Archives for posts with tag: Diary

On the 4th of January 2009 I started a food diary. Actually it was kind of an everything diary. Weight, health and fitness activities, the weather, and a quick scribbled account of what I got up to that day. It detailed exactly what I had for breakfast, lunch, dinner and other snacks, how much water I drank, and how much alcohol. When I look back, I would say that, arbitrarily, it’s 90% accurate. Oh, and there was a two week summer holiday where I recorded the information on my phone and accidentally deleted it before it got to my laptop…

Today marks over 10 years of my food diary. If I want to know – I doubt you will – exactly what I ate, drank and filled my day with on any one of the last three-and-a-half thousand days, I can find out in a couple of clicks.

I blogged some time ago about the benefits of keeping a food diary. It keeps you honest, and that helps with health and weight management. For example, I’m about 2 pounds/1 kilo lighter now than I was a decade ago. I’ve probably lost a bit of muscle tone and maybe 2 centimetres of height, but for someone who during that time moved from his fifth decade into his sixth, I think that’s a pretty decent achievement.

The collected data from 2009 to now must be of some value to someone, I would have thought? If you think so, do let me know.

As you may know, I like round numbers and I like doing things for a set amount of time before I call it a day. I’ve mentioned more than once how I may stop at 1,000 blog posts.

Maybe today will be my last food diary entry. Then again, I was going to retire at 30, 40 and 50…

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If you’re a healthy person trying to get fitter, or indeed an unhealthy person looking to get healthy – and you’re serious about it, I have one piece of advice for you.

Being in good shape is of course a complex blend of lifestyle, genetics, circumstances and so on. This is not the advice part by the way. Some of these things are beyond our control, but we can to a large extent get or stay in shape by managing our diet and exercise.

It seems to be that you need to do both. We’re subject to a basic calculation: calories in and calories out.  In that sense we’re a bit like cars, taking in fuel and using it up to do work.  The more we exercise, the more we can eat, put in an over-simplified way. If you burn less calories than you absorb, you gain weight.  If you burn more, you lose weight. You could do 100’s of sit-ups a week, but if you can’t cut out the rubbish, you won’t see the benefit.

Now I’m partial to rubbish. Very partial. Cakes, sweets, biscuits, chocolates – these are the 4 basis food groups as far as I’m concerned. Added to that, I’m not as sprightly as I used to be, and nor’s my metabolism. So this is only going to end one way if I’m not more careful.

Here’s where I get to my advice, which if course I already gave you in the heading. Keep a food diary. I have kept one for the last 5 years, recording in general terms what I’ve been eating. It’s not particularly scientific, but what I do find is that it helps me acknowledge exactly what I’m eating, and that for me is half the battle. If you ate 4 chocolate biscuits after your tofu salad, then record them. I also try to record how much water I drink (I can’t stand water; it’s an effort for me to drink it) as well as tea and coffee. Finally, I also record any exercise I do that’s more strenuous than a walk around the block.  Any day without any exercise is recorded as ‘Black Day’.

Recording exactly what you eat reminds you of exactly what you eat. When you’re monitoring it, you’re effectively measuring it. And as the business gurus will tell you, if you can measure it, you can manage it.