, or whatever. Immediately brainstorm. Sketch everything in your head. Show them on time so that you receive feedback on how to improve. Repeat the whole process for the next project, and so forth.

The same lesson here in my food diary: I’ve missed a meal or two during these 40 days. I find that skipping meals are fine only if you’re really not hungry, and you can recover later with a slightly bigger meal if you’re really hungry. However, I will never, never, never encourage others to starve if your reason for doing this is losing weight. (FYI, I’ve lost 1.5 kg throughout these 40 days. That’s very little, but me and my heart have never felt better). In which case, tiny hunger pangs are not an emergency. In fact, I feel that when you refrain yourself from immediate gratification, you feel more productive when you’re working. That way after that, you can treat yourself with a fattening milk tea with tapioca, or a whole package of jelly beans, a cheesy lasagna or some other sinful delicacy.

However, like I mentioned before on my first day of partial fasting (way before I started this food diary), if you deprive yourself with essential nutrients, your conscience will back down, giving way for your stomach to take over all your thoughts throughout the day, and every food that comes into your sight, you will eat them. You don’t think, just eat. And that’s not an ideal way to balance all aspects of your life: If your goal is losing weight, starving yourself is not the way to go. It’s a mind trap: Your stomach thinks you’ll lose a lot of weight immediately but your brain registers that you’re hungry all the time, so once you stop starving, the brain tells your whole body to store all those calories as fat, not energy. Or maybe you want to lose a lot of weight first right now so that you can procrastinate your slow weight loss journey (which is the only way that’s considered healthy!) till a later date. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way years ago, and I will never go back to that state again. Never. It’s self-sabotage nicely packaged as “hard work”. This food diary has kept me consistent and balanced with the foods I take in to my mouth (no fads, no giving-up chocolates, no nothing – I just eat whatever I like), and it has also helped me learn to balance other aspects of my life that are equally important to me.

Food is not just a reward after you’ve done something right – it’s also energy for you to work efficiently. I know I have to climb 3 flights of stairs after walking a block of about 45-degree incline every Tuesday and Friday for class, so I make sure I don’t eat a superheavy breakfast (although my biggest meals of the day is still either breakfast or lunch). On days when I did have heavy brunches and had to be physically active throughout the day (running errands or whatever), I’ve also learned something new…

Forgive. Forgive yourself. Just as you let go of that fear of failure, be it on your next project, your next race, or on your weight loss journey, training your mind and body is a process. One setback or two does not mean you can gain weight overnight. Procrastinating one day to watch your favorite TV show instead of doing your homework doesn’t mean you will immediately fail the class. Missing one workout does not mean you will lessen the chance of you hitting your time during the race you’re training for. It was a little hard for me to let go of that workout I wanted to do last Sunday, because that’s how iffy I am about unfinished businesses. But it’s for my own good – I’ve ran till I felt good, real good, and letting it go detoured me from the path toward making running as a chore all over again. I want consistent routine, not regular chore.

Forgive quickly, accept it, swallow hard, and move on. Do it to yourself and you’ll see that you will become more tolerant with others too. (This is, by far, the biggest change in my life lately… It’s personal, so I won’t share it here…)

Simply, love. Eat what you love, eat with love, and savor each moment you take a bite at that chocolate. Or that slice of mango. I never knew I love mangoes this much. And avocados. I practically eat either one of them every single day. I haven’t noticed that until now that I’m looking back…

But that’s about it. That’s a lot to take in out of the simple habit of writing down everything you’ve eaten for 40 days. Yet, it’s worthwhile. I know I said I didn’t have enough confidence to begin with, but I’m really hoping this will motivate you to look after your body. It is the one place your soul is living in. Might as well take good care of it.

 
 

Here are the complete list of entries, starting from day one:

1. June 28, 2012 First official food diary post!
2. June 29, 2012 One super-duper-uber yummy item on the menu today!
3. June 30, 2012 Menu for a productive day
4. July 1, 2012 Repetitive foods = healthy practice
5. July 2, 2012 Early big meal
6. July 3, 2012 No energy
7. July 4, 2012 How much does your heart has to work while you rest?
8. July 5, 2012 Meat fright
9. July 6, 2012 Another day of short sleep
10. July 7, 2012 Food is no longer pleasure without love
11. July 8, 2012 The fruit queen wants to run back home.
12. July 9, 2012 Interesting sauce made today
13. July 10, 2012 Hungry… for you.
14. July 11, 2012 Feasting day
15. July 12, 2012 Urgh.
16. July 13, 2012 Pigging out
17. July 14, 2012 Aiming for satiety
18. July 15, 2012 Warmth is comforting
19. July 16, 2012 Family time
20. July 17, 2012 Hmmm… all I can say is, bro’s here :)
21. July 18, 2012 Cooking for love
22. July 19, 2012 Boba!
23. July 20, 2012 Jelly belly love
24. July 21, 2012 I love Korean cuisine.
25. July 22, 2012 Poor dietary choices today.
26. July 23, 2012 :(
27. July 24, 2012 Get your sleep!
28. July 25, 2012 Weirdness
29. July 26, 2012 No comment, just homework.
30. July 27, 2012 Extra blood
31. July 28, 2012 Obsessed with raisins
32. July 29, 2012 Out of raisins.
33. July 30, 2012 Love of avocado and mango
34. July 31, 2012 PASSION
35. August 1, 2012 Because I can.
36. August 2, 2012 Brother left :(
37. August 3, 2012 Private practice
38. August 4, 2012 Hybrid food!
39. August 5, 2012 Going nuts
40. August 6, 2012 Eating healthy is quick and easy.

 
 
 

Oh… one last thing. #WhatMadeMyDay You, who beared with me from the beginning of this post till this sentence! :) Another thing would just be that I’ve finished one class today, and looking forward to finishing 2 more tomorrow. After that, I’m officially saying goodbye to my educated life.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Muchaluva,
Stace.

 

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