When I did Weight Watchers and lost 30+ pounds (between babies #5 & #6), one of the most beneficial and necessary things of the program for me was keeping the food diary. It keeps you honest.
I had friends who would say, “yes, I do Weight Watchers too,” but then would have an extra serving of pasta, or add on a piece of cheesecake to their meal, and say (with a wink),
"I just won't write this down."
And truth be told, that’s just NOT “doing Weight Watchers.” That’s dishonesty, and it doesn’t lead to weight loss. You might as well just save yourself the hassle and avoid the food diary altogether if that’s the way you “do” the program.
Mental “FOOD” Intake
I’m convinced we can do the same thing with the mental “food” we consume… we aren’t honest about all the media, articles, and information (and values from those things) that we’re taking in.
- We watch the news non-stop, but then struggle with anxiety, stress, fear, and anger.
- We loathe our own bodies and images but don’t honestly assess the images and videos we’re setting before our eyes day in, day out, week in, week out.
- We watch shows that glorify adultery and divorce and the swinging single life but fail to connect that to our discontentment in marriage.
- We fix our hearts on perfection in home decor, flipping through magazines, and watching home decorating shows, and then feel discouraged by the realities of living in a real home with real people.
- We fill our eyes, hearts, and desires with airbrushed celebrity men and women before, during, and after marriage, but can’t figure out why our marriages are falling apart.
So, last weekend, I decided to keep an HONEST, completely accurate report of what I’m taking in:
- youtube videos,
- sermons (real life & online),
- personal bible study,
- group bible study at church,
- TV shows & movies,
- websites & articles
Here’s a screenshot of page one:
I’ll share a few of the things I learned:
- I had no idea how MUCH I was taking in. No wonder my brain feels full & used up! I’m consuming a LOT of data & information each day.
- I didn’t realize how much FLUFF I consume. Those “mindless”/silly/hilarious Facebook videos add up to a LOT of time and mental energy wasted each day.
- There were things I opted NOT to click on because I didn’t want to have to report them. (I’m not talking about anything like porn, just dumb videos or mildly-interesting articles I might normally click on but merely browse.) Just like with food, knowing that you’re going to have to honestly track every single thing keeps you HONEST and keeps you from clicking on stuff that is stupid or potentially harmful to you.
After doing it just for those three days, I’m convinced that this exercise could be useful for anyone- just to keep track of what you’re mentally taking in… Consider– are you:
- Wanting to learn about something in particular?
- Struggling with a particular focus/fixation you can’t seem to shake?
- Needing to grow in a particular area of life (marriage? parenting?)
- Wanting to be purposeful in your personal bible study?
- Curious about why you’re mentally exhausted?
This is a great opportunity to be publicly accountable for all the media and mental intake you do each week, actually giving an account for the way you’re using your mind & your time.
KEEP A MENTAL “FOOD” DIARY
- Open a document on your computer/phone, or keep track on a sheet of paper
- Make headings for the various forms of media/mental “food” you consume (some examples: books, TV shows, sermons, Bible study, music, articles, Facebook feed videos)
- Write down every. single. thing. (It helps to go back through your computer “history” at the end of the night to be sure you’re remembering all the links you clicked on, articles you read, videos watched, etc.)
- Do you think you would ever keep a mental “food” diary? Why or why not?