Welcome to Healthista’s January Tweak-a-thin. Designed for anyone who doesn’t want to go on a big starv-y diet, we’ll be delivering you one new small change to make to your diet or lifestyle on each day in January. You’ll continue each change throughout the month and come February, be on your way to weight loss and new healthy habits.
Day 1: Get a food diary
As Healthista’s editor, I wanted something for readers who didn’t want to go on an all-out diet in January. Personally, when I have overdone it, I like to lose weight by making small, gradual changes to my life over a set period. So I came up with the idea of delivering one new simple change to you daily via this site.
The criteria for each change I’ll be giving you is a) that I’ve tried it for long enough to know it works (some of you may or may not know, I was fat in another life and that fat girl still lives inside me occasionally threatening to re-emerge when I get too complacent!) and b) it has some research behind it to prove it’s effective.
All you have to do is work each daily change into your life and keep it going throughout the month. That’s it.
Some changes will be tougher than others but I have made every effort to alternate some of these with easier ones so the impact on your lifestyle doesn’t feel too overwhelming all at once.
Your January tweak-a-thin guidelines:
1. Start anytime. Some of you will be starting on January 1st, but that’s not compulsory. If you’re joining us after January 1st, simply go back to Day 1 and start from there.
2. Continue with each of your small changes throughout the month and come end January, you will have built up a heap of new healthy habits and will be well on your way to losing weight and feeling better.
3. If you fall off the wagon just get back on asap If you don’t manage to keep up all your small changes every day, don’t worry. Just get back on the next day or even better, at the next meal.
4. Measure once at the start and once at the end. That’s all Take your waist, hip and bust measurements and weigh yourself at the start and end ONLY of your tweak-a-thin journey. I don’t want you getting bogged down in the numbers and would prefer you focus on how much better you’ll feel (the weight loss will happen, don’t worry)
5. Send us selfies of your tweak-a-thin journey Post them to Healthista on Twitter, Facebook and in the comments below. At the end of January we’ll publish them and you’ll be in with a chance of winning a Healthista exclusive pamper hamper handpicked by yours truly.
So, without further ado, let’s get started.
Day #1: RECORD EVERYTHING YOU EAT
This is the single most effective change you can make to your lifestyle if you want to lose weight.
In fact, several studies have shown that people who keep food diaries are more successful than those that don’t in losing weight and keeping it off.
One study, published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found those that wrote down everything they ate for six days a week lost twice as much as those that only wrote down what they ate once a week.
Moreover, in July 2012, research was published from The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center studied the eating habits of 123 overweight women for a year. Women who kept food journals lost about six pounds more than those who didn’t.
You can go low-tech and simply write everything down in a journal. However, if you have a net connection using a diet tracker can make all the difference.
The very best by far that I have tried is myfitnesspal.com.
Not only is it completely free, but once you have given it your goal weight and the date you want to achieve it by, it will calculate exactly how many calories your body needs each day to reach that goal. Genius.
Most branded foods are on myfitnesspal.com so – whether it’s an almond Magnum (my weakness) or a bag of Walker’s crisps (okay, my other weakness) – you can name the food and find its calorie content quickly.
I use the online one on my big Mac computer along with the iPad and iPhone apps when out and about. They all talk to each other so it’s super-easy to maintain. Wherever I am, I simply punch in what I have eaten on whichever bit of tech I have handiest.
The main thing is to record absolutely everything you eat and drink that isn’t water. Even those little tastes of fries off himself’s plate (my other, other weakness) and little spoonfuls of peanut butter when no-one’s watching (Gawd, I have a lot of weaknesses). When I have to write everything down I’m much less likely to be the pick monster I normally am.
Plus, you can record your exercise as well.
Regarding the calorie question – I would love to tell you that calories don’t matter but IMHO they do.
I am five foot four and normally weigh 55 kilograms (my happy weight). When I have gained a bit – like now, I am 60 kilograms – thanks Christmas – and want to lose, the first thing I will do is get onto my online food diary and stick to 1300-1400 calories a day, which is exactly what I’ll be doing along with you. It always works to get me back to my happy weight within a month.
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