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Wellness

How I Lost Weight by Food Journaling

The week before spring break I had an appointment to see a CHAW nutritional coach here at FSU. CHAW stands for the Center for Health Advocacy and Wellness. Their outlook on health is that food is essentially fuel for your body. The types of food and the amounts of food you consume play a huge role in your energy levels, productivity and overall sense of feeling good.

To start off, I hope I make it clear that I’ve never been the type of person to go to a psychologist or nutritionist. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, I just never considered it, nor did I feel like I had to. Throughout college, I was pretty active and ate healthily, but I never understood why I wasn’t losing any weight. I was starting to put weight on; I went from 125 pounds my freshman year to 131 the two following years, then 143 pounds my senior year. I decided I had to talk to someone to see what the problem was. I’m 5’1” in height and when I was running cross country in high school, I weighed 116 pounds at my fittest. In college, I just wanted to be between the 125-130 range.

My nutritional coach, a grad student from Florida State, was super nice and knowledgeable. Most importantly, he was so easy to talk to. I told him about my struggles with either overeating in public and barely eating in private. I told him that I loved to cook, that I liked to eat healthy foods (fruits and veggies, etc.), and that I had no idea how to find a balance between overeating and not eating at all. I told him I felt as if I was on the borderline of developing an eating disorder due to my annoyance that I was gaining weight from eating healthy and fasting rather than losing weight.

His solution was simple: pay attention to my hunger cues. Basically, he told me to eat when I am hungry or starting to feel hungry and stop eating when I’m full. I know this sounds extremely simple; however, it’s hard to implement in your daily life. I’m the type of person who stops eating when my plate is empty, so it’s difficult for me to throw food away or save it for later. I love food, so I saw that the reason why I wasn’t losing weight was that I was restricting my body of nutrients and then jam packing it with foods. I needed consistency. 

Then, he suggested that I start a food journal and swap two out of my three grains (rice, pasta and bread) for whole wheat grain. Other than that, he suggested absolutely no changes to my diet. He gave me many healthy recipes and the hunger scale below and said I should aim to be within the 4-6 level. 

Courtesy: Alissa Rumsey

As I looked at YouTube videos after videos to see exactly how to food journal, I came across this video that helped me a lot. The girl in the video focused not just on losing weight but to be comfortable and confident in who you are and to unleash potentials that you didn’t even know were there.

I food journaled all throughout spring break as I was in Cartagena, Colombia eating both healthy and unhealthy foods. What I mainly focused on was my hunger scale. I would write down how I was feeling before I ate and how I was feeling after I ate. This accountability really helped me listen to my body and fight unnecessary cravings I had. I learned that cravings go away with time. I follow these three steps to control them:

  1. Take a breath.
  2. Ask myself, “Am I really hungry?”
  3. If the answer is yes, I eat mindfully. I check in with my hunger cues and most importantly I eat what I want. Never restricting myself of anything (because that could cause binge eating in the future. If the answer is no, I ask myself how am I feeling and if I can do anything to get my mind off of it such as calling a friend, reading, drinking tea or maybe just playing music.

I realized that exercise could be fun! I thought I could only lose weight with running, which made me dread running and beat myself up every time I didn’t run. Through CHAW and Alivia’s YouTube channel, I realized walking to class instead of taking the bus counts as being active, dancing to a fun Zumba video counts as being active, and even winding down to a stressful day by doing some yoga counts too. There are so many ways to exercise your body, so find one that you love.

Going in this without the intention of losing weight, I went from 138 to 132 pounds. I was so happy—not because I lost 6 pounds, but because I lost them painlessly and by listening to my body throughout the process. I highly recommend anyone that is struggling with food, exercise, confidence, etc. to use your sources to help you out, whether it’s looking at YouTube videos or scheduling a free appointment with a CHAW nutritionist coach. And most importantly, I leave you with this: the number on the scale is just a number. I’m glad I lost the weight—not because I was uncomfortable, but because I knew I always had the potential and I just didn’t have a game plan. I’m really happy I found my happy medium. 

Majoring in Italian and Business with a French minor, Maria hopes to combine both her love for European culture and her public relations skills to kill it in the business world. When she's not falling in love with her latest romance novel or trying to learn her 6th language; you can find her snuggled up with her cat Figaro or her Pug Rudolf watching a Disney classic. Whether it's fashion, food, music, or current events; you can catch her enjoying every moment that life brings her.
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