food diaryOne thing that I realized about myself in this journey to lose the weight, was that I needed to address my eating habits. I couldn’t understand what was happening that was making this process so unbelievably difficult for me. I mean, I was working out 7 days a week for at least an hour at a time. I did a full 30 minutes full blast on the elliptical, another 20 minutes in weight training, and 10 minutes on my core. What was happening?

I bought myself an iTouch. Just… because. I figured if I was going to throw myself into disappointment again, I’d at least do it with a new toy. Sure enough, I got hooked. Music? AND videos? AND apps? Wait… what are apps? After a little snooping around, I find out that I can keep up with news, play games, and do actual important stuff with these things. Neato.

So, I go lookin’, and lookin’, and lookin’… and I find an app called Lose It! that basically operates as a food journal. I once purchased a little black notebook where I’d write down everything I ate, but it quickly lost steam for me. LoseIt!, for some reason, was easier for me.

Using LoseIt!, I was able to input what I weighed at the start, what my goal weight was, and when I wanted to reach it. I added the foods I ate during the day – as honest as I could – and I added the amount of water and other drinks I drank.

When I tell you this was the most powerful thing I could’ve done for myself… believe it!

Now, mind you. I’m not necessarily advocating you go out and get the LoseIt! app (although, as of this writing, it is free and anyone who has an iTouch or iPhone really should look into it) because not everyone has or uses the iPhone/iTouch. The downside to the app, for me, is that it doesn’t allow you to input the time at which you ate. The LoseIt! app also, supposedly, mines data from our inputs as well, and some people might not be thrilled with that. (Yes, I AM usually the conspiracy theorist here, but the benefit outweighed the data collecting, to me.)

What I AM advocating, is the use of a food diary. My food diary showed me exactly where my problems were. I was eating too much of… well, everything. I had no portion control. I was partaking in a giant amount of fat and sugar. My carb meters were off the charts. I simply wasn’t doing what I knew in my heart I needed to do. Taking in over 2100 calories a day wasn’t going to help me lose weight. In fact, the only reason I didn’t gain astronomical amounts of weight was because of the 7-10 hours a week I was spending in the gym. After 6 months and only losing 20 lbs, something needed to really change.

The first two weeks of using my food diary were painful. I was able to track my carb, fat, sodium, fiber, protein, cholesterol and caloric intake. I spent lots of time researching what I was putting in my body in terms of fast food and restaurants, and the nutritional values for those meals. Seeing the numbers in front of me was painful. Painful! I used to LOVE tearing into a Checkers/Rally’s Fried Chicken Sandwich with large fries and a banana shake… until I started looking for their nutritional information.

That’s when it started hitting me like a ton of bricks:

An order of large fries from Checkers? 590 Calories, 38g of fat (20g of saturated fat, 2g of trans fat), 40mg of cholesterol, 1410mg of sodium, 7g of protein, 57g of carbohydrates.

The chicken sandwich? 740 calories, 41g of fat (13g saturated), 70mg of cholesterol, 2190mg sodium, 60g of carbohydrates (13g sugars), and 34g of protein.

And lastly, but certainly not least? The banana shake: 650 calories, 18g of fat (14g saturated), 75mg of cholesterol, 300mg sodium, 105g of carbohydrates (81g sugars), and 16g of protein.

What was I doing to myself? Don’t you know, I had to break out a calculator to tabulate how much I was putting into my body in ONE MEAL? 1,980 calories – almost the value of what’s recommended to take in over the course of one day. 3900mg of sodium. 222g of carbohydrates, about 40% of it being sugar. Seriously… what was I doing to myself? And why did it take me actually writing it down and committing myself to researching it for me to truly see it? Why didn’t I KNOW what I was doing to myself? (That’s another post entirely, but we won’t talk about that today.)

Slowly, I began to wean myself off of things that were doing me in. I no longer ate fast food. Sure enough, I lost almost 8 lbs immediately. Strange, huh?

A food diary highlights the weaknesses in your diet. It shows you patterns in your eating habits that you might not’ve noticed. Do you eat a lot of fried foods? How about a lot of bread? Do you have one heck-uv-a-sweet tooth? Maybe you eat a lot of foods that require TONS of seasoning? Variety, literally, is the spice of life.. and a food diary is the best way to show you where you could inject a little bit of just that – variety.

Make it a healthy day!