Does a weight loss journal really help you lose weight? Rather than speculate, I’m creating my own. Feel free to read below and see if you think something like this would help you.
The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray. And so it was for me and Mrs. SkinnyPants when we set out to journal our experience on the 21-day Challenge.
The plan was to start the 21-day Challenge on January 3rd. My family was doing the diet with us as well.
However on January 2, Mrs. SkinnyPants and I were still sluggish from New Years partying, so we procrastinated on going to the grocery store until late in the evening.
Right as we mustered the motivation to go, I caught the flu and went to bed for the next 18 hours. I assumed the 21-day Challenge would start a day late. I was wrong.
We went through with it anyway.
Here’s a recounting of our 21-day Challenge experience.
I’m in bed sick with the flu. I vaguely remember Mrs. SkinnyPants saying, “don’t eat til noon and meat & vegetables only, right?” as she left for work. I assumed we’d just start tomorrow.
5 hours laters I get out of bed to do some work on my computer and see a G-chat from Mrs. Skinny Pants: I’M STARVING!!!
It’s 11A. Uh oh. She had started the diet and we weren’t prepared.
She admirably held out from eating until getting a lettuce wrapped Jimmy John’s sandwich at 12.30p. Way to go Mrs. SkinnyPants!
In the meantime, I started doing all the preparation we should have done the day before.
- I cleaned out our fridge and pantry of everything not on the foods list. Because I was sick, I didn’t have time to binge on it like I normally would. Darn!
- I gathered meal ideas from keto recipe sites and then ordered all of the necessary ingredients for meals & snacks (and a bathroom scale!) on Instacart. They arrived by 3p.
- From the ingredients delivered by Instacart, I cooked the Tex Mex Casserole so it would be done when my wife got home at 6p. It was freaking delicious!
We were back on track. Later in the evening I texted my family who were also doing the diet to give them a status update and some encouragement. They had all stuck to the diet as well…score!!! Seeing that they were also participating was very motivating and heart warming.
- Mrs. SkinnyPants – 135.4 lbs , 5’4″ wants to further tone her arms.
- Mr. SkinnyPants – 158.0 lbs, 5’8″ wants to lose 10lbs of fat in 21 days
- Baby SkinnyPants – 26.8 lbs (he’s not doing the diet, but he’s cute so I like to include him)
I set my weight loss goal somewhat subjectively by eying the fat around my abdominal region. Mrs. SkinnyPants is less motivated by numbers and more by what she sees in the mirror and how her clothes fit…so she has a different goal.
We’ll weigh ourselves again on Day 14 & Day 21. For now, I’ve hidden the bathroom scale in a guest bedroom closet so we won’t be tempted to weigh ourselves everyday and get discouraged should we not get the result we’re expecting.
|Link Sausage w/ Mustard and a La Croix
|Tex Mex Casserole
|3 pickles & La Croix
|Lettuce Wrapped Jimmy John’s Sandwich
|Bananas & Peanut Butter (cheat snack)
|Tex Mex Casserole
There are remaining things we need to do to fully prepare for the 21-day stretch:
- Day 1 “Before” Photos. Didn’t take these yet b/c I was sick and unmotivated.
- Make boiled eggs or deviled eggs for snacks. Mrs. SkinnyPants and I love them and they’re quite satiating for snacks.
- Buy more snack foods in general. My initial grocery order didn’t have enough snacks included.
The rest of these updates won’t be so long.
Feeling much more optimistic and well-rested. Asked my family for their “before” pics and they were understandably resistant. People hate sharing their “before” photos. Sent Mrs. SkinnyPants with a prepared lunch of Tex Mex Casserole leftovers. Victory.
We took our “before” photos one day late.
I have some abdominal and pectoral fat I want to get rid of and I’d like a more defined chin. A chest wax wouldn’t be a bad idea either :).
Mrs. Skinny Pants:
Looks amazing! During this 21-day Challenge, she’d like to get more toned arms and is dieting to generally feel more healthy and to support me. Thanks babe!
Mrs. SkinnyPants had salad for lunch and took off the cranberries. Wow, that’s hardcore! She even skipped the free pizza her office had and ate the Tex Mex Casserole leftovers she brought with her.
She did not enjoy our dinner recipe of Roasted Chicken Thighs. It’s a bone-in, skin-on cut of chicken and she just isn’t fond of it. She prefers chicken breasts or chicken wings. That meal was a bust for her. It was a good reminder to always have a backup meal in the fridge that’s a crowd pleaser — for us that meal would be something like chili or tuna salad.
