One of the most important parts of
your fitness plan is the food log. Personally, I prefer a simple daily log. I have a small notepad that I write down the food & calories I eat that day, and it takes only a few minutes to do. Here’s an example page:
|Monday 2/6/06||Breakfast:||oat bran, banana, coffee||400 cal.||Snack:||orange||100 cal.||Lunch:||sandwich, apple||520 cal.||Snack:||pretzels||120 cal.||Dinner:||salad, chicken, rice||1000 cal.||Snack:||dry cereal||100 cal.||Exercise:||20 min. calisthenics||-140 cal.||40 min. running||-600 cal.||BMR||-2100 cal.||TOTAL||-600 cal.|
You may want to initially jot down fat, carbohydrates, and even fiber amounts in the foods that you normally eat, just so you get a feel for the balance of your diet. I found that this amount of recording gets tedious, though. The above format takes a lot less time and effort.
It's all one big math problem - you want intake to be less than out put, in order to lose weight. If I go out to lunch, I’ll skip a snack or two - It all adds up. Remember: 3,500 calories = 1 pound of fat. If you keep a diet similar to the above example (-600 calories per day), you’ll lose a little more than 1 pound per week.
After awhile, you’ll get to know the serving sizes and calories of your favorite foods. You'll even learn which snacks are worth it..and which one are not. It gets easier – trust me. You’re investing time now, and it will pay dividends as you adopt a healthier lifestyle.
It's also worth noting that a food log does not have to be a permanent part of your long-term habits. You may chose (as I do) to only do it when you start 'slipping' or notice a weight gain. Once you do a food log for 2-3 months or longer, you'll have a great understanding for the calorie values of food and the amount of time it takes to lose weight.
Starting and maintaining a food log is the single most important part of any successful fitness plan. I'm a long distance runner and yet my weight will fluctuate based on my eating habits. The only way that I can successfully reel in my snacking and portion sizes is when i measure and record what I eat. I usually do this for 30-60 days and the habits (good ones) will persist for a few years. When my weight creeps back up, I start another food log.