Want to lose weight? Track your food, track your exercise, or track your weight! When attempting to stick to a health habit, tracking your progress can be extremely helpful, especially if weight loss is the goal. In a study of over 1,600 participants, those who monitored their daily food intake lost twice as much weight as those who did not.
Why is tracking so effective? Self-monitoring is the key to weight loss! Research shows that self-monitoring of food intake is often associated with a relatively immediate reduction in food intake and consequent weight loss (Blundell, 2000; Goris et al., 2000). Self-monitoring creates awareness, which impacts what we eat and how much we eat, resulting in weight loss. The more you know about your habits, the easier it is to modify for long-term change and impact. Tracking your food, exercise, weight or a combo can be one of the most important factors in losing and maintaining weight.
Tracking can be one of the most important factors
in losing and maintaining weight!
When food tracking apps appeared on the scene several years ago, I jumped in head first. I started logging everything I ate through a phone app called Loseit! This app tracked my total daily caloric intake. At first, it seemed fun and helpful. I was more aware of what I was eating. However, when I wasn't eating healthy, I found the practice depressing and sometimes shaming. I continued to use it over several years until I completely abandoned it.
There are other helpful ways to track your food without tracking calories!
However, there are other sustainable and helpful ways to track your food without having to track your calories. Here are some ideas for you to try out.
Journal simply what you eat.
Journal your fruit and vegetable intake only.
Journal your simple carbs and sugars only.
Take pictures of your meals.
Another thing that worked for me was tracking my weight weekly. Studies show that people who track their weight regularly tend to lose more weight than those who don't. The point is to self-monitor your progress to learn and make adjustments to your habits.
Decide what you will start tracking (food, exercise, weight) and get the tracking tools you need (i.e., a journal, a white board, a phone app, scale).
Start tracking one thing (food, exercise, or weight) for two weeks.
At the end of the two weeks, ask yourself: What am I noticing about my data? How healthy would I say I am? What could I improve?
Even if it doesn't make a huge difference, getting a better picture of how you are progressing with your habits can always be fruitful. Take some time to track your habits!