My Story and Review of 28 Days Weight Control Journaling Challenge by Mari L. McCarthy

Monday, January 20, 2014
Ever since I hit the big 4-0, I’ve struggled with my weight. I took up jogging, zumba, cardio yoga, even boxing and kickboxing! No amount of exercise seemed to do the trick. I may have built up some muscle and possibly lost inches, but the scale didn’t budge and neither did my belly—my biggest problem area.

I finally lost 19 pounds in a little over a month this past September. I lost the first 10 in a week and the other 9 over the next four weeks. How I did it is another story—involving a Living Social Deal, a strict diet, fat burning vitamins, and daily exercise—but keeping it off has been a bit of a challenge. I gained back 4 pounds over the holidays and resumed some of my bad eating habits. And while a total weight loss of 15 pounds is still good, being on my own without a strict diet made me realize that I still have an issue with food. So when I was presented with the opportunity to review journaling guru Mari McCarthy’s new book, 28 Days Weight Control Journaling Challenge, I embraced it like I would a juicy cheeseburger.

Before beginning the challenge, Mari advises you to start a food journal to keep track of everything you eat. I was already ahead of the game. I’ve been using an app on my phone called MyFitnessPal that I highly recommend. It’s free and has almost every type of food you can imagine in its database, and includes the nutritional information and calorie count. The one thing I didn’t consider was noting how I felt when I was eating and where I ate, which I discovered was frequently in front of the computer or TV. So I would use the app during the day to record my food intake, and later in the evening I would journal through the book’s exercises and note how I felt and where I was at each meal.

At first, I didn’t think I was a good candidate for this challenge. I’d already lost the majority of the weight I really needed to and had minor weight loss to go, and I exercised six days a week. But as I went through the challenges, I realized I had a lot to learn about myself. For instance, I didn’t make any solid health or fitness goals, which Mari encourages you to do right away. “In one month, I want to cook healthy dinners at home five days a week. In three months, I want to run a 5k.”—Goals that didn’t have anything to do with a scale. I also realized that I have somewhat of a negative body image . . . I mean, who doesn’t, right? When I looked at myself in a mirror, I always searched for the flaws instead of my strengths. Mari helps turn these negative messages into positive affirmations. She also helps us examine the past and where these issues stem from.

Many of the journaling prompts are about food and exercise; and from everything I’ve learned over the past few months on my weight-loss journey, Mari’s advice is right on. She promotes fresh over processed, small portions, healthy alternatives, and staying active—no matter what type of physical activity you choose—and gives you the journaling exercises to motivate yourself. One of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with in my weight-loss battle is my family’s eating and activity habits. She helps you deal with these issues, too. If you’ve been one to try every diet under the sun and found that you couldn’t stick with it or it just didn’t work, then I suggest trying Mari’s 28 Days Weight Control Journaling Challenge for a fresh, new approach to weight loss. Mari also offers a private Facebook group for those taking the challenge and the opportunity to get positive feedback. Her next challenge starts February 1, and you can find out more here:

I’d like to personally thank Mari for helping me form some healthy new habits! Thanks to her journaling exercises, I realized I’ve been eating way too much sugar, and not really enjoying my meals as much as I should. So now I’m making time to sit down at a table and eat (instead in front of the computer or TV) and savoring the tastes and textures that we writers love to describe. I’m also staying away from the junk food aisle and doing the majority of my shopping at Sprouts—a great little farmer’s market chain that has lean meats and fresh produce, and is easy on the pocketbook. What makes Mari’s book so successful is she helps you deal with the underlying issues that are holding you back and gives you the tools you need for a healthy lifestyle change.


Mari said...

Thanks for the awesome review Angela Glad you're taking action and feeling healthier. WriteON!

Marcia Peterson said...

Sounds like an interesting book, and I appreciate you sharing your story, Angela. I lost the same amount of weight as you, and also gained most back over time. There's so much more to eating right than finding a food/exercise plan. For me it's so much about the feelings, using food for the wrong reasons etc.

Anyway, I'm recently concentrating on some new things, including Pam Grout's (E-squared) ideas to: refrain from talking "smack" about your body (no negativity) and "blessing" whatever you're putting into your body (infusing youer food with love, joy, peace).

Here's to your success, and thanks to Mari for coming up with another great journaling book/program!

Margo Dill said...

I also loved Mari's program when I did it! I lost 10 pounds in a month, and then stopped writing down what I ate or thinking about it over the holidays (which for us seem to start in October) and gained it all back PLUS 10 more! I am now on Weight Watchers again and loving their new simply filling days, where you concentrate on power foods and don't feel too hungry. YAY! I joined the gym, too, and I still use advice from Mari's journaling book about weight loss, such as writing down my foods and thinking about why I am eating or when I seem to lose control of myself (late at night!) or too much wine! :) I agree that Mari's book is very useful to figure out what and why you do what you do!

pandapaw14 said...

I'm starting the challenge on February 1. Your review and story are inspiring! I was already looking forward to the challenge, but now even more so!

Angela Mackintosh said...

@Mari ~ Thank you! I feel fantastic. :) You're amazing!

@Marcia ~ I'll have to check out Pam's book. She sounds super positive! I agree that there needs to be a mental shift in the way we think about food. There are so many weird reasons why I eat or drink…boredom, stress, reward… What's wrong with me? LOL

@Margo ~ Wow! It's crazy that keeping track of what you eat can do wonders. I haven't tried Weight Watchers but that app I use ( has WW food on it. It's great for when you don't have a lot of time or are out and you just want to quickly log your food and/or exercise. You can also plug in your goal weight and it'll give you a tally of how long it will take you to get there after you log out of each day. I've been having the same trouble with wine lately! I quit drinking for two months while on that diet and the holidays ruined it for me! Too many parties. =/ And late night snacking is the worst! I try to finish eating three hours before I go to bed to make sure I've burned it off before I fall asleep.

@pandapaw14 ~ Awesome! Good luck in Feb! You can do it. :)

Unknown said...

Bah. Weight. Staring down 50 and knowing my body is changing is really doing a number on me! I loved Mari's other journal book and am going to look into this one too! Yay!

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