Ok, so you’ve gone through the first step and done some deep thinking to see where you stand mentally. Now, let’s get into something a little more physical (dirty minds: stop).
This second step is all about understanding your current diet and exercise habits. It will help you with figuring out what to do next, and also makes you more conscious of you current habits. In a study conducted by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, participants that kept a food diary lost twice the weight in comparison to those that did not track their eating habits. It also applies to tracking activity: wearing a pedometer has also been found to help increase the level of physical activity.
Bottom line: tracking is key to results.
You are going to track 2 things in this phase:
- The types of food and calories you consume each day
- Your level of activity
When it comes to food, about 90% of the reason we gain or lose weight is through the calories we eat. (Yes, carbs are just calories, and so is fat and pretty much everything else.) The other 10% comes through superfoods (like brown rice, Greek yogurt, quinoa). Those are not official numbers, but they get to a very important point:
If you want to lose weight, it is all about the calories.
We’ve all heard these freak stories about the skinny man that eats 2 Big Macs each day or the professor that lost 27 lbs on the Twinkie diet. In both of these examples, regardless of what they ate, they lost/maintained their weight. (By the way, there are so many drawbacks to this type of diet – so don’t run off and do it).
My personal favorite for tracking calories is MyFitnessPal. Every food item created by human beings is included on this site, and its free and easy to use. If you’re not going to go the non-mobile route (who does that these days?) you can still get away with pen and paper, along with a calorie counting book. Amazon sells the CalorieKing book (also a great source) here.
It’s best to track every little thing you eat – at least at the beginning. Even if you chew a piece of gum it should go in here. All food, snacks, meals, drinks – everything you consume should be logged. No worries if you miss an item or two. Don’t let that stop you. Track as much as you can for at least one week.
Level of activity
If you think about a typical day, all of your activity basically fits into these 4 categories:
- Walking/Moving Around
- Working Out
Pick a pretty normal day (or more than one day and take the average for better accuracy) and track the amount of time you spend doing each of these things. The total amount of time should add up to 24. It will look something like this:
We could make this tracking exercise more complex by using pedometers, Fitbits, phone apps, and a lot of other things that are out there, but no need to be too scientific yet (however, if you are using any of these things then you’re like 10 steps ahead so by all means, keep doing it).
Where are we going with all of this?
In this program, if you haven’t noticed already, we’re all about some solid metrics. It’s super important to know where you are to know where you’re going (deep right?). But really, your next steps in changing your life will make so much more sense if you know where you stand. Plus, as I mentioned earlier in this post, we are way more accountable when we measure what we’re doing. We’re like bad little school children that need the teacher in the room to stay seated.
So, meddle on that. In fact, actually try it. Learn about yourself. I would love to hear your comments on how you’re doing and what you’ve learned. Let me know!