The Food Journal Journey - My success to weight loss

by acac Personal Trainer Teresa Harris

“If you bite it, write it … if you drink it, ink it … if you snack it, track it … if you nibble it, scribble it!”

I think this saying is funny and true! Keep a food journal. Write down everything you eat and drink, when you eat and drink it, and how you feel before, during, and after. Countless studies have found that the number one success of weight loss is keeping a food journal. Based on a study recently published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: “Food journaling isn’t easy or convenient, but done consistently, it can help steer dieters to more healthful choices since it allows people not only to keep track of calories, but also to gauge the overall quality of their diet.” (TIME Healthland) I know for me that was very true. When I decided to finally get my health under control, I started by keeping a log of my daily intake of food and drink. I was stunned. I found that my emotions were controlling my so-called hunger. If I had a bad day at the office, I ate salty foods and chocolate. If I didn’t feel well physically, I ate salty foods and chocolate. If I didn’t feel successful at the gym, I ate salty foods and chocolate. See the pattern? My triggers were negative actions or thoughts telling me I was not happy so I needed to eat (and you guessed it) salty foods and chocolate. Secondly, I rarely drank water. I probably drank two glasses a day total, and that was on a good day. What?!

The food journaling saved me. I found out when my eating was the heaviest. I found out I needed more water daily. I found out I ate WAY too many carbs, sugars, and sodium and not enough proteins and veggies. AND I ate these foods mostly at the end of the day, right before bedtime. It was an eye-opener for sure. I mean, heck, I’m a group exercise instructor and personal trainer– surely I eat well, right? No. I was not conscious of what I was putting in my body. I needed a crap-food intervention and that’s exactly what I did to myself. I became accountable with the help of a food journal. If I didn’t want to see it on paper because I thought it was bad…I didn’t eat it. I started reading labels on foods,and I did a lot of research. After weeks of writing, I lost weight. I felt better, less bloated, lighter, and happier. Thirty pounds lighter and six years later, that’s my story.

Journaling your foods daily will help you stay on track. You’ll find your patterns and triggers and, most importantly, you’ll think twice about eating that donut if you have to write it down! If you’re not keeping track of your diet, then it’s hard to know what to change. Nutrition plays a huge part in weight loss and keeping track of your nutrition should be the first step.

There are many websites and apps that can help with journaling. One pen and paper method is the Fitbook at getfitbook.com. Some of my clients have had great success with their 12-week writing plan. MyFitnessPal, CalorieCount, MyPlate, and LoseIt are all smart phone apps that a few clients really enjoy and they are convenient. Another great tool can be just a regular notebook (my method). I wrote everything down, doodled in the margins, used emoticons when needed, and it just felt so good. Give it a try!

For more information, email Teresa Harris.