I’m not about to blow your mind with the “secret to magic weight loss”. I have no magic pill, potion or workout that will instantaneously transform you and make you 20lbs lighter. What I am going to share with you is that there is one thing you’re probably not doing that studies (scholarly, smartypants research studies) have proven to be the most powerful predictor of weight loss. And you’re most likely not doing it.
This article is not written to pressure you to lose weight. This article is written to pressure you to start fueling your body with the healthy food it needs to function, and function well. I’m not even sure about using the word “pressure”, I don’t want you to feel pressured. I simply want you to start feeling good about your body, your mind and your soul. And, I fully believe the way you move your body and the way you fuel your body affect the way you live your life every single day.
Before I tell you the number one reason you’re probably not losing weight, we need to get the basics down.
1) Move your freakin’ body. Firstly, you need to move. You need to sweat, drip and be sore. You need to push yourself. You need to workout. The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends being physically active for 60 minutes per day, 7 days a week. Read that again, please. 60 minutes per day, 7 days a week. That doesn’t mean working out every day, that simply means moving your body for one hour per day throughout your day. Walk to the park, take the stairs, play tag with your kids. Whatever you choose…but move it or lose it, party people.
2) Stop putting s**t in your mouth. Fuel your body with the good stuff. That means fruit, vegetables, protein, good fats, water (not wine…le sigh)! If you’re not sure how to do that find a program that can help educate you. Don’t find a DIET, find a way to learn how to fuel your body. You need to learn how and why you need to be eating the way they teach and then follow through. Your body is meant to feel fantastic, so why doesn’t it? Find out. Personally, I think you should check out Hot Mama’s Body Smarts program. It’s 12 weeks of fitness and nutrition education and it can change your life.
Okay, the basics are…well, pretty basic: move your body and eat well. So, what’s the number one predictor of weight loss, you ask?
See? I told you I wasn’t about to blow your mind. Or maybe I just did. It doesn’t matter…what matters is that you start TODAY. Write down everything that you’re putting in your mouth. Every. Single. Thing. Numerous research studies have proven that when you write down everything you eat, you’re more likely to lose weight.
In fact, people who food journal typically lose twice the amount of weight compared to those who don’t.
Top Tips for Food Journaling:
1) Find a journal that works for you. Some people love to journal using pen and paper, some love apps, some love taking notes on their phone. It doesn’t matter. Just make sure it’s something you can take with you and that you’ll actually use. Don’t worry about counting calories to start, the goal is for you to open your eyes to what, when, where and why you’re putting food into your mouth.
2) Write everything down. And I mean everything. Any food that goes in your mouth gets recorded in your journal. Any beverage you throw back gets recorded in your journal. Yup, the crusts you cut off your kids’ sandwich that you blindly wolf down, you write it down. The handful of goldfish crackers you distractedly shovel in, you write it down. All of it. All food and beverage. Every last bite.
3) Include the time you ate and how you were feeling before and after. It’s super important to include what time you’re eating so you can start noticing a pattern to your eating. You also need to record your feelings before and after you eat. Were you really hungry? Were you bored? Were you upset? Did you feel satisfied after your meal? Or did you feel guilty? You don’t need to write a book, but make sure the few words you do write mean something to you later.
4) Don’t cheat yourself. Why lie? Yeah…you just ate a chocolate bar. Write it down. Why wouldn’t you? You’re only cheating yourself. This journaling is for YOU to grow and learn about yourself, so write it all down. No one is going to read it and think “Oh la laaaa….little Miss Piggy scarfed down a handful of cheerios, a peanut butter cup and a glass of wine at 8:30pm last night…oink, oink!”. No, no one is going to do that. Well…maybe you will…but those are your own issues to work through. Write it all down. The good, the bad, the ugly and the celebrations. All of it.
5) Take it everywhere. You need to record your food and beverage intake as you go throughout your day. Don’t try to remember and write it all down as you go to bed. You won’t remember everything and you’re messing with the magic I’m laying out here for you. If you eat something, immediately write it down. Don’t wait. That means that your journal needs to go everywhere with you. Like a cute little puppy…but totally different. Take. It. Everywhere.
Quick summary: Get a food journal. Write down the time you ate, what you ate, the portion you ate and how you were feeling before and after you ate. Ta da! Secret revealed.
What now? After you’ve journaled for a week, go back and review it. Find the patterns and figure out where you could make some healthy changes. If you’re not sure where you’re going wrong, I strongly recommend you take your journal to a Registered Dietitian. They’ll help you work through it and will give you some tips on how to fuel your body in a way that will leave you energized and feeling sooooo good.
Trust me. The power of combining a healthy diet with moving your body is ridiculously strong. You’re meant to feel good. Food journaling can help you set up a plan to get there. You can do it. I know you can.
Go on. Start today. Like…right now. Off you go!