Food Can Make You or Break You

Using a food journal can get you to your sooner
Using a food journal can get you to your  goal sooner

After so many years of being a personal trainer, I am still amazed at how many people who want to lose weight will not allow me to take a look at their diet. They put in the hours sweating and working hard and yet the scale stays the same. Let’s face it, except for those few people who have problems like thyroid disease (and it is not as common as you think) or some other medical problem or medication that may be messing with them, food is one of the main culprits for not losing weight.

I have heard every excuse from “I am eating well. It must be my thyroid” to “you must not have the right program for me” and I will tell you what every one of these people have in common: they refuse to write down their food and share it with me.

Why? I guess it is because deep down inside, they know that they are not eating well.

I did it. I will be the first to admit that I was terrible at showing my trainer my food diary. I would always tell him that I forgot it. But the truth is, I never did it. I didn’t want to give up those weekend margaritas or the pizza on Sunday during football. Food was my comfort and I was terrified of letting it go. It made me feel better.

One day, when I saw a couple of friends who had lost more weight that me and yet had started their journey in weight loss after me, it hit me that it was time to own up to what I was eating. So I started writing down everything that I ate each day. By the end of the day, before dinner, I was shocked to see how many calories I had consumed before the day was even done.  But it was a great wakeup call.

I think the key to changing your diet is to do it slowly. Each week or two, pick something you can work on. My first was to give up alcohol (yes, I know… a bit drastic) but it worked and I was extremely motivated when I finally started seeing the results. But it doesn’t necessarily even have to be that drastic. Start by not using that butter on your toast for a couple weeks, then not putting the extra table of tablespoon of sugar in your coffee… you’d be surprised how much those excess calories start to add up over time.

The key is to not be scared of looking at what you are consuming and use the tool that you are paying for to help you start to understand your choices (i.e your personal trainer). Most of us who have been in the weight loss industry for a long time know that totally revamping a client’s diet in one huge swoop will always lead to a downfall. When my trainees finally start to see the light, I look at their diet and choose one glaring thing to fix for the week. Sometimes it is adding more vegetables daily to the diet and sometimes it is as simple as changing out white carbs for whole grains. I let them work on that for a while before they take the next step.

Write it down and own it.  There is a reason why study after study shows that people who journal their food are more successful at weight loss than those who don’t.  Most of us almost forget by the end of the evening what we ate and sometimes if it is written down, we back off from the big dinner and eat more sensibly.

Lifestyle change is a slow process and you cannot undo twenty years or more in poor eating habits in just a week or two. Make the goal attainable. Start in baby steps. You’ll get there in a few months and it won’t be so overwhelming when you do.

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