Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ah, if only it was that easy....

If only I could just say, "Ready, set, track your calories and keep them at 2000 or under" and it would magically be so. Each meal would be well portioned and "balanced". I would be just full enough and my cravings would cease with the command, "No thank you, I'm getting hot."

I used to have this Weight Watchers ad as my screensaver.
I would imagine it was a picture of fit me spinning those bags around, just back from a divinely easy shopping trip where everything I tried on fit and felt fabulous. (quite different from my current shopping excursions).

Looking at the steps I'm taking towards my fitness goals was super helpful and motivating. Since I'm new at making these actually consistent, it does feel encouraging to know I'm moving forward with my goals even if I don't yet see much progress.

Virtually every single weight loss plan I've read about encourages food tracking. It helps me to pay more attention and also be accountable.

I wasn't a believer in the power of food logs until I actually started not only recording my food but also tracking calories. Some days it can feel agonizing to pay attention to my calories, but that's the only way I can really get an accurate picture of my eats. For example, a few weeks ago I wrote down everything I was eating throughout a particular day, but didn't actually record the calories until later that afternoon. I guessed I was going a bit over my goal of 2,000 calories. When I finally added it up, I was more than 1,000 calories over that goal and it was not even dinnertime yet. Same thing with my beverages, until I added them up the other day, I had no idea I was consuming over half of my daily goals in chais and wine! I guess I knew, I just wasn't paying attention. But now I am! And as tedious as it is, it has been so helpful as I try to really learn what foods feel good in my body, and how much I can eat and be full but not stuffed.

Of all of the goals and steps I listed out on my last post, food related goals are the most challenging for me. In addition to eating in response to emotions, I've never quite gotten that whole meal planning and grocery shopping for those meals and leaving enough time in your day to prepare the meals thing down. I've had a few successes that I've shared here with you, but now I'm stepping it up to make it an actual part of a routine.

I used to feel really embarrassed about this and had totally identified myself as someone who could not cook and had no idea how to shop for actual planned meals, but now I know it's totally something I can teach myself (with a little help from my friends). Descriptors like "I can't cook", "I'm not capable of being organized", "I'll just always be kind of messy" don't work for me and don't serve me.

I am actively shedding you negative self-talk!

Figuring out my relationship with food and how to eat in a way that moves me towards being healthier is an ongoing process. I actually tried Weight Watchers the year after I graduated from college and I lost 35 pounds. Not too bad right!

But, what I found was that I wasn't really learning how to eat. I was eating less, but I was just eating less junk. So of course I was losing weight. It's a great program that is definitely worth checking out but not one I'm currently participating in.

Basically with the Weight Watchers program I was on, you got a point total for each day based on your height and current weight. I vaguely remember I had 30 something points a day. You record every food you eat and drink and assign it a point value that's based on how much fat, calories and fiber is in that particular food or drink. Your goal is to hit your point total everyday and not go over.

You also have flex points. A bank of points that you can apply to any day or spread out throughout the week so you can splurge a bit. Every time you exercise you get activity points which you can apply to your point total if you want. There's weekly meetings where you weigh yourself and an instructor talks with you about a certain theme or topic. You get awards as you lose weight. You know I love awards! All and all at the time I found it to be a pretty great program. I know they have a new system in place but I don't think it's changed drastically.

I specifically liked the program in terms of helping me with portion control. I would eat one brownie instead of 3, but I was still eating brownies. Not a problem to make brownies a sometimes food, but for me I was staying on points but filling up on junk instead of learning to incorporate and plan healthier meals.

So that's more details on the whole "I am tracking all of my food and aiming to reduce my calories to 2,000 a day." part of my getting hot goals.

I've been pretty consistent with writing down my food, but I need to practice recording the calories throughout the day. Last night my friend Coleen was fixing dinner and she asked how many calories "I had left" to keep me at my 2000 calorie goal. I had no idea. I had written out my food but hadn't added up the calories. I need to do this so I can really utilize the food log as an active tool and not just a record of my eats.

What about you? Any tricks to meal planning that have worked for you? Have you ever tried weight watchers or some other program? If so, did you love it, hate it? Find that it's working for you? Does anyone else have pics up either as their screensaver, on their wall, or in their planner that motivates them everytime they see it?


  1. I use a free app for the iPhone called LoseIt! which I've been using since I started losing weight in October of 09. It tracks my food calories, exercise calories, nutrients and weight. It's been extremely helpful for me and while I could probably do just fine without it now I still use it every single day because it's a great tool and it keeps me focused. It's also good because my days are never set in stone, food wise and so I can still be flexible without worrying about overeating.

  2. Yes! I was just checking that app out! I'm so glad to hear you love it so much. It's so cool the way it tells you how many calories you have "left"!

    I've been using a paper tracker but since I have an iphone I should probably put it to good use =)

    Thanks for the recommendation!