On my first post, I mentioned that I keep a food diary, well, it’s more of a life diary where I record what I eat, when I exercise, along with appointments, reminders, etc. I’ll admit here that I was pretty skeptical at first and had never kept a food diary before but according to this WebMd article, “studies have shown that people who keep food journals are more likely to be successful in losing weight and keeping it off.”
A nutritionist was the first person to suggest keeping a food journal. That was about two years ago and I failed miserably but when I started this journey last August, I decided that I would try everything I had been told that worked so that I wouldn’t wonder later “what if?”.
Now, what you record can vary from person to person. Some people record everything they eat and drink down to the calories, time of day, portions, etc. I am not even close to that level. Remember, I hate counting calories. I simply record what I have for each meal. I do qualify my meals though so I may add that I ate a lot or a little but won’t measure or count calories. For example, yesterday’s entry looked like this (B, L, D stand for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner):
- B: turkey ham and cheese sandwich with cup of coffee and milk
- L: turkey roll + gravy + potato salad + pico
- snack 1: banana bread and tea
- snack 2: chips x2 + walnuts
- D: strawberries + cheese + walnuts + tea
You will notice that yesterday I had a bit of a hunger attack. I’ve been getting those since I got back in the gym. Next to my meal description I also wrote down: “snack attack” to remind me that I have been eating a bit more than usual. Why is this important? Well, I find that if on my weekly weigh-in I don’t lose as much as I would like or not at all, or gain, I’m usually able to see why on my journal. Similarly, if I have a particularly good weigh-in, I can go back and see if I made any changes, food or exercise-wise, that can explain it. The journal keeps me accountable to myself, helps me make better decisions day by day and plan ahead for outings with friends or other events.
You don’t have to invest a lot of money on a food journal and in fact I would advise against it because many food/exercise journals allow for very little personalization. However, I do recommend that you take a look at them just so you can get an idea of what information to include in your own. A simple notebook will do but I find that a blank journal or the average appointment book can maybe work better only because it will stand out among your other notebooks. I have been using Moleskine journals for years now so I got started with one last year and continued with their limited edition Le Petit Prince weekly planner (pictured) this year. The important thing is that you keep track of what you are doing so that you can be honest with yourself; celebrate when you do well and not feel bad when you don’t because you’ll know the why and will be able to correct your course more effectively to get the results you want.
If you are already journaling I’d love to hear which planner you use and how it’s helped. If you don’t, get started and let me know how you like it.
Tip of the week: “Motivation is what gets you started, Habit is what keeps you going.”
PS. There are also a myriad of food/exercise journals online and on your phone that you may use. I happen to be old-school when it comes to journaling. 🙂