I have been a hairdresser for most of my working life. Among the many wonderful things about this trade, privacy in my workspace is not one of them. When I first started using a food log as a way to track my meals, I remember cramming my hand into a crowded drawer, trying to look casual as recorded every bite. One day, a cocky coworker sauntered over and peered over my shoulder to see what it was I was writing so intently. I was no less mortified than if the boy I had a secret crush on in grade school had seen his name etched all over the pages of my diary. It seems silly to me now, to be so self-conscious about utilizing a tool that is one of the few proven ways to lose or maintain weight, but at the time I was appalled. My food log conjured images in my mind of diet clinics and frumpy housewives, and it was something I kept very private. A lot has changed since then, but I still use my food log as faithfully as I did when I started this journey. Food logs provide a clear way to assess where you are, where you want to be, and how to get there in the most effective way for YOU. If you are just starting out on a new meal plan, you may be struggling with weeding out potential weak spots or triggers. At this point, a detailed log is helpful in two ways. The first is that it holds you accountable; you are far less likely to devour a whole bag of chips if you know you have to see it in bold writing. The second way it can help you over the initial hump is by cluing you into how you feel when you eat things that you shouldn’t. This can be what you’re feeling emotionally before you eat, as well as the physical sensations that follow. Tracking patterns like this is invaluable in creating the true lifestyle changes that are necessary in lasting weight loss. If you see, over a period of weeks, that you always eat twizzlers when you’re dealing with an overflowing inbox, and 30 minutes later you’re slumped over your desk, you can work on finding better ways to combat that. As you progress, you can take it a step further by seeing trends in the way your body responds to certain foods, and use your food log to fine-tune your plan. I used to have a protein shake every night before bed. I put a lot of ice, and a little water and pulverize it to the point that it bares a much closer resemblance to ice cream then to a health drink. I realized, after seeing it night after night in my journal, that I was eating it out of habit, and not because I was truly hungry. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but cutting out that shake led to finally shedding those last five pounds. There are beautiful journals that are outlined for you, apps for every smart phone, or good old-fashioned notebooks. It can be as simple or as detailed as you need it to be, just so long as you use it honestly. There are very few things endorsed by the diet industry that I subscribe to, but I wholeheartedly believe that a food log can be the key to losing weight, pushing through plateaus, and achieving your physique goals. Erin stays busy pursuing her own fitness goals, and helping to educate and inspire those she loves to live healthier lives. A hair stylist by trade, she manages a salon, and is chipping away at a degree, ultimately in dietetics and kinesiology. She lives in South Florida with her husband and a “pound puppy” named Pedro.