2011 in early review

2011 in review. I know the year has not ended, but I’m in the 2012 planning mode. I decided to start!

At the beginning of the year, I had goals. My goal was complete a Triathlon (done) and to lose weight (done) and keep it off (oops, I screwed up the last one).

This year, my weight graph looks like a smiley face. In any other context, I’d say a smiley face would be happy. In my 2011 weight chart, I began the year and ended the year at the same weight. In the middle of the year, I lost weight. I guess that’s better than average. The average person generally gains about 1 to 2 lbs a year. As of the end of August 2011, I was on track to lose 12 lbs of excess weight. I’ve gained it all back.

How? I stopped exercising. I started to eat candy like it was going out of style, and I’ve been working tons and vacationing a little. Add all that up, and its easy to see my weight creep back up. I’m still in decent shape, but I can feel my tummy expanding.

Traditionally, we start resolutions on New year’s Day, but Its not New Year’s yet, and I don’t care. I started today! Today, I did what I know must be done. Food In = Food Out!

I tracked the food that I ate and entered it into a journal. I then realized that I ate too much food for my body, and I willed my way to an hour of exercise today to balance my caloric intake. Its one day. Habits are formed with consistent action, but Habits must start one day at a time. Its time for you to start! (notice not only did I start exercising. I also posted a blog. There’s more things starting at once.)

iPhone – EatWatch almost a reality?

This is awesome.  I’ve been wanting this for a long time.

Robert Scoble did an Epic Tour of SRI International.  In one of his demos,  they take a video of the food.  Then, they auto generate how many calories were on your plate.  It is effectively an Eat Watch.  I so WANT this.  Diet and guessing how many calories I eat is one of the biggest issues I have. I just eat too much food without realizing it.  This app would help me know before I eat, how much.

Take a look:

Benefits To Going On a Restaurant Diet

So, I am 2/3 of the way done with my restaurant diet from Jan 3 – Jan 31.

What is a restaurant diet?

A restaurant diet is where you don’t spend your own money at restaurants or cafes.  No Starbucks, No ice creams, and no take-out.  You can use gift cards or have your friends or company take you out, but you can not spend your own money.  This is the second time my family is going through this self-discipline exercise.  What benefits do I see?  (By the way, if you are my friend, I’ll be very grateful if you want to take me out to lunch. 🙂  Doh! Did I just type that?

Benefit 1: Remembering that Restaurants are a treat

While growing up, dining out at restaurants was more a treat rather than a fall back for poor planning.  We didn’t go to fancy restaurants all the time, nor did I go out to fast food often. For special occasions, birthdays, anniversaries, or promotions, we would dine at our favorite fancy restaurant.  The food was great, the company was fun, and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  Some of why we enjoyed it was the fresh and new feeling of dining out. Here’s an example: If you ate ice cream every day, pretty soon ice cream doesn’t taste so good.  You then have to look for gourmet ice creams.  The spiral goes out of control.

By going on a restaurant diet, one benefit is turning dining out back into a treat.

Benefit 2: Homemade meals get more creative.

Another factor of a restaurant diet, is constraints.  37signals, a popular design and software company, talks about embracing constraints in their book, Getting Real.  Now, I’ve placed constraints on my diet which in turn forces me to think creatively and reminds me of the benefits of planning meals in advance.  You have to.  If you can not go out to eat at a restaurant, and you want to eat food, you, at the very least, have to plan going to the grocery store to pick up food.  Now, if you live like me where the grocery store is not the most convenient place to get to, you don’t want to go there every day.  So, you have to plan your grocery shopping.  Now, I am not a big fan of box or frozen meals.  I like fresh prepared food.  So, using our creativity, we can try to create the restaurant experience at home by trying new recipes we like, setting an elegant table, making appetizers or desserts, or adding mood music that coincides with the meal’s theme.

