Since I was a little stuck with progress on returning to my previously normal weight last month, I decided to start using a food tracker for the month of March just to make sure I wasn’t missing my nutrition goals accidentally. Food trackers can range anywhere from a pen and notebook to wearable devices that connect to apps and websites with huge searchable food databases. Tracking the food you eat has some major pros and major cons…and it’s important to understand both before deciding if (and what kind of) food tracking is right for you.

Photo from www.pinterest.com

 

Pros:

  • Accountability – The primary function of tracking is accountability for what you eat. By tracking, you can see what you have eaten compared to your recommendations, and keep yourself in check throughout the day. If you have a day that is “off the rails” you can easily see it, notice it, and adjust or monitor a little closer in the coming days (by the way, you don’t have to feel guilty – that’s not the point!).
  • Awareness – Tracking causes you to pay more attention to the actual contents of what you eat. Websites, apps, and food labels all provide information on calories, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sodium, and protein – all of which may be useful depending on your health goals. Most of my clients find some surprises when they start tracking (I never knew that had so many calories and so much saturated fat! I thought that food was healthy!). Tracking offers a learning opportunity that will help support you in lifelong wellness as you learn which foods fit best in your plan.
  • Convenience – One study found that those who used a smart phone tracking app that assisted with goal setting and behavior change were more likely to meet their goals and, in this case, lost more weight than those using paper and pen or a website to track.1

 

Cons:

  • Tedium/Obsessiveness – Particularly for those who are not so detail-oriented (or those with a history of eating disorders), food trackers can be more of a hindrance than a help. Tracking every detail can become overwhelming and exhausting, and people who are overwhelmed and exhausted are less likely to make good health choices or reap the benefits of tracking. If you fit in these categories, you’ll likely find more benefit using strategies other than food tracking.
  • Inaccuracy – Food trackers are only as good as their accuracy and the honesty of the person using them. If you’re going to track at all, commit to being thorough and including everything you eat or drink – don’t forget condiments, cooking oils, seasonings, and beverages! Studies have found paper-based and online food tracking to be equally accurate.2
  • Lack of Evidence-Based Support and Resources – Two studies of food tracking apps discovered that most apps do not assist with evidence-based skills that promote success like problem-solving, stress reduction, and improving motivation.3, 4 If you’re using a tracker, be sure to seek out other support for these important areas.

Many people I work with find using a food tracker beneficial, but also grow weary of the “cons” listed above. I encourage them to consider being flexible in their use of food trackers. Often, one can glean the benefits of awareness and accountability by tracking a few days per week or one week per month, and those benefits will often carry over for the remainder of the time. If you decide to do this, set a concrete goal of what days or how many you will track (example: I will track Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays or I will track the first week of every month).

If you’re looking for ideas for food trackers to try, consider My Fitness Pal, Lose It, My Plate Supertracker, or Google “food journal” if you prefer pen and paper.

  1. http://www.jmir.org/2013/4/e32/?
  2. http://www.andjrnl.org/article/S2212-2672(14)01219-2/abstract
  3. http://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(13)00426-1/abstract?cc=y=
  4. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13142-011-0076-5


My husband and I are two months in to goal-getting! Here’s an update on how we’re doing:

Becki

Goal #1: Lose 7 lbs to return to my usual body weight

  • Use my daily food group checklist to stay within recommendations and get enough food from each food group each day.

How I’m doing: As you may have read in this post, I put on about 3 lbs throughout this month and I have since lost them again. So overall, this month has been basically a wash as far as weight and I’m still about 1.8 lbs above my previous normal. I’m thinking a couple things: 1) I may switch temporarily to a more detailed form of tracking intakes (like My Fitness Pal), just to make sure I’m not missing my goals without realizing it. 2) My body may be happy at this new weight. I won’t try to force it, and my weight is in a healthy range and not negatively affecting my health. If it doesn’t want to go down any more, that’s okay with me!

Goals #2-3: Decrease resting heart rate and blood pressure to normal ranges and increase cardiovascular fitness from “fair” to “good”

  • Complete 40-60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise (heart rate 115-155 bpm) 5 days per week

How I’m doing: Pretty well overall. I haven’t been missing days, but I’ve had a couple of days of workouts that have been cut short by a tighter time schedule. I recently had my blood pressure checked and it was normal! Yippee! I can definitely tell that my cardiovascular fitness is improving because I’m having to increase the intensity of my workouts to hit my heart rate goals. Plus, I made it up and down “the stairs” 10 times the other day! I had hoped to do that by the end of the three months, but I hit that over a month early! I’m so happy with the IMG_0990improvements in my cardiovascular fitness.

