When it comes to living a healthy life, it isn’t just your training that counts. Your food also plays a critical role. This is why a food and activity diary is good. It helps track your progress so you can live a well-balanced and rounded lifestyle.
Food and Activity Diary: Part 1: Food
Hold Yourself Accountable
It is easy to sneak little pieces of chocolate throughout the day or snack while you’re cooking but these little things can accumulate. While it is important to treat yourself every now and then, it can also be easy to lose track of everything that you have eaten. Most people may be surprised with how much extra food or liquid they have throughout the day.
Tracking your food and liquid consumption can help hold you accountable for everything that you eat, even that extra dollop of sauce.
It means that you won’t get away with little sneaky bites here and there, and instead can account for everything that you ate, laid out in a food and activity diary. It can help give you overall insight into how much you eat, so you can adjust accordingly.
Recalibrate Portion Sizes
Some people have a problem eating too much. Even healthy foods can cause weight gain if you eat too much of it.
One of the big problems nowadays is our idea of portion sizes. With portion sizes growing larger with every year, people are eating more and more.
Keeping a food and activity diary means that you can recalibrate your idea of portion sizes so you know if you are eating too much or too little of certain foods.
This is why it isn’t the best idea to rely on the nutrition serving sizes on nutrition labels of foods. Most of the time, people believe that 100 grams is more than it actually is. Measure out your own food instead so you can adjust your idea of portion sizes to make better-sized choices in the future.
Connect Food to Mood
Writing down your mood or how you feel before and after eating can really change the way you approach your food.
It can even highlight food intolerances that you didn’t know you had before. If you suddenly have become more gassy or bloated, then tracking your food can help pinpoint what it is that is making you feel this way.
Another reason why a food and activity diary is beneficial is that it can also track how food affects your mood. If you skip breakfast and have only coffee in the morning, do you become more irritable and moody faster than the times you actually wake up earlier to cook a healthy breakfast?
You can make informed food choices that are not only healthy for your body but also your mind. Not only will this be great for you but also everyone around you.
Get a Reality Check
You often don’t realise just how much you are consuming so this will give you a reality check. Also, you may think you are eating lots of vegetables or protein when in reality, you are not.
In your head, you may believe that you are but writing down your food consumption can give you actual information to see whether you are hitting these nutritional goals. Maybe you are only eating 3 servings of vegetables when you thought it was 5?
With a food and activity diary, you will know for sure.
Food and Activity Diary: Part II: Exercise
The second part of a food and activity diary is, of course, the exercise component. While your diet plays an important role in being healthy, so does the activity that you do. Tracking this can really contribute positively to your health.
Track Your Progress
Having a workout log and tracking the metrics of your exercise, such as pace and mileage, can give you data for your next session. This way, you know exactly where you are at the moment and what to beat for next time.
By knowing where you stand, you can push yourself to make more improvements and progress faster in your fitness goals.
Have you ever finished a run, only to forget what you got for your time in your last session?
A food and activity diary means that you don’t have to use brain power to remember (and sometimes subsequently forget) your last workout. Everything is logged and written down, so you can make definite improvements from your previous session.
Sometimes, we lose our motivation. Maybe you are not progressing as fast as you thought you would be or you were 1-minute slower in your run than you were last time.
Unfortunately, it can be quite easy to lose become demotivated.
A food and activity diary can counteract this. By logging all your activity, you can really see how far you have come. So, on those bad days, you can look back on previous records and give yourself a reality check. You may be having a once-off bad day now but in actuality, you have improved so much so it is time to give yourself a break.
Check Energy Levels
Some training days, you wake up feeling pumped and ready to go. Other times, you wake up lazy and have an unproductive training day. Some days, you may even skip your running or gym session.
Making logs of your workout does not only include what you do but how you feel. Did you have less sleep than usual the night before? This may explain why you are feeling low on energy. Did you eat a banana before your workout? Maybe this is why you have more energy than the times you train fasted.
By making notes of your mood and energy levels, you can see these two areas work together to contribute to your fitness progress.
As you can see, maintaining a food and activity diary is really beneficial to runners and athletes. It can serve as a motivational tool, reality check and as a way to progress faster towards your fitness goals. If you are struggling to progress or want to clear your head and keep records, definitely give keeping a food and activity diary a try.
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Do you keep a food and activity diary? What differences have you found that it has made to your progress? Let us know in the comments below, we would love to know!