- Food and Activity Logs increase awareness of how many calories you actually eat and when. This improves your accountability as well as your ability to modify your eating behaviors.
- They help improve your overall meal balance and lead to a healthier mix of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. They also help monitor problem areas such as sodium, sugar, cholesterol and fiber intake.
- They’re excellent tools for tracking portion sizes as well as daily water and physical activity goals.
- They help with the identification and resolution of most emotional eating triggers.
- They’re valuable tools for planning meals and movement ahead of time, which usually leads to healthier overall eating and weight loss.
A wide variety of food and activity tracking tools are available so if you’re hoping to lose weight and get in better shape, you’re sure to find a method that meets your style and needs. For those who prefer to track progress electronically online, try one of these tools:
- WebMD Food and Fitness Planner: This free, online log allows users to create a personalized tracking program for both their food and activity. Users determine how much weight they want to lose and how fast they want to lose it – and the Planner tells them how many calories they can eat and how much activity should be incorporated into each day in order to meet set goals. The program includes more than 30,000 foods and beverages in its database, including thousands of pre-packaged brands. For those with special medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol, the WebMD tool also allows users to track the intake of sodium, saturated fats and carbohydrates.
- FitDay: This is another free, online diet journal and activity tracker. It’s easy to use by simply setting one’s weight loss goals, logging food and activity, and tracking progress. FitDay is also available as an iPhone app for $1.99. For an additional fee, users can also register for FitDay Dietician, through which they receive personalized mentoring and encouragement as well as professional dietary advice.
- Sparkpeople Food and Exercise Trackers: This free, online tool works similarly to the WebMD and FitDay trackers. But the Sparkpeople site also includes lots of daily informational perks and swag, including healthy recipes, workout videos, and Sparkpeople “trophies” for meeting mini-goals. And for those who desire a more “social” weight loss experience, Sparkpeople features message boards and a variety of different “challenges” (such as the “Spring Into Shape Bootcamp Challenge,” and the “Tame Your Sweet Tooth Challenge”), which motivate users to reach new goals and “have fun along the way.”
For dieters who prefer to go the low-tech, pencil and paper route, try one of these free, downloadable food and fitness diaries:
- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Daily Food and Activity Diary
- American Academy of Family Physicians Food and Activity Journal
- Tufts University Food & Activity Journal
So there you have it. If you’re motivated to lose weight and get in better shape, start logging it – and then watch those excess pounds melt away.