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Pre-Tracking Nutrition

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

One of my SparkTeams has a challenge to track all of our food right now. This is easy for me, since I already track all of my food. With the exception of my birthday, March 28, I have tracked every singly bite of food I've eaten since I began my SparkPeople Journey back on November 23, 2009. But the challenge got me thinking about how BEST to track food, so I thought I would share my methods with all of you.

There are essentially two ways to track your food. You can track it after the fact, just keeping a journal of what you eat. Or you can use the nutrition tracker pro-actively to plan out your food in advance. If you are serious about staying in your ranges, I *highly* recommend using the tracker to pre-track your food. It will give you a much better chance of landing in your ranges every day.

Here's what I do. I have the same breakfast every morning. I know that's not the best for me, but it beats not eating any breakfast at all like I used to! So I go ahead and log my Slim-fast Bar first thing. I also take my vitamins every day. A lot of people probably don't log their vitamins, not really thinking of them as "food". But the Tums I take for calcium each day have 5 calories and the Omega 3 I take each day has 1 gram of fat and 9 calories. Plus, my vitamins provide me with nutrients that I do track through my nutrition tracker. I don't necessary try to stay in my ranges every day, but I do occasionally like to check to make sure I'm getting enough calcium, iron, etc. So logging my vitamins is key to making sure those values are accurate.

Once I have my breakfast and vitamins logged, then it's time to think about what other foods I have available for lunch, dinner, and snacks to round out the day. On weekdays, I usually just go home for lunch and have only a few options. So I'll plug in whichever of those options I feel like I might be in the mood for (usually my SmartOnes Pizza Minis, because when am I NOT in the mood for pizza?). I also usually have the same afternoon snack while at work: Starbucks Frappuccino and Oreos. The only variable there is that the Frappuccino is available in 1.2 serving bottles and 1.7 serving bottles. So I usually plan on the 1.7 serving bottle, but know I can fall back on the 1.2 serving bottle if calories are an issue for that day.

For dinner, we go grocery shopping once a week and buy the same sorts of things for our meals. We usually plan to try something new every week or two. But I know in advance what all of my potential dinners are for the week and which ones I have left. So I try to come up with a dinner option that fits into my ranges once my breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack are set. Then that just leaves my evening snack. Again, I have limited options there. I usually buy Skinny Cow ice cream cups and cones at the grocery store, as well as cottage cheese. I know if I'm low on protein for the day, cottage cheese is my best bet. If not, then I can enjoy some yummy ice cream.

So every day is like a puzzle I try to solve. The pieces of the puzzle are my available foods and the goal is to fit those pieces together in the best way possible to stay within my calorie and fat ranges, get my minimum of 60 grams of protein, and try to keep my sodium to some reasonable level. The upper limit for sodium on my nutrition tracker is 2300mg, but I will let myself go as high as 2700mg some days. Sodium is a tough one!

Now, weekends are a bit more tricky. We tend to go out to lunch at least once on weekends and sometimes out to dinner. What I've found with going out is that you should ALWAYS plan your meal in advance. Go online to the restaurant's web site, look over the menu and nutrition info, plug some of the options into the nutrition tracker and see if you can make them fit. If I'm going out to lunch and I want something that I know is bad for me, I'll go ahead and enter it into the tracker, then I'll see if I can maybe just have a bowl of cereal for dinner, or cut out my afternoon snack, or something along those lines to try to make it fit as best as possible.

Another trick is to not eat the full meal. For instance, Friendly's has a really really yummy burger and fries that I love, but eating the whole meal would put me over on my fat for the day by itself! So I put half a serving into nutrition tracker instead and see how that affects my totals. Or maybe you can make a substitution that would bring your calorie/fat totals down. The point is, by planning it out and playing around with the nutrition tracker beforehand, you'll know exactly what to order and how much of it to eat before you are faced with making tricky, uninformed decisions at the restaurant.

