“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.
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.
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.
Last week I asked you all to offer up your best weight-loss tips.
And boy, did you deliver.
I’ve compiled some of your best tips into a list of ideas, below, for those looking to lose weight (and that’s probably most of us).
It’s not a step-by-step guide, and there are contradictory tips — but there are some great ones here, so pick and choose those that will work best for you and give them a try.
Note: I couldn’t include all of them, or it would have taken me 3 days to do this.
I just picked some of the best, and combined many of them.
Some tips may be slightly redundant, but I like them, so I included them.
General weight loss tips
Remember to keep your goals in sight to motivate yourself.
5 Word Diet Plan – and the only one that works: Eat Less and Move More!
Doing the Zen Habits 30-day challenge to make something a habit really helps make exercise a no-brainer. The first step is getting yourself to do it, after that, the gains are much easier to make.
To be successful you need to change your life. You need to take control of the bad habits you have turned into an unhealthy life. You need to be excited about it too. And you have to believe that you can do it. Dreams turn into reality very quickly when you work hard.
Don’t try to lose weight. The number one indicator of excessive weight gain in the future is attempting to lose weight in the past. Don’t diet, it won’t last. Instead get up and go get more exercise.
Ultimately weight loss is about the balance between calories taken in and calories burned. Take the weight you want to be and the activity level that you maintain and calculate the number of calories that you should eat to maintain that weight. Now you have to eat fewer calories than this number, on average, over time to lose weight and achieve your target. Keep a food diary with full daily calorie calculations. Write down everything.
Never, never, never eat between the 3 main meals. Then eat what you want when it is time to eat.
Avoid processed food, or at least food where you can’t pronounce the ingredients. Keep it as natural as possible.
Stop watching the scale every day. If you weigh yourself, do it just once a week — as soon as you wake up, after you use the bathroom.
No matter how much you want a change in your life, nothing will happen until you DO something. You can talk about starting an exercise regiment and eating healthier foods all you want, but nothing will change until you START DOING IT.
Change your schedule, if possible. If you exercise in the afternoon but overeat while while watching TV at night, try exercising at night. Go to work earlier, come home later, schedule your walks during times you know you’re vulnerable to snacking. Switch things up to help break bad habits.
For people who want to lose 100+ pounds, dealing with the underlying issues of self medicating depression or anxiety is going to be a lot more effective then anything else. Feeling bad about being fat and trying to lose weight, or putting yourself in exercise situations you dont feel comfortable in are not going to really help until the underlying issues of using food to treat boredom or anxiety or depression. After treating this underlying problem, the good habits will come without nearly so much struggle.
Start small. Changing your lifestyle overnight is very bad for your body and your mind. You’ll get sick of eating oatmeal 3 times a day, or grapefruit. Your life should be enjoyable and healthy!
Tell people around you what you’re doing. This will keep you motivated to continue. Don’t ask for their support, but say “I’m on this new thing where I’m going to kick my butt at the gym/road/bike today and” whatever.
Be aware of self-deception. It can sneak up on you from any angle. Examples of food deceptions: Breaded/fried chicken breast does not constitute an optimally healthy protein source, compared to simple grilled chicken breast. Potatoes do not constitute a viable vegetable source (they are a carbohydrate source).
Derive your self worth from something other than a number on a scale and instead gift yourself a body that will function well to serve your noble life’s goals.
Never give up, even after you have failed a few times. When you fail, start over. Watch those TV programs like “The Biggest Loser” or “Celebrity Fit Club”, because they are great motivators.
Rewards! New clothes make awesome rewards for weight loss. Going out with friends (but not for anything food related) is a great reward.
Weigh yourself but also take your measurements. Sometimes your scale won’t budge but your waistline will.
Get enough sleep – that’s the first and most important step. Without sleep, it’s harder to plan your meals, to exercise, or to consciously eat healthy.
Tell others your goals. Not only will you then have someone else also expecting you to perform but you’ll gain a cheering section!
