Losing weight is hard, especially for women over fifty. I always hate when diet companies advertise that “losing the weight is not hard, it’s keeping it off that’s difficult”. I think both losing and maintaining are a struggle, especially for women during middle age. One major problem is that most of the time we eat without thinking — eating is more of a reflex than a controlled activity. For instance, if you work in an office and there’s a bowl of candy sitting on someone’s desk, most of us will just grab a handful and shove the food in our mouth. Nary a thought goes into it — the food is available and the reflex is just to eat it. And the worst part is that the action is usually not even remembered. That’s why it is so important to keep a food journal.
I kept a journal for years as I found it was the best way to be accountable for my diet. Now that I am in better control of my eating habits I only return to keeping a log when I have put on a couple of pounds and want to lose them. Because I find this practice so effective, I have decided to share with you a week of my food and fitness activity journal. By doing this I hope to teach you the proper way to keep an accurate diary. You might find this practice a little annoying, but it is the best way for you to see a true account of what, when, and why you are eating. A food journal is honest and objective.
Keeping a food journal allows you to see what you are really eating. As I mentioned earlier, we often forget about the handful of candies, couple of cookies, or small roll we consumed. When you have to write everything down, many times we just decide to skip eating the food because writing it down makes us stop and think about what we are doing. It also shows us how much of a food we are consuming. No one is going to get fat eating a cookie or two here and there but when you’re having ten everyday now you have a problem. But I think the most important thing a food journal does is empower you to take control of your weight. It helps you to achieve goals through self control and accountability.
follow along with me...
- The first thing you need to do is get a notebook. Some people like using an app for this but I find the act of writing things down on paper more real. I like using a small notepad that I can carry with me so I can record all my food regardless of when and where I consume it.
- Decide how you want to record your food intake. Some women prefer putting items in columns while others prefer to write down each entry in block format.
- Regardless of how you want to set up your journal, make sure that you keep track of all of the following items:
- Exactly what you eat or drink. You can’t write down “turkey sandwich” you must write down 2 slices of whole wheat bread, 4 ounces of turkey breast, lettuce, tomato and 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise.
- The time of everything consumed. I don’t like referring to “breakfast” or “mid-morning snack” as I find that meaningless as many of us who are busy eat on the fly. Just put down the time.
- Where you ate or drank. Were you at a restaurant, at someone’s home, or at your house?
- Were you with people or alone?
- How you felt before you ate and (so very important!) how you felt after you ate.
- Also write down all physical activity. This can include cleaning the house or walking the dog. Anything that makes your body move should be noted. But I do want to emphasize that you should be engaged in a regular fitness routine.
- At the end of the day review what you have written and record anything you might have forgotten earlier.
- Every couple of days take a close look at your diary. Do you eat more when you are at work? Or with friends? Or does eating alone make you sad and more likely to overindulge.
TO SUM UP
Weight control is a struggle for many of us, especially as we age. Recording your food intake and physical activities is the clearest method to see what is really going on. I will be sharing my diary with you this week to better help you get the process started. I am certain that keeping a journal will be a great help in having you achieve your fitness goals.