An adorable journal, but a painful entry.

After asking the Facebookers what kind of challenge we should host next, two things became abundantly clear:

First, y’all are dying for some information on how to exercise at home and looking for motivation to get it in regularly. For seconds, there’s a strong desire for accountability. I see y’all out there!

I’d love to toss out two challenges back to back: A food challenge, and then follow that up directly with a workout challenge. I’ll explain why.

In the interest of accountability, I’d like to offer up a calorie counting challenge first! Over the course of the next 12 days, from June 22th to July 3rd, resolve to write down every single thing you eat, and how much of it you take in. If you have time, write down the nutritional information (or take a photo of it with your cell phone – let’s face it, almost all of us have phones with cameras on ’em) or look it up once you get home.

What does this have to do with accountability? If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the course of my progress, it’s this: in order to hold yourself accountable for something, you have to know how far-reaching the problem is. For me, calorie counting helped me realize exactly how much I was taking in at each meal (something like 800 calories each meal!). I learned just how many calories I was scarfing down during my “snack times” (almost 400 calories!) I got to really understand how many calories I was drinking. (upwards of 300 calories a day? Good grief.)

If, on an average day, I was taking in 800 calories per meal at three meals a day, that’s 2400 calories a day. Add in the snacks, that’s 2800 calories. Include the juices, and I’m at 3100 calories of intake each day.

Bananas.

You cannot hold yourself accountable for what you do not see. What does this accountability have to do with exercise? Easy! You cannot burn off a bad diet. I don’t care what you say or do. You can eat more calories in 20 minutes than you can ever burn. Let me say that again. You can eat more calories in 20 minutes than you can ever burn. That means that all it takes is 20 minutes to ruin an absolutely amazing-sweaty-funky-nasty-gross-smelling-yet-I-feel-like-I-can-fly workout.

Knowing the goals you have in mind and knowing the limitations of exactly how many calories you can burn working out for an hour doing your favorite or most challenging workout… comparing those two against your daily calorie intake is an empowering message. It lets you see exactly what might be getting in your way, what you can “afford” to eat or give up, and where your excesses might be coming from.

You don’t have to change your eating habits to participate in this challenge. I know, I know, that sounds counterproductive.. but the goal is to see exactly how harmful and unhelpful our current habits are to our current goals, and how certain situations cause us to eat a little more than we might be used to. With any luck, it will compel us to make changes.

What will you need for this challenge? For starters, a notebook and some measuring cups!

You’ll need a dedicated notebook for keeping track of each day’s intake, and measuring cups to measure out your portions.

You’ll also need to make a promise: promise yourself that you will document EVERYTHING you put in your mouth – from the glass of water to that handful of sunflower seeds you got from your co-worker, to the $0.50 bag of doritos you ate on the commute to work, to the taste testing of your dinner, to the bite of your loved one’s donut, to the liquor you drank at happy hour, to the glass of wine you had with dinner, to the little spoonful of baby food you ate to show your little one how good her strained peas are (I remember those days… won’t be revisiting those ever again.) Every-single-thing.

This challenge promotes consciousness. Awareness. You have to know how “bad” it is in order to know how to make it better, and we’ll start that tomorrow with the calorie counting challenge!

Looking for resources on calorie counting on A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss? Check these out:

So… let’s hear it! Who’s in? If you’re going to blog your info, drop your blog link in the comments so that we can check you out and offer our support!

Edit: Are you on SparkPeople? Check out the BGG2WL SparkTeam!