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To Track or Not To Track

Monday, June 30, 2014

In the past, I have been consistently tracking my food for weeks and even months at a time only to struggle keeping up with it at some point. That usually led to a complete halt of food tracking. Whenever I did not track, I eventually started gaining back weight. So my logic told me, "you have to track to lose." I tried to keep up with it by carrying a little notebook with me and write down all the foods I ate so that I could track them when I would find the time to. Eventually, I realized that I do not want to live like this for the rest of my life. I do not want to obsess over food, measuring and tracking every single bite. I really enjoy eating, and this took away a lot of this joy.

Those who know me, know that I already eat healthy and balanced most of the time. And, no, I will not deny myself an occasional piece of chocolate (or something else that I really enjoy). However, what I had to really work on were serving sizes, a problem many people seem to have (often not even knowingly).

I would say I have a love/hate relationship with tracking. I really love the insight I get from tracking. I see the nutrients I am getting, if I am eating enough protein, too few or too many calories, etc.
I hate the time tracking consumes and how it makes me obsess over the food I eat.
Ultimately, this is not just a weight loss journey I am on, I want to change my life. I want to be able to create a healthy lifestyle that works for me and that I can sustain indefinitely.

So this is what works for me: I eat intuitively and consciously, enjoying the food I eat. I will not eat high calorie/low nutrient foods if they are not absolutely worth the empty calories. For example, I will eat my favorite chocolate on occasion, but I will not eat just a random snack/dessert/candy I see or I am offered if I know that I will merely like it and not absolutely love it. Why waste empty calories on something I do not absolutely love when I can have something nutritious instead? That does not mean I do not try new things. I love exploring new foods, provided they are real foods (more about this another time). From time to time, I will go back to tracking. Sometimes just for a day, sometimes for a week or two. This lets me check in on myself to see how I am doing when eating intuitively. If I notice any patterns (not enough protein, for example), I know what to tweak in my diet.

Do you track or keep a food journal? What works for you, what does not?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUNESHOPE 8/30/2014 12:58PM

    Yes, I am the same way. I noticed that if I was trying to track, and skipped a meal or a day, I would 'think' I blew the whole thing because I forgot to write it down, and then I would just get off the program and say "tomorrow" I will start back, and sometimes it took months for tomorrow to come back.

So I found what works best for me is to plan the week in advance on paper (actually computer), and then just stick to it. That way I don't have to write anything down, and I usually don't have a problem sticking to it.

I don't count calories, because I believe as long as I eat healthy, and watch portion control, that counting calories is just not needed. From my years of experience of counting calories, I can pretty much eyeball it and know that eating healthy, is staying in my calorie range.

Good luck to you! emoticon

Comment edited on: 8/30/2014 12:59:26 PM

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    After about 2 years on Spark and losing about 20 pounds....
I started to track. I was very resistant for the reasons that you mention.
I really did learn about my eating habits, etc.
I am not sure how I am going to proceed from here on out and am trying to come up with a workable plan like you are.

Comment edited on: 7/6/2014 1:53:06 PM

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DAISYLEIN 7/1/2014 5:32AM

    i rather spend the time moving my body to burn calories than sitting to track food which is very time consuming...
i agree with MOM2ACAT to switch to the Food diary on paper, much less time consuming but still aware of what i am eating...

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MJREIMERS 6/30/2014 8:06PM

    I've been tracking for 3 1/2 years. The one time stopped, I gained weight back. Yes it's time consuming, but for me it's a necessity. I know I need to track in order to hold myself accountable. I, too, allow myself a piece of chocolate, a cookie or some ice cream every now and then I eat very cleanly with little to no processed food for the most part. I have changed my lifestyle and tracking is now a part of it.

Do what you think is best, but to be honest you already answered your own question...at least in my opinion. You do better when you track! It doesn't take that much time to track. What I bet happens is what happens to me daily.

I track my food and exercise and then I check on my teams, my friends, read an article, try to get as many points as I can, etc. Take one week and only track your food. Then, get off Sparkpeople. I bet it doesn't take as long as you think. emoticon Good luck!

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MOM2ACAT 6/30/2014 5:25PM

    I did the tracking here on Spark, until a few months after I reached my goal weight.

I switched to keeping a food diary on paper a few years ago. I no longer count calories, but it keeps me aware of what I am eating, and how many fruit and veggie servings and water servings I am getting. It's worked for me, because I am still maintaining my goal weight. I know my method won't work for everyone, but you never know til you try it.

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Answers and a plan to get my health back

Monday, February 17, 2014

I have not been very active here on SparkPeople lately. Sorry about that. I missed you all and I am back! For the last several months I have been feeling miserable and for the longest I was trying to figure out what was going on.

