Keep a Food or Exercise Journal and Share it With People

Before you put this article into the “never going to happen” category, here us out because what I have to say may surprise you. First of all, we are not going to ask you to walk around with your food journal handing out copies to every person you see, and you won’t have to display it on your desk at work, or send it out in a mass email (although all those things would probably work).  Rather, we are talking about a few very specific ways you can hold yourself accountable.  One of the most important things we have learned over the years as health professionals is that accountability is crucial if you are going to achieve your goals.  

Think about it this way, if you have someone waiting for you at 7 am to go for a run, how much less likely are you to hit the snooze button and stay in bed?  Or if you know that you are going to share your food journal with someone you really respect, what are the chances that you eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s the night before? Just like any other difficult thing in life, changing your diet or maintaining an exercise program is a whole lot easier when you have accountability and support. If you don’t feel ready to be accountable to a friend, family member, or even a professional counsellor, there are other options.  

A very interesting study published in The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity  analyzed the success rates of dieters who used an online system to help them track what they ate, how much they exercised, and allowed them to engage in online support forums.  The people who were the most consistent in recording their food and exercise, while also being active in the online support community had the greatest weight loss. Recording what you eat for a period of time can also be a great tool to increase self-awareness of your food choices.  Paying attention to your hunger levels and portion sizes is a great first step in learning to eat mindfully.

One of the best ways to become consistent with diet and exercise is to find someone that you trust and can be accountable to on a regular basis. Its amazing the effect this one little change can make.