>Write before you bite.

>I have never been a fan of food journals. I always thought people who kept them regularly were obsessed with their diet and knew I never wanted to fully commit to having one myself, for the sheer fact of annoyance.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. This past summer I participated in a boot camp that required its participants to keep a food journal. At first, I was highly aggravated at the thought of having to write down every single thing I put into my body, including the nutritional facts, and add up the calories after each meal to ensure I didn’t go over my calorie limit for the day.

After the first week, though, I was hooked! In my adult life, I’ve generally always watched what I eat, and have a healthy diet. But even healthy (and vegan) foods can be high-calorie, and one can definitely eat too many good calories, too.

My goal was a little different than other participants in the boot camp, as I didn’t want to lose any weight. I was simply trying to add lean muscle to my body and get back into a regular cardio/strength training routine. But by focusing more intently on the nutritional specifics of what I was putting into my body, in 5 weeks (paired with daily cardio, strength training, and daily yoga) I lost 6% body fat and 2 inches overall. What I loved is that I stayed the exact same weight! Great stuff. And I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish my goals had I not kept a food journal.

True to my prediction, I stopped with the food journal after 10 weeks, but have a new appreciation for calorie counting and thinking twice before eating, for example, two big (naturally) sugary bananas throughout the day, rather than one small banana with granola at breakfast.

To assess your own diet, keep a food diary for a week or two. Set a maximum daily calorie goal for yourself and try to stay within its limits. Keep your integrity. Don’t sell yourself short by not writing about the large waffle fries you had at lunch. Seeing what you eat written on paper sheds a whole new light on things and can definitely assist in a successful weight-control/loss program.

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