I was extremely exhausted every day, no matter how much or little sleep I had at night. I even nodded off at work a couple of times. I had several migraines a week. My GI system was acting crazy. I had weird painful patches on my scalp that would appear and disappear unpredictably. My skin was extremely dry and I lost more hair than usual. I was unusually angry, tense, sad, depressed and even lost my appetite (I am usually a "foodie" as I love cooking and eating). I was short of breath a lot faster than usual which (at the time) I thought might just be a result of not exercising as much as I used to, yet this one felt different. Something was not right.

After talking to my Mom, who has Celiac disease, she suggested I should take a self test by checking off my symptoms on a list of common symptoms of Celiac sufferers. Wow. That one hit home. I sure was surprised to find many of my recent ailments on that list. Since my Mom has Celiac disease already, I am at greater risk of developing it myself. Another risk factor is having another autoimmune disease (I already have Hashimoto's disease). Since the beginning of the year, I started tracking my symptoms and whether I ate gluten or not each day. I set up a doctor's appointment to get a blood test for Celiac done as well as a large blood panel. Knowing that a Celiac blood test could come back with a false negative after cutting out gluten from one's diet, I kept consciously eating gluten up until the day of the blood test.

While I was waiting on the results, I kept eating gluten at first, in case a biopsy was needed. However, I was so miserable the weekend before last with one of the worst and longest migraines I have ever experienced that I decided to go gluten free starting that Sunday up until Tuesday night and I soon felt better. The migraine and my GI issues subsided. Knowing I would get my test results on Wednesday, I did go on a "gluten splurge" on Tuesday night with my favorite made-from-scratch homemade pizza (I will miss you, baby!). Well, let me say I paid for that on Wednesday morning...

Eventually I got my test results on Wednesday afternoon and the good news is that the Celiac test came back negative/non-elevated. I am still at risk of developing Celiac, but at this point I do not have it. That is great news. So for now, it looks like I am gluten intolerant and I am cutting it out for the next six months (and possibly forever) along with tracking my food meticulously to see if there is anything else I might react to. The big surprise that came with my blood panel was that I was severely iron deficient/anemic and that explains some of the above symptoms as well (including the unusual shortness of breath). I immediately started taking an iron supplement and got some extra rest the last few days. I am starting to feel a little better. Yay!

Here comes some female stuff, possibly TMI for some. You have been warned. ;-)
My last blood panel was in September last year and it showed all my values to be perfect with iron being just a tiny bit low and my progesterone levels being postmenopausal. I increased my dark leafy greens intake (I am not a big meat eater) and I am already taking a multivitamin which also has iron in it. That should have taken care of it, or so I thought. Well, it apparently did not. I have to add that my menstrual cycle has been crazy for years (since my miscarriage in 2007 to be exact). First, I did not bleed at all, then I started spotting and/or having minimal flow on a daily basis. Several doctors had previously suggested I take birth control pills to "reset" my cycle, but I did not want that in hopes of at some point becoming pregnant again. Well, that has not happened since 2007 and with my progesterone levels being postmenopausal (I am 27!), I eventually agreed to trying to "reset" my hormones with the means of birth control pills. I never stopped spotting, but I did have two very heavy cycles during which I lost more blood than usual. Looking back that probably was what depleted my iron levels. Especially considering that soon after that second very heavy cycle I started feeling exhausted and extremely tired for (at the time) no apparent reason. In addition, I continued to have (almost) regular cycles with spotting in between. Having almost regular cycles is a good sign and I really hope constant spotting will stop soon.

I will be taking my iron supplement daily and will keep getting my levels checked. I will also eat more yogurt again and also take probiotics which will hopefully get my gut back in order (I am still waiting for them to come in the mail, but they should get here soon). Through that and my diet change(s), I hope to be back to my old self soon (I sure miss her!).

At times I was so miserable that all I did was sleep as soon as I got home in the evenings and most of the weekends as well. I did not exercise much. This I am changing now. I need my workouts. I am going to a Zumba class once a week (Mondays) –I already went twice– and I am increasingly walking in the morning between dropping my son off at school and going to work. Eventually I want to go back to the 5K Your Way program and actually run a 5K this year.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HEIDIJUNEBUG 2/19/2014 2:41PM

    Thank you Mom and thank you Amanda. I have been completely GF since Sunday and am also taking iron supplements and probiotics now. No migraines so far which is awesome. I worked out Monday night doing interval training (walk/run) and I was miserable on Tuesday. I was shaky, dizzy, nauseous, had a racing heartbeat at times, and was beyond exhausted – all anemia related I am sure. I am assuming this was m body's response to a workout to strenuous to handle at this point. emoticon For now I will slow down my workouts to walking and light strength training for now. I will still go to Zumba, which can be pretty intense, but I will be careful and modify some of the steps as to not overdo it.

