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Your LiftAwayFat Food Journal


     Eating has changed over the past twenty years.  Drastically.  More meals are eaten outside the home, where you don't control the ingredients, and that trend is not likely to reverse.  According to the United States Department of Agriculture, we consumed approximately 43% of our food away from home in 2012, versus 26% forty years ago.¹  A lot of what we eat is a quick grab from the gas station mini-mart in the morning, a fast food lunch, and a carry-out dinner.  
     With convenience comes calories.  Often lots, and lots, and lots more calories than you may imagine.  A blueberry muffin from a popular grab-and-go store is 510 calories with 51 grams of sugar.  A pecan roll is 720 calories and 48 grams of sugar.  A cinnamon roll is 730 calories.  They're too scared to report the sugar in that one.  

     I asked twenty people (chosen at random,very unscientific), how many calories they thought were in the muffins and rolls.  The results were:  

Sixteen people, 80% of those questioned, guessed the goodies were 250 to 300 calories each.  That's about 350 fewer calories than actual.  This is a big problem for two reasons:

     #1.  If people believe they ate a small amount of calories for breakfast, they tend to make up for it later in the day.  You reward yourself for being "good".  

     #2.  If people find something to eat that is convenient, tasty and believed to be relatively low in calories, (It's a cinnamon roll, not a plate of bacon, right?), they eat it more often.  

That 350 calorie difference in imagined versus actual cals in the grab-and-go muffins is tough to ignore.  An extra 350 calories a day can result in an extra pound of Excess Body Fat on your backside in 10 days.  Hey, where did that come from?   

      So when your relaxed fit jeans have suddenly become skinny jeans, don't blame an overheated clothes dryer.  And it's not something mysterious that "just happens" to your body.  It's more likely you simply consumed more than you realized.  A lot of us do.

     The difference between what you think you are eating,
 and what is actually going into your body, 
is preventing you from losing Excess Body Fat.

The Great News is that awareness,
 just knowing that muffin may be keeping you from feeling comfortable 
in your shorts this summer, 
results in reaching for the egg white & diced tomato omelette, or steamy oatmeal instead.

That's a big reason for Food Journaling.  Instead of feeling bad every time you take a bite of fluffy mashed potatoes and blaming a lack of willpower, just realize it's more a lack of facts.  That first spoonful of mashed deliciousness will never hurt you.  That second spoonful can make you feel better than a warm sudsy soak in the bathtub with soft candlelight, a sip of wine, and the sound of your husband doing the laundry downstairs.  Bliss!  The last ten spoonfuls of mashed, however, may be the difference.  Afterwards, you can honestly say you only remember having a "few" spoonfuls, and have completely forgotten the butter, melted cheese, and crunchy bacon bits that someone else must have heaped on top.  

     Knowledge is power!  Knowing what you
consume in a day and over a week is a critical part of your journey to a leaner, firmer, stronger, and healthier body.

      I started suggesting Food Journal's to hurried business people back in the 1970's while working as a fitness trainer at a downtown Chicago health club.  Jump to the late 1980's and another health club.  Beverly, one of the morning regulars who often waited for the front door to be unlocked at 6 A.M., stopped by the front desk.  Over the previous three months, she had successfully lost 21 pounds of scale "weight".  More importantly, her waistline was trimmer by 4 inches.  Her body was much firmer and she had tons of energy.  But lately, she had regained 3 pounds of scale "weight".  Beverly wanted some help before she pushed the PANIC button.  
     We talked food, and it was clear, Beverly didn't feel she ate very much.  Hmm, very mysterious.  Fortunately, "weight" doesn't just appear, like long-lost relatives after you've won the lottery.  
     I felt she needed to see for herself what she actual consumed in her average day.  I asked her to write down everything she ate and drank.  She was to think of it like a bank savings account ledger.  So much money deposited, so much money withdrawn.  Her Food Journal would record the average calories deposited into her "body account".  We would determine how much was withdrawn by her bodies needs, and lifestyle activities.    
     Beverly was an accountant, so recording the information was second nature.  Everything was carefully listed in columns with dates and times.  She soon discovered that she snacked at the office more than she realized, and made a lot of ice cream "deposits" into her "body account" after dinner.  She had thought her husband was making most of the withdrawals from their freezer.  Actually seeing what she ate over a period of weeks, stuff she had forgotten, made her mindful when reaching for a cheese Danish during coffee break or before ordering the pasta at lunch.  Beverly was soon back on track.

     Journaling is a very popular way to record what goes on in your life, important stuff.  Your LiftAwayFat Food Journal is an opportunity to write about a very important part of your  I'm not asking for a love sonnett to a gooey cinnamon bun.  You don't have to romanticize about that wonderful chocolate truffle you met in that intimate coffee cafe.  And please, try not to tear up remembering that steamy Pasta Primavera dinner with endless bread basket.  (Oh, how your heart aches for those garlic rolls!)  

     I have stacks of file boxes  stuffed with Food Journals from people I've trained.  A few of the Food Journals are carefully recorded like my accountant friend did so long ago.  Many are just sheets of paper with dates at the top and a simple scribbled list.  There are Food Journals written on the back of kids school work, grocery lists, receipts, business invoices, parking tickets and yes, even on toilet paper.  I had to give the guy credit, it must have been tough to write on without ripping.  But I didn't care, everything he ate and drank was written down.  
     Some of the Food Journals are stapled with nutritional info labels from packaged foods, recipes for delicious healthy meals, pictures of families and friends gathered for summertime barbeques, and sumptiously overfilled restaurant buffets conquered.  There is even an ice cream carton lid labeled "THE LAST ONE".  It wasn't her last, but they appeared less often.   

What Can You Gain by Keeping a Food Journal?