Benefit 3: Saving money

One benefit of not going out to eat at restaurants and cafes is I spend less money.  Sometimes I wonder do I really spend less money, but I am sure I do.  When I go to a restaurant, I am more apt to order pricier dishes, desserts, appetizers, wine and drinks.  At home, I don’t always have those items, and its cheaper at home.  Instead of a brownie sundae at a restaurant for $6.  I can bake homemade brownies at home, and eat them for a week.  According Bundle.com the average household spent $291 dining out during Oct 2009.  So, if I spend just the average, we’ll save $300 this month.

Benefit 4: Better Nutrition

When I make the food at home or buy the groceries, I have a much better idea of what exactly I am eating. For example, I know that I’m using quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil and using very little salt in my recipes.  I also very, very rarely make fried foods.  However, when I dine out, Chicken Fingers is one of my favorites.  In addition, I will often order french fries at a restaurant.  By putting myself on a restaurant diet, I’m reducing my calories in and eating better.

So, When are you going on a restaurant diet?

Use Am I Hungry to Lose Weight

Am I the only one that talks to themselves while eating?

Self-Talk: http://www.flickr.com/photos/44586678@N00/1459055735
Self-Talk: http:[email protected]/1459055735

Normally, I am thinking,

“mmm, this is good.  I want more of this.  Oh, wow, mmm.  Can I have some more?  This is some of the best food I have had in a while (since lunch).  mmm.  I have to keep eating this.  Good Cook!”

You know what, I normally do keep eating it.  I eat and eat until one of two things:  either there is no more food or I am entirely stuffed and full.

Obviously, this self-talk is sabotaging my goal of weight loss and weight management especially in my current semi-sedentary lifestyle. So, if I am to be serious about weight loss, One of my early goals must be to change my dining self-talk.

The best way for me to do this mentally is to constantly remind myself to eat until not hungry.  I have to ask myself after every bite of food.  Am I still hungry? If I answer yes, I keep eating.  If I answer no.  I stop. It’s a simple question, and if we’re honest with ourselves,  You will stop eating.  For me, I just don’t ask.  I just don’t think about stopping, because I am too busy stuffing my face and enjoying the food and drink.

Why is this eating such an important topic?

Recent study that stated  reducing the amount of food you eat is more important than your exercise, and

“The message of our work is really simple,” although not agreeable to hear, Melanson said. “It all comes down to energy balance,” or, as you might have guessed, calories in and calories out.
Source: Edward Melanson, Ph.D., an associate professor in the division of endocrinology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, quote from: New York Times

The energy balance is what we’ve been stating here on Simpleweight since our inception.  If you read the study in more detail, you’ll realize there is no “afterburn” of exercise. This is great news for those of us who find indoor fall/winter exercise boring. The challenge then is decreasing the quantity of food you eat.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  Exercise is still required in the equation, but its not the first item that needs to be tackled in your weight management and weight loss endeavors.

Now in my most recent post, I asked are you serious about weight loss?

I said “I know what I need to do.  I need to move, I need to eat less, and I need to measure my progress.  Will I do it?  stay tuned.”

In my post about the slow weigh, I talked about the way to weight loss.  The first item on the list is measure your progress. That’s what I did this week. I wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t need to be.  I just needed to measure my progress.  I did that.  I weighed myself everyday, and I tracked my food three of the past six days.  When we’re starting lifestyle change such as a diet and exercise regiment, it is more a mental battle than a physical battle.  We often times beat ourselves up if we miss.  The key, I have found, is to getting right back up and re-establishing the good habits you want as soon as possible.  So, failure is expected.  We won’t be perfect, but if we can get started and stay started, inertia will take over.

My goal for the next week is to continue to measure my progress, but I’m going to add one more to it.

Consciously try to change my dining self-talk from: Am I full/Is this good to Am I hungry?

I will fail.  I am not perfect.  The key is What do you do when you fail?  How do you handle it?  How soon do you pick yourself up and start again?

If there is anything we at simpleweight can do to help your weight management, please let us know.

Four Golden Rules for Eating and Weight Loss

In 2009, I will be reviewing popular diet, weight loss, and fitness books published over the last few years. These reviews will give you a chance to preview books before buying them and allow you to compare different weight loss and fitness approaches to see what fits best with your lifestyle.

