Ever try to play darts blindfolded? I find darts hard enough. It requires hand/eye coordination, a steady hand, and plenty of finesse. Take away your vision, and it becomes damn near impossible to be successful.
Yet, that's how most people approach their diet. They go in blindfolded. They trust that they know what to eat, when to eat it, and how much. That's not fair. No one is good enough to "just know" what to eat. In order to clean up your mistakes and shape up, you first need to know where you eat wrong.
That's why your big task for Day 2 is to track all your foods for the day. This is important because, odds are, you probably don't realize just how much you're eating. Research has repeatedly shown that people underestimate how much they eat by 30-50 percent, and people think they burn 3-4 times as many calories as they actually do during exercise, according to a study published in the "Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness."
With facts like that, suddenly it makes sense how we easily pack on pounds. It's not your fault. You're not purposely lying to yourself. Your brain just wants to create a universe that's better than reality.
Getting On The Right Track
It takes little effort to set your behavior on the right track. According to research published in the "American Journal of Preventive Medicine", your ability to lose weight is directly connected to how well you keep track of what you eat.
When dieters were put on a strict eating plan, everyone lost weight. (The average was 13 pounds.) Dieters who didn't track what they ate only lost an average of 9 pounds. Dieters who wrote down what they ate lost nearly 18 pounds per person.
Magic? Not quite. Researchers at the University of Chicago found that tracking your behavior is one of the easiest (and oldest) ways to create change. It's like the ultimate gut check. You can't lie to yourself, and you receive direct feedback from your choices.
If you eat too much—or eat the wrong foods—the process of writing meals down increases your awareness of your poor choices. If you want to make a change, the heightened awareness of the actions that run contrary to your goals will help you eat better and exercise more.
Consider it blunt-force honesty from the best source—you.
Tracking is simple, and in the world of apps, it's easier than ever. Find one of the many apps available, which will help you log your food and fitness. Health has an amazing array of tracking tools.
Or, you can go about it the old-fashioned way and write it all in a diary. Whatever you do, make sure you track all your foods for the day. Awareness is the most important element of change.
Track everything. Log what you eat at each meal—and how much. If you really want to be the head of the class, measure out and weigh all of your food. Tracking your behavior gives you complete transparency about what you eat. If you eat some chicken, just write down "one chicken breast." Have a bowl of cereal? Estimate how many cups went into the bowl.
You only hurt yourself if you lie. So be accurate. There's no right or wrong right here. This is a fact-finding mission. All the information you log here will benefit you during your transformation.
In addition to food, track how you feel. Make notes of when you're hungry, when you feel tired, and when you have the most energy.
Why is this important? When we schedule your day, you'll want to cater to your schedule. That's the real secret to a good program. You don't need to work around some preconceived plan. Instead, you should eat when you're hungry, snack when it's needed, sleep when it's best for you and train when you have the most energy.
Tracking makes it much easier for you to decide which plan will work best. Don't worry, you're free to change and adjust your schedule at any time. Setting a baseline gives you a feeling of control from the start. Control is often the easiest method to keep the bullshit and frustration out of your plans.
Your Day 2 Checklist
1. Wake Up And Write Down Your Goals
Have you ever said you'd do something, swore you'd make it happen, only never followed through? Put an end to that with your fitness goals. You may think, "Of course you'd say that, this is your article on a day where you preach writing down what you eat."
The power of writing and tracking isn't limited to diet. Writing down your plans can increase the likelihood that you'll succeed at tasks, according to researchers from Dominican University.
At the start of your day, make a list of all the fitness goals you want to achieve. Make the list every day. It takes a couple of minutes, but it might be the difference between following through and trying to take the easy way out.
2. Drink At Least 6 Glasses Of Water
Water is plain. It doesn't taste great. It'll never have the great marketing of your favorite supplement. Water helps keep you full. It allows your metabolism to stay on track by preventing dehydration. It plays an important role in muscle growth. It can help prevent you from overeating.
A study in the journal "Obesity" found that drinking two cups of water before each meal (or six cups for the entire day) was associated with losing 4.5 more pounds than in people who didn't drink water before they ate. Pour yourself a cold one—throughout the day—and you'll be a step closer to defeating overeating.
3. Sleep 7-8 Hours Each Night
No one likes admitting that their parents were right. When it comes to sleep, Mom and Dad knew what they were talking about. Getting less than 5 hours of sleep has been associated with carrying 2.5 times as much abdominal fat as people who sleep for at least 7 hours per night. The reasons are numerous.
Sleep deprivation slows your metabolism so you burn fewer calories; it increases your appetite and creates an almost insatiable hunger. It doesn't matter when you go to sleep or wake up; what matters is that you aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Anything less and all of your hard work will go to waste.
Now that you have your Day 2 goals, make sure you write down all your tasks and check everything off your list. Starting tomorrow, you'll be introduced to your first weight workout of the plan.