Write Down Everything You Eat
If you start writing down everything you eat during the day, especially meals eaten out, the shock of how much is actually going in should be enough to get you to toss those neighborhood restaurant takeout menus. While you’re at it, check your weight every day. Studies find that careful monitoring of what you eat and what you weigh helps you lose more weight than those who aren’t tracking their progress. One study of 40 obese people found that those who followed the tracking advice lost nearly twice as much as those who didn’t. Another study found that those who weighed themselves every day lost more weight than those who didn’t.
Use Your Cell to Track Your Food
Here’s a new take on the traditional food diary—which numerous studies find can help with weight loss. Instead of writing down everything you eat, snap a picture with your cellphone or digital camera, then upload onto your computer. Seeing what you’ve eaten in a day can be far more effective in showing you where you’re making nutritional, high-calorie mistakes than just reading about it. If you want a formal way to do this, you can sign up online for www.nutrax.com, a service that allows you to build an online food picture log. For $8 a week, a dietitian offers meal-by-meal feedback.
Give Yourself a Shiny Star
It might sound elementary, but do it anyway: Buy a package of those little shiny metallic star stickers. Every day you meet a fitness or nutritional goal like going on a 30-minute walk or fixing a healthy meal instead of ordering pizza, give yourself a sticker. “As silly as it sounds, sometimes seeing a whole month of shiny stickers can make you really proud,” says Lindsay Wombold, Healthy Horizons program assistant at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. “It’s tangible proof of how well you’re doing.”