Family Matters

Boot Camp: Do Food Diaries Really Work?

Month three of boot camp has begun, but the pounds stubbornly refuse to budge. Could a food diary — or lack thereof — be the culprit?

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There’s never a shortage of news about the merits of exercise. In the latest, researchers found that you reap benefits even when you’re not the one working out: for example, your cranky boss — the one who habitually lies, humiliates and generally makes her employees’ lives hell — behaves a lot more kindly when she’s working out.

Interestingly, only a moderate amount of exercise — just one to two days per week — was needed for Evil Boss to chill. But you don’t have to be in management to benefit from the magic powers of raising your heart rate.

This week, I began month three of my early-morning boot camp. Four days a week, I rise before my kids, lace up my running shoes, scrape the ice off my windshield and zoom to a neighborhood gym, where I run, jump, twist and squat with a gaggle of other fitness nuts. Not that I would have considered myself in that league before December.

I kind of hate gyms, the monotony of the elliptical trainer, the stink, the smartly spandexed bodies that show off at every corner. But boot camp has held my interest — it’s fast-paced, it’s different every day and I can actually feel my stomach getting firmer.

MORE: Should Sugar Be Regulated like Alcohol and Tobacco?

This morning, we push-upped, lunged, jumping-jacked and pounded out sit-ups on a Bosu ball in 30-second increments; earlier in the week, we’d jumped rope, wall-sat and remained in plank position for a minute and a half.

So why, oh why, have I not dropped at least two sizes by now? The answer eludes me. Ian, the boot camp guru, initially suggested that participants keep a food diet. I did that for about a day (has anyone actually succeeded in doing this for a week or longer?). Was it too time-consuming, as I told myself, or did I simply not feel like jotting down that I’d just tossed back a handful of white chocolate chips?

I know, I know — it’s dark chocolate that’s supposed to be good for you. Well, I’m no slouch when it comes to that either. Think it’s time to give that food diary another go-around.