I learned that I need to make an effort to eat enough protein. I had no idea it was a problem until I started using the Tracker. Also, due to a health condition, I'm what is called carbohydrate sensitive. Oh how I love those carbs, much more than I like sugar. But carbohydrates are not metabolized the same anymore and they contribute to fat more than their calories might suggest. Tracker also helps me to remember to weigh and measure when I can. I try not to wait until too late in the day to track my eating; otherwise, I'm just too tired to get as much benefit from it. However, using this tool 75% effectively is much more helpful than not using it at all.
I learned that if I'm eating anything besides whole foods, I don't lose weight. So if I can pick it, sow it, grow it, feed it, I will eat it -- but nothing processed and (because I have a chemical problem with sugar) no sugars or added sugars. Once I stopped spending my time trying to figure out how to keep having all the things I used to think of as the "good" things -- but which weren't really good for me -- and started embracing and looking forward to all the truly healthy, good things that I get to look forward to at every meal and snack, I felt better and started shedding pounds.
Fitness Minutes: (38,873)
4,035 8/19/12 10:51 A
First, I learned that although I was in my calorie range, the % of fats was too high. They were all *healthy* fats (flax, olive oil, nuts, nut butters), yet still way too high. Fixed that. :D
Second, I have learned over time, when I hover at or near the lower end of my SparkPeople calculated calorie range, I lose weight. When I hover in the center of the range, I maintain. If I regularly hit the high end, I gain.
My conclusion: I need to incorporate more cardio and strength to increase my muscle mass so that I can enjoy being in the middle or high end of my range and still lose or maintain!
Fitness Minutes: (0)
16 8/19/12 10:37 A
I have an injury that makes walking/standing extremely difficult and I know if I lose some weight it will be easier. My husband is in renal failure so his diet is important to his life and I have spent a lot of time trying to learn what he can have to eat. We also have an eight year old and his dietary needs are a bit different than ours. But he is actually losing a bit of tummy too and has energy galore. Problem is by the time I am through standing at the stove cooking for them my appetite is all but gone due to my injury so I pick at the meal and snack later when I feel better. I have missed tracking for a few days and felt awful due to what I ate. Then started back tracking and feel so much better. Tracking has a big impact on what I use as a snack since it is right there in black and white for me to see. Beware the innocent popcicle!!
I learned that I need to spread my calories through the day and not "save" them all for nighttime. By doing this I'm more likely to "spend" my calories on healthy food, instead of splurging on wine or whatever at night because I still have so many calories left. I usually stay in my range either way, but the nutritional composition of my calories is definitely better if I eat the majority of them at breakfast and lunch.
My lesson would be never skip a meal. Even if you think you overate at the last meal, still eat a healthy well rounded meal. Skipping meals just makes you want to overindulge.
Fitness Minutes: (8,361)
321 8/18/12 10:54 P
NOMOREGODDESS - I eat a lot of salads, but without going into the reasons why, I don't get as much fresh veggies as I would like at the moment. Which is why I'm dealing with frozen as much as I am.
Don't eat much fruit other than bananas, usually, though I like many fruits. Bananas stay with me. Many other fruits are like straight sugar to me, don't satisfy me, leave me hungry as if I hadn't had anything at all, feeling to me like empty carbs. I prefer having juice in the morning and mixing my DE in with it. (More palatable that way.)
I've been upping my bean consumption, so a regular supply of carbs (mainly fiber) & protein from them. Gotta be careful how they're made, and not go the route of the beans & rice I grew up with...carb overload! Will be eating more beans in salads, and by themselves.
I respond really well to animal proteins. When I really focus on my proteins, I end up feeling good, staying within my calorie range without any hunger and usually skimming the bottom of the carb range. If the carbs (even from "good" sources), except fiber, go much higher, I get hungry and/or sluggish. I think I'm wired to be fueled more by protein than carbs.
Now, all that being said, I am not denying myself the occasional "goodie", provided I've left calorie room for it. And I'm also learning to be more discerning about which goodies are really "baddies", by the way I feel afterward. (Used to feel that way all the time, didn't know I could feel this much better...and didn't realize it was mainly the junk carbs doing it, though I should've known.) Still succumb to the "baddies" from time to time, anyway, though, but I don't want to beat myself up about it, or I'll stall out.
LAHUDSONCHEF what are you getting your carbs from? I eat a lot of fresh fruits & vegetables (like 5 to 10 servings in a day) I am always pushing the limits of my carbs but never feel run down. If anything they give me more energy. My fat is usually a struggle to get the minimum (today I had to eat 4 slices of bacon just to make it to the minimum. I'm usually middle of the road on protein & calories. In previous weight loss attempts I have not eaten so much fruit & vegetables. By the time I got to my weight loss goal I was very tired all the time. I slept 15 sometimes 20 hours a day & eventually stopped working out entirely because my legs felt like I was wearing lead shoes just going up the 7 stairs to my apartment. I had to stop that meal plan. I was terrified to go out to eat or leave my apartment incase I saw something I wanted to eat. I did not feel that I had the strength to withstand that "craving".