I also went to the store late in the evening to stock up on more low carb snacks, sparkling waters, and a microwaveable roast that could be used for a meal in a pinch. Of note, they were out of LaCroix and
I was disappointed that I under ordered on the Instacart order on Day 1 and had to make a special followup trip to the grocery store. I ordered way too few snacks and it felt like the store was conspiring against me. The La Croix’s were wrapped in plastic and stacked on pallets so high that couldn’t grab a box off the open first row. They were also out of steam in the bag broccoli. Only on jan 4th will a store be out of steam in the bag broccoli.
I did score a few interesting treats…a steam in the bag version of cauliflower rice and a frozen bag of cauliflower tater tots. I hadn’t seen that before. I need to report back if they’re any good.
I generally feel really good, but a little less patient and irritable. We’re a both bit more clear-headed but more quick tempered. Hopefully the moodiness mellows out. I am feeling really proactive & productive. I made a quick 8p to the store to get some more low carb snacks & diapers. Usually i hate errands and wouldn’t leave the house for one unless it was more urgent.
All in all a good day. The lessons are obvious. Have a “crowd favorite” backup meal on hand at all day. Have lots of snacks available. They can even double as a meal if someone doesn’t like the main course
I am journaling one day behind and can barely remember yesterday. Haha. We stuck to the diet. But I was a little groggy from being behind on sleep. I stayed up late writing. I’m not sure if the insomnia was related to my diet changes or not.
Other low carb dieters have reported insomnia. Overall the days eating went very well.
|Beef jerky, Tex Mex Casserole
|La Croixs and Pickles
|Ground Pork & Cabbage Stiry Fry
|Beef Jerky / Sparkling Water
|Lettuce Wrapped Jimmy John’s Sandwich (w/ added bacon)
|2 string cheeses, pepperonis, pickles
|Ground Pork & Cabbage Stiry Fry
|Piece of Dark Chocolate
Day 4 – 11
On day 4, the positive mental clarity benefits of this diet and abstaining from alcohol are taking effect. I’m feeling more optimistic and more motivated about everything in life generally.
Maintaining a journal became a lower priority as we were in the middle of a move from a downtown apartment to a suburban house and I was juggling several different responsibilities.
I do recall on Day 6 hitting a wall in terms of really craving sweets & carbs. I resisted. I also hit a bit of a low point in terms of mood and optimism. I’m not sure if this was driven by the diet or by the sadness of leaving our downtown lifestyle.
Here’s my eating summary for the past week (I’ve omitted meals where I couldn’t remember what I ate:
|Beef jerky, grass fed Hot Dog, La Croix
|Ground Pork & Cabbage Stiry Fry
|Cheese, pickles, pepperonis, La Croixs, 3 glasses wine
|Fried fish & cole slaw 2 beers
|Chik fil a nuggets
|Pork rib, turkey, sausage, cole slaw, green beans
|2 La Croixs, green beans
|Beef chili and cauliflower rice
|Ribeye on salad greens
|Shrimp w/ Marinara
|Hot wings + 1 beer
|Ground beef w/ spaghetti sauce and green beans
|Shrimp w/ Marinara
|Lettuce wrapped tacos
|Pepperonis, deviled eggs, pickles, La Croixs, 1/2 a beer
I’ve stuck to the low carb diet pretty faithfully. It’s now the morning of day 12 and I’m noticing some fat loss around my chin and upper abs. I still need to lose fat in my face, pectorals, and lower abdomen but those are the last places I tend to lose weight.
I’m going to try to resume daily journaling and including Mrs. Skinnypant’s results too. She is doing an amazing job as abstaining from carbs & sugar is much more difficult for her.
Daily journaling isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. Fortunately, I’ve stuck to the diet as has Mrs. SkinnyPants. We’ve both eaten lots of meat & vegetables and stayed away from all carbs & sugary things. We occasionally have some beers or wine when we’re out w/ friends or unwinding from a stressful day. That’s our main cheat right now.
Our weigh in on Day 14 went much better than expected. We are both down 7 pounds after 14 days on the diet!
In addition, my sister and brother-in-law, who are also doing the diet w/ us reported that they were down 7 pounds and 10 pounds respectively. Just phenomenal!
Notably, abstaining from sugar and carbs is much harder for me on boring weekends, rainy days, and when something frustrates me or doesn’t pan out as I expect. I’ve still been able to stick to the diet 100%, but it is a mental struggle at times.
Otherwise, my daily cravings for carbs and sugar are subsiding. Occasionally I want some tortilla chips or pizza, but that’s about it. Mrs. SkinnyPants is still fighting her cravings for carbs & sugar on day 16. I don’t blame her. She’s around those temptations everyday at work and watches commercials on TV a little more closely than I do, so she sees triggers everywhere.