A SimpleWeight Review of I Can Make You Thin

Known as the “Dr. Phil of Britain”, Paul McKenna, PhD, has just released the US version of his weight loss/self help book, I Can Make You Thin: The Revolutionary System Used by More Than 3 Million People (Book and CD) (published December 2008). Although it reinforces much of what has already been published about dieting and weight loss, McKenna boils down most of the weight loss principles into Four Golden Rules of eating. By following these rules, McKenna is certain that dieters can change their eating behaviors and lose weight in the process. Below you will find the highlights of McKenna’s book:

McKenna’s Four Golden Rules for Eating
1. Eat when you’re hungry: Sounds simple enough but the trick is to listen to your body and learn your personal levels of hunger. McKenna provides a “hunger scale” with 1 being physically faint from hunger and 10 being nauseous from eating too much. He suggests eating when your hunger level is at 3 or 4 (fairly or slightly hungry) and stopping when you reach a level of 6 or 7 (pleasantly satisfied or full).

Bonus Tip – Thirst is sometimes masked as hunger. In other words, you may think you are hungry when you are actually thirsty. If you think you are hungry, McKenna suggests drinking a glass of water first, then if you are still hungry, eat.

2. Eat what you want and not what you think you should eat: McKenna stresses that there are no forbidden foods using his weight loss method and that you can eat whatever makes you happy. This approach works due to the checks and balances of the other three Golden Rules. By merely following the other rules, you can eat whatever you want as long as you are truly hungry, you enjoy every bite, and you stop when you are full.

Bonus Tip – McKenna encourages you to throw away any foods that do not inspire you to eat, like the low fat, low carb, no taste snacks in the pantry (unless you really like to eat cardboard).

3. Eat consciously and enjoy every mouthful: Point blank, eat SLOWLY and really taste and enjoy your food. When you eat slowly, your stomach has enough time to send a signal to the brain and the rest of your body that you are “full” and to stop eating. People who are overweight tend to eat fast, not allowing their stomachs time to send this “full” signal. As result, they will continue to eat until they are overfull or even stuffed. Slow eating also allows you to appreciate all of the flavors and textures of the food, helping you decide what foods you really enjoy and which you can pass up.

Bonus Tip – Slow your eating down to a quarter of what you are used to and chew each mouthful completely, setting down your utensil between bites.

4. When you think you’re full, stop eating: Knowing when you are truly “full” may be difficult for many people, but McKenna offers an easy way to tell when you are full. As soon as you’ve had your fill of food, every bite thereafter will be less enjoyable then the one before. Continuing to eat after this point will create an uncomfortable feeling in your solar plexus (nerves in the abdomen). At this point, you should stop eating no matter how much food is still left on your plate.

Bonus Tip – For card-carrying members of the clean your plate club, McKenna suggests giving up this mindset and only eating until you are full, leaving behind any food as leftovers or for the trash.

Strengths – McKenna’s Four Golden Rules are extremely simple to understand. He explains them in clear terms and offers sound and, for the most part, jargon-free reasoning behind each of the principles. McKenna also offers a no-nonsense summary of why our dieting patterns have failed and have actually reprogrammed our bodies to not lose weight. This actually becomes the premise for the book, setting the stage for readers to change their habits and adopt better eating behaviors for life.

Limitations – Although the Four Golden Rules are simple in theory, actually following through with them is a different story. For many of us, following these rules will mean overcoming years of poor eating behaviors, many of which are now part of our subconscious. If you can get past this huge obstacle – you’re Golden. McKenna also stresses that no food is off limits, yet pays no mind to the nutritional value of food. Although I don’t believe any food should be forbidden (because it just makes you want it more), nutrition should also be a factor in what you eat.

The Twist – McKenna provides a guided hypnosis CD which aims to reinforce his golden rules and other weight loss techniques mentioned in the book. The idea of using hypnosis to lose weight may scare away dieters from even reading the book. This would be a mistake, because the basic principles are sound and don’t necessarily need hypnosis to follow.

Have you read this book? Tell me your thoughts about I Can Make You Thin. What other health books would you like to see reviewed on SimpleWeight.com?

Does the Flat Belly Diet or MUFA diet work for weight loss?

