According to Professor Richard Wiseman in his book “59 Seconds”, people are about 20% less likely to tell “little white lies” – or even bigger, black ones- if they’ve to put their words in writing in the form of an email or letter as opposed to a telephone conversation.
Over the years, I’ve noted something similar with clients when it comes to how they’re doing with their nutrition plans! Typically, when I ask clients at the gym about the quality and quantity of the food, they usually nod their head vigorously while telling me that they’re “being very good” or that their food is “going grand.”
These lines are usually said with a lot more passion and indignation immediately after they’ve had an assessment that shows their weight, body-fat % and tape measurements have gone up!
I’m not suggesting for one moment that clients are being deliberately deceptive. (Ok, some of them are). The simple fact is that it is very hard to remember every single thing that you’ve had to eat or drink over the course of a week, unless you write it down as close as possible to the time you’ve consumed it.
Another issue is that some people mistakenly believe that they’re eating “healthy” food and that they can eat as much of it as they like. Therefore, confusion about appropriate choices and portion size can also lead to poor results.
It is for the above reasons that I insist that all our Personal Training and Semi-Private Training clients keep a food and lifestyle diary. In this way, we can assess what the clients are eating and recommend any necessary changes to help them reach their goals. We also have an option for our class members to use this service but unfortunately this offer isn’t always accepted!
Recording everything that you eat and drink can be time-consuming and a bit of a pain. If your food and drink choices consist mostly of alcohol and sugar, it can also be a little embarrassing to let another person see the diary.
Despite all of this, food diaries help clients get great results. At the end of every Bootcamp course, our final measurements confirm what scientific research has been saying for years: people who accurately record their food and drink intake on a daily basis lose more body fat than people who don’t.
And it’s not just a case that the people who keep food diaries may also be exercising more often than everybody else. There’s a very well-worn cliché that says that you can’t out-train a bad diet. Technically, you can. But for some people, they’d need to train 6-7 hours a day to undo the effects of their diet.
This was recently confirmed to me when I saw that a client who was doing no exercise (due to injury/illness) but who kept a food diary and had weekly nutrition consultations and measurements, lost more body fat and scale weight than most of the clients who trained 2-4 times per week but who did not record their calorie intake!
In order to get the best results possible, we also record our clients’ sleep patterns and stress levels. Remember that losing body fat works best when it is part of an overall change of lifestyle that includes regular exercise and good nutrition, combined with adequate sleep, recovery and reduced stress levels.
However, simply recording the type and amount of food and drink that you consume is a very simple and effective way to start. In most cases, people who over-eat do so in situations where they’re stressed, bored or distracted and are eating mindlessly in front of the tv, computer or while on the phone.
By making the simple effort of writing down everything that’s been eaten, we can create awareness and in many cases this can be enough to reduce the consumption of junk food.
So, if you want to make positive and long-lasting changes in your eating habits, start putting it in writing!