Spies, Friends, and Fitness (Part IV)

Greetings Everyday Spy,

I’m excited to have my favorite exercise scientist Alex VanHouten back for another guest post! 

Alex founded DefiningDadBod.com and the Defining Dad Bod Podcast.

Intelligence is the act of collecting information, analyzing data, and finding the truth hidden inside.

The same process applies in everyday life.

  • In our home
  • In our workplace
  • In our business 

And I couldn’t ask for a better person to walk you through how that process applies to fitness than my friend Alex.   

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I always get questions after the new year about how to align nutrition with fitness goals.

For many, it’s the first question they ask when they decide to begin a fitness journey.

And whether I talk to someone in person or over the phone, I always sense a mix of interest and intimidation. 

I can tell they want me to say something simple, but worry that I’m going to say something terribly complex and unpleasant.

They are looking for a ‘magic bullet’. 

They want a one-shot fix that will help them immediately. 

So I give it to them. 

Nutrition is much simpler than anything people sell you on the internet, bookstore shelves, or late night television ads.

  • Simpler than cutting carbs.
  • Simpler than counting calories.
  • Simpler than “good foods” or “bad foods”

I understand why people subscribe to vegan or paleo or keto or atkins and many other one-size-fits-all programs. They promise you health, longevity, energy and happiness.

Who doesn’t want that!?

But what fitness companies and insta-models are selling is only a TEMPORARY tool – not a PERMANENT solution.

They are short-term, cherry-on-top tools for brief periods of change. 

Because there is money to be made when people only succeed temporarily. And that is the challenge when fitness meets business.

15,000 hours of coaching PERMANENT health, body fat, and nutrition for myself and others has taught me this: 

The single, most-important, most-powerful habit for changing daily dietary habits forever is to…

Keep a journal.

Wait, what?

You heard me. 

Keep a daily food journal.

  • You can use a smartphone app (I use ‘Lose It’ and ‘My Fitness Pal’ most often).
  • You can use a Google Doc on your Google Drive account.
  • You can even use the classic pen and paper.

This simple habit has changed my life and the lives of countless others I’ve coached through permanent fitness life change.

  • Individuals who keep food journals double the amount of weight loss compared to people who keep no records.
  • Food journaling can reduce the risk of Type II Diabetes by 58%.
  • Food journaling aids in identifying food sensitivities, allergies, and digestive issues.

Skeptical? I don’t blame you.

26% of people who start a food journal quit journaling within 4 weeks. 

Only 3% of all downloaded food journal apps get used more than 7 consecutive days.

Rumors abound that food journaling is hard… boring… inaccurate… even embarrassing.

But have you tried it?


Here is how you make food journals work. 

  • Awareness

Keeping a food journal does the most difficult task in nutrition coaching. 

It makes you aware of EVERYTHING you choose to eat. If you ask yourself, your friend, or your spouse to recount everything they’ve eaten in the past 7 days, they can’t. 

It’s hard to remember just what you’ve had for lunch the last 2 days. Go ahead and try it!

People want a shortcut to help them clean up decades of bad eating habits. 

I don’t call that lazy – I call that efficient. 

But the first step to action is information; and information is exactly what a food journal provides.

Work, kids, school, deadlines, spouses, social media…there are plenty of things that require our attention – I get it. 

If you know your nutrition is standing in the way of a fitter, healthier, happier, more energetic, and more capable you – then it’s time to replace mindless eating with mindful eating. 

I’m not asking you to change what you eat at all.

Because without a journal, you don’t know what you eat. You may be really close to a balanced diet. Dairy might make you feel like a million bucks and carrots might make you feel like crap. 

You don’t know… because without a journal there is no information.

The act of keeping a record of what you eat and drink will make you aware of what you eat, how you feel afterwards, and what impact your diet has on your body. 

And being aware is the first and most important step in making a positive health change. 

But the next part is where the real fun begins. 


  • Analysis

An honest food journal is all you need to make the call and focus your energies in the right place.

I’ve heard some awesome feedback from folks after one week of journaling…

  • “I had no idea how much sugar was in my yogurt.”
  • “I didn’t realize my coffee was adding 500 calories to my day.”
  • “I was in the dark about how much I eat out.”

