Friday, May 15, 2015

3 Ways to Stay True to Your Diet even if you don't have someone to keep you on track....

When you’re working toward your health and fitness goals, it’s very tough to do everything alone. Some of us are lucky enough to have a friend on the same path who is willing to call us out on our double order of fries and remind us to hit the gym. Sometimes, however, you are on your own. Your family and friends might be chugging Bud Lights and downing bags of Doritos while you try to remind yourself why a six-pack stomach is worth eating salad during the Super Bowl. Here are some ways you can hack your brain into acting as if you have a gym buddy constantly giving you support and reminding you to stay on the journey.

1) Take a Picture of Everything You Eat

This is about as low tech as food tracking gets. And no, writing what you ate on a pad isn't “low tech” because no one’s written on a pad since 2004. Camera shots are as “old school” as it gets in this article...

For some reason, taking a picture makes what you’re eating more “real” and an actual “event.” You don’t have to upload it to Facebook or send it to anyone, but the mere act of taking a picture forces you to have some personal accountability over what you’re doing. It also takes you off “auto-pilot” and forces you to acknowledge every morsel you put into your body. You can’t claim you just got carried away because you were of sound mind enough to take the picture before consuming. Because of this self-accountability principle, you will slow down the amount of junk food you eat even if you never look at the pictures again.

Will people with you think this is weird?

Well if you’re obviously flashing camera lights at every restaurant, people will think you’re a tourist who is seriously amazed at his authentic American chicken salad. However, we all like to play on our phones in public (even when its rude) so if you have your flash off, people will assume you’re checking your email anyway.

2) Use a Food Tracking Site

What technology you use for this isn't as important as if you use it, period. My favorite app is the MyFitnessPal app, but there's also Daily Plate, Calorie King, and DailyBurn. And you’ll of course find a bunch of other apps in your iPhone or Android market as well. If all you did was simply track what you ate, without any regard to any diet plan, your health would still improve with no other adjustments. This isn't even necessarily because your eating behavior changes.

Tim Ferris postulates in the “4-Hour Body” that even if your diet is exactly the same, the mere act of observing and recording what you eat causes your body to digest and burn calories differently. I’m not 100% sold on that theory, but in the end, it doesn't matter. These online food trackers force you to account for what you eat every single day. This means that if you have a scoop of ice cream after lunch, your consequence is that you have to remember the event at 10 pm when you enter it into your tracker. This is often enough to avoid foods that aren't good for you, simply to spare yourself the guilt, and you start taking responsibility for what you eat.

If you take the food tracker to its fullest possibilities, you can track what you’re eating down to the last calorie and even record your carb/fat/protein ratios every day. And the good news is that new laws and customer demands are forcing companies and restaurants to be transparent about what’s in the food they’re serving. This means you can type in “Rubio’s chicken taco” and your tracker immediately counts all calories, fat, and carbs in that meal. Its a win win.

3) Join a Facebook Diet Group

Notice I didn't say “Post what you ate every single day to all your friends who don’t care.” Some people post every meal on their wall and quickly find themselves posting to no one because every friend unsubscribes from their feed or de-friends them. Instead find some people who actually like seeing postings like that or who will at least tolerate them. If you just type in the Facebook search box “Get Shredded” or “Food Posting,” you’ll see options come up for groups and communities. On those pages, you have free reign to post every little thing you eat. You can even add little comments about your progress.

You’ll notice that all of these techniques are things you can do with a partner if you have one. The effectiveness of what you’re doing goes up dramatically with the more people you know taking care of their health… and in any area of life for that matter. Be glad that we’re in such a rich technological age because this would take a lot more discipline if all you had was a pen, a pad, and a calorie book to help you guess what was in your last meal. Take advantage of everything available to you.

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