Monitoring food intake with a food diary can help you lose and maintain weight. In fact people who stick to food diaries are more likely to lose weight than those who don’t. Recording each bite helps you be more aware of the food you eat, plus when and how often you eat them.
Track your progress.
A recent study found that using a mobile device was more effective in helping people lose weight than tracking diets on paper. Apps like MyFitnessPal, Sworkit, or FitStar help users track daily activity and food intake. Tracking with the help of apps may help you regulate behavior and be mindful of health and fitness choices.
Find a wearable that works for you.
Writing stuff down may be helpful, but it’s tough to accurately gauge how much you move every day (and not just on the treadmill). Invest in a wearable like a FitBit, Jawbone, or splurge on an Apple Watch to monitor energy burn. You can also track your daily steps with a simple pedometer. Studies show that individuals who walk more tend to be thinner than those who walk less, and pedometer-based walking programs result in weight loss.
Photograph your food.
You can write down what you ate, but when looking back a week later, it may be tough to visualize exactly what a meal looked like. A quicker, and perhaps more telling, alternative is to take photos of each meal. A small study showed that photographic food diaries could alter attitudes and behaviors associated with food choices more than written diaries. Grab a camera and get snapping.
Turn up the music.
Pack your playlist with upbeat tunes. Research shows music that has 180 beats per minute—like “Hey Ya,” by OutKast—will naturally prompt a quicker pace. Plus, music serves as a distraction, which can help take attention off a grueling gym sesh.
When you’re all going about hitting the gym, there’s nothing worse than pulled hamstrings or pesky shin splints. Read up on how to avoid the most common yoga injuries (often from over-stretching and misalignment), and running injuries (like stress fractures, pulled muscles, and blisters) to make sure you’re in tip-top shape. Make sure to get in a good warm-up, too. Studies show you perform your best and better avoid injury after warming up.
Choose free weights.
Strength training on its own is a great idea— but it gets even better when you set yourself free. And by that, we mean squatting with a pair of dumbbells instead of using the leg press. Working out with free weights can activate muscles more effectively, and adding muscle can help torch calories.
Get functional with your fitness.
Functional exercise has been shown to increase strength and balance and reduce the risk of injury all while working multiple muscle groups at the same time. All that movement promotes muscle gain, which can increase metabolism, which can help shed fat. Added bonus: Functional exercises can make real-life tasks—like hauling groceries up stairs—easier.