Days 24-30 of my weight loss journal. Will I really have to track my food in a food diary forever, just to lose and maintain my weight? (See the other days in this weight loss journal here)
The evidence is clear! Not just from my weight loss experience, but through many, many, research studies. That those people who kept a food diary were more successful at weight loss.
- From the Journal of Diabetes research: “dietary tracking was found to be an important component of successful weight loss, with those who tracked at least 5 days of each week showing significant and sustained weight loss over time as compared to those who tracked fewer days or inconsistently during the program. Consistent tracking is a significant predictor of weight loss, resulting in an additional seven pounds of weight loss over the course of the program” source.
- From Stanford Medicine, “According to the study, the closer people track their weight-loss efforts with things like smart watches, digital scales and diet-monitoring websites, the more weight they tend to lose.” (source, Obesity Research)
- From American Journal of Preventative Medicine, as reported by Harvard “those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records.”
With imperfect information on what I’m eating, I would never know if calorie counting is working. If I sneak bites, licks, tastes, nibbles, crumbs, imperfect weighing and measuring, etc, I can THINK my “low calorie diet” just doesn’t work, When, in fact, I don’t have a clear picture of the data. I could be eating in excess, even though I truly believe I’m eating in a deficit! It’s SO hard to know intuitively with so much rich and easily accessible food.
If I overeat just one day in a week, I can think my low calorie diet isn’t working, but it could be that I’m NOT actually in a calorie deficit overall. I used to track calories by the week, and take an average per day at the end of the week. It’s so enlightening to see that one day of “a little extra” can put you in a calorie surplus for the full week.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to stick with a plan when the immediate reward of food is easier to choose than the DELAYED reward of reaching your goals. Let me say that again: It’s hard to stick to your diet, when the immediate reward of food is easier to choose than the delayed reward of reaching your goal weight. Because sometimes, that goal weight is MONTHS away. Of course a cookie today is more rewarding than your dream body a year from now.
But, I believe, if we can begin to see our future selves, at our goal, and really feel like that reward of feeling good about reaching your goal, you WILL begin to make better choices in the present.
Still trying to lose 10lbs!
So, back to my journal here….
Throughout this 30 days that I’ve been trying to lose weight, I was pretty consistent with my calories and tracking food for two weeks. I was also, being patient with the scale, because I know it takes a long time of being very consistent to start seeing results. And let’s be honest guys- when did two weeks ever seem long enough to really know if something is working? I should not be discouraged after two weeks that I wasn’t losing weight more quickly.
And then week 3 happened. I had my birthday weekend, and majorly overate on my birthday. Although the rest of the week I was “Thought I was right on track, the scale took a wild ride!
But, I honestly can’t know if it was because it takes that long for one day of overeating to make the rest of the week unpredictable, but more likely because I wasn’t tracking the rest of the week.
I can think I was eating on my plan, but without recording food, I can’t gauge the impact of my food on my results.
When I lost weight for the first bikini show, I took all the emotion out of my daily eating and the results on the scale. I truly wanted my experience to be a science experiment.
So, the question of the day: Will I have to track food forever? The HARD reality is I love food. I love food so much, that when I’m not tracking, the mindless, habitual snacking takes over. And as a short (5 ft tall), 49 year old woman, a few hundred unnoticed calories per day, makes a BIG impact over the span of a year.
So for me, yes. If I want to maintain my weight loss, it is necessary to track. But I don’t think tracking is toxic, or disordered, or laborious. It’s more like a tracking your spending on a budget. It’s necessary to stay on top of your game and get the most our of life.
So, here’s to tracking more days!! I LOVE IT!