As a personal trainer in Singapore for many years now, I assure you that I have experienced some setbacks in failing to reach a weight loss goal within schedule. In my early years, when clients say they have a healthy diet I often made the mistake of assuming they were right.

But the truth was another matter, and so all the efforts in exercising failed because the real culprit is that person’s diet. Some people’s idea of “healthy diet” wasn’t exactly scientific, while others may not want to tell me what they ate 😉 Discussing the diet can be a very delicate matter, so I had to learn to do it with finesse.

So now I’m going to tell you what I constantly tell my clients:

It’s time to note down what you eat. The memory is a tricky thing, and sometimes we remember what we like to think happened instead of what actually happened. So if you don’t want to waste your efforts in exercising, it’s time for you to log everything you eat or drink. You don’t even have to bring a notebook and pen with you each time. Just use your smartphone, or download an app for this purpose. But every time you take a meal, write it down, including snacks. Better yet, take pictures of it too. The purpose of this is two-fold. For one, you log it while you’re eating, so you know you’re accurate. But when you wait a few hours (or the next day), your mind tricks you into forgetting that extra serving of apple pie. For best results, do this every day. Make it a habit, just like you track your exercise results.

Do your research into calorie content. Counting calories is an integral part of nutrition. And with your log, you can then itemize your meals and count just how many calories you really consume in a week’s time. If you have a personal trainer or a nutrionist, you can get them to help you out. If not, there’s always online research. Your research may also surprise you, because there’s the possibility that some food you thought weren’t all that heavy may actually contain loads of calories. Among the popular misconceptions involve gourmet coffee servings, as a cup may actually contain as many as 220 calories.

Spread your calorie intake more for the weekend. Let’s say that your diet plan involves consuming 14,000 calories per week. Now you may keep to 2,000 calories a day during the weekdays, but in all likelihood you’re going to be in trouble when the weekend rolls in. So what you should perhaps do is to “average” 2,000 calories a day. You can keep your caloric consumption from Monday to Thursday at about 1,800 a day. That gives you 800 calories extra you can spread from Friday to Sunday.

Discover your weaknesses. There are several possible reasons why you don’t keep to your nutritional plan. And it’s largely up to you to discover just what your weaknesses are so you can address them. For example, some people eat when they’re watching TV, when they’re stressed, or when they’re bored. For others, it’s all about a particular food they can’t refuse. Sometimes there are some food items you can’t seem to stop eating, or are unable to eat in moderation. Potato chips are a good example—for many, once they start they never stop until the bag’s empty.

Improving your diet means following a nutritional plan, but that’s not always easy. So you can help yourself by keeping accurate records of what you eat, knowing how much you consume, and becoming aware of your weaknesses. Armed with these data, you can then improve your diet—if you really want to, that is 😉

Coach Sharm, MSc

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