What’s the healthiest weight loss habit of all?

Anybody who’s read a few of my blogs knows that I’m not hung up on optimal health. I like to be healthy and I want to take good care of myself to protect my health, which by the way, I recognize how lucky I was to be born with it and still have it after 60 years.

Started out healthy and I'm still going strong. I'll work to keep that!

Started out healthy and I’m still going strong. I’ll work to keep that!

Taking good care of myself falls way short of freaking out over everything I can’t pronounce in my food. I don’t spend my money buying organic produce and I don’t have a beef with Kraft Mac and Cheese or Pop Tarts or Diet Coke. In fact, I don’t even have a beef with beef.

I like doughnuts, cake, candy, ice cream and potato chips. I don’t make them the foundation of my diet but I can truthfully say that months weeks don’t pass that I don’t enjoy at least one or more than one of those foods.

I try not to laugh at the people who decided they need to go gluten free without the expert medical diagnosis of a food allergy specialist. I think gluten free has replaced “Low carb diets” at the flavor-of-the-month guaranteed weight loss miracle breakthrough! 

Gluten free enthusiasts better read their nutrition facts labels because just like when all things labeled “fat-free” were the best sellers in the supermarkets, the calories in the “new and improved fat-free versions” were considerably higher than the originals.

I’m not willing to start living a monk’s existence to try to achieve optimal health. First of all, there’s a lot about our bodies we neither can understand or shall never know. Secondly there’s a whole lot of risk in life and good health isn’t a guarantee that bad luck – not sickness necessarily, but some other kind of bad juju might befall us. Life is short, it’s wondrous, and we only get one shot at it, so I want to do it right.

Now that you know my philosophy on living and maintaining health and weight, here is what I consider to be the healthiest weight loss habit of all – it’s tracking. And I like to do it the old fashioned way with paper and pen although you can do it on computers, tablets and smartphones too. I happen to like to see it all written (or scribbled as is often the case) in my own handwriting in my personal journal.

Lot of cheese (e.g. saturated fat) Looks like I need to adjust that a bit!

Lot of cheese (e.g. saturated fat) Looks like I need to adjust that a bit.

Healthy Benefits of Tracking

1. Makes you aware of what you’re eating and how much you’re moving. SuperAware.

2. GIves power to help you cut back without feeling deprived. When you see what you have actually ingested in a 24-hour period you can choose to put off eating some food choices or eating anything at all until later.

3. Helps you analyze your diet for moderation and balance. You can instantly see if you have eaten any vegetables or fruit at all for the day or days. You can see that your saturated fat intake has been quite high of late. And if you have been having trouble on the”throne” you can spot the culprit (YiKes, no wonder, no fiber.)

4. You can see exactly how active or sedentary you’ve been. Research shows we tend to think we ate half as much as we really did and think we got twice as much exercise.

Three good reasons to track and it’s so easy. Just write down what you eat and an approximate amount! That’s all there is to tracking. If you want to count calories or Weight Watchers PointsPlus® values (if you happen to be a Weight Watchers member) that will definitely enhance the effectiveness of your tracking.

In addition to tracking food, track activity too. Write the activity, the time you were engaged in it, and the intensity level or levels.

Sometimes I track by thinking I can remember everything and there’s no need to write it down. While I’m overlooking what I’ve eaten, which can be a lot because it never was committed to memory, I have an internal tracker that recognizes every morsel, every calorie I ingest. Eventually, the internal tracker alerts me with a warning that it’s time to get back to tracking on paper.

These jeans are stretchy so the waistband alarm didn't go off. It took a picture to make me realize it's time to get back to tracking on paper!

These jeans are stretchy so the waistband alarm didn’t go off. It took a picture to make me realize it’s time to get back to tracking on paper.

The warning is my waistband! When I can’t comfortably button the button I’m getting warned! Waist to Hip Ratio happens to be an indicator of risk of metabolic disease such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Back to tracking and it's a small price to pay to help ensure I won't miss moments like this!

Back to tracking and it’s a small price to pay to help ensure I won’t miss moments like this.

Research shows that it’s common to eat twice as much as you realized and only move half as much as you claim. Tracking keeps you honest aware.

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.