Jotting down your routine and your goals enables you to see how far you have come and how far you need to go. It also provides an opportunity to celebrate your successes.
Healthy Lifestyle Tip: Got 10 minutes? Double Your Results
That’s all you may need to double your weight loss and triple the odds you’ll stick with that new routine. A pile of recent studies proves that simply writing down your daily progress in a journal makes a huge difference in the numbers on your scale and your tape measure.
Australian women and men who started a new exercise program were three times more likely to work out five days a week if they logged each session. Out of nearly 1,700 people on a 6-month weight loss program, those who kept a daily food journal lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t keep a journal.
The researchers who led the study say jotting a few words on a sticky note, or sending yourself an email or text message about what you ate for lunch or how long you walked, works perfectly well. Tracking works by making you aware of what you’re really doing, by holding you accountable, and by giving you a psychic pat on the back when you’re doing the right thing (and a kick in the pants when you’re not).
New research suggests that some basic do’s and don’ts can make it work better:
Be honest. Go ahead; write down that embarrassing cookie binge or the fact that you skipped your walk to watch the game.
Keep it simple. People who switched from detailed food-and-exercise diaries to simple lists where they just checked off the size of their meals and the minutes they worked out lost just as much weight as those who wrote reams.
Choose your medium. Paper? Computer? iPad? Choose your format. In one study of dieters, those who picked their own system were 50 percent more likely to record their food and twice as likely to record their exercise as those who were told which format to use.
Snap a picture. Using your cell phone to photograph a meal before you dig in may work even better than writing down what you ate, a Wisconsin study suggests. Just pausing to look at the picture can be enough to make you shove aside the fries and eat every leaf of the salad.
It’s the little things that can lead to a success story.