The #1 Body Transformation Secret

by Anna D

If I told you that there’s one secret to creating lasting weight loss results that will truly make an impact in your health and fitness, would you do it? After reading a study about a successful weight loss strategy which was done by Kaiser Permanente in collaboration with Duke University Medical Center, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, and Johns Hopkins University, I was convinced I was going to have everyone at bootcamp do it regularly.

Can’t wait to hear the secret? Here is what an article USA Today said:

“Keeping a food diary — a detailed account of what you eat and drink and the calories it packs — is a powerful tool in helping people lose weight. The study involving 1,685 middle-aged men and women over six months found those who kept such a diary just about every day lost about twice as much weight as those who did not.”

I know what you might be thinking – how can keeping a food diary help me lose weight?

I am sure some of our bootcampers were thinking the same thing when we said we will check their food journals before each workout. After only several days of having them write down everything they ate, this is what some of them have to say:

“I should’ve done this a long time ago because it makes me not want to write down (and ultimately not eat) junk foods.”

“I was surprised how much carbs I was actually eating when I thought I had my carb intake under control.”

“This (updating my food journal) definitely makes me think of what I’m putting into my body.”

Some of our bootcampers have already seen anywhere from 2-5 lbs of weight loss in one week, just by starting the journalling habit. Of course, with awareness comes little changes and these changes add up. People who updated their food journals seriously (meaning writing everything down) are most likely to make changes to their nutrition as soon as they see the evidence written down on paper.

3 Reasons Journalling Works like a Charm

Accountability: This is accountability to ourselves. At the end of the day, people really don’t want to disappoint themselves so they start make better choices instead of poor ones. At bootcamp, the trainers also check food journals so this creates an extra level of accountability.

Clarity: Most people think they eat a fairly healthy diet but sometimes we just forget the little things that can affect our nutrition in a big way. For instance, you might have forgotten that you ate a cupcake a co-worker brought in this morning or that you had a soda at lunch or you had those french fries at dinner.

When we do this everyday, the calories add up. Writing everything down and looking at it at the end of the day, gives us ideas and ways to improve the next day. You have a clear path to follow and you stop guessing.

Motivation: Again, it is easy for us to foget even the small victories we make each day. On days when you’re feeling down, you can look at your journal and look at the improvements you’ve made over time and feel good about your accomplishments.

How to Start Your Body Transformation through Journalling

The simplest way to start a food diary is with your classic pen and notebook. At bootcamp, we gave everyone a small, thick notebook they can carry with them at all times. Small notebooks are inexpensive and easy to find in our local office supply stores. People who are tech-savvy may choose to go online or download a smart phone app like or my fitness pal and do their tracking there.

What do You Journal About?

Since we’re talking about food journal, we’ll mostly write about what we ate. But, to be more specific, write down the amounts of each food. For instance, 1 small apple or 1 cup of salad greens. Writing down food amounts is key because sometimes, just decreasing portions can help you make the progress you are looking for. To take this to the next level, you can plan your meals and write them ahead of time. Once you do that, you can then pack your meals and snack and take it with you to work or wherever your destination is for the day. Planning ahead helps you stay on your plan and figure out the type of food and your calorie intake ahead of time.

If journalling works with improving your nutrition, you can be sure it also works for your workouts. At bootcamp, we keep track of workouts done through attendance but what I personally do is write down my workouts as well. When you see how much or how little you’ve exercised in a day (or a week), you’re more likely to make a conscious effort to increase your physical activity.

Here is an example of a food and exercise journal:

Date: January 10, 2011, Monday

Veggie & Shrimp Omelet w/ 2 eggs and 2 ounces shrimp and 2 cups veggies
1 cup green tea
2 caps Fish Oil
300 calories

4 ounces Smoked Brisket
1 cup Asparagus
1 small peach
8 oz water with Fiber Powder
320 calories

Late afternoon snack:
1 oz or 24 Almonds
1 Mozzarella Stick
190 calories

1 Chicken Fiesta Taco Salad (Taco Bell)
1 16 oz Soda
970 calories

45 minutes of bootcamp

I did well today in terms of nutrition except for dinner. I had to work late so I wasn’t able to cook the dinner I planned. Bootcamp workout this morning was great. It gave a me a lot of energy throughout my work day. Next time, I should have a plan B dinner that’s easy to make so I don’t have to get fast food.

Keeping a food journal may sound like a lot of work but really, it takes about 5-10 minutes of your day to update it. If you keep it with you, you can even take just several seconds to update it after each meal. About 80% of the people who are reading this probably would not follow this “simple” yet very powerful tool. Will you be part of the 20% who will do it?

What are your thoughts or experiences about food journalling? Please share them below and also let us know if you have any questions about today’s post.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Brandy Mychals July 5, 2011 at 10:47 am

Great advice, Anna! When I’ve done a food journal in the past it was really effective – sometimes I would skip foods just because I didn’t want to write them down in my journal – LOL! It might be time to break it out again…

Anna D July 5, 2011 at 10:56 am

That’s the way to go, Brandy. I forgot to mention in the post that I started my own journal as well but I used to do it religiously when I first started my fitness journey. It definitely helps keep me on track…lol.

Anna D.

Gail Nott July 5, 2011 at 11:43 am

Great tips & I appreciate the example. Keeping a food journal has helped me in the past too & it’s time for me to start doing it again!

Anna D July 5, 2011 at 11:57 am

Welcome to the food journal club, Gail!

Gurpreet July 5, 2011 at 12:32 pm

I have gone on and off of food journalling. I kept track of it on my phone. I have great results when I do journal but struggle with keeping it up!

Anna D July 5, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Hi Gurpreet, while I like technology, I still like the traditional style of pen and paper. It takes less time for me. Find out which method suits you best. You’ll be more consistent if you do.

Anna D.

Rauly Butler July 5, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Totally agree with Brandy. I have skipped foods just because I did not want to write it down. Even if a trainer misses a page in my book, I still know what’s in there and it is a huge motivator to have to write it down. It’s also fun to see how well you can behave on some days as well.

Anna D July 6, 2011 at 7:35 am

Hi Rauly, you are doing so well at bootcamp and I’m so proud of you! That’s the attitude everyone should aim for 🙂

Anna D.

David Veras July 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm

This is a great method to keep count of what you’re eating. I know for sure people must be surprised how much junk food they are actually eating. Thank you Anna.

Anna D August 3, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Hi David, yes, it is very much a helpful tool. Even though we think we eat fairly healthy, the journal doesn’t lie and it gives you guidance on what you can do next to keep getting results.

Anna D.

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