These discoveries are fascinating and encouraging. The lights are coming on!

Many people I’ve worked with thought that they were beyond hope – having tried everything and had nothing work for them. 

And after 1 week of journaling, they found exactly where to start improving! 

Journaling – becoming aware of your food – helps you make the changes you want to make, instead of the changes some stranger tells you to make.

People want magic bullets for nutrition. Here is where that magic happens. 

After you’ve journaled your food for a week, complete this statement:

“Given the evidence, I need to start ___ in order to make rapid and sustainable progress toward my fitness goals.” 

  1. Reducing sugar intake
  2. Changing my caffeine consumption
  3. Boosting protein ingestion/digestion
  4. Recruiting a better support system
  5. Improving my Omega 3 fatty acid profile
  6. Increasing fruits and veggies
  7. Grocery shopping
  8. Avoiding $300/mo. in lattes
  9. Shoring up nutrient deficiencies
  10. Periodizing carbohydrates
  11. Eliminating grains, dairy, eggs, or alcohol

Statistically speaking, one of these changes will be a game-changing jumpstart to PERMANENTLY meeting your health and fitness goals. 

Just one – not multiple. Not a combination of two or three.

And most certainly not ALL!

The average person is 50% compliant with 1 major change to their everyday dietary lifestyle.

And I want you to be much more than 50% successful. So here is my question for you:

Which ONE THING are you willing to change in order to align your nutritional habits with your fitness goals?

Now, how do you stick to the plan?


  • Accountability

Consistent food journaling is a natural conduit to maintain discipline, motivation, and inspiration. 

As long as you’re not lying to yourself (or your coach!), completing your food journal every day rewards you for today and motivates you for tomorrow.

It identifies areas where you had success and new areas to apply changes.

I’ve had clients discover that unhealthy lunch choices kept them from losing weight. They found a convenient way to make and bring a healthy lunch to work and 6 months later were down 80lbs! 

Thank you Food Journal.

Others tell me that, “Sharing my food journal with someone else helps me make better choices.” That is the power of accountability!

Thank you Food Journal. 

One thing is certain. 

Whatever awareness teaches you, analysis reveals, and accountability does for you – the three A’s all start with one thing.

A Food Journal.

Here is my challenge to you…

Step 1: Write out everything you eat and drink for a week.

Step 2: Based on your analysis of the week, decide which one nutrition area you are going to change.

Step 3: Send me and Andy an email to tell us your plan. (Andy: info@everydayspy.com, Alex: coachal@definingdadbod.com)

Step 4: Follow your plan for 4 weeks, sending me and Andy an email every week along the way!

Step 5: Fall in love with the food you eat by finding the foods that bring you health, fitness, and happiness. 

Until next time, 

Coach Al from Defining Dad Bod

Kick Butt. Take Names.

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I’m looking forward to seeing your food journals come to life!

My journal is on Google drive in a simple spreadsheet. I can keep it updated from anywhere and I can send it to workout partners (and my wife, of course) easily as an attachment. I know Google drive is not as efficient as a journaling app, but you all know how I feel about sharing my personal information with big business – HA!

If you are enjoying Alex’s guest posts, send me a note at info@everydayspy.com (you can include Alex on the email too if you like: coachal@definingdadbod.com)

This is important!

Alex and I know that health and fitness is important to a lot of people. And just like I taught you in FIRST STRIKE, fitness can get people emotional.

If you are reflecting on your fitness right now, that’s a GOOD THING – but DO NOT GET EMOTIONAL!

Don’t go out and buy a fitness product right now – not from Amazon, a local gym, or even from DefiningDadBod.com

Alex and I have a plan to bring you FREE fitness resources here, at EverydaySpy.com. Join the newsletter and follow me on social media to make sure you get the newest updates.

Godspeed, #EverydaySpy

Author: Andrew Bustamante, Founder of www.EverydaySpy.com. Andrew is a former covert CIA Intelligence officer, decorated US Air Force Combat Veteran, and respected Fortune 500 senior advisor. Learn more from Andrew on his Podcast (The Everyday Espionage Podcast) and by following @EverydaySpy on your favorite social media platform.