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The Most Important Step to Successful Weight Loss

food journalMore important than picking the diet plan you ultimately decide to follow, more important than adding exercise, more important than knowing your real weight – as opposed to the number you optimistically assign to your driver’s license – there is one step that you need to take before you can ever succeed at true and lasting weight loss. You have to realistically know how much you are eating.  Not the guesstimate, not the fantasy in your mind, but the actual cold, hard truth.

Pick up a cheap spiral-bound notebook the next time you are at the store.  Open it to a clean page, and date the top of it. Now. NO one will see this food journal, unless you decide to share it. Every time you put something in your mouth, jot it down. Lick the beaters from cake mix? Write it down. Two gulps from your son’s milkshake? Jot it down. Every meal you eat, every snack, every kernel of popcorn – it goes in the notebook. At the end of the day, take a minute and total it up. Did you achieve your recommended total of fruits and vegetables? How about protein? Does your diet have a plethora of sugar and fat and caffeine?

Use this log for a week, making no changes to your diet. At the end of the week, you’ll have a pretty good idea of the changes you need to make. Remember, be honest with yourself – it’s the first step to successful, and more important, long-term sustainable weight loss.  You can’t lose weight unless you know exactly what you are putting in your body.

May 20th, 2009

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3 Responses to “The Most Important Step to Successful Weight Loss”

May 20th, 2009
4:52 am

Yes, you’d be surprise how much weight is retained because of denial, and how many malnourished people there are because of wrong guesses.

Steve Parker, M.D.
May 20th, 2009
11:47 am

I agree this is an important step, a real eye-opener, for many people! I would also try to calculate how many calories you averaged per day over the week. To then lose a pound of fat per week on a weight-loss program, you eat 500 calories per day less than your baseline. For example, if you eat 3000 cals/day while at steady state, reduce to 2500 cals/day to lose a pound a week. Pretty basic stuff, I know. Some will disagree. If you start an exercise program at the same time as cutting back on calories, you only need to reduce intake by 200-300 calories.———–Steve

Headless Mom
May 23rd, 2009
11:41 am

This is the one thing that I have never done. I like living in denial. (That’s a joke.)