I think that being pro-active with your nutrition is key. Sure there will be times when you change your mind about what you want to eat and it will throw off your plan for that day. Or you might get an invitation out to dinner after you've already eaten lunch. Or you might plan on a certain meal and then discover you are missing a key ingredient. But, if you put the effort in on a daily basis, you'll find that MOST days you can stick to your plan and it will make life a whole lot easier, because you won't be in a position where you are having to make tough decisions about food while you're already hungry and ready to eat. And you won't assume that something is "safe" to eat and will fit into your ranges only to discover that it puts you over on your fat or calories for the day when you finally go to log it after the fact.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KENMOREGAL 9/29/2010 9:59PM

    Thanks for the info!

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QTEALADY20031 9/29/2010 7:56PM

    This is a great blog! I used to pre-track my meals but have gotten away from it.....after reading your blog, I' m going back to it. We are setting ourselves up for success. Many restaurants will let you substitute the fries for a house salad. Applebees is one. They will charge you $1.00 extra but their house salad is really good.
I applaud you for your efforts and wish you the best. I like your pics showing your weight loss, especially in the same outfit. You can really see the difference. emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 9/29/2010 7:57:22 PM

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HILARYMM 9/28/2010 3:25PM

    I will admit that I hate tracking my food. I think that is partially because I rarely repeat recipes in the summer and fall when I am still receiving my CSA veggie box. Still, I admire you for doing it, and applaud the methodical way you approach this topic.

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HOLLYS_NEW_LIFE 9/28/2010 1:05PM

    That's exactly what I do. I plan the night before, so I know exactly what I'm eating and what's going on for the whole day.

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LOOZINITNOW 9/28/2010 12:51PM

    This is an excellent blog! I love the part about tracking the vitamins and such. I had never thought about that before.

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Great News!

Monday, September 27, 2010

My brain MRI came back clean! So I do not have MS! It's a huge relief after an incredibly stressful week. This weekend dragged on forever and not in a good way. I was so freaked out about the MRI and could hardly think of anything else all weekend long. Now I feel like I can get back on track with my life.

Despite all of my stress and my less-than-stellar eating this past week, I managed to somehow lose 3 pounds! I'm really excited about that, since it makes up a little bit for the low losses I had a couple of weeks ago.

The plan right now is to just stick to the plan! It's gotten me this far. Hopefully I can lose at least 1.2 pounds this week and finally no longer be "obese"!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MESSENE 9/28/2010 11:42AM

    emoticon emoticonWow! Your doing emoticon emoticon emoticon

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HILARYMM 9/27/2010 12:37PM

    That is awesome news!

I am so happy for you!

-- Hmm

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HOLLYS_NEW_LIFE 9/27/2010 12:30PM

    That's fantastic! I'm so glad to hear the MRI came back clean!

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DAWNWINS 9/27/2010 12:05PM

    Awesomely good news and congrats on the 3 pounds gone forever!
Enjoy your day

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VAMACKGIRL 9/27/2010 11:52AM

    OMG THAT IS WONDERFUL!!!!!! I am SO happy for you!! So they made you wait all weekend huh? Darn them!! CONGRATULATIONS!! Man what a relief that must be, I cannot imagine. Great work on the weight loss as well, probably from stressing!!! Well I know you will have a wonderful day now!!

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GERIKRAGH 9/27/2010 11:48AM

    Glad to hear U don't have MS. Sorry U had to stress so much. Keep hanging in!

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LOOZINITNOW 9/27/2010 11:43AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MJMONE 9/27/2010 11:30AM


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ROJAKHAN 9/27/2010 10:42AM


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MERRYMARY42 9/27/2010 10:40AM

    Congratulations, That is great news. The stress and worry being over has got to be such a relief, and you are right, now onward and DOWN ward, you can do it, and with the help of SParks you will have a new "O" word next week. emoticon Mary

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SCMAMAJONES 9/27/2010 10:39AM

    Awesome news!