Amanda, your discovery about how your iron levels changed after removing gluten is very interesting. I hope you can continue to regulate them through your diet. I totally understand you not wanting to intentionally eat gluten to get checked for Celiac. I am glad I can now be completely free of it and don't have to keep eating it. Maybe we can swap some recipes and product recommendations down the road. I am happy to have found some edible whole grain (brown rice) pasta so far (through my Mom, thanks!). emoticon

Comment edited on: 2/19/2014 2:41:58 PM

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POOKASLUAGH 2/17/2014 8:26AM

    Well, celiac or not, you pretty much hit the nail on the head with all those symptoms! Wow it was like reading about my own symptoms, right down to the weird painful sores that would move around the scalp! When mine got really bad, I started itching around my eyes due to losing multiple eyelashes too. Weird, huh? Removing the gluten really helped, getting rid of all the skin issues, and insomnia, and headaches, and a lot of the pain. Even better though - I have the opposite issue with iron. I have a family genetic disorder that leads me to have dangerously high levels of iron. Many people in my family are forced to go through monthly blood-letting (haha) in-office, and we can't even do it through donating blood because the blood bank won't take our blood because of the genetic disorder. I haven't gotten full-blown hemachromatosis yet, but I have several of the genetic risk factors, and over the last two years, my blood iron has gotten to where it's been slightly too high. I've tried to correct this through diet - not eating a lot of iron - but it's stayed elevated. Now, after six months going without gluten, I had my blood tested right before my surgery in January, and the levels are normal for the first time in over two years. Kinda makes you wonder what sort of effect gluten-intolerance has on blood iron, too.

I've not been diagnosed or tested for Celiac, because frankly I'm not willing to pay for eating gluten in order to take the test! There are very few foods that I miss that I haven't found decent substitutes for (I spent the last two weeks slowly going through a box of GF glazed donuts, haha), and they aren't worth all the pain and problems that come after. I hope now that you have all these answers, you will feel so much better Heidi!

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DAISYLEIN 2/17/2014 4:34AM

    Sweetheart emoticon ,
i will be very happy when u finally feel better - never liked to see u suffering (for so long since Teenage years with the migraine).
I know how hard it is to miss favorite foods - but once u find out how much better u feel without those fav foods, u will not miss it any more emoticon .
Try to find new fav foods, that helps emotionally too - it sure helped me emoticon .

always lots of Love and Hugs from your MOM emoticon

Comment edited on: 2/17/2014 11:41:25 AM

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Victory Jeans!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

So I have been wearing sizes 20 and 22 for the the last 3+ years (I cannot remember how many exactly). About 3 months ago I found a size 20 jeans at my local thrift store that fit perfectly, so of course I grabbed them. I could not tell what brand they were but they just felt and looked great so I did not care. Anyway, after owning those jeans for a all this time I eventually discovered a secondary tag that shows the jeans were from Old Navy. A Spark Friend of mine gave me the idea to buy the same model of jeans in different sizes as to have a good comparison, since different jeans brands/models are not really sized the same way. So I went to Old Navy today to find a size 20 pair I would like and tried it on. It fit, but felt like I would need a belt with it once I would break them in. I need to note that I do need a belt for the thrift shop pair by now. So I went ahead and got a size 18 of the same jeans, not expecting them to fit well, but to my surprise they fit perfectly. I HAD to buy them and now I have my first pair of victory jeans. emoticon I am looking forward to getting the next lower size once these get loose. This NSV is just what I needed. My weight did not go down much lately, but I obviously lost inches. I have been sleeping too little and working too much over the last two weeks because of looming deadlines that absolutely have to be met, but I know this has not been healthy for me. I have been eating intuitively and have managed to eat healthy foods in reasonable portions most of the time, but did not find the time to track. I am proud of myself to not have given in to junk foods despite the stress. I did have a treat every once in a while, but kept them in moderation. This is a big one for me since I have been a stress eater for most of my life. I did not exercise much over the past few weeks since the 5K either, but I do go for short walks on my lunch and try to be as active as possible on the weekends for now. Better than nothing. The good news is that I know this is only temporary and will be over soon, hopefully next week. I miss the insight I get from tracking and definitely miss my morning walks/runs.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BEATRIZ269 1/19/2014 12:18AM

    It seems like you and I have a lot in common. I find my motivation is better with an immediate goal and maybe we could help each other with that. I also like to walk a lot and everywhere, during lunch and at night but would like to switch that to mornings. I am wearing size 18 now and would like to try getting jeans in different size just to see how the changes look. Good luck with your journey and I hope things are going well for you. Unfortunately my job gets crazy with deadlines but I need to try and stay more connected with Sparkpeople and people like you. Thank you for sharing. emoticon emoticon

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VEGSARA 10/27/2013 8:18PM

    Yay victory jeans!!! Thats great!!

