Many of us commit to losing weight when making New Year’s resolutions; in fact, losing weight was the number one resolution for 2015. However, statistics show that only 8% of people are actually successful in achieving their resolution(s).1 Trying to lose weight after the New Year often comes with several struggles, frustrations, and often, quitting a program and reverting to old habits.
Losing weight is a journey and only you know when you’re ready to commit to such a feat. Extreme methods aside, there is no one correct way to achieve your weight loss goals. The most effective plan is the one you can commit to for the long term.
The benefits of journaling
I believe strongly in keeping a food diary. If you’ve tried this in the past and found it tedious or time consuming, perhaps this will inspire you. A 2008 study conducted by Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research revealed that keeping a food diary helped double weight loss.2
Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Health, the study revealed that the more food records people kept, the more weight they lost. It seems that the simple act of writing down what you eat encourages scrutiny of food intake and quality, helping you ultimately consume fewer calories.
Participants turned in their diaries at weekly support meetings, making them accountable. They also followed a heart-healthy DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. Following these protocols, the average weight loss among 1,700 participants was 13 pounds, and more than two-thirds of the participants lost at least nine pounds.2 You can also share your food diary with your doctor, health coach, dietitian, personal trainer, or other support system, who can help you along the way.
Keeping a food diary doesn’t have to be fancy. Dietitians and nutritionists agree that journaling is one of the best ways to be successful in achieving weight-loss goals. And it doesn’t matter whether your journal is an app on your phone, a spiral notebook, or a nice leather-bound journal, as long as you are completely honest with yourself.
When trying to improve eating habits, many people underestimate their food intake. Remember, everything counts, including the third cup of coffee you had with cream, the chicken nugget you ate off your child’s plate, or the lick you took from the batter bowl. Seeing every little bite on paper can help you identify where the excess calories are coming from; therefore helping you adjust your diet and macronutrients accordingly. And, note that you will stray, and that’s OK. As long as you recognize that you’re straying, that will nudge you to get back on track.
Always reflect on what you eat in order to become aware of your eating habits. Do you mindlessly munch while watching television or gravitate towards sweets when stressed? Do this and your behaviors will change for the long run … and for the better.
Has journaling helped you in your weight loss goals? We’d love to hear about your tips and suggestions.
- Statistic Brain. New Years Resolution Statistics. Available at http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics (2015).
- Kaiser Permanente Study Finds Keeping a Food Diary Doubles Diet Weight Loss (2008).