Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Power of the Food Log (continued)

The written word can be a powerful thing, particularly with exercise and fitness. I find that the clients I work with that have written, attainable goals are far more likely to succeed than those that simply verbalize or "think" about things. Think about this for a second--do you think you'd get more accomplished in a day with a written list or simply thinking about the "to-do" list?

It's no different than when I have my clients write down food and nutrient consumption. Not only am I, as his or her trainer, getting a better understanding of what's happening when I don't see them, he or she is getting a clearer picture of their habits and where their pitfalls are. Not only that, it gives them ideas of when they eat, what they eat, and even WHY they eat.

Now, notice I'm not specifically mentioning "counting calories". Granted, with food-log analysis I am addressing calories and specific dietary needs and metabolism based on the individual, but I'm not asking my clients to do that. I abhore the word diet--I think the negativity it breeds is extremely counter-productive and only leads to perpetual vicious cycles of eating. I'm specifically referring to and addressing "habits" of an individual.

Obviously calories are important but they are not the "end-all-be-all" of a nutrition program. Also, everyone is unique and each individual need is different for everyone. Caloric consumption and weight-loss or maintenance is purely based on the age, gender, physical condition, medical condition, and lifestyle of each individual. No two people are alike. You might be the person who looks at food and gains 5 lbs. while your brother or sister eat 4 cheeseburgers a day and doesn't gain a thing. (btw these "quick metabolism" individuals are often at a health disadvantage which we'll discuss in a later post)

So, I recommend writing down your consumption in this way:

1. What is it that you are eating? Serving size is critical
2. When are you eating this?
3. Water? Supplementation?
4. Fruits and vegetables (very important!!)
5. Are you eating before or after a workout?
6. What's your fiber intake like?
7. Why are you eating like you're eating? Is it habitual (i.e. "I always have a big dinner with the family" or "I always drink 4 cups of coffee to start the day") or is it for need? Do you "live to eat" or "eat to live"?

I emplore you to keep a 3-day food journal. Post it or e-mail it to me and I can take a look and see where you're at. Going forward, I will be posting specific ideas and recommendations for general use and, if you like, for you specifically. Please remember that I'm not a doctor, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so any recommendation must be considered as an opinion of the author--please check with your medical professional before accepting any advice.

Talk to you soon!


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