Looking for an efficient way to lose weight? Start here.
Embarking on a new diet or nutrition plan can be overwhelming with all the new rules and details they throw at you.
If you‘re like most people, you’ve probably experienced the following: you excitedly decide, with the best of intentions, that you are going to eat “healthy” from now on only to find that after a few weeks of slavishly adhering to all of the rules you didn’t see any results.
If this is you, can you answer this one seemingly simple question: Do you really know what you are eating?
Working as a health coach, the one critical step that many of my clients have missed when starting a new diet or meal plan is the simple act of keeping track of what they are eating.
In order to set yourself up for success, it is key to start with an assessment of where you are right now.
Human memory is a funny thing. Over the course of the day, we can easily forget some of the things we eat and drink. Somehow, that slice of cake for your co-worker’s birthday or couple of beers at last night’s client reception fade into the background, giving us a false sense of having consumed fewer calories or eaten more healthily than we actually have.
If you’re like the majority of people I work with, you may be surprised to discover, after tracking your meals for a few days, that you indeed are eating more or differently than you think.
When coaching my clients on nutrition strategies for weight loss, the first thing I do with every single client, BEFORE I create them a healthy eating plan, is to get them to track their meals or write in a daily food journal for a week. There is an old adage: “what gets measured gets managed”. When it comes to food tracking, I see this in spades!
After a few days tracking the types of food and drinks they’re consuming, people generally begin to get a whole new perspective on their eating habits. They see what they are doing well and not so well. My clients tell me that the simple act of having to record what they eat alone improves their eating habits!
Here are 3 simple ways to get started with food tracking:
1. Choose your preferred tracking method
This first step is a big one.
Food journaling might be a completely new act for you. Pick the path of least resistance here. And be honest, do you like writing and do you already keep a journal? If you do, that’s awesome – just pick up a notebook and pen and get writing.
If you don’t, then identify another way. Are you a visual person, photo taker or love Instagram? If so, go with it and take pictures of each meal, drink and snack you have. There are plenty of apps available for download for free (MyFitnessPal is a good example).
Regardless, choose a method and get tracking.
2. Commit to a time period. One week is ideal.
Good news here – numerous studies and my own experience shows that tracking for just 1 week provides the best results when it comes to succeeding with making lasting change.
Start small. Track for 3 days at minimum, bite off what you can chew (yes, I had to say it).
3. Make yourself accountable. Schedule it in. Do it Daily.
Tell someone: your work colleagues, your kids, partner or your Facebook and Twitter followers.
Figure out what it is that makes you feel committed. Is it not wanting to let someone close to you down or being accountable to a buddy?
Book it into your iPhone or outlook calendar, program email pop ups, put sticky notes on your fridge, remind yourself. Make it fool proof.
The take away: Before getting started on making big diet plans, take stock of where you are and you can save yourself a lot of grief and confusion later. This simple task will have a major positive ripple effect on your weight loss efforts going forward.