Fitness Minutes: (0)
516 8/18/12 7:58 P
I know for me tracking is essential. It helps me keep my mind & "cravings" in check. I've been working to stabilize my weight. Keeping my protein levels high enough, carbs in check & fat and sugar at a good place all are helping.
The calories certainly do add up quickly! So it's wise to track!
I can't say that I actually want to track everyday. But I do it anyway. There's always a few shocks- like how much that one slice of pizza is costing me as well as how many potato chips I can splurge on and still have a good day. I was shocked at how much sodium I was eating and that I was not getting enough protein. It has forced me to be honest with myself about what I am eating. I tried lying to the tracker but my body knew better .
Fitness Minutes: (61,792)
11,084 8/18/12 6:44 P
I tracked and lost 30 pounds back in 2007. I slowly gained it back and last year I saw the last pounds come back no matter what I was doing to prevent them from coming back. So, this summer I decided to track. One of the things I've learned is that I have to track what I'm doing. Its only by being accountable that I can lose weight and eventually keep it off. Cindi
Fitness Minutes: (53,553)
715 8/18/12 3:14 P
I started using the site back in mid-June of this year but only started tracking my food last Friday (a week ago yesterday). I have found that I even though I am within the caloric intake on here, I am getting more carbs than I need. What's weird is that for today, the majority of the carbs I have taken in have come from the watermelon that I ate at lunch.
I have already switched from 2% milk to 1% milk but I guess I should lay off the low fat (1% chocolate milk). That seems to be adding a lot of carbs. I don't drink alcohol, coffee or tea and I haven't had any juice in ages. I only drink one 7.5 ounce thing of coke a day. Many times I don't even finish all of the coke. I do take in more dairy than I probably need too (4 to 5 servings). I like my milk....but I'm not as bad as was about it a few years ago. I could drink 6 cups of milk in just one sitting.
Fitness Minutes: (4,114)
252 8/18/12 1:17 P
I,m eating too much dairy and not enough vegetables, beans and whole grains ATM.
The tracker has taught me to be aware of how small choices, like an extra tbs of butter or milk in my tea. How they add up.
Just in the 4 days of tracking I realize where I'm getting some absolutely empty and unnecessary calories. It's allowed me the opportunity to find healthy alternatives when eating out - I look at food differently and pay attention to portion size.
Fitness Minutes: (8,361)
321 8/18/12 11:21 A
Tracking has been central for me. Without that tool, it's easy to lie to myself. And I'm also learning by watching where my daily total falls on the ranges, what works best for me.
For instance, if I concentrate on my protein, and thereby get a little more fat than the range, I'm still okay. This also causes my carbs to be below or just at the bottom of the range, and that's when I feel best. If my carbs edge into the middle of the range SP set for me, I'm draggy, sleepy, no energy, and I'm constantly hungry. But, if my protein is good and my carbs are "low", I've got energy and can go all day without any hunger pangs.
As a treat this morning, I allowed myself a whole old-fashioned cake donut from a local bakery. No glaze, no powdered sugar...but that one donut was nearly 300 calories, and out of that, only 3g protein and half my min fat for the day. I'm already sorry I ate it, I don't feel good.
I allow myself these kinds of things from time to time because: I love the taste, to test my body's response, but also to challenge myself to work around stuff. I know I will not always be able to fully control what foods are presented to me (special meals out, eating at someone else's house, unexpected hiccups in the daily plan, etc.), so I want to know what my body does. And more and more, I'm finding that "junk" carbs will make me sluggish and always hungry. I wouldn't have been able to figure all that out so clearly without tracking.
Edited by: LAHUDSONCHEF at: 8/18/2012 (12:25)
Fitness Minutes: (242)
16 8/18/12 11:02 A
I cant believe tracking works! I mean I've heard it - tried it here and there but honest - true to life - no lies or fudges (literally) I am able to see that maybe hey, I DO eat a lot. I've always been healthy, raised vegetarian and never had weight issues until my first pregnancy - never again was I able to eat the same with same results. I didnt grasp the concept until now - a sad 18 yrs later! Last night I made homemade pizza with garden fresh ingredients and trader joe's herb dough ($1.29!!) I made it in my skillet and thought this will be waaaaaaaaaay over but with the tracking and knowledge of what and how much I was able to almost fully control my portions. That's a HUGE step and I pray this works for me. I would LOVE to be fit and healthy -up till this point I thought it impossible. One calorie less at a time...or a few hundred :)
I've learned that what might look like "dieting" can actually be just normal, everyday healthy eating. Two standards for me are oatmeal for breakfast made with skim milk and 2 TBSP slivered almonds, and a lunchtime salad on a bed of spinach with grilled chicken, beans, sunflower seeds, and olive oil and vinegar dressing. Those two items alone add up to 800-900 calories, but they're packed with nutrients and fill me up so I'm not tempted with sweets and treats. However, that also doesn't leave me with room for 1000+ calories dinner!
