Support weight loss with a food and exercise diary-UPDATED

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Support weight loss with a food and exercise diary-UPDATED

Weight-loss: See how keeping a food and exercise diary helps maintain a healthier lifestyle.

:::Modified 2006_12_02 - 14:35:::One of the best ways to change old eating and exercise habits — and support healthy weight loss — is to keep track of them with a diary.

               

Your weight-loss program should make keeping a food and exercise diary easy. You can use your weekly menus and activity schedules to keep track of your habits. Or, if you prefer, you can use a separate notebook to log your habits. Regardless of where you make your notes, consider the following tips when recording information.

       

Your food diary

In short, every time you put something in your mouth, write it down. It's helpful to write down more than just the food item itself. Record the following information:

                       
               
  • Date, including both day and month.
  •                        
  • Time of day.
  •                        
  • Where you were at when you ate — in your car, at your desk, on the couch.
  •                        
  • What you were doing when you ate. Were you working? Watching television?
  •                        
  • Your mood. How did you feel before and after you ate?
  •                        
  • Triggers. What prompted you to eat? Did something in particular happen that day?
  •                        
  • Who were you with? Were you alone?
  •                        
  • What did you eat?
  •                        
  • How much did you eat?
  •                        
  • Were you hungry? How hungry?
  •                        
  • Rate of eating. Did you eat quickly? Slowly?
  •            
                       

Be honest — the diary is only for your eyes. Plus, it won't be helpful if you're not truthful. Record the information for a few days. Afterward, you likely will see patterns. Perhaps every time you get angry or upset you find yourself reaching for cookies. Or perhaps you can't resist the sight or smell of tempting foods, no matter how recently you've eaten. Whatever your patterns, once you become aware of them, you can work on changing them.

           

Your exercise diary

A diary for exercise and activity will let you see what you've accomplished and help set your goals for the future. After each workout or activity, you might record:

                               
                   
  • The date.
  •                                
  • The activity.
  •                                
  • Your exercise heart rate. Immediately after you stop exercising, take your pulse for 10 seconds and multiply it by 6 to get your heart rate per minute.
  •                                
  • The duration or extent of your activity.
  •                                
  • Your mood. How did you feel before and after your workout? Was it your first workout in a week? How did it feel?
  •                
                               

Recording your progress can make exercise seem like a conscientious and committed part of your life. With a daily written chronicle of your improvement, you'll be more motivated to continue. And that's the whole idea.

               

Use it when you need it

Don't feel like you have to keep a food and exercise diary every day of your life, unless, of course, you find it helpful. Instead, use a food and exercise diary as one way to maintain your motivation. You may find that keeping a diary is particularly helpful as you change your eating and exercise habits as part of your weight-loss program.

                                       

You may also find that keeping a food and exercise diary can be a good way to do a little quality assurance on yourself. Periodically pick a three-day stretch and keep a diary. Afterward, evaluate what you've written and try to learn from any patterns that you see.

                                       

Finally, if you feel yourself slipping back into old habits, keeping a diary for a short time can be just what you need to get back on track.

                   

Last Updated: 10/06/2006
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