I have a confession to make. Not an “I have a crush on the cute guy in my French class” kind of confession, it’s not that kind of diary.
I’m talking about a food diary, diet log, nutrition tracker, whatever you want to call it … A chronicle of the tasty morsels that pass my lips on a daily basis. And my confession is that I have been ignoring my food diary for a little while. Ok, 6 weeks, so a LONG while.
I used to be of the mindset that keeping such careful track of my nutrition was not necessary, and that just having a generally healthful approach would be fine. But truthfully, I felt like it was a hassle. And part of me just didn’t really want to know the truth! Denial … it ain’t just a river in Egypt.
But when it came time to really get serious about my health, fitness, and nutrition, I knew I needed something that would make me accountable. It was pretty obvious that I wasn’t doing a good job being balanced or healthful with my eating, because as I started running, my pants were getting tighter instead of looser. (That will be another blog post, a time in my life I refer to as “running chubby.”)
I really needed to analyze what I was consuming. Calorie counting was one priority. I had to analyze how much I was taking in vs. how much I was using during my workouts, because weight loss at its simplest is burning more calories than you consume. And it can be pretty eye-opening to see just how many calories one fast food lunch can wipe out of your allotment for the day, or extra motivating to see how many calories a long cardio workout can burn.
Beyond that, however, I wanted to get a total impression of my nutrition. Not just how MANY calories, but what KIND of calories. The proportion of carbohydrates/protein/fat. How much fiber I was getting. Whether I was consuming too much sodium or sugar.
Sound complicated? I thought so. But I just had to search for the right tool. I tried several different apps and websites, and most of them still seemed too clunky and time-consuming … until a friend recommended MyFitnessPal. I can use my phone or my PC to track food and exercise. They have a huge database of foods with nutrition information already entered, so a quick search is all you need. And the iPhone app even has a barcode scanner now, just scan the code and the nutrition info pops up … so easy!
So I used it for a few months and had great success. It made me so much more aware of which foods were empty calories, and which foods I could eat more of without killing my allotment for day. (Translation: More fruits and veggies!) And if I was hungry as the day went on, I could take a look at what I’d already eaten and then fill in the gaps with the right kind of calories. I was also a lot less likely to grab a burger, handful of chips, or a candy bar knowing that I’d have to enter it in and stare at in black and white.
It worked, and I dropped over 15 pounds and had to buy all new pants! And then … I got out of the habit. A day or two at first, then a week, and suddenly a month went by with no entries. And I was ok at first, because I was following a generally healthful pattern. But over time it was too easy to grab a lunch on the road here, another bowl of pretzels in the evening there, and suddenly I wasn’t feeling so hot.
So starting today, I’m back on the bandwagon. My goal is keep my diary for at least 5 days each week. And to hold myself accountable, I’m inviting all of you to follow along. How’s that for motivation?