Evidence has been mounting for years that when we keep track of our food intake, we are far more likely to lose weight and actually lose more weight than those who do not. In fact, medical research shows that you can double your weight loss by keeping a food journal. There is also a compelling argument to make that if you keep a log of your exercise, you’ll actually be more inclined to do it. Both of these steps will not only make you more conscious of the decisions you are making and their outcomes, but they also serve as motivating factors.
To do either properly, it’s worth considering the following pointers.
Be truthful and accurate! If you are not accurately tracking what you are eating, the exercise you are doing, and the weight you are losing as a result, then you won’t ever really know what is working vs. what isn’t.
Report consistently. Get into a rhythm of reporting your meals and exercise sooner after the fact than later. The more closely you align the actual eating or exercise with your reporting, the more accurate it will be.
There’s an app for that.Does your on-the-go schedule prevent you from being able to easily account for your meals and exercise? My Fitness Pal allows you to account for both, and has both a mobile app and an online interface so that you can use either depending upon your preference or which one is most convenient in the moment.
Don’t let not being in front of your computer be an excuse for not keeping track of your food and exercise!
Do it with a friend or family member. Very often having a friend or family member to do anything with helps make sure you stay on track—you can help to hold each other accountable and have fun comparing your journals with one another. You can also actually share meals and exercise experiences with your friends and family to keep you motivated to eat healthily and get exercise.
Join the community. Tools like My Fitness Pal have online communities that users say really help to keep them on track and motivated. You can commiserate with others on the challenges of weight loss, but on a more positive note, you can get great recommendations for healthy recipes and workouts that are both fun and calorie-burners. You can also just get some emotional support through a sometimes emotional process.
Keeping a food and exercise log is one of the best steps you can take in your weight loss journey. It will help you stay on track and motivated in your eating and exercise goals.
The benefits of joining a community that exists around many online food diary tools are also unlimited, and can really serve to motivate on those days when you’re not quite feeling as up to the task of monitoring yourself.
Remember that losing weight is never easy, but that keeping an honest log of your experience along the way will serve as an incredibly helpful tool in the process.
Cara Aley is a freelance writer who writes about everything from matters of health and wellness to those of reputation management for Reputation.com. Cara ran cross country for Stanford University and still loves running and competing.