Celebrity Trainer Harley Pasternak: A Weight-Loss Secret That Doesn’t Require a Workout

07/01/2015 at 02:55 PM ET

Harley Pasternak
Courtesy Harley Pasternak

Harley Pasternak is a celebrity trainer and nutrition expert who has worked with stars from Halle Berry and Lady Gaga to Robert Pattinson and Robert Downey Jr. He’s also a New York Times best-selling author, with titles including The Body Reset Diet and The 5-Factor Diet. His new book 5 Pounds is out now. Tweet him @harleypasternak.

Studies consistently reveal that people who keep a journal of their thoughts and actions are more successful at making permanent changes in their lives — specifically in losing weight and keeping it off — when compared with people who don’t do so.

Write Your Way to Success
In a 2008 study, almost 1,700 heavy individuals were told to keep a food journal over a six-month period. They were also advised to be physically active and eat healthy foods. People who recorded their meals in their journals for six days a week lost, on average, almost twice as much weight as those who wrote in their journals only one day a week or less.

In a 2012 study, 123 overweight post-menopausal women participated in a 12-month program, in which half were assigned to a diet-only regimen, while the other half reduced calories and engaged in an exercise program. After a year, women in both groups lost an average of 19 lbs. However, those who wrote down everything they ate lost on average about 6 lbs. more than the other dieters.

Why Does Journaling Work?
There’s something about putting words down on paper or entering them on your computer that makes them more tangible — and even holds us more accountable. Journaling seems to moderate behavior that could be counterproductive to weight loss. Another recent study that looked specifically at self-monitoring over a yearlong weight-loss program found that women who weighed themselves regularly, kept a food journal and monitored their food intake were also less likely to engage in binge eating than individuals who did not.

The Unvarnished Truth
It takes only a few minutes a day to make basic entries in a journal, although you may want to also note whether you took a three-mile walk or even if you went to the green market and found amazing arugula. By documenting your new habits, as well as your occasional departures, you’ll begin to see patterns emerge. Learning how to avoid the situations that sidetracked you on previous occasions will help you avoid repeating them.

5 Tips for Successful Journaling
1. Write it down ASAP. Don’t rely on your memory. The best time to record what you ate is right after you finish. Include the quantity as well. If you’re on the run, be sure to make your entry later in the day.

2. Use the format that works for you. Whether it’s a spiral-bound pad, a PDA or a program on your tablet, the best journal is the one that you’ll use, and use regularly. Ideally, keep it with you at all times.

3. Tell the whole truth. Even if you’ve fallen off the wagon, write down what you ate. Remember, it’s for your eyes only. It’s also a good idea to elaborate on what prompted your actions.

4. Don’t skip the small stuff. Write down everything, including snacks, beverages, sauces, condiments, etc. Little things can add up fast.

5. Review the past. Occasionally, take a look through previous entries to see if you’re changing your eating habits. Are you becoming more proactive about not putting yourself in temptation’s way? Getting into a regular pattern of exercise?

If this sounds like a lot of work to you, my book 5 Pounds relies on a more simplified version of journaling: the “report card.” It’s a basic checklist of five daily behaviors that you either have completed or haven’t. You can write notes, but it’s a way of self-monitoring without the commitment to a ton of journaling.

Celeb Trainer Harley Pasternak Shares a Go-To Move to Get Buns like Beyoncé

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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Want to lose weight?
Eat less, move more. There’s really no secret. Journaling works because you’re more accountable for what goes into your mouth.

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