Fit to Fly
New Year, New You
With every new year we resolve to lose weight, eat right and get back into shape but unfortunately over half of us will never do this and will make that same resolution again next year. It's time to break the cycle and really start taking control over your life!
A great way to get on track with your new resolution is to start a food journal. It can be one of the most effective weight loss tools if used correctly. It may seem simple to write down what you eat each day but here some easy tips on how to start it, what to write in it and what to do with what you learn from it.
1. Choose a format
Before you start the food journal, decide on the best format for you. There are a number of free online tools out there that will easily track for you including; fitday.com, calorieking.com and dailyplate.com. Most cell phones even have apps available to help you track on the go. You can even use a little note pad, as long as you have a central location to keep your food journal entries.
2. Set a daily time to write in your food journal
For some people, it is easier to enter one full day at a time; try writing in your food journal after dinner or first thing in the morning. If you find that remembering what you ate at the end of the day is to difficult, try writing it down after each meal. The important thing is not to let more than one day go by without recording your entries.
3. At first, just write down everything you eat
For the first week, make your goal to simply write down all of the food that you consume. Don't worry about drastically changing your diet just yet. It's best to understand your current eating habits, which will be both good and bad. You may find that after three days you are already learning a lot about your strengths, weaknesses and subconscious eating patterns.
The most important key to success is to list everything you consume each day, including beverages. Yes, that includes munching in front of the fridge, nibbling while cooking, or finishing bites left on your child's plate.
For each item you eat, include this info:
• Type of food
• Time of day you ate it
• Portion size (If you know exactly include it or use estimates i.e. large bowl of pasta, or small chocolate chip cookie)
Whenever you can, try to include who you were with or what you were doing while you ate and how you felt. Often times our mood dictates our eating behavior, so understanding how you are feeling when you eat is very important.
4. How to interpret your food journal
• Determine your motivation for eating. Are you truly hungry when you eat? If not, are you eating for emotional reasons?
• Compare the types of food and portions you eat with the food pyramid. Do you eat well-balanced meals with good serving sizes? Do some areas have room for improvement?
• Take note of your eating habits. Do you eat regularly, or do you eat a little and then overindulge later?
• Use the above as guidelines to determine your problem areas, and brainstorm ways to repair those problems.
5. What to do with your findings:
• If you notice that you may be an emotional eater, especially when stressed or depressed, consider healthier alternatives like taking a walk, meditation, or journaling.
• If portion sizes are large, consider using smaller plates and cups. Also consider using smaller reusable lunch containers. Order ½ portion sizes or kids meals.
• If eating at regular intervals throughout the day is challenging due to time constraints and a busy lifestyle, consider bringing quick grab-and-go snacks or meals.
• If you notice over-indulgence or unhealthy choices: switch to a healthier version of the same food. For example, choose baked or grilled skinless chicken over fried chicken.
6. You don't need to do this alone!
Studies have shown that people who get support lose significantly more weight than people trying to go it alone. Ask a friend or family member to review your journal to make sure you're on track. If you are able to, hire a personal trainer. They can help you develop a fitness program that best suits your needs and can help you in mapping out your food plan.
Remember, to always consult your physician before starting a new diet and exercise program.
January 13, 2011