Now, I write down everything that I eat, when I eat it and I track the calories (and I am honest about it, if I under-count calories to make myself feel better, my body will know and eventually, it will let me know). I also track my exercise - what I do, for how long, and how many calories I am burning (again, I am careful to do this honestly), and how much water I am drinking. There are any number of online calorie counters and calorie counting apps to help with this. I use www.myfitnesspal.com
Keeping records helps to lose / maintain weight in several different ways:
- It keeps me accountable for what I eat. I may think I am having a low-calorie day, but if I'm not, my records will tell me I'm not and I can adjust accordingly.
- It helps me to figure out what is going wrong if I stop losing weight, or if I gain weight. In cases where I stop losing weight or where I gain a pound or two - which happens from time to time - I can look at my records to see what happened. For example, I stepped on the scale this morning and was up a pound (which happens, used to freak me out, doesn't anymore) - when I look at my records I can see that I had a lot of salty food this weekend and, though I got some pretty good exercise, I did not get as much as I usually do on the weekend. So, there it is. The pound will come off, and some - it's part of a pattern - but I'll discuss that in a later post.
- It provides me with information about the best way to lose and keep losing. I can also look at my records if I have a good week to see what I did right.
- It helps me to make sure I am eating enough. This may sound odd, but I also need to make sure that I am eating enough every day. If I don't eat enough, my body will think it is starving and I won't lose weight (among other potentially serious complications). I need to eat at least 1200 calories a day and / or I need to make sure that I am eating at least 200 calories more than I exercise (I need to net at least 200 calories). Honestly, when I started my diet and I was medically supervised and eating less than 1200 calories a day... just doing shakes I really had to watch the 200 calorie thing - now, I don't have to worry about it too much - but it is something to keep in mind. (note that for the 12 weeks that I was taking in fewer than 1200 calories a day I was medically supervised, I don't know off the top of my head what the research says, but personally, I don't think it is healthy to eat less than 1200 calories / day).
- It helps me to make sure that I am eating enough fruits and vegetables. I need at least 5 servings of these a day. This can be a challenge on busy days, so record keeping helps to keep me on track here.
- It helps me to remind myself to drink water. Not everyone tracks how much water they drink, but I have to. The most difficult thing I've had to learn is to drink enough water. I am not a water drinker. I hate it. But, water really helps in weight loss and with health in general - so I have to get my water every day. I still have trouble with this more than anything else - but keeping records and tracking my water helps.