What I Learned From One Year of Logging My Food Intake
Thursday, July 12, 2018
As a trainer, I always encourage my clients to track their food intake in some fashion. Whether their goals are weight management (loss, maintenance, or gains), building strength, or changing physique or performance, nutrition is a critical component to success. If a client is not aware of what their nutritional intake looks like, it’s like going into a gym blindfolded and using whatever equipment they can figure out to use by feeling their way around. How effective will they be reaching goals with that type of approach? So it goes with nutrition.
In my own fitness and health journey, I have gone through many different stages in nutrition as well as stages in “training”. Over a year ago, I realized that I was stuck in a rut. I was training in a way that was just maintaining where years of hard work had gotten me. I was bouncing back and forth between a relaxed eating lifestyle and “tightening up my belt buckle”. The result was a lackluster attitude toward my current fitness and health, and an almost 10 lb. upswing from my most accomplished goals since beginning my journey. I was stronger from the commitment to strength training but my physique suffered from a lack of commitment with nutrition. So, after a pretty good “chat” with myself. I told myself: “You work too hard, and have come too far, to not be completely happy with where you are! You know you have complete control over what your body looks like! So what are YOU going to do about this?!” In my heart, I knew the answer was getting focused about nutrition that looked mostly like it did in the beginning. I committed to logging my food for 1 year. I knew that there would be ups and downs, and I knew that I needed to take the time that 1 year of logging would teach me. So I downloaded MyFitnessPal app on my phone again and began. And here’s what I learned from 1 year of logging my food.
EVERYTHING COUNTS! And when I say everything, I mean everything. Every little handful of this, every little handful of that. Logging can be pain staking enough, so having to log a couple of chips, a couple of nuts, makes you assess whether or not it’s really needed. And if I have decided it’s worth having, I plan for it. Every little “cheat” counts, times two. It usually takes a lot more discipline to get back to eating clean and to counter those extra calories, and it takes twice as long to undo what was done. Every minute of exercise counts too! Because of my all or nothing mindset, it has been really hard for me to learn every workout does not have to be a KILLER workout; high productivity with lots of calories burned, miles covered, or reps performed. A nice evening walk with my husband, a quick ride on an exercise bike, or a few sets and reps on a muscle group I have been ignoring or struggling with, really helps keep me on track. Those extra calories burned count, the consistency in being active counts, the mental dedication to my goals count.
MACROS MATTER! It’s not enough to just be within my goal calorie count. I’m sorry, many will argue with me, but a calorie is just not a calorie. A nutrient dense calorie is better than a highly processed, sugar or preservative laden calorie any day! I have learned that knowing, and keeping in control, the percentage of calories I get from carbs, fat, and protein. With the demands of exercise, stress, and my busy life, I need to make sure that my body is getting all the nutrition it needs for a quality lifestyle.
PLANNING AND PREP IS A MUST! As I mentioned before, logging food can be arduous. But it doesn’t have to be. Planning out my meals for the week is not only great for the family, a good time management tool, a good budget keeping tool, but it’s also great for success with weight management. When I know what types of workouts I am going to be doing, and need fuel for, I need to have food ready to go. My work schedule requires that I have a lot of small meals ready to eat quickly. And on the days I won’t work out, I know that keeping my calorie count in check is important for keeping on track. So every week I plan meals, make a shopping list, prep food ahead of time, and log it before I even eat it many times. This way I know exactly what I need to do to deal with the uncontrollable moments like dinner parties, out to eat, or a treat brought in to work. Sometimes NO is the answer to things like the extra treat, the burger or fries. But if I’m working hard and doing well, I can have my well-earned treat every once in a while. And when I’m on point, once in a while is really all I want/need.
Logging my food intake has been everything I thought it would be. It was hard, frustrating, and exhausting at times. But mostly, it was a fun challenge and a great way for me to meet some pretty awesome goals. I am down almost 3% body fat, which is pretty great for this middle aged mom who was already in the normal range for body fat %. I’ve gained a lot of strength, and I have successfully trained myself in the sport of Triathlon. My energy levels and moods are better than they have been in a long time. My skin looks great, my mental clarity is great, I sleep better, and my recovery from strenuous workouts is better. A commitment to log for 1 year of logging my food intake has extended another 100 days, and I don’t have plans to stop anytime soon. If you were considering giving it a try, GO FOR IT! If you are struggling with weight management, CONSIDER IT and then GO FOR IT! If you have any questions or need encouragement, please get in contact with me. I love to share my passion and experiences and I would love to motivate and coach you!
Kim Elsing Greater Green Bay YMCA
Certified Personal Trainer, FNS, Nondiet Weight Management Certified, Trained in Holistic Life Coaching through GAHP (Global Association of Holistic Practictioners)