If you're reading this chances are you would like to lose weight, you would like to feel better when looking in the mirror or you’d like to feel more confident and empowered when going on a beach holiday.
You probably think you eat all the right kind of foods and you do your bit of exercise, but nothing seems to be changing. Is it you that’s doing something wrong, or your body is just like that and will stay for the rest of your life? – you may ask yourself often.
Many of my clients have been there. They thought we did everything they could, tried all the diets, followed all the trending workouts and nothing has shifted. You may feel better in your skin and noticed some change in your fitness levels as the result of your efforts, but the person looking at you from the mirror still isn’t fully content. What now?
I am changing the subject little but bear with me, there is a reason.
What do you do when you’d like to drive to a meeting at a location you have never visited before? I suspect you put the address in the Satnav or Google Maps. Do you know exactly how the app finds the most efficient route and calculate your ETA? Here are the steps that are nearly identical to those you’d like to take when working on a weight loss goal:
How to keep a food and exercise diary?
The same way as you have advanced tools to use for your navigation, there are systems and tools to do the same on your fitness journey.
The simplest solution is getting a notepad and a pen and writing down everything: what and how much you put in your mouth (eat and drink), your workouts and sleep pattern. Calculating how many calories you eat and how much you burn will take up some time when using this method though.
Technology can help you to save some time with Math’s. If you use an app on your smart phone and/or even one of those fitness bands linked with your smart phone, you can track everything you do, including your heart rate.
Food diary can also be done online. There’s a mobile app and website called My Fitness Pal that has a gigantic database of food and their nutrition info. You can track your food intake by either manually adding your meals and drinks or reading barcodes where applicable. How cool is that?
As a personal trainer I provide clients with a system, for both in-person and online coaching to help them keep track of all their activities and nutrition habits. It helps me monitor their progress, I can identify low weeks and help them when they get stuck or fall off the wagon and adjust the plan when needed easily.
Besides everything I already mentioned here are 5 benefits of keeping a food and exercise diary for weight loss.
1. You will understand the task
If you’d like to lose a stone or drop 2 dress sizes, you already have identified your goal and your starting point. Without knowing where you are now and where you’d like to get to it’s very hard to draft an action plan. Keeping a food diary for a few days to find out how many calories you take in will help you realise how much LESS you need to eat to work towards your fitness goal.
2. You will understand food better
Once you’ve seen that a glass of wine accounts for about 200 calories, a burger with chips can take you up to 1200 kcal, but having a palm sized grilled chicken breast with a cup of rice and two cups of steamed broccoli will only have around 450, you will understand that the type of food you eat and how it’s been made can make a massive difference in the number of calories you consume.
3. You will get more organized
After a few weeks of tracking your diet you will unconsciously choose foods you like but contain less calories, so you can eat more of them. You will also start planning, that requires you to organise your life better to accommodate the changes and meals you decide to have.
4. Reviewing and tweaking will be a piece of cake
If you spend an hour a week to check how you did, how many calories you had, how much exercise you did and how that affected your weight, you’ll soon understand what works for your body better and you can make changes to the plan to work towards your fitness goal.
5. You will lose weight
I am not saying you can’t lose weight in other ways, but a research done by the Kaiser Permanente’s Centre for Health Research in Oregon, USA in 2008 suggests that people who keep a food diary 6-7 days a week lose double the amount than those who don’t.
There isn’t one solution that works for everybody, but if your weight loss is urgent due to health risks or you have other reasons to set yourself a “deadline” you will want to get into keeping a food and activity diary.
It won’t be for the rest of your life but at least until you can control your food intake by estimating a meal’s calorie content by just looking at it. I am telling you, it's possible.
If you have questions or are interested in how I help my clients, feel free to message me!
My name is Calumn, founder of CD Fitness Coaching. You’ll find me in and around the gym and helping like minded people get the results they deserve. I enjoy everything from keeping fit, yoga, snowboarding, coffee and making people happy. If you would like to be a part of the bigger community join my Facebook group, Healthy Living With CD Fitness Coaching is a must.