Focus on one thing at a time. Everything we do is based on habits. If you’ve got to both get into the habit of eating great AND exercising daily, you run a big risk of getting overwhelmed when you’re not seeing results or you slip a little.
Find motivation other than within yourself. Workout FOR somebody else that you care about (your kids, loved ones, friends etc.). When you don’t feel like working out, remember that you’re doing it for them.
Focus on health and NOT weight loss. It is far more important that you live a happy, healthy life than look good naked. You’ll thank yourself when you are 80 and still lead an active life.
Healthy eating tips
Water water water. It kick-starts your metabolism. Stop drinking soda.
Make one change at a time. Don’t cut everything out at once. For example, cut out fried foods. When you’re used to that, cut out soda, etc.
Lay off the junk food, except for one day a week where you can eat what you like – it’ll help you stick to it and you won’t have the temptation to eat junk all the time.
Eat according to the Glycemic Index, sticking with low and medium index foods.
Be mindful of what you are eating. Keep a food journal or diary. Seeing it in writing always gives it weight and helps reveal patterns or triggers.
Stop the evening eating. You don’t want to eat and then go to sleep. All those calories just sit there unused while you sleep.
Eat mostly raw fruits, veggies and nuts.
Brush your teeth early in the evening rather than just before bed. It keeps you from snacking if you’re not really hungry.
Cut wheat-flour based products out of your diet. Wheat is surprisingly easy to replace when you start thinking about it – rice, oats (still some gluten there, but a lot less), more vegetables.
Portion control used with a 20 minute wait time — wait 20 minutes after eating the sensible portions, and then see if you still feel hungry. Nine times out of ten, you won’t. If you do, get a little more.
Cut out sugar.
No fast food. Period.
Commit to one diet — and stick to it for life. Start by making a list of low-calorie foods that you love, that you find satisfying; and when you’re hungry make sure you eat lots of those foods.
If you’re a parent, don’t absorb “invisible” calories by eating your kids’ food.
Snack between meals – starving yourself for 6 or 7 hours at a time between lunch and dinner means you will overeat at dinner.
Eat slow and you will only eat as much as you need to be full.
Whenever you eat, think about how much food you would waste by overeating. Your body doesn’t *need* all the food that’s on your plate, why waste it? You could eat the leftovers for lunch the next day and save yourself some money, or you could split it with your loved one and have company while you eat. You could give it to the homeless guy down the block who REALLY needs it. Any reason you find not to waste that food is a good one.
Everything in moderation. If you really want French fries and a hamburger, or ice cream, or a cookie it’s OK to indulge a little occasionally. Key word is occasionally. Better to indulge a little, than to binge later.
Learn to cook, from scratch. That way, you control what you are eating.
Don’t buy into the idea of “diet” foods. It’s better to eat the original food that has been less processed and only eat less.
Observe your hunger patterns. Choose a bedtime that’s early enough to keep you from after-dinner snacking. Stick to that bed-time. If you must snack before bed, have a something small and healthful. Maybe a tiny portion of whole grain cereal with milk.
Eat lots of fiber, it’s surprisingly filling compared to that cupcake.
Eat as soon after you get up as possible. This gets your metabolism working at a higher rate sooner in the day.
Cut out alcohol or reduce your intake to one or two glasses a week.
If you are hungry between meals, try eating a small portion of food that is high in protein. It can be more effective to eat one piece of cheese or some yoghurt or nuts than to eat bread or crackers or other snack foods.
Go to bed early and get up early. If you stay up late, you will overeat, guaranteed. It doesn’t matter if you are a night person; change into a morning person. When you go to bed early, you don’t think about food all night.
Instead of counting calories, concentrate on reducing your fat intake. Fat that you eat converts more readily into body fat than does protein or carbohydrate.
Try to enjoy your food, eat it slowly and consciously.
Only diet on weekdays. Don’t binge on weekends, but save two days a week to eat the yummy things. Also, because many people really can’t break that chocolate addiction, calculate one treat every day into your calories.
