If you have ever tried keeping a food and exercise log you probably realized very quickly that logging not an easy task. It takes a lot of time, commitment, and guts to (truthfully) write down every bite and every bit of activity, but I promise you it is worth it!
Here are some of the common questions that people ask about logging and the reasons why it pays to stick with it.
Is there something else I should be getting out of my logging besides a daily countdown to my goal?
The benefits of logging go far beyond the obvious – knowing the number of net calories you consumed in a day to stay within your daily budget. Of course, this is a very important function of logging, but only a small piece. Additionally, logging provides a…
Baseline or Starting Point
In order to get to your ultimate goal, it is important to understand where you are today. It is very hard to set goals and develop an effective plan to reach those goals when you don’t know your starting point
People tend to underestimate the number of calories consumed and overestimate the number of calories burned during exercise. Logging provides a “reality check” to help understand how much you are really eating and how many calories you are really burning during exercise. Measuring out food provides a reality check for portion sizes. Once you have a better understanding of your true caloric intake and output, you can set or reset your expectations to better meet your goals.
Basis for Identifying Problem Areas and Stumbling Blocks
Logging increases your awareness of your eating and exercise habits. By analyzing your log, you can:
- Identify current issues and lapses.
- Pinpoint habits that are impeding your progress.
- Notice patterns in your eating and better plan for dealing with obstacles.
Once you understand where your problem areas are, you can develop strategies to address them.
Will I have to do this forever?
The short answer is no. Over time, as you continue to log, you will begin to develop an internal sense of your calories in versus calories out. Look at the logging process as a training period. You need to learn the skills necessary to be able to accurately estimate your nutrition needs. This takes time, patience, and lots of practice. The more you log, the better you get at being able to look at a meal and roughly guess the portion sizes, calories, and other nutritional values without having to look it up. The same goes for exercise. As your estimating skills get better, the less you need to log.
How do I make sure that I am getting the most from logging?
Here are a few tips that can help you get the most out off logging.
- Be Honest – record everything you eat and all exercise.
- Be Accurate – measure out portions, read labels, and make sure to include everything including condiments and “extras” (e.g. butter)
- Be Consistent – log every meal, every day.
- Review Often – frequently analyze your log to see where you can improve.
Logging can at times seem like an exercise in futility, but the benefits of keeping an accurate log far outweigh the time and effort required to do it. If you want to make long-term changes to your health and fitness, keep on logging!