Journaling for weight loss (obsessively writing down every thing that goes into your mouth) is a key tool for successful dieters. Studies tell us that when dieters don’t put pen to paper (or finger to app) to track their input, they’re really eating about 1,000 calories a day more than they think. And 1,000 calories a day is 2 lbs a week.
I thought I was eating healthy for 5 years, but clearly I wasn’t because I never managed to lose the weight. I knew journaling was vital and so I’d start, but then I’d eat something crappy on day 1, day 2, or most certainly by day 3, and get so bummed out about “failing” (the word we dieters use when we talk about going over our daily calorie allotment) that I thought, “What the hell, in for a penny in for pound.” And then I’d stop journaling. Once I’d summoned up the courage to get back into journaling, the cycle would just commence again. It was pretty discouraging.
Once I finally figured out why I was over eating (nothing I can really do justice in a post or two) I was able to get my journaling act down, and well, the weight dropped off. Not literally, but at the rate I would expect. About 2 lbs a week (which is, of course, what happens when you finally stop eating those extra 1,000 calories a day you didn’t think you were eating). And now that journaling is a habit, I can’t fathom not doing it. But let me tell you, getting into the habit was a bitch. I already felt like a failure, so seeing my dietary transgressions on my calorie counter just made me feel that much worse.
I know I’m not the only one that has/had a hard time committing to journaling. When I ask my patients if they are writing everything down I get one of two responses: blank stares (the people who sincerely believe that they are really not eating those 1,000 extra calories, or more, a day) or, “I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work.” Since evidence-based medicine tells us that journaling works, what that means to me is that this second group tried, but it was just too hard of a habit to form.
But now there is a cool little app, called FatApp, that looks at journaling a different way. You log what you don’t eat, so instead of seeing the 3 Almond Joy minis that somehow found their way into your mouth while making dinner for the kids you record the 37 (i.e. what was left in the bag) that you desperately wanted to eat, but didn’t. Once the cycle of overeating starts, not going full court press on the Almond Joy minis is a success.
It’s important to understand that regular journaling isn’t meant as negative reinforcement, it’s just if you go over your allotted calories that’s how many people view it. I did, anyway and I suspect I am not the only one. However, with FatApp it’s really just about the positive.
The app is simple to use. It has some preloaded foods and you add in the foods and calories of what ever else you didn’t eat as you go. The app really serves to do two really important things: get the user into the habit of looking up the calories (to add them to the counter) and get’s them into the habit of journaling about food.
Fat app is best suited for someone in the preparation phase (or even the contemplative phase) of weight loss. Hard core dieters truly in the action phase will want (and need) a calorie counter. However, the reality is that most people who need to lose weight hover back and forth between the contemplative phase and the preparation phrase. FatApp is a great way to dip your toes into the weight loss waters without the negative connotations that many of us have associated with true calorie counting.
Effective weight loss and weight maintenance is about building good habits, and Fat App might be a useful tool to for many people to get into the habit of looking at food labels and build some journaling habits without any fear of failure.
Not bad for $0.99 (and today, Sunday November 27, it’s free! Click here to check it out).