A few months ago, it snowed here and my family and I went out to have a snowball fight. I had only run around for a few minutes and my chest was tight and I was pooped. Three weeks ago it snowed again, and this time, I snowball fought with the best of them (my family is just a tad competitive) for 20-30 minutes with no trouble at all! That was very rewarding and a sign that I’m heading towards my “end game” of never having my fitness (or lack thereof) hold me back from anything I want to do.

 

Goal #4: Improve posture by stretching chest and hip flexors, and decreasing anterior pelvic tilt, while strengthening back muscles

  • Complete tailored yoga practice 5 days per week and strength training program 2 days per week

How I’m doing: I’ve been consistent with my yoga and I’ve been also completing some yoga challenges on Instagram that have been a fun addition to my normal practice. I love yoga!

My before-and-after pictures were really fun this month! I noticed primarily a HUGE difference in the position of my shoulders between February and March. Look how much less rounded they are! I’m so pleased with that. You can also see that each month my back is slightly less arched and my pelvis is slightly less tilted forward. It’s so crazy how you don’t notice the differences in your posture until you line the pictures up side by side.

IMG_1602

Charlie

Goal #1: Lose 20 lbs/Button wedding pants without “sucking it in”
     • Track intakes with My Fitness Pal, aiming for goal of 2000 kcal per day.

How he’s doing: Charlie continues to track every day. He finds it gets easier as time goes on to stick with using the app to track. It became a habit for him and he never forgets. Occasionally he intentionally decides to eat more than his caloric goal, but it is not very often and he still tracks it for awareness, accountability, and consistency. Tracking is definitely not right for everyone, but it’s working for him. He lost another 4 pounds this month for a grand total of 14 pounds. He hasn’t tried the pants yet – he’s saving those for the end of the goal-getter package!

IMG_1604

Can you tell he had just woken up in the last photo? Haha!

Goal #2: Increase cardiovascular fitness from “Excellent” to “Superior”
     • Follow the P90X workout program to do 60 minutes of exercise daily.

How he’s doing: He is doing well and staying consistent, but definitely ready for the P90X program to be over. He is finding the P90X videos to be very time-consuming and don’t leave enough extra time for other activities like weight lifting.

Goal #3: Improve flexibility from “Good” to “Excellent”
     • Do some yoga each day.

How he’s doing: Charlie has compromised to doing yoga three times weekly, and says his flexibility is WAY better than it used to be, which makes him feel better all the time and improves his workouts, posture, and the feel of his joints.

We’ve got one more month of our goal-getter package before we run all of the fitness and body composition testing again to see how far we’ve come! Check back to see how we did!

Want help meeting your own goals? Visit www.impowerednf.com for more information about meeting with me to set up your wellness plan!


NationalNutritionMonth2017

In honor of National Nutrition Month, I thought I’d give you a few thoughts on how to put your best fork forward this month (and every month)!

  • Try a new recipe – some of my favorite recipe websites are from the American Heart Association or the American Diabetes Association. Trying out something new can add variety and keep eating from being boring!
  • Work on enjoying natural flavors – Make a goal to decrease “extra flavors” like sugar, salt, and artificial flavors in order to really enjoy the full flavors of the foods, herbs, and spices you’re eating. Check out this post for more tips on flavor!
  • Explore fresh new cuisines – most of us are familiar with Chinese, Italian, and Mexican foods, but how about Salvadoran, Ethiopian, Indian, or Vietnamese? There are over 190 countries in the world, each with amazing, flavorful, and unique dishes. Plus, different countries’ diets have different health benefits. You might discover a new favorite and expand the variety of foods you love! Bonus tip: make a quick Google search about the type of cuisine you’re trying before you go to a restaurant. That way, you can have some ideas of any unique customs (did you know that at most Ethiopian restaurants, patrons eat with their hands?) and what to order in case you can’t read the menu!
  • Get rid of the “good” and the “bad” labels – We have a tendency to label foods as though they are good or bad, as if food and nourishment were totally black and white! All foods can belong in a healthful diet, and bodies are so, so individual! What may make one person feel terrible may be a great choice for someone else, and it is fairly rare that there is a reason to completely cut anything out entirely. Research has shown that this kind of labeling is detrimental to healthful diets and healthy relationships with food.1 Learn to love and moderate all kinds of foods, and avoid villifying anything.

As a special bonus for National Nutrition Month, I’m offering 10% off an initial appointment! If you’ve been thinking about getting started with an empowered, healthful lifestyle, this is a great month to start! Click here to schedule an appointment!

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3779532/