When we are given directions to drive, we write them down so that we don’t forget. When we receive instructions for assembly or cooking steps for a recipe or our list of items for the grocery store, we write those down, also. For most of us, there is too much going on in our daily lives to focus on remembering that which isn’t necessary to remember.

For the exerciser who is attempting to lose fat more consistently, the idea of tracking consumed calories is important. Most of us feel like we know what we eat, but studies have proven the opposite.

In fact, most of us eat one and a half to two times as much as we think. The only way to truly track calories-in is to write down every food we eat in a food journal (at least for a short time). That means we write the handful of nuts, the five peppermints, the small piece of birthday cake from the office party last week, etc…

In a study posted in the Journal of Preventive Medicine, research shows participants experienced double the weight loss when they wrote down and tracked their meals in a food journal. A researcher would think this sounds brilliant. A “real” person would think this sounds tedious. But, for a short time, we have to think like the researcher.

Even a few weeks of tracking food can help us see at-risk times of day when we are susceptible to eating unhealthy and allow us to insert strategies or snacks to move us past those times. Also, this most certainly will help cut out the bad stuff.

It is one thing to eat a cookie, but it’s another to actually make ourselves write it down. In fact, a great strategy to avoid sweets is to write down the food we’re craving and wait ten minutes before eating it. Most times, we can more easily say no when we’re given time to see and think about the decision.

A food journal will make sure we don’t let our selective memories sabotage our goals for fat loss and lean muscle gain.

Jeff Howerton is a trainer and owner of LEAN Personal Training at Hill Center of Green Hills, where he and his trainers work with clients to lose fat, develop lean muscle and implement strategies for healthier living.

LEAN (615) 279-1900 or jeff@leannashville.com 

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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