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Why Food Journal?

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When you think about losing weight what are the two things that pop into your head?  Proper nutrition and exercise, right?  Now, a clean diet and regular exercise are essential for staying fit and trim, but the latest research, including a recent episode of the Dr. Oz Show, suggests that keeping a food journal can help shed even more pounds, possible double the amount of weight loss by simply writing down what you eat.

The first time I kept a food journal was my first round of P90X in March 2009, before then I pretty much ate what I wanted, thus the terrible results I received   Now, that was back in the day before I had a smart phone and had to track everything with a pen and paper.  I made out my own tracking sheets, printed off multiple copies and took them where ever I went.  That was a little inconvenient at the time, but I was afraid if I didn’t keep the journal all times, I would forget to write down what I ate and fall back into my old routine.

So, what has research shown about food journaling to make it so successful for people who are trying to get fit and healthy?  There are two reason.  First is the accountability aspect.  The participants in most of the studies I’ve read had to show their food journals to someone else daily that would keep them accountable.  When you write down what you eat you are accountable to yourself and then having to show it to someone else keeps you accountable to them.  I know from personal experience if someone else knows I’m trying to lose weight and I knew they were going to look at it everyday, I would be very cautious about what I ate.  However, before you start to pick your accountability partner keep a few things in mind.  Pick someone who you KNOW will hold you accountable.  Maybe someone in the past that thought you couldn’t do it in the first place or find someone else who is trying to lose weight.  That way you can both help hold each other accountable and even make it into a competition.

The second reason food journaling works is that it increases your awareness to the horrible diet you had lived with in the past.  For myself I was shocked when I began to realize that even though I thought I was eating healthy I was eating large amounts of fatty, high calorie junk food!  Food journaling can help you pinpoint your trouble areas and help you make improvements.

To read more about tracking what you eat, CLICK HERE

Tips for successful food journaling:

1.) Write down after every meal – If you try to wait until the end of the day or after several meals before you write in your journal, reality is you’re probably going to forget or leave something out.

2.) Eat at Home – Cooking and eating at home will not only save you time and money, but it can also help you eat healthier.  If time is your excuse for eating out, prepare your foods ahead of time.  For example, I make meals on the weekend (takes 20 minute or less), then I put them in the refrigerator to pull out and warm up when I’m busy, which is just about everyday.  If you have to eat out, plan ahead, checkout the menu ahead of time and make smart choices about adding condiments, salt, butter etc. to foods that are already high with these ingredients.  Here’s some suggestions for EATING OUT?

3.) Write down your cheat meals – Even if you have a cheat meal or cheat food WRITE IT DOWN.  You are less likely to make the same mistake if you see the damage that only one bad meal can make.

4.) Find what works for you –  Like I mentioned earlier I’ve experimented with different ways to journaling, from pen and paper to using apps on my iPhone.  After deciding that pen and paper didn’t work for me, I decided to use journaling apps on my iPhone   For approximately a year I used Tap N Track.  It works great but it does cost around $4.00 to purchase.  Later, I found MyFitnessPal which is a free app and in my opinion works as well if not better than Tap N Track.  Oh, and did I mention it’s FREE!!

5.) Don’t forget portion sizes – Even eating too much healthy food can lead to weight gain, so make sure you check the labels and write down the correct servings and portion sizes.  I use measuring cups to help me keep track of my portions, plus a food scale would be a great tool for knowing the exact amount going into your body.  Here’s some suggestions on Perfect Portion Sizes.

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