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NO_EXCUSES_ 9/27/2010 10:38AM

    Great news Jamie! Congratulations on losing 3 lbs that's a huge loss for someone your size. Keep up the great work and you'll be at your goal weight in no time!

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F8CONE8 9/27/2010 10:30AM

    Good news indeed. That is incredible. You are now free of the worry that plagued you and you can do this weight loss thing. Hugs

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SparkPeople Motivator

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I was just made a SparkPeople Motivator and it couldn't have happened at a better time! I feel so honored to know that I've helped motivate people and that people thought me worthy of their votes. As my friends know, I've been going through an incredibly stressful time with health issues and I'm scheduled to have an MRI on my brain this afternoon to see if I might have MS. It has been a very rough week for me and I've really been struggling to stay on track with my nutrition, since I'm definitely a stress eater.

So, getting chosen to be a SparkMotivator was just the boost I needed to help me get through this difficult time. Knowing that I have helped motivate and inspire others has, in turn, helped motivate and inspire me! I *will* stay strong in the coming days and I will stick to the plan! I will show you and myself that I deserve this honor.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EMILYD1952 9/26/2010 7:50PM

    Congrats !! You have worked hard for that award !!

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FRANKLY5 9/26/2010 4:35PM

    Whoo whoo

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CADYANN1 9/24/2010 7:31PM

    congrats!!! Much deserved!

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KHEILAB 9/24/2010 11:51AM

    Congrats on SP Motivator! That's how I found you and honestly I am blessed to have found such an inspiration at this point in my life. Thank you for continuing to keep positive (don't have much of that outside SP)! I hope all goes well on your MRI, but look at the positive, if you didn't make a goal to be healthier you could have went on for years not knowing. Best of luck to you girlie. I'll keep you in my prayers!

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-FEMALE- 9/24/2010 2:28AM

    Congrats!! You definitely deserve it!!

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RONNYGIRL39 9/23/2010 6:11PM

    Very Nice Congrats!!

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LOOZINITNOW 9/23/2010 5:34PM

    You totally deserve the title!!! You have proven how successful you can be with Sparkpeople. I have no doubt that you will keep rockin' it out on the months to come. Still praying for you. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LIFEGENESIS 9/23/2010 1:21PM

    SO COOL! You deserve it!

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VETGRL06 9/23/2010 12:38PM


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SCMAMAJONES 9/23/2010 11:50AM

    I am so proud of you!!!!!!!!!!!! You go girl!!!!

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SISTERKAY 9/23/2010 11:34AM

    I came to visit your page and was instantly motivated from your photos. I had give you my vote as a motivator as soon as I read your story and blogs . Congrats you definitely deserve it.
And THANK YOU!!! I have just returned and getting back into things you have been an instant inspiration.

I will keep you in prayer with your MRI
God Bless
-Kay emoticon

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MEYLOSE 9/23/2010 11:19AM

    CONGRATS on being Spark MOD!!!!!

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WATTJOSI 9/23/2010 11:16AM

    Good luck with the MRI!! That would be stressful. We all hope that the doctors can find what is wrong so it can be corrected and so you can feel good again. Keep your chin up! You can do it!

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    emoticon You have definitely earned it!!

Best of luck with your MRI... my thoughts are with you.

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MRI News

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

So my neck MRI came back "clean", which means I now have to have a brain MRI. Unfortunately, the earliest appointment I could get for that was 2:45 tomorrow afternoon. The neurologist's office told me to call back on MONDAY for my results. I don't see how I can possibly make it through the weekend waiting for the results. I'm going to call Friday afternoon and pray they have them ready sooner than expected. I feel constantly like I am on the verge of throwing up. I can't concentrate on anything for any period of time. All I want to do is eat all my favorite comfort foods.

