Why do most people resist a food diary? Because reality can be hard to handle sometimes. Most of us will avoid the scale, mirror, being in pictures, and the nutritional facts when we’re in a fitness lull. Sometimes the truth is easier to ignore than it is to face. And contrary to popular belief…ignorance is not bliss!
A recent article in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine reported on a study of weight loss techniques. It found that dieters who kept a food diary six or more days a week lost twice as much as those that did not! That’s hard evidence to ignore. Those that keep food diaries lost 18 pounds during the 6-month study while those that did not keep food diaries lost 9 pounds.
If we don’t record our workouts and what we eat, how will we ever know if we’re improving? It’s a hard habit to get into. I’ve probably started and stopped a food diary about 20+ times in the last 5 years. But I can attest to its effectiveness. Simply cutting back is very subjective and not near as effective. Don’t be afraid of the truth. Stare it down. Analyze it. And make a plan to improve.
Most successful companies use metrics to measure their success and plan improvements for their future. Why not use the same logic for our health and fitness. Make up some fitness metrics and do your best to stick to them. Write a pact with yourself, a mission statement or whatever will forge your commitment. I know it sounds corny, but what better cause is there than life?
Writing down exact amounts and calories can be painful, but over time it will change your habits. The study referenced above might be new, but its findings should not have surprised us. The difference between writing down the food that we eat and not writing it down is dedication & commitment to ourselves. If you want it to work, make it a priority and DO IT. Recording calories gets easier over time and before you know it will become part of your daily routine.
Recording calories will shine a bright light on areas to improve. For example, it only takes a few 1500-calorie entries for a fast-food meal for you to realize that it may be better to pack a lunch. And after a few straight days of writing down that mid-afternoon 240-calorie soda, you might think about switching to water of diet soda. Once we see our habits written down on paper, we’re more likely to change the bad ones. And be sure to write down every bite!
Your actions could lead to a longer and happier life, be an inspiration for others, and serve as an example for your children and loved ones to follow. Nothing feels better than measuring improvement. Write it down and watch your weight and food bill go down…and your self-esteem go up!
You can find this article and other motivational fitness information in the July 2008 article of The Bullhorn. You can sign up for this free monthly e-zine below.