I resisted all forms of regular tracking. Lol. And I got fatter. Tracking just works for me and Spark tracker seems to have everything. Easy. And now I weigh a lot less! No more resisting!
Fitness Minutes: (3,880)
268 8/18/12 8:54 A
I totally love seeing what I am eating and how many calories/fat/carbs I have consumed. Finally loosing weight after trying all the fad diets that just didnt work for a long term healthy weight loss...
I have never liked writing in a journal listing all the foods eaten but the SparkPeople tracker makes it interesting to see my shortfalls in nutrients. My magnesium is very low so I am going to start adding fresh spinach to my salads.
Fitness Minutes: (7,292)
31 8/18/12 3:59 A
helped me realize I'm a "stress" eater....I would have totally denined my emotions had any effect on my food intake without the food tracking on sparkpeople. It helps me be more mindful too.
Fitness Minutes: (1,608)
189 8/17/12 11:33 P
Makes me aware of what I've done and how much more I can do
Fitness Minutes: (22,850)
1,855 8/17/12 11:04 P
Lesson learned: Awareness of what I am eating and that i can increase my calorie intake and still lose weight.
Fitness Minutes: (101,760)
4,674 8/17/12 10:57 P
A few weeks ago, I started entering the meals that were suggested for me by Spark and then getting the daily feedback to see how Sparks choices did. It was disappointing to see the chronically low values for calcium and potassium and many times protein. I track my actual food on Body Media.
I do a better job on the nutrition of my meals than spark does.
Same here. Lunch is my biggest challenge. Tracking my food is still challenging for me. I don't like looking every thing up and if it's not in the data base then I have to add it in and that takes time. I am getting better at it but it's still one of my biggest challenge.
Fitness Minutes: (6,817)
500 8/17/12 10:31 P
I usually eat more calories during lunch than breakfast or dinner
I resisted tracking for a long time, even knowing that it helped me in the past. Too much trouble. But now I am tracking again, and finally got back into losing. I know I will have to write down those 2 cookies I ate or the glass of wine I had. It keeps me from going overboard. I really really do not want to have to look at my chart and see that I have had 8 cookies or 3 glasses of wine. I work harder to have healthier snacks on hand.
Love the food tracker here, best one I have ever tried. Easy to use.
I first off learned I was eating too little, being overweight it was like I became scared to eat too much and this was sabotaging me to be hungry and I quickly realized that with the exercise I was doing I became quite weak without enough food! I didn't even know I went from eating too much to eating too little.
Now that I am more on track with how much I eat, I make sure I am feeling ok and am really watching my bodies cues and also, I remember to read labels a lot more to make sure I don't go over either!
I like to see how close am I to the suggested carbs,fat and proteins,. I getting closer to meeting the goals, but I am still heavy on the carbs and fats!!
Fitness Minutes: (1,465)
21 8/17/12 7:43 P
Tracking helps me make wiser choices. If I think I'm over 500 calories for a meal, I start to ask myself, do I really want those chips? that dessert? or, if I really do want something else, should it be some fruit? water? juice? I make more deliberate choices between healthy and unhealthy, and/or eat smaller portions than I used to, because I know I will be held accountable at the end of the day when I enter in my information!
Fitness Minutes: (28,754)
2,609 8/17/12 7:31 P
Keeps me on my toes
Fitness Minutes: (639)
95 8/17/12 7:12 P
Tracking the food has been a real eye-opener for me. I had no idea how much fat and little protein I was getting when I first tracked my food a few months ago. I'm still surprised on a pretty much daily basis - the fat adds up FAST. And I'm often on the low side of the carbs. Maybe I should change the carb requirement... I was also shocked to discover that, in fact, I DON'T know how much four oz is! I'm sure I was eating double that and calling it a serving. Live and learn...
Tracking keeps me mindful and it keeps me making actual choices. I realized I can get away with a lot of stuff I really love, but what gets me is the "mindless" eating - foods I can really take or leave! When I'm tracking, I can choose to *leave* 'em.
Really a good point about tracking even when you mess up. Let's face it, the world will not fall apart because we ate too much, or the wrong thing, but if we can learn by that mistake, I am for it. I will now do it that way. Sounds like you are doing good. Diane
Three great insights! For me Lesson 4 is... when I've figured out Lessons 1 - 3, I've got enough invested in keeping my tracker looking "nice" to really stick with it.