Last night I didn't do TOO horribly. I did my full 25 minute run on the treadmill, which I was really proud about. Before doing it I was in a REALLY foul mood and not feeling motivated AT ALL. But I did it and I was glad I did. I did a little better on food as well. We had homemade pizza for dinner with turkey pepperoni and reduced fat cheese. It still put me over on my fat and calories, but not as bad as Monday night's endless shrimp. I was still really high on sodium as well. I honestly feel like I have no hope of staying completely on track with my food while all this stress is happening. The best I can hope for is to keep it as under control as possible and stick to my exercise.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EMILYD1952 9/26/2010 7:52PM

    Will have you in my thoughts through this weekend!

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LIFEGENESIS 9/22/2010 9:57PM

    We're with you!

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MESSENE 9/22/2010 9:46PM

    emoticonHope all goes well! I will have you in my prayers emoticon Hugs! emoticon emoticon

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AUNTIELES53 9/22/2010 1:59PM

    your in my thoughts this girlie :( emoticon emoticon you know how to get ahold of my if you need me :)

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LOOZINITNOW 9/22/2010 11:50AM

    emoticon emoticon

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VAMACKGIRL 9/22/2010 11:50AM

    Congrats again on the neck MRI, and hopefully they will be able to give you answer sooner, being Thursday, I don't see why they cannot have it ready and read by Friday. Let them know, that you cannot go ALL WEEKEND and stress that to them. If it were THEM you can bet they wouldn't have to wait...Good luck!

I love Melissa saying about the work out the stress on the treadmill not the tummy, I am going to have to write that down!!!

My thoughts are with you babe, hang in there!!
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SCMAMAJONES 9/22/2010 11:22AM

    Just check this possibility off and go to the next one. Hopefully you will get a diagnosis soon and it will be something you can manage.

I LOVE turkey pepperoni! We make our own pizza all the time. It's the best -- in fact, regular pepperoni seems nasty to me now, way too greasy. I feel the same way about regular bacon now, also.

Hang in there and work the stress out on the treadmill, not your tummy!

You go girl!
Melissa emoticon

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HOLLYS_NEW_LIFE 9/22/2010 11:01AM

    Glad to hear the neck MRI is good. You'll be in my thougths.

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Hey, Strangers

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I haven't blogged in ages. I've been really struggling lately for a lot of different reasons. First there was the fact I was on vacation for a week and despite trying hard to stick to my food and exercise the whole time, I only managed to lose 0.8 pounds that week.

Then came the order from my doctor to not exercise for a week, because of my liver tests. That was a rough week. I missed exercise and I had a really hard time sticking to my nutrition because I had sort of a "why bother" attitude, since I couldn't exercise anyway. I only lost 0.2 pounds that week.

Last week I was able to get back to exercising and was going pretty strong. I did fairly well with my nutrition up until Saturday. Saturday was my nephew's birthday party and I exercised enormous willpower not to eat any of the cheese puffs, Doritos, hot dogs, baked beans, macaroni salad, or cake. By the time we left, a little after 2:00, I was STARVING from only having eaten a Slim-Fast Bar for breakfast 5 hours earlier. So we went out to a lat lunch where I ate more than I should have, but managed to keep it mostly under control. However, by dinner time I had decided the whole day was a waste so I might as well eat crap for dinner as well. I ate an entire frozen pizza and a Little Debbie snack cake!

Despite my binging on Saturday, I had still managed to lose 1.8 pounds for the week at my weigh-in yesterday morning. But my day quickly went down hill. I had an appointment with a neurologist at 9:00 am. My regular doctor had referred me to him because I've been having various issues in my left hand, which she thought might be carpal tunnel. The neurologist did all sorts of unpleasant tests. He hit me all over the place with a rubber hammer. He poked all my fingers with a safety pin. And the worst part was when he started electrocuting me. He did seemingly thousands of shock tests on both my arms and hands. They were HIGHLY unpleasant.

