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.
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"!
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.
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.
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