October 8, 2012
Monitor Thy Self

People have metabolic disorders for very different reasons. It may be the quantity or type of food eaten (high-calorie fast foods) or maybe mood or emotions trigger uncontrolled eating. If you're trying to lose weight to correct any metabolic disorders, you have to look at lifestyle habits that cause you to eat, including environment, people you eat with, mood, emotions, hunger level, and the activity you were doing while eating (such as watching TV). I am here to tell you probably the single most important aspect for effective weight control is self-monitoring.

Very consistent self-monitoring, even if inaccurate, greatly improves the effectiveness of weight control. However, consistent and accurate self-monitoring is even more useful and effective in weight loss.

Multiple studies that have shown not only the effectiveness, but the necessity of good meal tracking while trying to lose weight. In a 2004 study, 1,079 people participated in the Diabetes Prevention Program, an intensive lifestyle intervention that was shown to reduce the risk of diabetes by 58 percent. These participants set goals of 7 percent weight loss and 150 minutes per week of physical activity.

Goal achievement was assessed at the end of 16 weeks and again an average of three years later. Forty-nine percent met the weight loss goal and 74 percent met the activity goal initially. Over the long term, 37 percent met the weight loss goal and 67 percent met the activity goal. Dietary self-monitoring (keeping a meal tracker) was positively related to meeting both weight loss and activity goals. People who met their initial goals were 1 1/2 to 3 times more likely to meet those goals long-term.

To make this short and sweet, self-monitoring helps sustain your motivation and helps you reach your weight loss goals, it's critical to keep a meal tracker. Meal tracking helps you learn and makes you aware of the details of the size of typical portion sizes so you can stop being a victim to "portion distortion."

Self-monitoring can come in several forms such as entering your food in our 20/20 LifeStyles Tracker online or from your phone. Research shows the best success comes from writing down foods immediately after you eat or utilizing a computerized meal tracker that visually can show you where your calories are coming from in terms of fat, carbohydrates or protein.

My recommendation to you is to start meal tracking right away. I let all my patients know if they did nothing else but write down the food they ate, they would lose anywhere from 5 to 7 lbs right away. Just writing down the foods you consume causes you to eat less and avoid those higher fattening foods because after all you do not want to have to write it down when there is proof!

Self-monitoring is the key to success. It improves your commitment to make positive changes, your understanding of how to eat in your new lifestyle, increases your feeling of control over your eating habits, improves your ability to budget your calories, carbohydrates, fats and proteins, and teaches you to plan ahead. So what are you waiting for, start being successful and meal track!

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