Tracking Your Progress: A Proven Strategy

By: Joy Hayes, Registered Dietitian

Want to know one of the most proven and successful strategies for losing weight and keeping it off? Tracking your progress! In fact, in one study at Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research, researchers found that people who recorded what they ate lost twice as much weight as those who didn't track.

Tracking can include activities such as:
• Weighing yourself weekly
• Keeping a food diary 
• Tracking your steps, minutes or miles of physical activity
• Recording your stress levels
• Knowing your numbers — blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose

Tracking is helpful for many reasons:
• It increases your awareness of current habits and gives you valuable information to decide which lifestyle changes are right for you.
• It helps you set realistic goals and know if what you’re doing is working.
• It helps you think about the foods you eat, physical activity and stress in different ways. If you have to write it down, you are more likely to eat less, move more or take time to relax.

How do you get started with tracking?
Write it down!
 Start by finding a small notebook that is easy to take with you and then begin recording your weight, food intake, physical activity, stress level or any combination of these. Then remember to bring this information to your next clinic appointment. 

How often you track is completely up to you! But, the more you track, the more information you will have to work with. Some people track for a few weeks or months to get started. Others use it as a long-term strategy to maintain healthy lifestyle changes, while others resume tracking when they hit a plateau or regain a few pounds and want to jump-start their weight loss again.