A Quick Skim Review of the Flat Belly Diet.
A Skim Review of the Flat Belly Diet.

Welcome MUFA & Flat Belly Diet Searchers.  We have noticed a large percentage of our visits have been from people like you searching for MUFA.  So, We decided to revisit the MUFA / Flat Belly Diet.

With three questions for you:

  • Are you following the Flat Belly Diet?
  • What do you think of MUFA is it a fad diet or is it the next best thing since Protein Diets?
  • How do you Balance MUFA vs. Calories?  Since, that’s the biggest challenge I have had.

Here’s my quick review for those of you new to the Flat Belly Diet.
Disclaimer: I have yet to complete the entire book, (I’ve only skimmed it).

Let’s review the basics of the Flat Belly Diet:

  1. Have a calorie goal, they recommend 1600 calories/day
  2. Eat MUFA at every meal.
  3. Eat Often.
  4. Manage your emotional eating.

Now:  Does the MUFA | Flat Belly Diet Really Work?

As we’ve said before at simpleweight, it does not matter what diet you are on, if you eat you less calories than you burn, then of course you will lose weight. When I wrote, Do I really eat 3790 calories a day, I learned that the average US person eats 3790 calories a day. Now, if you are a normal average person, and you go from eating 3790 calories to 1600 calories, then of course you will lose weight. So, restricting calorie intake is a key of any weight loss plan.

Now, the key for the Flat Belly Diet, is science research states by eating MUFA at every meal you will feel fuller longer and help to curb your appetite. If you are interested in the science, you can check out the British Journal of Nutrition (2003), 90:717-727 Cambridge University Press, specifically the article titled: Substitution of saturated with monounsaturated fat in a 4-week diet affects body weight and composition of overweight and obese men

Substituting dietary saturated fat with unsaturated fat, predominantly MUFA, can induce a small but significant loss of body weight and fat mass without a significant change in total energy or fat intake.

More science states that:

In conclusion, diets in which saturated fat is partially replaced by MUFA can achieve significant reductions in total and LDL-cholesterol concentrations, even when total fat and energy intakes are maintained.
Cholesterol reduction using manufactured foods high in monounsaturated fatty acids: a randomized crossover study

Okay, so you want to add MUFA to your diet, How can you do so?

Check How to add MUFA to breakfast, lunch, or dinner for weight loss?

The question as I stated above, is the challenge of balancing the 1600 calories a day with high calorie MUFA foods.

The other challenge is weight loss is both an emotional task as well as a physical task.  Physically is really the easy part:  Eat Less Food,  Exercise More.   Emotionally, weight loss is the difficult part.  With any lifestyle change, we have to very strong motivations for making the change.  The motivation to change must outweigh the difficulty in overcoming our predeliction for eating and emotional and pscychological attachment to unhealthy habits.  I’ve explored the topic of motivation many times here at simpleweight, and it can not be stated often enough.

You must think positively, manage expectations, create strong motivations, and make weight loss socially fun in order to sustain long term habitual change such as weight loss and weight management. For more information, I suggest you read:  7 steps to a positive and healthy lifestyle.

What are your motivations and how has the MUFA diet worked for you?

7 steps to mix Weight Loss with Eating Out at Restaurants.

Steps to Weight Loss and Restaurants: Think, Read, Ask, Alter, Half, Slow, & Walk

It’s difficult to navigate the landscape of the over-sized, over-oiled, over-salted menus of today’s restaurants. In my opinion, mixing Weight-Loss with Restaurants is similar to mixing oil and water.

It’s much easier to prepare your own meals in portion sizes that you control what ingredients are being used. Having said that, one can still enjoy meals at restaurants and lose weight. It’s definitely possible, but more difficult.

A recent article in the Chicago Tribune describes Bernie Salazar’s, of Biggest Loser Fame, method for eating out and losing weight.

Bernie Salazar, who eats out twice a week, sometimes has half of his meal boxed up before the food ever gets to the table. And he asks them to keep it in the back—to avoid eating it right away. “Keep it out of sight,” he says. Do not have the other half sitting on the table with you. “A meal in a box is just a present!” he says, adding that he would be tempted to open it – and eat it – if it were sitting there with him.

