If you’ve set your mind to lose weight, you might find you do okay for the first few weeks then you stop seeing results. Or you might even find it challenging to even get started with your new diet or exercise plan. Either way, we have some good news for you! There are a few key things you can do to help you increase your weight loss results.

The first commitment you’ll have to make is to document everything you eat and drink for two weeks without following any strict diets. You’ll want to just eat as you normally do as this will help you determine what your baseline is and make it easier to set realistic goals when you do start dieting. After completing your two week baseline period, you’ll want to start keeping a close eye on how many calories you’re consuming each day and what the calories are coming from. The reasonable daily average for a woman who exercises four times a week is about 2,000 and 2,200 calories.

It doesn’t matter how you keep track of what you eat and when you eat it, as long as you keep track. You can buy a cheapo notebook from the dollar store, use your iPad, or even your cell phone. There are lots of cool, easy-to-use nutrition tracking apps available today so why not take advantage of them? There are other ways technology can help you track your meals. For instance, if you forget your notebook or don’t feel like entering the information into your PDA you can always just snap a picture of it with your cell phone camera and go back and enter the information later. Also when writing down what you eat, you might not know the calorie content off hand, so if you have internet capabilities on your device, you can look up the calories right then and not have to worry about it later.

Being honest in your “food journaling” not only helps you see your eating habits, it can also serve as a form of motivation. There isn’t much sense in not writing down that cookie or donut you had at a work meeting or that glass of wine or beer you had after a long day when you’re only lying to yourself. Whether you write it down or not, you will still know it happened. Use this as motivation to choose a healthier option or let it be your treat for the week.

Once you’ve gotten used to keeping track of your caloric intake, you should try to slash your daily intake by 300 to 500 calories. However, it is very, very important to be sure you never go below 1,200 calories a day as this can cause serious health problems, make you more likely to binge, reduce your energy, and make it harder to recover from workouts. It is also best to make the calorie reduction gradually.

Learning how to control the portions of your food can also be a great help in boosting those weight loss results. To do this you’ll want to make sure you have measuring cups and spoons and use them for a while until you are comfortable eyeing portion sizes to match the measured sizes. You might also want to consider purchasing a small food scale.