Positive change is easier than negative change. Instead of thinking of foods that are “bad” and that you feel like you need to cut out, think about all the new recipes and foods you will get to try if you start experimenting with more vegetables, more beans, more spices, etc.
Don’t count calories after you each them, count before.
Create a routine for what you eat – for a month, do not think of food as something to be enjoyed, think of it as fuel.
Take one of the three meals a day, and make it healthier (veggies, fruits, whole grains, etc.). Combine this with drinking ONLY water when at work, and it’s quite the effective method to lose a few pounds.
Eat a varied diet. Only, half your usual portions.
Eat nothing that you have not bought yourself, cooked yourself, and cleaned up after. This way laziness works in your favor. If you don’t feel like going to the store, or if you have stuff but don’t feel like cooking it or cleaning up afterwards, you are less likely to eat.
If you’re a stress eater, try sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Lots of chewing, not many calories. Just don’t spit the seeds on the floor.
Reduce the intake of three white things – white flour (all purpose flour), salt and sugar. Get rid of white flour completely if possible.
Go backpacking. Carrying a heavy pack and walking around a lot will help you shed a lot of pounds.
Exercise 3 times per week.
Exercise: any kind any time. Sure there are better times and better exercises for fat burning, but they all beat sitting on the couch.
Cardiovascular training in the morning before you eat breakfast. This forces your body to utilize stored body fat for energy rather than carbohydrates, since you are in a carb-depleted state after having not eaten for 8-10 hours.
Regular aerobic exercise helps, for a period of at least 40 minutes.
If you can’t run, start slow by walking for 9 minutes and jog for 1 minute. Do that a couple of times and then slowly exchange the minutes walking for minutes running.
Buy a pedometer and try to get 10,000 steps per day in. That’s about 5 miles +/- depending on your stride length.
Walk everywhere (carrying a baby while you walk also helps a lot).
Swim, swim, swim.
Find fun exercise. Join a softball team, commute to work on a bike, whatever. Your strategy should be time-sensitive – only make choices you can see yourself committing to for years, be it gym, dieting, whatever – temporary won’t work.
If you are resistant to exercising, consider volunteer labor. Walk dogs at the animal shelter. (Find a shelter at Petfiinder.com. Do beach or riverside clean-ups with a local environmental group. Volunteer on building and repair projects.)
Replace your least favorite TV show with mild calisthenics for 30 or so minutes.
Get an active dog! They will force you to get outside every day, and they make the best exercise companions.
Make friends (if you haven’t already) with very physically active people. If you have very active friends, you will be exercising without even noticing it because you will be having fun with friends.
Do squats while brushing the back sides of your teeth and calf rises while brushing the fronts. Then you get in at lease some exercise and also brush long enough.)
Take the stairs. Walk or bike ride that short distance instead of driving.
Use those multi-colored stars on the calendar for each day you’ve achieved your goal — exercise, diet, whatever it is. Gives you something, small as it may be, to look forward to.
Start walking outside to get fresh air, which translates into better mood. If rains, use treadmill. But walk fast, no sissy stuff.
If you worry about the effect of modern living on your waistline, you may want to try eating like your ancestors. That’s the theory behind the Paleo diet, which goes back to a time before agriculture when humans were still hunters and gatherers.
More than 10,000 years ago in the Paleolithic Era, life expectancy was only about 25 years, but there was a very low prevalence of obesity. While the research on the Paleo diet is limited, most experts agree that this lifestyle has both pros and cons. These tips will help you navigate this unique diet.
Following a Paleo Diet
Eliminate junk food. Movie theaters didn’t serve popcorn in the Stone Age. In fact, movie theaters weren’t in existence. Getting rid of refined sugar and carbohydrates may be the most challenging and beneficial aspect of the Paleo diet.
Cut back on salt. Most Americans eat too much salt, and the biggest culprit is processed foods. You’ll easily stay under the limit with this diet.
