The Number One Thing You Can Do To Lose Weight
Everyone wants to lose weight, some a little, some a lot. Thus, it’s no surprise my clients often ask what’s the No. 1 thing they can do to lose pounds quickly and keep them off?
I wish I had a magic wand to do the job that is healthy and has no side effects. But there is no magic wand or pill for losing weight. However, there are a few good habits guaranteed to work long term no matter who or where you are. First and foremost, keep a daily food log, and stick to it.
“Ugh,” you say? Hey, it’s quite easy and oh so informative. So, what have you go to lose by giving it a shot!
Fact is, few dieters invest the tiny bit of time and care necessary to make their food logs truly effective. Indeed, keeping track of everything you eat and drink ion a daily basic might seem to be a pain at first but so many of my clients come to enjoy it… yes, really!
It takes a little time to do it right at first, and the secret is sticking with it on a regular basis. But keeping a good record is a terrific learning experience. It forces you to confront all of your choices, especially the bad ones. And, that my friends is the main reason it’s so effective.
Your food log is a spotlight. It illuminates those things in your diet that are holding you back. Then once you recognize them, you can take the proper action to solve your problem. So, do you want to lose pounds? Know what you’re eating, exercise portion control and stay within your daily calories quota.
But remember, a good food diary is more than a mere list of items you eat each day. A proper diary tells a simple story about the most important character in your entire life: You. It’s a true story and you are the author. It tells the tale of your eating and drinking habits, and the circumstances relating to those habits.
The narrative also answers some critical questions of about the story’s hero (you):
When you wait too long between meals, do you load up on empty-calorie simple carbs?
Does lack of sleep cause you to crave high-fat comfort foods?
Do you drink more alcohol when your stress levels are up?
A comprehensive food diary illuminates all these things and much more. It isn’t a coincidence that top healthy-lifestyle and weight-loss programs incorporate dietary tracking in some form or other. A study by the National Institutes of Health by Kaiser Permanente found that among more than 1,700 participants, those who kept a food diary lost twice as much weight as those who did not. TWICE AS MUCH!
When I facilitate my CDC-approved Diabetes Prevention Program, our group participants use food logs that allows each to assess and modify his/her diet. With individual coaching clients wanting to lose weight, we also use a personalized food diary as an integral part of the effort.
While the Kaiser Permanente study suggests that any food diary is better than none, experience has taught me that the more comprehensive and accurate you can be, the better your chances of keeping weight off once you’ve lost it. The best practices for lasting weight loss are related to dietary awareness, planning and self-monitoring — all of what a food diary or log trains you to do.
Reading food labels, planning meals and snacks ahead of time, paying attention to portion sizes and drinking water instead of juice, soda or other caloric beverages are all important secondary habits you can pick up when you learn to keep an effective food diary.
To prevent regaining weight after an initial weight loss, these dietary lifestyle habits (along with exercise and certain social habits) are more important than simply tracking calories. And keeping an accurate, detailed food log for only a few weeks can help you build them.
Of course, you can only reap the weight loss benefits of all these habits if you actually build them in the first place. Luckily, technology is here to help.
Diet and weight loss apps are nothing new, but the latest versions are significantly better than ever. The convenience and user-friendliness of the latest mobile weight-loss apps render them significantly more effective than web-based and paper diaries, due in large part to increased adherence. Studies show a 93 percent adherence rate among smartphone app users over a six-month period compared to a 53-to-55 percent adherence rate among paper diary and website groups, respectively.
The result of more frequent food tracking pays off: Smartphone users lost significantly more weight and more body fat as a percentage of weight than the other two groups.
In combination, this research suggests that dietary apps can be a powerful tool for weight loss, especially when the user takes advantage of all the features available, not just the simple calorie and nutrient tracking. Since most of today’s popular weight loss apps have similarly robust lists of features, perhaps the most important consideration when deciding which app to use is how much you like it.
A bit of quick research can help you find an app that’s easy to set up and use, and that one simple tool could be the game-changer in your weight loss effort. Any questions? Feel free to contact me about a complimentary wellness breakthrough session to discuss what might be getting in your way of losing weight.