The verdict after all the electrocution was that I do indeed have mild carpal tunnel in BOTH my hands. However, that doesn't explain the specific symptoms I'm having in my left hand. So, the next thing to look at was my neck. He ordered an MRI on my neck and I went for that yesterday afternoon. The thing that REALLY scared me though, was that he said if my neck scan doesn't show any disks pinching nerves or anything, then next thing to do will be to scan my brain and "in a young woman like you, we have to consider MS." I was totally freaked out by that and actually cried in my car on the way from the doctor's office to work.

I did some research on MS and I'm slightly less freaked out about it now that I have some more details, but I still really really hope I DO NOT have MS. Meanwhile, I had my first ever MRI and that was quite interesting. It took forever. I had no idea MRI's took so long. I was in that tiny tube for a good 30 minutes while they did at least a dozen scans ranging in length from 12 seconds to 3.5 minutes (most were 3.5 minutes). During the scans I had to lie completely still while the machine made all sorts of very loud, crazy noises. Some of them sounded like machine guns, some were just weird combinations of tones, some had crazy beats to them that made them sound like bad techno music, some were just kind of droning/rumbling sounds. Ever scan sounded different from the next and some even changed partway through. I alternated between nearly falling asleep, nearly cracking up with laughter with the silliness of some of the sounds, and nearly dancing to some of the crazy beats.

After my highly traumatic day, we decided to go to Red Lobster for Endless Shrimp. I actually didn't go WAY over on my fat and calories. The thing that killed me there was all the sodium. Hopefully I can get all that extra sodium flushed out of my system over the next few days and get back on track. I should theoretically find out the results of my MRI sometime today.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DIAMONDFOOLER 9/22/2010 9:00AM

    I hope you get positive results soon, waiting can be really hard. Whatever happens, you still control what goes in your mouth. Working on staying healthy is important no matter what else happens in your life. When you are healthy you can stay strong. So if it is MS, eating well will help.

Keep going, emoticon We are strong, adaptable creatures and with all the friends here at SP you will be great!
Barbara emoticon

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CADYANN1 9/22/2010 7:05AM

    Good luck and I hope you have good news from your test results.

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LOOZINITNOW 9/21/2010 10:47PM

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. Praying for good results. emoticon

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LIFEGENESIS 9/21/2010 2:52PM

    Wow, sweetie! You have been going through so much! I know you must be so worried. Keep your chin up, this too shall pass. ((HUGS))

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AUNTIELES53 9/21/2010 2:19PM

    hope everything turns out ok :) i had a mri done those things are soo long and makes u wanna fall asleep ha let me know how everything goes miss ya

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PROMISE2DESIGN 9/21/2010 1:00PM

    emoticon We've missed you!

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HOLLYS_NEW_LIFE 9/21/2010 12:44PM

    For all of that going on, you're doing great! Sorry to hear about all the medical issues, I hope everything works out ok.

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MESSENE 9/21/2010 12:19PM

    emoticonyour doing emoticonI have not lost a single pound in many months now. emoticonBut happy not to have gained weight, since Summer is so bad for food cravings. So glad Fall is close, we will do much better! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BBGYRL4 9/21/2010 11:40AM

    I'm so sorry to hear about all the things that you're going through. I have to agree with SCMAMAJONES about a loss being a loss, you could have gained instead and that's wouldn't have been fun. As far as your doctors appointment goes don't jump to conclusions beforehand. I know that that can be difficult but wait and see what they say and found out, there's no reason to get yourself all crazed for nothing. I hope that everything checks out and works out with you and that the next blog from you will be with some great news. Hang in there!!

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SCMAMAJONES 9/21/2010 10:51AM


Don't say ONLY! A loss is a loss. When you are my age (42) and struggling with hormone issues, any loss is a loss. And hey, 2 pounds is awesome!!!!

I went through similar stress in May with an endometrial biopsy (and despite what the doctor said, it was more than LITTLE pinch). It turned out to be nothing, but I remember the stress of waiting.

Hang in there, and remember how far you have come! Don't let the stress get to you.


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