Above all, he says, don’t be afraid to ask for food to be prepared the way you want it. “Would you rather offend the waiter or the cook by being picky or would you rather offend your heart?”

source: Trine Tsouderos, Chicago Tribune: A ‘Biggest Loser’s’ calorie-busting tips

Let’s break it down into steps we can repeat every-time we dine out.

7 tips for eating out and maintaining weight loss

Image: 'Restaurant Row in Dresden' www.flickr.com/photos/95572727@N00/1463856598
Image: 'Restaurant Row in Dresden' [email protected]/1463856598
  1. Think before picking a restaurant. Try to find restaurants that don’t sacrifice taste in low-calorie dishes. Obviously, metropolitan areas like Chicago offer a large variety of restaurants to choose from, but in Paducah, KY, one might have less of a culinary choice.
  2. Read and comprehend the menu. By actually reading the menu for comprehension, you’ll have to think about it. Consequently, if a starter sounds appetizing (then you’ll remember while reading) that you will have to exercise more later to compensate the increase in calories.
  3. Ask questions! How is this prepared? What oil are our using? Is it fried or baked? How many calories are in this dish? Most restaurants will not divulge or conveniently choose not to know how many calories are in their menu items. By asking questions about how the food is prepared, you can make a better educated case into how many calories, carbs, fat, protein, nutrients are in the dish you are about to eat.
  4. Ask the waiter, chef, to alter the dish to your dietary needs. In other words, ask them for no salt, or to bake the fish instead of frying it. Paraphrasing Salazar, its much better to offend the restaurant than to come to a premature death due to poor diet.
  5. In the event that you do find yourself in a large-portion restaurant, while ordering your food, Ask the restaurant to half your order, and keep the doggie bag in the back as a gift for you when you leave the establishment. This way, you are not tempted to eat it, because its not on the table. Secondly, you’ll have a meal for home. I’ve suggested splitting the order in half in the past prior to eating, but I had not thought about asking the restaurant to split the order before even delivering the food to my table. That’s such a great idea.
  6. Eat Slow during the meal taking it one bite at a time. Chew your food completely, savoring each bite. By making the meal a slow event, you enjoy the food and give your body time to digest the food. Consequently, you’ll eat less and get your money’s worth.
  7. Take a walk after you eat to help with digestion. Exercise helps burn the calories. In fact, many experts suggest eating before and after a workout helps the body burn fat. I don’t go that far, but just the fact of walking around helps increase your activity and thus increases your Food Out.

What are your steps for maintaining weight-loss while eating at your favorite restaurant?

New Diet Books of 2008 for weight loss

Today, 2008 is 7/12ths complete, and summer weight loss has only a month to go. It’s time to get back to basics and review those 2008 new years resolutions, goals, and weight loss articles that proliferated in January.

Time Magazine wrote a piece titled: Weighing the New Diet Books which does a good review of the 2008 diet books.

I’m amazed at all the diet books out there, and they keep coming. Of course, I am tempted to write my own diet book. In fact, I have two working titles and I’ve been brainstorming outlines for a while. Besides that, What are the New Notable Diet Books of 2008 for weight loss

  1. Eat This, Not That!, By David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding, 304 pages.
  2. How to Eat Like a Hot Chick, By Jodi Lipper and Cerina Vincent, 168 pages. (Such a short book, What! Do Hot Chicks not eat much ?)
  3. Skinny Bitch in the Kitch, By Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, 192 pages.
  4. Slim for Live, By Dr. Gillian, 223 pages.
  5. The GenoType Diet, By Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo with Catherin Whitney, 317 pages.
  6. The All-New Atkins Advantage, By Dr. Stuart L. Trager with Colette Heimowitz, 362 pages.
  7. The No-Crave Diet, By Dr. Penny Kendall-Reed and Dr. Stephen Reed, 224 pages.
  8. The Spectrum, By Dr. Dean Ornish, 386 pages.
  9. The Ultimate TEA Diet, By Mark “Dr. Tea” Ukra, 306 pages.
  10. Women’s Health Perfect Body Diet, By Cassandra Forsthe 356 pages.

