Have you ever considered your level of self-awareness regarding what you eat and how you feel? Have you ever actually practiced self-monitoring? It’s a learnable skill and an essential tool in your tool kit for long-term weight management.
In a study conducted by the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Health and Well-being, experts identified common themes among individuals who were able to lose weight and maintain that weight loss over long periods of time. Today, we will tackle one of the most central ideas and one that anyone can do on their own- self-monitoring!
So, what is “monitoring” concerning sustainable weight management? According to the National Library of Medicine, self-monitoring is “deliberate attention to some aspect of an individual’s behavior and recording some details of that behavior.” Self-monitoring requires self-awareness, which can be learned by ANYONE over time. One of the most essential tools we can use to self-monitor is journaling food intake and activity levels. This forces us to be honest with ourselves and allows us to track our weight directly as it correlates to diet and exercise. Not surprisingly, one study found that “consistent self-monitors of exercise not only achieved significantly greater weight loss but also experienced fewer difficulties with exercise and exercised more often.”
What does this mean for us as we embark on this weight management journey? First, it means that changing our habits is entirely possible, but consistency and some patience with yourself are key. Establishing new habits like journaling food intake and activity doesn’t happen overnight. It requires us to consciously monitor our bad habits, thus allowing ourselves to see where we can make key changes. Knowledge is power, and knowledge about yourself is the best way to start changing your habits for the better!
It might be hard at first to remember to record your current habits. Still, there are some ways to make it easier for yourself- one of the easiest ways is to set up reminders on your phone at the beginning or end of the day that are recurring daily to log your activity and make sure to write down how you are feeling on the days where you slip up, and how much better you feel on the days where you are active and have practiced healthy eating habits. You will start to see a very clear pattern between feeling tremendous and higher activity levels! Noticing this clear correlation changes how we perceive exercise. Instead of thinking of a workout as only a way to lose weight, we start noticing the immediate benefits in mood, concentration, and energy levels!