Chain Reactions

See how a daily check-­in can reveal where things went wrong, how they went right—and how to plan for tomorrow.
Published January 18, 2016

Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned member, taking stock of your day can help you identify which actions helped, and which hindered, your weight loss. For instance, at the end of the day, try focusing on just one event, a not-so-great one, to see what steps led to it. Then you figure out how to get to a better outcome next time by changing those steps. It’s a great exercise when things don’t go well. But it can also be enlightening to look back on your day as a whole: the good, the bad, and the ugly. If a daily review feels like, ugh, another thing I have to do, take heart. Just a few minutes is all you need. Think of it as “me” time, something you’re doing for yourself, rather than a duty to work, family, or community.

Awareness leads to action. Here’s what five minutes can help you do: make mid-course corrections, be more prepared for challenges, use slip-ups as a tool for learning (not for beating yourself up), and most important, set yourself up for the next day. Simply ask yourself what worked, what could have gone better, and what tweaks you can make to help you move forward.

Here’s how to make your five-minute check-up a reality:

Set a regular time and place for it
It could be during your train ride home from work or just before you go to bed. Where or when isn’t important. What matters is consistency and focus. If you link your five-minute check-up to something you regularly do — like brushing your teeth — it can become a habit more easily.

Mentally walk through your day
Consider all aspects of your plan. Some days you may focus on the what, when and why aspects of your food choices or how active you were during the day. Were there missed opportunities to move a little more? Did you track everything today? Did you face any food or emotional triggers? How did you respond? Did you connect with someone who supports your goals?

Plan your focus for the next 24 hours
Write down one or two areas you’d like to build on or improve in how you follow your plan. Then include one small, simple action you can do to help get you there. Remember, it’s about progress — not perfection.