A couple of notables missing from Time Magazine’s list:

  1. The Flat Belly Diet, by Liz Vaccariello
  2. The 12 Second Sequence: Shrink Your Waist in 2 Weeks by Jorge Cruise, 256 pages.
  3. The Advanced Mediterranean Diet: Lose Weight, Feel Better, Live Longer, 304 pages.

Let me give you a hint (since my book is not yet published). I think you are what you read, and you are what you eat. So, if you read books about science, you’ll become a scientist. If you read books about diet and nutrition, you’ll soon adapt those habits as well. So, you can never read too many books. You’ll always learn something. However, It does not matter how many diet books you read, you still need to DO! Action needs to conincide with your reading Exercise, Fitness, Weight Loss, Diet, or even Cooking Books. If you don’t do, you’ll never reap the benefits.

What are some of my books in my Library that I re-read every so often?

I still recommend the free Hack Diet Book as a great starting place. For other great books, I recommend the following:

  • 8 Minutes in the Morning: A Simple Way to Shed up to 2 Pounds a Week Guaranteed by Jorge Cruise and Anthony Robbins
  • The 3-Hour Diet: Lose up to 10 Pounds in Just 2 Weeks by Eating Every 3 Hours! by Jorge Cruise
  • The Abs Diet: The Six-Week Plan to Flatten Your Stomach and Keep You Lean for Life by David Zinczenko and Ted Spiker
  • Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink
  • The Cardio-Free Diet by Jim Karas
  • You: On A Diet: The Owner’s Manual for Waist Management by Mehmet C. Oz and Michael F. Roizen
  • The Volumetrics Eating Plan: Techniques and Recipes for Feeling Full on Fewer Calories by Barbara J. Rolls

What about you? What is your favorite Diet or Fitness Book?

Chinese Diet gives us 10 tips to help with our Western Diet

A great article in The Independent titled:

Use your noodle: The real Chinese diet is so healthy it could solve the West’s obesity crisis – Healthy Living, Health & Wellbeing – The Independent.

I encourage you to read the article.  It provides a great list of Diet tips.  Some I agree with some I don’t, but still great food for thought.  I file this in the category of everyone is different, and each person needs to find the diet that works for them.  Here are the tips with my summary and comments.

  1. Stop Counting Calories:  The secret of the Chinese people is avoiding the empty calories of nutrient-free (sugary) foods. I think being in a western diet, we’re bombarded with sugary food.  So, its much more difficult for us to gauge portion sizes. I also have learned first hand that counting my calories helps me lose weight.
  2. Think of vegetables as dishes:  This goes well with our thought that Eat Plants and Protein.
  3. Fill up on Staple foods: If your staple foods are carb rich nutrient-free foods.  I disagree, but if they are complex carbs.  Then, well, it’s acceptable.
  4. Eat until you are full: Forget the eating to finish the plate or eating for social reasons. you eat when you are hungry, and you stop when you are not.  This takes a long time for us Americans to re-calibrate our stomachs, but over time, you will learn to listen to your stomach after you force it for 45 days or longer.
  5. Take Liquid Food: We’re not talking Starbucks.  We’re talking watery nutrient-rich soups.
  6. Bring yin and yang into your kitchen: Balance wet and moist foods (yin) with dry and crisp foods (yang).  In other words, a well balanced diet of Vegetables, with Protein, and Complex Carbs.
  7. Raw power?  Not necessarily: People overcook too many vegetables.  All you have to do is slightly steam broccoli or carrots.  Or just sautee them briefly to warm them.  This makes it easier for us to digest.  At the same time, RAW foods have more nutrients.
  8. Use Food to keep fit: Different foods help keep the body in balance and help the body fight different bugs.  I’ve always said that pizza helps sore muscles, and ice cream helps with headaches, but I think that’s just wishful thinking.  Remember, food is nourishment for every organ of the body.
  9. Drink Green Tea: Drink any tea, but green is the best.
  10. Practice Restorative exercise: Think Yoga, Think Tai Chi, Think Kung Fu, Think Balanced Aerobic Exercise with Rhythmic breathing.  While I agree, I also think High Intensity, 5 second methodical interval strength training can provide some of the same rhythmic benefits.

