Writing down what you eat helps you lose weight. It's as simple as that.
People who keep a food journal are more successful losing weight than those who don’t. Studies prove it over and over again.
That's why many weight loss plans like Weight Watchers require it. Weight Watchers calls it tracking. Ask any successful Weight Watcher the secret to their success and they'll probably tell you, "When they got serious about tracking/journaling." It's one of those easy weight loss tips that's hard to argue with, since it's so successful.
It’s all that’s necessary for the first three weeks of Mireille Guiliano’s #1 best seller French Women Don't Get Fat. In her book Fit From Within : 101 Simple Secrets to Change Your Body and Your Life - Starting Today and Lasting Forever, Victoria Moran encourages us to "Write what you eat and keep on writing."
Even stars, like Carrie Underwood, have discovered the secret of keeping a food journal for weight loss success.
Why does keeping a food journal help people lose weight and maintain their weight loss?
Journaling provides a wealth of knowledge about our eating habits, food and beverage choices, emotional patterns, as well as all the previously unconscious sips and snacks that pass our lips daily. Sometimes this is all that's needed to increase awareness enough to modify behaviors and lose weight.
But to truly track/journal as intended, you need to let go of your emotions and perfectionist tendencies. You can't think of yourself, or the foods you eat, as "good" and "bad" or believe that you've failed when you exceed your suggested targets. You need to see tracking/journaling for what it is: information to help you learn what works for you and what doesn't.
I have learned to treat it as a game.
A longtime lover of Nancy Drew, who also loves experiments, I pretend I'm a scientist or detective trying to understand the link between what I eat and how it effects my body.
The process often reveals patterns and habits that have gone unnoticed. I became cognizant of my propensity to snack while preparing dinner and now chew sugarless gum and keep a glass of bubbly water handy while cooking. I also learned that getting enough fruits and veggies correlates with my weight maintenance. As my intake of fresh vegetables and fruits goes down, my weight starts creeping up.
If it weren't for my journal, I might not have picked up on this trend 🙂 Over time, your journal becomes a great way to look back to see all the changes you have made and successes you've had. You get to know yourself, your habits, and your routines. Your weight loss journey becomes one of personal discovery.
What's the best way to journal/track for weight loss?
There's no right way to do it, except thinking that you can do it in your head. Trust me, you can't. When it comes to food, we all have amnesia and eat more than we realize.
Choose the system that will work best for you - notebook, journal, day planner or computer.
I used to keep a little notebook in my purse. Now, I jot it down in my iPhone with the Weight Watchers app or take a picture so I can accurately record it later. If you are not doing WW, the free Apps MyFitnessPal and LoseIt are good options.
It's helpful to record your observations and food intake as close to the time it occurs as possible. Waiting until the end of the day will be less accurate. Include what you eat/drink, thoughts, feelings, time of day, as well as where, when, and with whom you ate.
Blogging can be the Ultimate Journal for Weight Loss/Maintenance too, as I discovered by accident!
Tips for Successful Tracking/Journaling
We all need to experiment to find what works best. Here are some ideas to try if tracking is evading you:
Don't stress about being perfect with your numbers. Be as accurate as you can, but don't fret and get overwhelmed trying to be too exact. Guesstimate as best you can.
Try to keep your journal with you so you can track in the moment. It isn't always possible, but it makes things a little easier. (It's tough to remember what you've eaten at the end of the day so sometimes, I just snap a photo with my phone)
Track what you eat and drink without their associated Points values, if it's easier.
If it helps, split the Tracker page into meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Try pre-tracking your meals for the next day the night before and then just follow your plan like a road map.
Take pictures of everything you eat instead of writing it all down.
Get active. A daily dose of exercise is very important for your healthy and helps reinforce good eating decisions.
Write down what inspires you to lose weight. Maybe it's a family member, a smaller clothing size, a vacation...Whatever it is, keep it in sight for your tough days.
Track the things you didn't eat. This can help you feel good about all the food you avoided rather than how much you ate.
Start tracking with dinner instead of breakfast.
Measure up. Losing inches feels just as good as losing pounds - so measure yourself every four weeks to keep track of your progress.
Begin by tracking just one meal a day and then add on as you are comfortable.
Try Simply Filling, Weight Watchers no count option in which you limit your choices to a select list of real foods.
Find ways to make it fun. Keep inspirational quotes or things that you've found funny or interesting when it comes to weight loss in this journal. Give yourself smilies (or grumps) to keep tabs on how you're feeling each day.
Speaking of Fun, Here's a Fun Tracking Poem I got from a fellow Weight Watcher...
If you bite it, write it
If you snack it, track it
If you lick it, bic it,
If you chose it, disclose it,
If you nibble it, scribble it
If you drink it, ink it
If you sneak it, leak it
If you hog it, log it
If you indulge it, divulge it
If you imbibe it, inscribe it
If you ruminate it, enumerate it
Grab your pencil before your utensil
If it goes in your smacker, it goes in your tracker!
What have you learned from keeping a food/activity journal/tracker? How do you track?
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