Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Pen Is Mightier Than The Scale

If you bite it, you write it!
If you nibble it, you scribble it!
~ Weight Watchers mantra


Have you seen the latest news? A new study finds that dieters can double their weight loss by writing down everything they eat.

A pain the rear? Amen! But effective? You betcha!

Time magazine, and several other news outlets, are reporting the striking new results of a paper published in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Time states:

Scientists at several clinical-research centers in the U.S. found that dieters who kept a food diary lost twice as much weight as those who didn't.
I'm certainly not surprised, since I'm living proof of the theory. When I write down the foods I consume, I lose weight. When I don't keep my journal, I tend to gain weight.

Why? Again, the Time article says it best:

While most people think they know what they eat, they really have only a general idea and tend to have selective memory, especially when it comes to the foods that aren't so good for us. With a detailed food diary, you can see where those extra calories are coming from.
Tracking what I'm consuming every day keeps me conscious and aware of how much I'm eating AND of what kinds of foods I'm choosing. I track not only food and Points (yes, I follow Weight Watchers) but also how many fruits and veggies I eat each day, how much dairy I get in, and how many glasses of water I down.

I also try and take it one step beyond by noting the exercise I do and then, at the end of the day, to note three things I'm grateful for. I have to admit that I don't always take time to do the latter, but I also don't always get in all my fruits, nor do I get out and walk as often as I'd like. Sue me - I'm not perfect! And that's ok. If I write down what I eat and stay within my daily calorie limit, I'll likely lose weight.

Here's the latest version of my food diary, created as an Excel spreadsheet then cut in half. Click on the photo if you want to see the gory details:

I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I get so incredibly bored with keeping track of my eating. So I need to mix up the format every once in a while. I used to put fun stickers all over the sheets of a small spiral notebook. Seeing the food entries surrounded by stickers saying, "You Rock!" or "Great Job!" would always make me smile. Now I don't need that so much (hey, I get my cheerleading from all of you -- and boy, am I grateful!)

Just like with everything having to do with good health in general and weight loss in particular, no one way is right for everyone. But I believe that this latest study is pretty compelling. So if you've been on the fence about tracking your food intake, just to see what you truly do consume in a day, let these latest findings give you that nudge over the edge. Remember, even doing it for a couple of days will likely prove very enlightening, as long as you're honest with yourself and write down every morsel (yes, those three M&M's do count!)

None of us have to be perfect at this process. We just have to keep moving forward. It's all about progress, not perfection!


Until next time...

22 comments:

Kathy said...

It is effective for me because I think twice about eating something if I know I have to write it down afterward. The reality sets in if it is in black and white. Now...where's my journal???

Manuela said...

I swear by my journal and even writing things ahead helps to keep me on track.

Lora said...

I especially like the "three things you're grateful for" at the end....I think I'll try that.

I use to keep a "grateful" journal - but got lazy. Also lazy about tracking what I eat. I read the same article you did - I need to do this more!

Becky said...

It's so good to see you back on track and being your helpful self! This plan also works with people that have spending problems... write down where every penny goes :) (of course, that is kind of like a checkbook LOL)

JC said...

Thanks so much for the reminder of what I am suppose to be doing. I have been writing anything down so I'm way off track. You, Time and WW are absolutely right. It makes a huge difference but OMG I hate doing it. Blessing to ya.

Deborah said...

AMEN!!

"And that's all I have to say about that."

carla said...

not my deal as it pushes me thisclose to being OBSESSIVE----which is frightening as its so NOT my natural inclination.

now GRATITUDE journaling? nightly.

MizFit

Rayann said...

I totally agree with writing everything down. I usually do it the night before or first thing in the morn. If I don't I tend not to track. By the way, I've had several ww leaders since you left, and your the best by far! Miss you.

Katschi said...

As you know, my blog is my food journal and it's what makes it fun for me. This is the longest I've kept track so it's working. Will it help me lose twice as much weight? I hope so! Hopefully the person I'm being compared to lost 65 lbs! *g*
BTW, did you hear your ears ringing yesterday? Did you feel the love coming at you from Windsor?

Cookie Sunshine said...

I have such a difficult time doing this. I probably don't want to do it and that's the problem. But reading what you've shared to day is making me think twice. Maybe I should try again.

I think you would make a great Meadowette.

Big Girl said...

Thanks for sharing. I think you are totally right about it not perfection but progress.

Nonna said...

That is so true. When I went to weigh watchers I wrote down everything I ate. I need to start doing that again, it will make me more conscious of what I'm putting in my mouth!

Exuberant Color said...

You mentioned you don't eat enough fruit. I have never been a fruit eater and for 5 years I have been drinking a smoothie with frozen strawberries, frozen blueberries, and banana along with soy milk (light) and orange juice. I eat a few handsful of Cheerios with it and at the end a handful of cashews. I haven't had a cold for 5 years so it must be boosting my immunity, as well as I am getting 4 kinds of fruit.

Cammy said...

Great post! While I don't actually log what I eat, it's always an option if I feel myself struggling. I *know* it works!

ptg said...

One step at a time keeps you moving forward no matter what. :o)

I'm absolutely horrible at journalling, but I have noticed that if I write down my exercise for the day I'm much more likely to do it. :o)

byoc said...

I have always wanted to be a list writer - I really need the structure - but if I do write a list, I lose it, or I forget it for months. How on earth do you keep it up? I need one for improving health, for keeping track of money, for keeping track of my phone lol - anyway - thanks for stopping by to check out my restrooms.

Veronika said...

Hi There
I tied that list writing too but realized quickly I'm not reliable writing things down since I most likely don't have anything to write with me. So I purchased the WW calculator thingy where I just put the points in and translate what I eat into points. That works better for me… maybe that too has something to do with attitude?? I bet it has…

susan said...

can i just say i love looking at your smiling face! you look so happy. secondly, i cant believe you have the guts to show everyone your food diary! i am living proof you dont lose as much weight when you dont write it down. i dont do it because i would be horrified to see it in writing! ack! good for you! i hope i can follow your lead, i NEED to lose 20 lbs

jillytacy said...

I agree that we have a selective memory about what we eat. It's also easy to pick at things and eat without thinking about it. Writing down everything you eat or drink certainly would make you more conscience of what you are really eating each day! I love your little spread sheets for keeping track. Great idea!

PEA said...

I remember writing down everything I ate when I was dieting quite a few years ago and how it did help. Nowadays I'd hate to see what I eat in one day! lol You seem to have it all under control on how you're handling your weight loss...I'm so proud of you:-) xoxo

Kelli said...

I used to do that...thanks for the reminder...I need to do it again!
~Kelli

B Wiens said...

I just found your blog and you gave me the strength to start this again. I did it last year and lost 25 lbs! But then I stopped and gained back half of them... Now I just can´t get myself back on track! I get sooo sick of writing everything down, but it does help!