Consume more produce. Another healthy thing about this regimen is the emphasis on fruits and vegetables. Most advocates of the Paleo diet extend plenty of leeway for super foods like broccoli and kale since they’re close to the wild versions of long ago.
Select lean meats and fish. It’s easy to go overboard eating this much meat. Have fish for breakfast and shop for strip steak and extra lean ground turkey.
Get your Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiencies are possible if you forego all dairy products and fortified cereals. Spend time in the sunshine or take Vitamin D supplements so that your body can still perform important functions, such as protecting your bones.
Exercise. Even if your day job and mortgage rule out the option of becoming a nomad, you can shake up your sedentary life. Join a gym or ride your bike to the office.
Live a greener life. Lots of people rave about the Paleo diet because it helps them feel more connected to nature. You’re also likely to produce less garbage when your food doesn’t come in individual packages.
Balance your macronutrients. Overall, there are significant discrepancies between the Paleo diet and government recommendations. Going Paleo is a little high in fat and protein and extremely low in carbohydrates.
Add in dairy products. To get more calcium and Vitamin D, some people continue eating foods in the dairy category. Low-fat and non-fat products may help you lose weight too.
Decide on grains. Likewise, you may choose to keep room in your life for whole grains. There’s a big distinction between brown rice and white rice when it comes to nutritional value.
Schedule cheat days.If eliminating whole food groups and eating less than half the daily recommendation for carbohydrates raises doubts for you, you can make additional adjustments. Take one or two days off each week and eat with fewer restrictions. Or pick one meal a day that isn’t Paleo. For example, you can serve oatmeal for breakfast each day.
Draw up a budget. Even if your body is on board for a strict Paleo diet, you may find that it can become expensive. Filling your cart with fresh produce, fish, and meat can lead to big grocery bills. Try growing your own vegetables and keep an eye out for sales.
You can learn a lot from a caveman. Consuming less junk food and more fiber is bound to be good for you. Modify the Paleo diet to suit your individual needs and talk with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
Have you tried the Paleo diet? What was your experience? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section, below!
Feeling overwhelmed with your own weight loss efforts (or lack thereof)? Don’t – because you don’t have to – I already did it for you and figured out the whole deal – so instead, check out my book Project Blissful in which I detail how I went from a very unhealthy and unhappy size 24 to a much happier and healthier size 6. – and just FYI – while the book costs less than $3, I promise there’s nothing in it that requires you to buy a bunch of stuff – but there is every single secret that I used and learned while I lost more than 100 pounds, as you can see in the photo here.
Cakes, cookies and chocolates are simply lovely, don’t you think so?
Those sweet tasting junk foods taste so great; they have you on a natural high.
However, when you consume sweets, you’re feeling of elation isn’t the only thing that’s high, so is your blood glucose.
When you feed into your cravings and savor those decadent sweets, your blood glucose goes off the charts which may leave you feeling tired, sluggish, and out of energy. If you abide by these easy tips they’ll help you to stop your food cravings before they begin.
1. Take time to cook/prepare nutritious food
In this fast paced society that it’s really easy and handy to get food on the go. And most of the time that fast food is filled up with sugar and fat. Have you ever questioned why you crave sugar after you consumed a “healthy” meal? Take some time daily to nourish your body, and this means merely cook healthy and nutritious meals at home. This way you know precisely what’s going in your mouth.
2. Abide by a healthy diet
Dieting means abiding by a healthy balanced food diet rather than cutting out various nutrients from your daily food intake to lose a couple of pounds. Adjust the time and amount of the food you’re having and take steps to improve your digestion and a better body.
3. Stop eating bland food
I know you’re trying to watch your figure, but sacrificing your taste buds is just not the most beneficial solution. Eating bland and tasteless food for days will increase your cravings for food. Begin getting some cooking tips books and try different sorts of food with different spices and herbs to sizzle your taste buds with delight.
