Over Four Million Calories Later . . .

What if just by making one change in your habits, you could double your weight loss? It may sound too good to be true, but many experts say that the simple act of keeping a food diary can encourage you to eat fewer calories.
— Dr. Web Emdee

I’m sure everyone has been to WebMD at least once in their internet life. It is, after all, the number one, doctor-recommended method of obtaining erroneous self-diagnoses. (And if you were curious about what came in second place, it was Yahoo! Answers, tagline: “The Blind Leading the Blind Since 2005.”)

The above quote is interesting to me. As everyone knows, if something sounds too good to be true, it is. And as everyone also knows, if Many Experts say something, it has to be true. So setting aside the paradox of this quote being both true and false simultaneously, what it’s getting at is one simple idea: keep track of what goes down your pie hole and you just might start putting fewer pies down there.

On July 28, 2008, a mere two thousand seven hundred and fifty five days ago, I found myself at livestrong.com staring at their MyPlate food logging tool. It was Day One #88 and I had heard that keeping track of what one ate was a good thing. But beyond that, I really like keeping track of stuff. This seemed like just one more way to indulge my track-all-the-things obsession.

So I created an account and logged my first food: “Banana, large.” I would then go on to log pie hole traffic each day for 2,129 of those 2,755 days: an overall rate of 77%. That’s not a bad percentage, but when I narrow it to the last four years, it gets even better. Then, I logged my pies on 1,381 out of 1,459 days. That’s 94%.

So based on the opening statement, I must be the weight loss king. I mean, tracking my foods that much? There’s no way I ever could’ve overeaten in that entire period.

There’s no point in saying, “Of course I did.” But then again, I really didn’t sign up for this for the weight loss benefit. I did it so that someday I would know that I logged my foods 94% of the time over a four year period.

And if you (like me) really like numbers, then feast your eyes upon these:

Number of Days Logged: 2,129
Unique Foods Logged: 3,733
Calories Consumed: 4,305,768
Individual Entries: 25,540
Average Calories per Item: 168.59

The reader who has made it this far is probably asking, “So what did you eat most, Charlie? Was it pizza? French fries? Pizza covered with French fries?” Nope. Not even close. This is my Top Ten list:

Bananas 863
Fake Butter 761
Peanut Butter 673
Almond Milk 628
Bread 557
V8 Juice 412
Pringles 292
Salsa 255
Apples 208

And if your next question was, “Wow! Are you as surprised at those results as I am?” Yep. Very much so.

Addendum

Oh, and that original WebMD weight loss claim? Well, let’s look at the last set of numbers in this overly-detailed blog post. We’ll compare the eight years before I started food logging with the eight years following:

Weight on January 1, 2000 234
Weight on July 28, 2008 224
Weight on January 1, 2016 197

So without food tracking, I lost ten pounds in eight years. And with food tracking (drum roll, please), I lost twenty-seven more pounds. I knew it! The quote was wrong. Let’s fix it.

What if just by making one change in your habits, you could boost your weight loss 2.7 times? It may sound too good to be true, but Charlie Hills has demonstrated that the simple act of keeping a food diary can encourage you to eat fewer calories.
— Dr. Charlie Hills

5 Comments for “Over Four Million Calories Later . . .”

says:

“my track-all-the-things obsession!” Ha, I actually could have come up with at least the top five things you eat on a regular basis and I haven’t actually lived with you for 30+ years!

Just curious where Cheez-Its made it on the list. And I know Chex Mix is a once a year treat 😀

Happy Friday! Only 22 days til I see your face! 😀

says:

I’ve only recently discovered your blog via your wonderful sister, Biz, whom I follow via her blog. Blogging is a great way to meet people without meeting people, isn’t it? I just finished your book, WHY YOUR LAST DIET FAILED YOU (you know the rest )… and I loved it! Is your entire family filled with humor? I’ve passed the book on to a friend after telling her not only how enjoyable it is, but that you are spot on. I am now enjoying your blog!

Charlie

says:

Welcome Pam! Glad you liked the book and always happy to have another reader. And yes, blogging is a great way to meet people without meeting them. 🙂

says:

“overly detailed blog post” LOLOL. LOVE all the stats. I’m off to re-up my tracking on Loseit. If I can lose 27 pounds in 8 years instead of gaining it, I will be one happy girl.

Charlie

says:

Sadly, things have gone downhill the last couple weeks. On the upside, it’s fodder for yet another blorg poast.

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