#004: A Super-Simple Strategy to Map Your Progress

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Create changes to your eating that are more effective and long-lasting

If you’re either sticking perfectly to a diet or feeling out-of-control around food, you’re not alone. An all-or-nothing approach is commonly promoted in books or by certain “experts.” But more significant and lasting change often comes through a very different approach. 

Listen in to episode 4 to discover why smaller changes over time can be way more effective in dropping overeating and any excess pounds too. You’ll also hear real-life examples of what the path toward a nourishing and energising way of eating can look like. 

Come away with a simple tool to map your progress over the coming weeks and months.

Click here for you free cheat sheet and track your progress!

View the full episode transcript

I love the analogy of how a tiny, one-degree-shift in the direction a ship or aeroplane is travelling is barely noticeable in the moment. But, over time, it leads to an entirely different destination.

Gathering those initial coordinates—your initial data—will allow you to track your course, to map your progress, and to reach the destination that you want to arrive at.

Welcome to the YoYo Freedom Podcast.

This is the place to learn actionable, step-by-step tools and strategies to help you stop bingeing or overeating and start feeling relaxed and confident around food, 

so that you can show up for your life on your terms.

I’m Gemma Keys and I know first hand what it’s like to feel out-of-control around food and trapped in the pain of binge eating and body-shame.

There is a way out. 

Keep listening to discover your path to food freedom.

Hello and welcome—I’m so glad you’re here!

In this episode I’m going to show you what different paths to resolve overeating, binge eating or yoyo-dieting can look like, and also give you a simple tool so that you can map your progress as you move toward freedom around food.

In episode 3, I spent quite a while creating a case for feeling more curious around what, when and why you eat. If you haven’t listened yet, please do go back and tune in as the information I shared around dropping shame and opening to curiosity are pretty essential for what we’ll be exploring next.

It’s ironic, isn’t it, that the time that an increased awareness around food is extra-valuable is almost certainly the very time we don’t want to take a look. 

After all, who wants to remember: 

  • That loaf of fresh bread with butter eaten in front of a schmushy-and-not-exactly-brilliant movie on Netflix? 
  • Or hiding in the loos at work to stuff down a bag of cookies cos that’s the only privacy you can find during the day. 
  • Or the number of times you returned to the all-you-can-eat buffet at the irresistible Chinese restaurant in town.

It can seem as if forgetting all about a time of bingeing or overeating and drawing a line under it will mean a fresh and better start tomorrow—oh, that elusive tomorrow when everything will change!

Or, maybe, beating yourself up about what you’ve eaten is a way that shouty, judgemental part of you tries to get you to do things differently. It even kinda makes sense, right? That voice in your head is coming down really hard on you cos actually, it’s thinks it will eventually help you feel better.

Whatever your default response to overeating or falling-off-the-wagon just before the dreaded slimming-club weigh-in, I’m guessing treating it with gentle and compassionate enquiry isn’t your automatic response.

And yes, that’s the very thing I’m going to encourage you to do!

Starting with where you’re at right now. The patterns you notice in your eating. Because that information—that data—is so very helpful as you map out your progress over time.

When you have the data to look back at, it’ll show you much more clearly any areas where you are making progress—progress that most people don’t even think to look at cos they’re usually thinking either, “am I doing it right?” or “am I doing it wrong?”

And a sense of progress—signs that you’re moving forward and recognition of shifts that are happening—that can be the difference between jacking it all in, and continuing to  feel the motivation and commitment to yourself and your dream that keep you going. 

(For more on how to create that dream, listen to episode 2).

One of the key reasons that gathering data on your eating is so helpful is that the path to moving through binge eating, pulling back from overeating and dropping the exhausting cycle of yoyo-dieting can look so different.

