What Do You Notice? What Do You Wonder?
What Do You Notice? What Do You Wonder?
Before I explain how I took off seventy plus pounds, I want to reminisce about the pictures above. In the photo on the top, weighing around 210 pounds, I wanted to look nice for my daughter’s college senior orchestra recital. I squeezed myself into two pairs of spandex so I could wear my “slimming” size 16W pants instead of my usual size 18W. I felt uncomfortable walking around campus, uncomfortable sitting in the seemingly small auditorium chairs and extremely uncomfortable having my picture taken! Fast forward two and a half years later to the photo on the bottom. On this day, I enjoyed walking around my daughter’s graduate school campus feeling younger than I had in years! Instead of focusing on how uncomfortable I felt, I was able to focus on the people around me. There were no concerns about what to wear, getting my photo taken or feeling awkward and embarrassed.
I couldn’t even count how many failed attempts I had using the MyFitnessPal App. Each failed attempt started with the same goals: 1. Log my food. 2. Keep my calories under a certain number. 3. Lose a certain amount of weight by a specified date. I became discouraged each time I went over my calorie goal, disheartened when I didn’t lose weight and frustrated with constant feelings of starvation. When I would fail with one of those three goals, I felt like a failure and quit.
I hit a turning point at the beginning of 2018 when I created a New Year’s resolution: Log into MyFitnessPal daily. One simple goal. Just honestly record what I eat. I would not try to keep my calories at a certain number. I would not change my eating habits. I would not set weight loss goals. I would instead take a serious look at my eating habits with the purpose of learning about myself. As I began this habit I found myself asking two simple questions: 1. What do I notice? 2. What do I wonder?
As a kindergarten teacher I know (as most other teachers do) that children learn best when they make their very own discoveries. You could tell them
what would happen if a pumpkin was left in a garden for months (It would decompose, the seeds would reproduce, etc..) or you could give them a big pot of soil and some pumpkins and let them make observations. In the latter they become their own scientists. They become the experts in the topic and own the learning. The learning will stick and will be meaningful.
Why not apply this concept to weight loss? I could become my own expert! As I logged what I ate each day, I considered my food diary to be important data. Examining the data, I asked: What do I notice? What do I wonder? Let me give you an example. I noticed that when I ate my usual bowl of cereal each morning, I became very hungry around 10am and craved more carbohydrates. This lead to overeating at lunchtime. This made me wonder: What would happen if I ate a high protein food like eggs for breakfast instead. I tested my hypothesis for two weeks by eating eggs for breakfast everyday. I discovered many things from this inquiry: I like eggs better than cereal. I ate less calories with eggs and didn’t feel hungry until lunch. When I eat a high protein breakfast I don’t crave carbohydrates. My brain feels clearer when I eat eggs for breakfast and I believe my menopause symptoms were lessened. Whoa! I have heard experts talk about the benefits of protein, but until I became my own scientist I couldn’t commit myself to a new habit!
The “Eggs of Breakfast” was just one of MANY inquires gathered from my data collection using MyFitnessPal:
What did I notice?
I have more self control in the morning than in the evening.
Those teeny-tiny fun sized candy bars add more calories to my day than I thought.
When I drink diet soda I crave sugar.
I can’t sleep when I am hungry.
When I exercise I gain weight or lose it slower.
When I am stressed I eat more.
I miss cookies and cake.
When I restrict too many calories, I am more likely to become frustrated and quit.
Food tastes better when I am truly hungry.
Maintaining my weight is harder for me than losing weight. Since trying to maintain, I am gradually gaining pounds.
What did I wonder?
What if I ate more of my calories in the evening than in the morning?
Do mini candy bars really make me happy?
Would adding lemon to my water help me to drink more water and less diet soda?
What foods could I eat before bedtime to help me to sleep? Crackers, Nuts? Yogurt?
Why do I gain weight when I exercise? I wonder if eating extra calories on my exercise days is causing this weight gain?
What could I do instead of eating to manage my stress?
What if I eat cookies and cake on occasion? Would it destroy my progress with weight loss?
Would I still lose weight if I only reduce my calories by a few hundred?
Does intermittent fasting work? Would I lose weight if I only ate between 10am and 6pm?
How should I adjust my eating habits now that I am trying to maintain my weight?
These are just a sampling of my observations and wonderings which led to many wonderful discoveries! I uncovered the joys of oatmeal, leafy salads and how amazing ice cream tastes when it is an occasional treat. My biggest realization was understanding how to listen to my body when it told me I was hungry and full. Sure, someone could have easily told me those things, but I needed the freedom and the time to make these kinds of aha moments on my own!
My advice to those who want to give this a try:
Log into MyFitnessPal daily.
Be completely honest about what you eat. (even those little bits here and there.)
Be sure to complete your entries each day.
Weigh yourself on a regular schedule.
Ask yourself, “What do I notice? What do I wonder?”
Try out your inquiries for about two weeks and determine if it works for you.
As you can see from the picture above, my husband also lost weight. He also uses the MyFitnessPal App. He, too. made some discoveries about how to eat, but many of his discoveries differed from mine. (ex. He does better when he eats more calories in the morning while I excel when I eat more calories in the evening.) This makes me believe that there is not a one plan that fits all when it comes to weight loss. Becoming your own expert will help you to devise a plan that meets your individual needs.
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