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Friday, September 24, 2010

Counting Calories And Using A Food Journal

There are a bunch of viewpoints on counting calories and using food journals. Many mainstreamers say it's unnecessary and all you have to do is eat good and that's enough. I say that's a bunch of crap. 
I check my clients bodyfat, bodyweight and waist or hip measurements weekly. Some say that you should only check this stuff once in awhile. I check it weekly to keep everyone on track and to have accountability. Frequently, client's numbers go up and down and they get confused as to why. Of course there are many variables that influence your numbers. I always ask everyone how they have been eating this week and I get a variety of answers like "better, ok, not so great, eating real good". Then that rarely corresponds to how a person's numbers actually look that week. There are many reasons for this. The clients want me to tell them why their numbers are what they are. Of course, I can speculate as to what their numbers usually indicate based upon the book answer and historical evidence and experience.

But when my clients bring me their food journal, it turns from speculation to a more analytical view of data. Then I can usually dial in on the real problem and set people straight. Data takes the guess work out of the equation. I give everyone a bootcamper's handout when they first enroll, that shows them how to calculate their calorie requirements and gives them an example food journal, along with all of the nutrition basics. I show you how to calculate what you are supposed to be doing and the food journal shows you what you are actually doing. When you compare the data, the answers are usually very apparent.

In the beginning, when you are learning all of this new stuff and trying to change your lifestyle and break bad habits while replacing them with good habits, you need to track data. Counting calories and maintaining a food journal has shown time and time again to be super beneficial to the client. It raises the rate of progress to a very fast rate. Compliance with the program equals success guaranteed. Non-compliance negates your odds of success. So I recommend in the beginning, you should track your calories and maintain a food journal at least once a week if not everyday. I recommend using as your online calorie counter because it is free and allows you to print off pie charts and all sorts of data. Do you need to do this forever? - hell no!

Once you have developed good habits and have changed your lifestyle, you will know if you are eating right or not. But it takes about a month of consistency to make or break a habit. So I would say 90 days is the minimum that you should track your data through calorie counting and food journals. Discipline yourself and put as much (if not more) effort into data tracking as you do in your workouts. So track your data and print it off. Bring it in for me to analyze with you and I can explain all of the variables to you and things will be much clearer.  

Dempsey's Resolution Fitness
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