4. Exercise if you would like to stop your food cravings
Instead of reaching for the bag of chips in your spare time, go for a healthy walk instead. Most of the time, you’re probably eating because you’re bored or you have nothing else to do, and tricking your mind that you need a sneaky snack to satisfy your craving. But, you just might need a release of energy, and you are able to release your energy by going on a brisk walk.
Most of the time it’s hard to stop cravings, and if you utterly must have that piece of chocolate, go for it. But, don’t gorge. Take a bitty bite and then move on try to eat less every time you feel like having some sweets, try to make your body get used to it. All the same, if you can always convince yourself to go for a succulent and juicy fruit to fulfill your sweet tooth it will be very helpful. Once you stop food cravings, you’ll feel happier, more energized and balanced.
Where do you go when you don’t feel like you’re going anywhere in your trip to being a healthier, smaller version of yourself? What happens to you at that moment in time where you’ve tried (what seems like) everything and nothing is working? Where does your mind and body take you when you’re stuck?
This is always a risky area for me. I would say for a solid eighty percent of my time I am on autopilot. To quote my pal Carolyn, “It’s just what we do now”, meaning going to the gym, eating properly, not binging, not freaking out about every little inconsistency or speed bump in the path, is our new “norm”. It’s just what we do. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The other twenty percent of my time is split between the extremes.
Fifteen percent of that time is spent ‘dorphined up, feeling like I’m taking on the world and conquering it bit by bit. Nothing bothers me. Nothing could stand in my way. I have a great attitude and hold my head up high.
In steps that pesky last five percent of my time, which is where I’ve been feeling for the past week. That last five percent is the part that says “you cannot win this game no matter what you do”. I’m living on “screw it” street in my little village and it’s such a dodgy area. There’s bums on the corners… big bums who haven’t seen a Stairmaster in years. There are seedy people in the shadows just lurking about waiting for you to trip up so they can dart out and rummage through your bag, stealing your hidden snack. The street pharmacists are on the corners handing out your drug of choice, be it cheesecake, chips or chocolate. Or worse yet, a cocktail of all three.
So where do you go? What do you do? Who do you turn to?
My first line of defense, and I didn’t even realize it until I started writing today, is my husband, Marco. Today, these words actually left my face and entered his ears.
“I’ve been doing horrible with my food. I just feel like saying screw it all”.
Those words were actually audible. To another human besides myself. I really said that to him. That’s when I realized he’s always my first stop on the self-destruction train. I like to run my ideas of giving up past him first.
It’s actually laughable as I write it because of course I’m never going to stop but maybe I just need a break. A break from what?
I’d like to call my second line of defense to the stand – Carolyn. You’ll remember her from this post.
She’s who I turn to next. She’s going to read this, as I run most of my posts past her before publishing and she’ll have some brilliant encouraging words to say. Or a punch in the arm, you know, whatever she feels will work at the time. Never fail though, she’s walking the walk and talking the talk with me.
Keeping in mind that this is still only a mere five percent of my time, sometimes I realize my funk is a bit funkier than I like it to be and I pull out the big guns.
When I left Novarum, the center where I got help for my food issues, they had me write a list of things that just worked for me, mentally and physically. It seemed so silly at the time to write it all down, they were so fresh in my mind, but I did it. I tucked it away in a book and just keep it there.
That’s my “big guns”, a piece of paper with words of wisdom that I wrote myself.
“Following this routine makes me more calm about food choices.”
“I no longer hide my eating or have that shame that was associated with hiding and eating.”
“If one of my goals ends up backfiring, that’s okay. This is all just a huge experiment to find that best fit for my life, which will change and evolve as I do.”
That’s just a few of the items on that yellowing piece of paper that I use, third line of defense, to keep me centered.
It is so much more than words on paper though. It takes me back to the basics. Back to where I started winning this thing. Back to the really simple ideas of changing the way I thought about food, myself, myself with food, food with myself and all things related, which in the end, was everything.
I get back to the beginning of this chapter in my life and re-read it like a favorite book.
Then I keep on keeping on because that five percent, that little flash of time, has had its moment of glory and I know how to move on.