Here are 5 examples taken from people I’ve worked with, so you can see what I mean:

  • The first example is when multiple episodes of bingeing per day shift to grazing (you know, that kind’ve constant grabbing a bit of food here and there that can last for hours), and then, over time, the grazing reduced and turns into eating regular meals at specific times each day.
  • Someone else will start off aware they’ve eaten an entire dessert only when all that remains in front of them is an empty box and a spoon. Zoning out completely during a binge is for sure a real thing. Gradually that person will become aware of what they’re doing while they’re eating, then as they take the first bite, then as they’re buying the dessert, then as they have the urge to eat, until they’re eventually able to anticipate when an urge or craving to eat might come up and put the strategies they need in place way in advance.
  • Another person may notice the foods that feel good in their body and gradually introduce more of them over time, naturally shifting away from the foods that bring them down. One of my favourite ways to do that is to find a more nutrient dense option or recipe for a food you already love, and just sub it in. But that’s another something for a future episode!
  • And others might resolve their overeating one-situation-at-a-time. That might be to initially find a way to manage work-related stress without turning to food. Then to focus on stopping late night snacking. Then take a look at family gatherings, and so on.
  • My last example is of a person who’s caught in a cycle of yoyo-dieting—in other words, food restriction followed by overeating or bingeing, then back to the restriction and so on. Progress for that person may start with dropping food-restriction and instead allowing themselves to eat when they’re hungry. That enables their body to ease away from the panic and survival mode that dieting often results in. They may initially put on a few pounds but, as their eating stabilises, they’re able to tweak their food intake and move toward their natural and desired weight in a way that feels so much calmer and genuinely nurturing. 

As you mull over those examples, you may be able to see how it’s super-common for someone to think they’re making no progress at all, only to look back at the data they recorded around their eating habits for the previous month and realise that actually they’re eating half of what they used to eat in one sitting, and the number of times they’ve binged in a week has dropped by 75%.

Another thing you’ve probably noticed from those examples is that changes too small to notice day by day can soon add up to something significant.

I love the analogy of how a tiny, one-degree-shift in the direction a ship or aeroplane is travelling is barely noticeable in the moment. But, over time, it leads to an entirely different destination.

Gathering those initial coordinates—your initial data—will allow you to track your course, to map your progress, and to reach the destination that you want to arrive at.

So, what data to gather and how often?

Let’s talk about the “how often” first.

You’ve heard me say it quite a few times already—and you’ll hear it countless times again as you keep listening—but it depends what feels right for you. A friend and colleague of mine likes to gather her food-data daily. For me when I started out, every month or two suited me miles better as it helped me drop a type of hyper-alert, obsessive-feeling tracking that almost always led me right back to binge eating. 

So, what comes up for you as I ask the question, “How often feels right for you to reflect on your eating and gather data on it?” If nothing springs to mind and you’re still looking for a place to start, my suggestion is once per month.

Now to the type of data to gather.

This falls into 3 categories.

Number 1: The number of times I ate in a way I wish I didn’t

Number 2: The amount of food I ate

Number 3: The type of food I ate

To keep it simple, I’m going to just refer to overeating.

So, the first category would be, “How many times did I overeat, on average, in the last week?”

The second category would be, “About how much food did I eat during each overeating episode?” To answer that, you can use any measurement that makes sense to you. It might be a carton or bag size, a plate or bowl size, or the description of a fast-food style portion. 

And for the third category, “What types of food did I overeat?” You might like to get specific (for me, it was Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream, Mr Kipling cakes, chocolate chip cookies and chocolate bars … yep, all in the same sitting). For you it might look completely different. But generally, you’ll notice whether the foods were highly processed or more based around whole-food ingredients, whether they were crunchy or melt-in-the-mouth, hot or cold, salty or sweet.

To help you answer these questions, I’ve prepared a handy cheat sheet you can jot your answers on. You can find it in the show notes at yoyofreedom.com/4. You might like to print off a few to keep track of how you’re doing over the coming weeks and months.

So, there you have it. I hope I’ve made a case for taking a closer look at your eating from a place of gentle and compassionate curiosity, and for the value of gathering data so that you have clear markers of your progress over time.

Go ahead and download your worksheet at yoyofreedom.com/4 to start the process of mapping your progress.

Links mentioned in this episode

Disclaimer: The content in the podcast and on this webpage is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or psychological condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have heard on the podcast or on my website.

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