I work from home where there aren’t many temptations (intentionally) and I typically ignore commercials or look at my phone when they’re on.
Overall, I’ll continue to journal, but I don’t think daily journaling is essential to successfully diet. I DO think it’s essential to have a group of people who you report to and hold each other accountable.
Knowing that my friends, family, and readers are monitoring my progress is definitely strong motivation.
Finished! Day 17-21
Hooray. We made it through the challenge, both losing 7 pounds and sticking fairly well to the diet. Our main cheats were a few beers here and there when out with friends or in the evenings to wind down / relieve stress.
The eating part of the diet has become fairly routine for me by now. I only occasionally think of eating sugary or carb-y foods, but most severe cravings are completely gone.
For Mrs. SkinnyPants, things are a little different. She desperately wants to celebrate completing the challenge by eating some ice cream. Eliminating carbs was harder for her as she loves them more than I do. She thinks the best plan for her going forward is to do a 14-day low carb challenge, followed by one cheat day where she can eat all the foods she misses.
One thing that’s sticking permanently for both of us is not eating breakfast. Mrs. SkinnyPants loves how productive she is in the mornings before she eats and I’ve felt the same benefits and have been skipping breakfast for over a year.
From here, I think I’m going to push through to at least Day 30. I feel like a major fat-loss whoosh is coming. I also under estimated how much fat I have to lose.
When I started, I was 159 pounds with what I thought was a relatively flat stomach / dad bod look. I thought at 150 pounds or so, I’d have a six pack abs. That was wishful thinking.
In high school, I was the same height and weighed 130 pounds and had a flat tummy. That’s basically where I’d have to get down to in order to have a flat abdomen and look like one of those featherweight boxer dudes. So I have another 15-20 pounds of fat to lose. That’s where I’m headed hopefully.
Mrs. SkinnyPants is going to the movies tonight to celebrate her accomplishment and will eventually get some ice cream before starting another 14-day challenge. I’m very proud of her.
My sister and brother-in-law also completed the challenge and their results were spectacular. My sister lost 9 pounds and my brother-in-law lost 11 pounds. The followed the same diet but were a bit more strict on reducing their alcohol consumption. Kudos to them for the discipline. Couldn’t be more excited for them.
They are heading on a trip to Costa Rica this weekend to celebrate my sister’s work accomplishments. I think that’s another secret to weight loss –> having a motivating upcoming experience where your body will be on display. It certainly worked for them!
I started this journal to see if daily journaling my diet would help me stick to it. In the end, it didn’t really matter. On the days, when other things seemed more important, I didn’t journal. Other times, I journaled just to summarize a few quick learnings.
I don’t think you have to have a journal to lose weight.
Overall here’s what I learned doing the 21 day challenge:
1 – Get in a text group with other dieters. I was on a text group with my wife, mom & dad, sister, and brother-in-law. We were all doing the 21 day challenge together. We trade experiences, poked fun at one another, shared results, and offer each other tips & motivation. It was helpful and motivating.
2 – Buy more snacks than you think you need. When you’re not eating carbs / sugary snacks, all the low carb snacks in the house get eaten up faster than normal. We were always running out of snack foods like pepperonis, pickles, and pork rinds and when starving, that would present with some chances to make poor choices.
3 – Stock up on LaCroix’s and Topo Chicos (or whatever brand sparkling waters you like). Since we weren’t drinking beers or sodas, we drank tons of LaCroix’s and Topo Chicos and often ran out. Better to buy more than you think you’ll need and store them until you need them, vs run out and make a bad decision.
4 – Weigh yourself on day 1, day 14, and day 21 as prescribed. My wife and stuck to this plan and were pleasantly surprised by our weight loss on day 14. We didn’t live and die by the scale, daily. Our emotions stayed relatively consistent in regards to our progress. My sister, on the other hand, seemed to weigh herself quite frequently and could get a little dejected at times.
5 – Buy a highly rated bathroom scale on Amazon. I bought a shitty one at the grocery store at the last minute and it’s terrible. I’m going to have to replace it because it’s so bad. I thought any old scale could do the job but that certainly hasn’t been the case.
6 – Start the challenge with a few “crowd pleaser” recipes. Cook a crowd pleasing recipe on Day 1 (or even better, Day 0) and cook enough such that there’s leftovers. Save experimental meals for later in on the challenge when you and the other participants in your household have more patience and higher tolerance for low carb meals. I made one low carb meal early on that my wife doesn’t historically love and sure enough she hated this low carb variation too. That left me scrambling to make her something different so that she didn’t totally give up on the challenge.
Going to try the 21 day challenge? I’d love to support you while you do it.
Grab my step by step 21 day weight loss challenge plan