My biggest job as a personal trainer is to keep my clients accountable. They come to me to keep them on track, but I can’t be with them 24 hours a day, especially when it comes to the food they eat. Therefore, many of them I’ve told to keep a food journal. It’s the magic trick that can put your health and fitness on a higher trajectory.
The key to the food journal is to write down everything you eat and drink, along with the time you eat or drink it.
Don’t be concerned about calories. Don’t be concerned about amount.
And don’t judge what you eat or be ashamed of it. None of that is relevant. Just write down what you eat, without thinking about it, for the next two weeks.
The objective is to notice your eating tendencies. Maybe your eating patterns are triggered during social events; or by watching TV shows; or by entertaining your kids. Maybe the pressure of working at home with all of that “good” food right at your fingertips is too enticing. The reasons why we eat what we eat are varied and endless—and possibly devastating. But, to deter negative habits and build positive habits, it is easier to see what needs to be done when you have all the information you need right in front of you.
The food journal invokes self-accountability, something that is difficult for most people to maintain. It would be easy if I were with you every second of the day, screaming, “Don’t eat this…eat that!” However, when I’m not around, it’s as if the food journal is your conscience telling you what to do so you can make adjustments for weight loss, body composition, overcoming allergies or illness, etc.
Every one of my clients that keeps a food journal benefits from it greatly. One client told me she didn’t eat a slice of pizza because she didn’t want to write it down. The food journal is your most powerful asset, if you want to change the way you eat in order to take off physically.
As you journal your food intake, jot down in red ink what you think you need to stop eating or eat less frequently. For instance, I love vegan chocolate cupcakes, so they get journaled in red ink. Yes, they’re decadent, but my food journal lets me know how often I eat them and if I’m going overboard. Maybe my adjustment could be, every other time I want those chocolate cupcakes, I eat fruit instead. Or, maybe to cut them totally out for the next month.
But, I wouldn’t know what adjustments to make if it was not written down and plain to see.
Don’t rely on your memory, rely on your journal. It won’t let you down.