Want to Lose Fat Faster and More Consistently? Start Writing!

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Looking at the food court in a local shopping mall today I thought about these two questions:

How many people have calories on their mind?

Do any of them count calories?

I’m gonna go out on the proverbial limb here and say probably none of them.

Harsh? Maybe. But I too was once a frequent visitor of the common food courts eating fattening foods and feeling my clothes getting tighter by the fry. So chalk this up to experience.

After several failed attempts at losing weight, I finally took some responsibility and found an unlikely weapon against fat-> The PENCIL!

Write Your Goals For Faster Fat Loss[I used to yawn or skip right over any talk about goal setting. But after giving it a go in my fat loss journey, I'm using it everywhere now!]

Keeping a Food Journal

In the beginning, I tried keeping a food journal but it never lasted more than a few days at a time. It was time consuming and an inconvenient exercise to calculate all of those calories ingested over the course of a day. In the end, calories were either forgotten or grossly under-estimated.

The Missing Ingredient

I had pretty much given up on keeping a food journal for fat loss until I read Tom Venuto’s Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle about proper goal setting.

There is a ton of material (good, bad, and down right awful) in pretty much every corner of your local book store but the reason I found Venuto’s more compelling was the emphasis of a 90-day goal.

He explains the importance of the three-month goal as being the perfect time frame for a short-term goal, especially fat loss. Whereas a long term goal doesn’t carry the same sense of urgency. A one-year goal? Forget it. It’s too far off and procrastination would kick in closer to the deadline.

So with my new short and long-term goals established and written clearly in my food journal (usually at the top of my ledger paper), I’ve never looked back at my former unfit self.

This one change may seem insignificant to most, but I really think it was the key to my success and now I try to incorporate it into almost every aspect of my life.

Modern Day Food Journaling

Today, you can find countless tools on the web to make food journaling much easier. Websites that track your caloric intake, suggest exercise movements for creating a caloric deficit, and charting your progress in “real-time” definitely provides an added level of motivation and excitement apart from your clothes feeling snug or checking yourself out in a mirror.

So if you dreaded the nightly calculator punching and recording your totals, this is absolutely for you. One particular online fat loss journal that seems to be getting a lot of press these days is FitDay. From everyone I’ve talked who uses it, they have nothing but good things to say, especially it being free (except the premium version which doesn’t seem to be very different). 

I admittedly haven’t tried FitDay or any of the other online tools yet. Call it pride or a resistance to change but doing it manually with pencil and paper is how I learned.

Do I Count Calories Today?

The short answer is no.

But without it, I’d severely lack the nutritional knowledge and bench marks to live the healthy life I do now.  For someone who had zero knowledge of nutrition, calorie counting served its purpose for me and now I am able to practice other strategies like portion control and responsible eating.

Though I have found much more enjoyment in exercise in recent years, diet is still the essential piece of the fat loss puzzle. As much as I really have tried to get around it, it’s impossible to out exercise a terrible diet.

Calorie counting allows you to take control of your life by providing you with the information you need to make more informed decisions about your health BUT without taking the time to write down your goals (short and long-term), your fat loss efforts may end up insignificant and disappointing.

The benefits of calorie counting are important to understand. More importantly, I believe proper goal setting is what will carry you through the ups and downs of your fat loss journey. Look up our review of Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle by Tom Venuto to appreciate this important step towards a better you.


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11 Comments

  1. Palidor says:

    You’re so right that calorie counting – at least initially – is critical to fat loss. Years ago, when I decided to get in shape, I was utterly shocked at how many calories were in common foods in my diet. A food journal definitely helped me solve that problem. Unfortunately, it also led to an eating disorder. :-s I guess my point is, going the other way is not healthy either and the key is to find the right balance. Life seems to be all about balance, doesn’t it?

  2. Maria says:

    Food Intake Training is a key factor for weight management. Once you learn to make the right food choices for YOU – you will experience a great feeling of control over your own health. Remember, YOU are a unique individual with unique tastes and a unique genetic makeup. Eat foods that you like and let the EatSmart Nutrition Scale help you learn to fit what you like to eat into a healthy diet. Remember, in moderation, there are no “forbidden” foods (unless of course you have a medical condition which prohibits certain foods) By learning to read the nutritional makeup of foods and letting the EatSmart Nutrition Scale do the math – you will find that eating a well-balanced diet can be accomplished without sacrificing taste or taking up an enormous amount of your time.

    The EatSmart Nutrition Scale is an educational and behavioral tool that helps individuals take responsibility of their health more seriously
    Visit there website at http://www.eatsmartproducts.com for more info.
    The EatSmart Nutrition Scale is designed to work intuitively, so dieters can quickly and easily finding nutrition information as they are eating or preparing meals in their kitchens. The most effective diets use the calorie principle; however, it is extremely difficult to understand calories accurately by looking it up on the internet or a calorie book.
    The EatSmart Nutrition kitchen scale is a comprehensive nutrition education tool with two modes of operation. It allows you to calculate calories and 11 other nutrients for foods you buy that don’t come with Nutrition Facts and also those that do, like corn chips or cereal.
    In the normal mode, simply place a food on the scale, identify the food and calories and 11 other nutrients appear on the screen.
    In the Nutrition Facts mode, which is unique to the EatSmart Nutrition Scale, allows you to take a nutrition label and input the serving size and calories or carbs to determine the calories or carbs for the portion placed on the scale.
    The EatSmart Nutrition Scale allows users to evaluate foods for specific health issues making it very useful for diabetic, individuals with high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease.

    Once you become mindful of what you eat on a daily basis with constant feedback about calories and nutrients, you can truly move towards a healthier lifestyle. More important, if used as part of the family dinner activity to guess the calories and nutrients as part of a learning game, it tends to create more calorie awareness for all involved when they are eating out.

  3. Rahim says:

    Now why didn’t I think of that!? The crazy thing is, I was listening to a cd on how to get your finances in check, and one of the most effective things you can do is to write down everything you spend your money on every month. This way you know how much money is going out and what you’re spending it on. I don’t know why I didn’t make the connection. Thanks, great post!

  4. @Palidor – Your absolutely right. Balance is crucial. I’ve been out with people who had pen and paper in tow and would obsess with every decision being made with regards to food and drink. Not a very fun person to be out and about with…

    Mike

  5. Maria,

    I’ve seen these scales on the biggest loser, interesting. It makes sense to use at home in the beginning stages of calorie counting but past that I can’t see much value in it.

    How about a cell-phone sized device similar to an electrical meter where you simply touch your food and provides all the vitals of it? I’m dreaming, I know:)

    Mike

  6. Rahim,

    That’s an important exercise in financial stability. Do it for a month and I bet you’ll be amazed by the results and you’ll most certainlydiscover three things to improve on.

    Mike

  7. Yudi says:

    Mike,

    Excellent stuff buddy. You are really killing it with this blog. Very impressive my man, keep up the great work.

  8. Interesting thing to write down a journal to consciously see what you ate during the day. I think with this method one is able to cut 80% of snacks and unnecessary meals in only a few days thanks to the brain power.

  9. @Yudi – Thanks pal. Looking forward to incorporating more videos into the site shortly.

    @Oscar – Writing down everything is a sobering experience. Our minds can play tricks with us but when we see exactly what has been consumed over the course of a day/week/month, it really puts everything in perspective.

  10. Greg says:

    It took me a long time to figure out that writing down every bit of food that went in my mouth was the first step to losing weight. I tried to exercise my way out of obesity. Doesn’t work! Good tips.

  11. Greg,

    I’m right there with you. I thought there was a “special” way to exercise for fat loss but instead, my diet was holding me back.

    Mike

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