"It’s tedious and time-consuming. It tethers you to your phone or computer and can trigger anxiety and obsessive behavior in people who get overly hung up on numbers. Yet research repeatedly demonstrates that people who keep food journals are more successful at weight loss and weight loss maintenance than those who don’t." ~Tamara Grand, FitNitChick.com
Listen. If you've been reading my stuff for long, you know that I pretty much tell it like it is. With that being said, you'll know where I'm going with this.
There are some things we have to do if we want to meet certain goals in our lives. And sometimes, those things aren't fun, at first, but once you get moving, you realize they're totally worth your time.
I've Got Bad News...But Not THAT Bad.
Here's the bad news. Food tracking is one of those things when it comes to losing weight - if you want to do it successfully and long-term, you've got to figure out what you're doing wrong and what you can do better. Plus, you've got to retrain your brain - stop thinking those "fat person" thoughts and start thinking like the hottie you really are.
The good news is that you can do it, and even if you're lazy and don't like to feel uncomfortable (like MOI), you can STILL do it.
The Harsh Truth About Food Tracking: It's a Pain in the Ass.
So yeah. Tracking your food is TRULY a huge pain in the ass. I'm not gonna lie.
But if you can do it for a month, you can do it for six months.
And often times, if you do it for six months, you don't have to keep doing it all the time. That's because you can train your brain to actually WANT to eat healthier foods and in healthier ways. I swear.
Here are some super simple food tracking hacks that will help you make it happen, too.
Food Track-Hack #1: No Cheating (At First)
I had to be very strict about tracking during the beginning in order to lose the weight.
I had to track LITERALLY every single day for at least six months before I felt like I was ready to try going track free.
I tracked every single thing I put in my mouth--even if it was just a handful of peanuts or a bite of a cookie. It mattered, and it changed my life.
Food Track-Hack #2: Okay, Cheat a Little (Within Reason)
Some people do well with a "cheat day" each week, others need two. My suggestion is to do one or less "days" of "freedom" at first.
Instead, I suggest a "cheat meal" option or a "cheat dessert" option once a week.
For me, the Weight Watchers bonus points (aka cheat within reason option) made it easier to understand what an appropriate amount of cheating looked like, and tracking taught me how to eat right and still live in the "real world."
But even when you cheat, you should still track every single thing you eat. It will help to know exactly what kind of damage you're doing--in more ways than one.
Food Track-Hack #3: Why Tracking Is Seriously Worth the Trouble
Look, I know what you're thinking. Tracking food? Boring, waste of time, annoying, restrictive, waste of energy--doesn't work anyway. Right?
Wrong. So wrong. And trust me, I know what I'm talking about - I learned it the hard way.
Don't believe me?
Look at this - a rare "no makeup" side-by-side of me before and after losing 100 pounds. (I even wrote a book about how I did it without starving, sweating or surgery so that other people could do it without having to learn the hard way.)
For me, tracking everything I ate and drank was a pain at first and felt really restrictive, but that short period of restriction ultimately led to freedom.
It will be for you too, I promise--so just do it! It is WORTH it. Now I get to wear stuff like this. Way more fun. 🙂
Food Track-Hack Tip #4: Find Your Inner Gamer (Dig Deep If You Gotta)
So listen, I'm not a gamer. Honestly. But tracking sort of became a game to me, eventually. I actually (don't tell anyone) sort of had fun with it.
I wanted to see how much I could eat while still staying within my points allowance, so I'd figure out different menu options and play with the numbers until I had the most satisfying options possible. Give it a shot!
And Freedom From Food Tracking Looks Like This
These days, I don't track on a daily basis. But through tracking, I learned what portion sizes are healthier, which small adjustments to which dishes can reduce your fat and calories but still retain the flavor and more.
But the biggest and most important thing that six months of tracking my food helped me to learn was how to listen to my own body's cues.
Now, I just eat what I want and nothing more or less. I pay attention to my body and feed it what it wants--and nothing else.
How the Food Tracking-Game Changed My World
Within the confines of my little game, I naturally leaned toward healthier foods. Fruits and veggies were mostly free--so I could eat a HUGE and awesome salad with a few ounces of chicken and a couple tablespoons of dressing for seven or eight points, max.
This kind of game-playing led to a change in my taste preferences. Eating greasy, cheesy, creamy, fried or otherwise bad-for-me foods suddenly became less attractive.
Now, I wanted fresh, cleaner-tasting stuff.
These days, I am able to literally eat anything I want, simply by eating healthy MOST of the time and by allowing myself to indulge on occasion.
And since I'm still working on getting those last few pounds off, I am still keeping an eye on my scale. If I notice that I plateau for too long or even gain a pound or two, I'll go back to tracking for a few weeks so I can regain balance.
I promise, tracking your food doesn't have to (totally) suck. You might be surprised to find out how much (or how little) you're really eating and how small changes in your choices can lead to big changes in your health.
Do you track your food? Have you in the past, or will you start food tracking now? Have tracking tips that worked for you? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section, below, or join the discussion on our Facebook page.