If I'd started out 4 months ago intending to cut my bread consumption way back, I'd have run back into that river... da Nile! But bread works against Lessons 1 - 3, even if it is 100% whole wheat. I've achieved a lot of victories under Lesson 1 by filling my plate with beans, veggies, and small amounts of whole grains. Bread gets fit in now, not worked around.
Fitness Minutes: (921)
475 8/17/12 4:10 P
Tracking has taught me so much, but especially "The more I think I know, the more I need to track"! It is, bar none, THE BEST tool to help understand habits and to show you how to meet your goals!
I truly believe tracking to be the difference between true success and repeating what I've always done in the past . . . start, but never finish! Set the goal, but never make it!
Twenty six weeks have passed now since I started honestly recording what I ate... and close to 40 pounds later I am recording EVERY bite I put in my mouth. I use the tracker to plan, if not the entire day, then at least "What's for dinner" so the day fits into my personal goal for that week. (Sidebar---We went to a Brazilian steakhouse for dinner last night -- ouch! But... first thing this morning I was planning for the rest of the week so I can meet my next goal.)
I heartily encourage to take the time and make the effort to discover just how much you actually can learn as you take this journey!
I have learned a ton from tracking. I love seeing not just calories but nutrients also. I've learned that planning is crucial. I too tend to not track at the end of the day if I go wacko on snacking. But I usually go back in the next day and fill it in.
Fitness Minutes: (69,592)
9,381 8/17/12 2:12 P
I track a LOT of nutrients, as well as the basics. I LOVE being able to make sure I'm getting the recommended nutrients into my diet.
One thing of note, especially for those who earlier mentioned that if they eat something they shouldn't, they just quit tracking for the day. I used to do the same exact thing. I now find that tracking the days that I go OVER in calories shows me even more than the days I stay within range. I especially pay attention to WHY I went over and what my trigger foods are ... can you say sugar ... man, it's everywhere!
I've been measuring food for years so I'm pretty good at guessing portion size measurements, but I have fun making a game of putting what I think is 1/2-cup, or 3 oz. out, then weighing/measuring to double-check myself.
Portion sizes!!! I find that I used to underestimate how much of something I was eating. "Really, a half a cup, wheres the rest of it?" haha Now I measure everything and track appropriately. Makes a HUGE difference!!
I really find a big difference in high nutrient, "real" foods in comparison to processed foods. If I have a day that I eat all healthy foods for the day, I sometimes struggle getting enough calories. But if I eat a meal with some sort of processed, forget it, I can easily go above my calorie range and still feel hungry. I'm amazed at how quickly those calories will add up with some foods. I definitely utilize my food tracker as often as I can.
Wow, tracking is so helpful I have been keeping track of my food in a journal, but using SP tracker, I find out the protein levels, carbs and calories. It is so easy for me to guesstimate food and amounts wrong, the tracker tells the honest truth, it keeps me accountable, Diane
Fitness Minutes: (10,956)
164 8/17/12 1:05 P
These are great observations! I have been having difficulty going over my calories, and I think it's because I let myself get away from tracking everything. Thank you for sharing, this will help me get back on the tracking wagon!
Fitness Minutes: (2,501)
729 8/17/12 12:12 P
-When I haven't eaten enough calories that day to support an intense workout, I really start to feel it. My muscles burn more, I sweat more, and so I try to avoid letting that happen.
When I actually track my food and make sure I am staying within my ranges, not just my calorie range, but fat, protein etc, I find I am able to get through the day without feeling too hungry. I find I have to eat on the higher end of my protein range in order to feel full.
I also have found calories add up REALLY quickly if I don't properly plan my meals. On the days I wait til the end of the day to input my calories eaten usually end up being much higher then the days I plan my meals out in my tracker at the beginning. So for me ensuring I track every day is very important!
I like to track and plan my meals at the beginning of the day because then I can decide to fit in a treat here and there.
I totally agree. When I'm tracking my food I'm ok, but when I know I've eaten something I shouldn't have I just quit tracking my food for that day. Tracking is a way of keeping me focused and accountable.
Fitness Minutes: (53,435)
3,193 8/17/12 8:53 A
So SparkCoach today tasked me with hitting up this forum and listing out things I have learned from tracking my food.
1. I can't eat every high calorie, low nutritient food every day, however I can fit in one or sometimes two if I focus the rest of my meals on healthier choices. 2. Portions matter. It may be healthy, but eating an entire package that has 4 servings is more than I need. 3. calories add up quickly if I don't pay attention through the day. When I don't track throughout the day, I find at the end of it that I go over my calorie range by a couple hundred calories ... and regularly remember the next morning about other foods I snacked on, that I didn't track.
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