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MOMMA_BEAR_69 10/5/2013 11:17PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
emoticon emoticon
I love Old Navy jeans also. They seem to fit me better than any others.
Continued blessings and hugs,

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DAMEGRIS 10/3/2013 8:48AM

    yay! This is fantastic Heidi - all around. New jeans, the fact that you're eating well while eating intuitively, overcoming stress eating right now, all that! Congrats!

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MJREIMERS 10/3/2013 7:16AM

    emoticon and emoticon on your accomplishment! I love victory jeans and it was smart to get another pair, in a smaller size, since you like the fit. Jeans are my favorite piece of clothing!!!

Keep up the great work. You are DOING it! emoticon

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ROSEPETAL80 10/3/2013 5:12AM


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WATERDIAMONDS 10/3/2013 4:41AM

    That is a wonderful victory and I offer you my sincere congrats. You are obviously on the right track, so keep up the great work.

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DAISYLEIN 10/3/2013 3:28AM

    BIN STOLZ AUF DICH MEINE SUESSE emoticon emoticon

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DAISYLEIN 10/3/2013 3:28AM

    BIN STOLZ AUF DICH MEINE SUESSE emoticon emoticon

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FULLOFFAITH 10/3/2013 1:44AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon ..What a great Victory it is.

Congratulations emoticon


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JANTWO 10/3/2013 12:44AM

    I am so happy for you!!!! I know that is a BIG VICTORY!!!! It is always nice to fit into smaller jeans!!!! emoticon

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Seriously Sick

Monday, July 29, 2013

Hi everyone!

I just wanted to give an update. I have been absent from SP for a little over a week and it feels like an eternity. The reason of my absence is that I have been very sick due to a serious mold issue in our HVAC system. In June we moved to a new rental home and both my son's and my indoor allergy symptoms went significantly worse since then. So I decided to have the air ducts of the house cleaned. When the technicians came out for the air duct cleaning, they discovered black mold within the AC unit, which they told me was a result of improper maintenance on a long term basis. They did not perform the cleaning, because that would have caused a lot more mold spores in the air. They gave us an estimate for removal of the mold and sanitation of system which I forwarded to our landlord. Thankfully, there was no fuss and we were able to have the technicians take care of it first thing on Monday.

However, spores had already been in the air all weekend and I was having severe flu-like symptoms because of that (sneezing, sinus congestion, sore throat and cough thanks to postnasal drip, severe headache, body aches, mild fever, fatigue, diarrhea). In short, I have been feeling miserable and I hope listing my symptoms was not TMI. Gladly, I am finally and slowly getting better.

I still have a cough which I hope will soon go away so that I can work out again. This was the worst I felt in years and came very unexpected. I am so glad that my boys have been at their grandma's house for the past few weeks, so they have not been exposed that much. My husband and I have both been very sick from this stupid mold. If you ever have any mold in your home, please remove it safely or have it professionally removed right away. Please make sure your AC system is maintained properly. The mold we had was caused by the system not draining correctly and water and dirt had been building up inside the unit. I know that whenever we move again, I will have the AC professionally checked before we move in. This better be a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Glad to be back and hope this pesky cough will go away soon... I miss my workouts!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MJ-SHE-BEAST 8/1/2013 10:26AM

    That is seriously scary stuff, Heidi. Breathing problems aside, black mold has been linked to a lot of disease if exposed for a long time. So glad you got it taken care of!

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RASPBERRY56 7/30/2013 4:37AM


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MOMMA_BEAR_69 7/30/2013 1:03AM

    Praying for you that you and your son are soon feeling better now that the mold is gone.
Hope that you will be back to your workouts quickly.
Prayers, blessings and hugs,

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MYKIDSRSWEET 7/29/2013 10:40AM

    Healing thoughts coming your way. Hope you feel better!

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CELEST 7/29/2013 8:58AM

    I feel for you and hope you get better soon. My mom is 79 and sick as a proverbial dog too....so Im really hoping I dont catch her rotten cold.

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Thank you, San Antonio Spark Team!

Monday, July 01, 2013

I just wanted to thank everyone who came to the dinner meetup. It was great meeting new and old friends. I love that our team is not just virtual, but that we actually have a chance to meet each other. I personally feel encouraged and more motivated because of that. Thank you all so much for your support and for sharing your experience. emoticon emoticon emoticon

Today is the 1st of July, which means we just entered the second half of the year. Let's make it count!

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    Glad to hear that your San Antonio Team had such a nice meet-up !
All the best, with the second half of the year !

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