What a great list.  Every Culture has positive benefits.  Yes, certain diets are healthier than others, but there are food fundamentals that everyone can use regardless of diet.

Take a look at the book:

Why the Chinese Don’t Count Calories

8 tips to make a food diary work for weight loss rather than just plain more work.

I was looking around the internet today at people’s reactions to the recent food diary newsUmm asked a great question about food logs:

Do you have any tips for making the journal work instead of having it just create more work?

I responded on her blog, but I thought it might be helpful for everyone to hear.

8 tips for a more effective food journal

  1. Decide on what tool to use for your diary.  My suggestion is to use an online tool to make it simple for you to journal your food.
    (shameless plug, I recommend our Simple Weight Loss Tools )
    Using an online tool takes some of the hassle out of calorie counting and nutrient searching.  As Umm asks, it makes a food diary work for you rather than just more work.
  2. After you decide on your tool, Build the habit of journaling.  I definitely agree with you.  Have a piece of paper and pen, and write down before you eat, what you are going to eat.  If you can, enter it into an online system to get a feel the quantity of calories.
  3. After you build the habit of logging your daily intake of food, start to move into more advanced habits.  For example, I like to use a scale to measure my food. Why? I realized that my two tablespoons of peanut butter on my PB&J is actually more like four tablespoons.  So, by being more precise with my journal, I was able to learn that I’m actually eating more than I thought which of course was the cause of my stagnant weight loss.
  4. Try to write emotions or thoughts down when you eat.  It will help you assess your emotional eating habits.
  5. After you have a month or two of historical data, start to look at reports. Identify if you have been losing or gaining weight.  See if you can correlate your trends with your eating habits.  Then, start to make conscious small changes regarding your eating habits.  For example, if you normally have 1 glass of OJ every day, maybe you cut it to 1/2 a glass of OJ every day.  If you normally eat out for lunch 2 or 3 times a week, maybe you create a rule for yourself that says no fries.
  6. Again after you have the first habits started: Concentrate on Calories.  it doesn’t matter if you want to follow the atkins diet, the low-fat diet, the Mediterranean diet, the PBJ diet, whatever.  Calories is the first thing one should start to worry about.  Although, some people say you’ll be more satiated with Protein or Fat rather than simple sugars, it really does not matter physically.  Food In – Food Out = Weight Loss or Weight Gain.
  7. After you have been concentrating on calories and feel you have a good handle on it, then start to watch and manipulate your macro-nutrient combination.  In other words, your Fat to Protein to Carb Ratio.  Every person is different, you need to experiment with your diet to find your best weight loss ratio of Fat to Protein to Carbs.
  8. Finally, after you have all of the above under control, then you can delve into specific nutrients, vitamins, and mineral combinations.  Are you getting too much sodium, not enough Vitamin D.  etc.

You might ask Why do I go through this slow pattern of process?

here’s an example:  if you were to go to a financial planner and ask that person to help you get out of debt and become rich.  The First thing a good financial planner wants to know is how are you spending your money now.  So, they ask you to track every penny spent.  They don’t ask you to pick an investment strategy of derivatives, stocks, bonds, shorts, options, reits, commodities, etc.  You have to walk before you can run.    So, with food journaling, most people give up after they start step one instead taking it slow and working their way up the food log ladder.

It is a long slow process to lose fat.  Think about it,  It probably took you 5, 10 , 15, 30 years to build up all that excess fat and weight.  Do you really think you can lose it all in 3 months?

So, what do you do to achieve long-term life-sustaining healthy weight loss?

Follow the best practices: There have been numerous studies that state:
Weigh yourself every day, Track what you eat, Get some Exercise, and Make your weight management goals public and social.  By following these axioms, you’ll see positive long-term results.

I encourage you to try out simpleweight to help make your food journal easier and simple.

What about you?  Do you have any suggestions for making your food diary work for your weight loss rather than just plain more work?