A week or so after learning about my weight gain, a friend was talking about how she's lost quite a bit of weight in the last year. Though she has been very faithful in exercising, she said the key for her was keeping a log of everything she eats. She has an app on her phone and she scans or enters each food. Well, that didn't sound like much fun to me! Plus, we don't have a phone with those capabilities. It stayed in my mind, though, but I didn't want to do anything about it. I wanted to lose a few pounds without having to change my eating, even though I knew in truth that's what I needed to do!
So it was very interesting when another week passed, and Monica and I were talking on the phone about this subject. She told me about a website she's been using to track her food and exercise. I decided to sign up, and I'm now three weeks in. I thought it would feel really rigid, but it's not a diet, and there are no set guidelines. It's effective because of the very act of entering what you eat and seeing the numbers tally up at the bottom.
I have been surprised that this project has felt very empowering to me. It reminds me of when Eric and I were newlyweds, and he suggested setting up a financial budget and using cash. I thought it would feel restrictive and was not looking forward to the change. But knowing how much money I had to spend each month in certain categories was helpful. And this food logging endeavor has been the same way for me. I like seeing the numbers, and knowing which categories I need to improve on.
For example, the first two days I logged my food, I was completely blown away by the amount of carbs and sugar I was consuming. I was shocked how many of those elements are in tons of foods, including healthy things like fruit. (Of course there are multiple types of sugar, but this site doesn't differentiate.) It was very eye-opening for me, and I have made genuine strides in this area. I also used to reach for seconds at many meals without really evaluating if I was still hungry.
I like that I'm not writing things down with pen and paper, which would be extremely tedious. With this site, you search for or enter the foods you've consumed at each meal (plus snacks), and you also input the amount you ate. I've been using measuring cups of all sizes, and I also bought a kitchen scale for $1 at the thrift store to help as well. I also like that you can enter the type and duration of any exercise you do each day, and it will increase your numbers for that day of calories, fat, etc. It's very motivating!
In the past three weeks, I have overall been eating less (but not much less--this girl loves to eat!), eating more healthfully, and exercising more (4-5 times/week instead of 2-3). That's not to say I've had a perfect string of great eating days, though. Eric's birthday in particular was a *yikes!* kind of day. But it's also a holiday. And if I'm eating better on other days, indulging on special occasions will hopefully feel more enjoyable.
Though I am excited to have lost two pounds in the last couple weeks, it's less about numbers and more about how I feel. I could never do anything extreme like eating no sugar or the paleo diet (I don't eat any red meat!), but this has been a good compromise for me. I'm eating better without it being too painful, and I'm pleased to be seeing positive results.
Have you ever tried something keeping track of what you eat? What did you think?