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Working out at home, Part 2 - Do's and Don'ts

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Being your own coach requires much more obedience and discipline than what would be required by a trainer. Heís not there to correct you so you have to ensure your safety, your right posture and your efficiency yourself. Everything youíve learned about a correct workout will have to be put into practice. Youíll make some mistakes. But there are some things youíd rather make sure you do and some others that youíd better avoid.

DO:

emoticon - Start by visiting a doctor.

Yes, I know, youíve heard about it before. Yes, itís this tiring introduction at the beginning of every fitness DVD.
But itís not there just to legally ensure that the creator of a fitness program will have no responsibility if something bad happens. Itís there to remind you that you have to protect yourself and your health. If you havenít exercised in the last couple of months, years, decades orÖ lives, chances are that after your first real cardio workout youíll feel that youíre about to die! Wouldnít it be better to know that youíre completely healthy? To have the green light from your doctor and know exactly how far you can push your limits to? And if you have certain health issues, then this is not just a ďdoĒ. Itís a ďmustĒ!

emoticon - Begin as a beginner.

If youíre just starting out, ďslowĒ is the first word in your vocabulary. That means low intensity and low impact workouts. In other words you have to help your cardiovascular system and your joints adapt gradually. When it comes to cardio, start with some walking workouts or easy aerobics. Strength training can be slowly introduced to your body with some body-resistance exercises. Follow modifications and listen to your body.

emoticon - Make a weekly schedule.

Iím sure youíve heard of the quote ďIf you fail to plan, you plan to fail.Ē This is exactly the case here. If your plan is ďIíll work out when I canĒ or ďIíll try to find timeĒ, youíre leaving yourself too much space for excuses and cheating. Even if itís just one workout that fits into your tight schedule, plan the day and time ahead. Make an appointment with yourself and be there!

emoticon - Track your progress.

You track your weight loss progress religiously, donít you? Why shouldnít you do the same with your fitness abilities? And thereís a great effect here compared to the scale. The scale sometimes moves the wrong way. Your fitness progress will only do that if there is illness or injury involved. Can you think of anything more motivational than watching yourself getting fitter?

emoticon - Be patient with yourself.

There is no exercise fairy that will visit you overnight and sprinkle you with a magical stardust filled with endurance, strength and muscle definition! You have to work hard to acquire all this. And the fact that youíre doing all this on your own could be slowing the process even more. So, patience is your friend. And donít forget that persistence always brings results.


DON'T:

emoticon - Donít make schedules that you canít follow.

Are you thinking of starting out by making a weekly plan of early morning workouts even though you can find the snooze button on your alarm clock with your eyes closed? Well, the snooze button is about to destroy your plansÖ If youíre not a morning person, why make such a commitment to yourself? Plan your workouts according to your known way of life. You can make changes later, slowly and according to your needs.

emoticon - Donít skip warm-up and cool-down (stretching).

They may look time-consuming to you but they are the most important parts of your workout. You need to prepare your lungs, your heart and your muscles for exercise and you have to help them come back to normal afterwards by bringing your heart rate back down and by stretching your muscles . Your body will thank you for taking the time to do both.

emoticon - Donít overestimate your abilities.

Itís ok to underestimate. Soon, youíll realize you can do more and make the necessary changes. But if you overestimate your strength or your endurance, injury could be right around the corner. Again, the advice is the same. Always listen to your body. Donít ignore signs of fatigue. It may be your body crying out for help.

emoticon - Donít be afraid of a bit of soreness.

Muscle soreness after exercise, which is almost always the case to people who are just starting out, may not be serious but can become a deterrent factor for many beginners. The truth is that it is a good thing. Your muscles are repairing themselves and are adapting to their new role. In short, theyíre becoming stronger. Soreness, though, should not be causing you serious moving problems and it should go away within the next 48 hours. If not, you might be overdoing it.

I hope Iíve given you some tips on the strategies you need to follow in order to make exercise at home a pleasant and successful experience. Donít miss the last part!

Coming up: Working out at home, Part 3 Ė Three things to remember

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SIMONEKP 5/2/2013 9:19AM

    good advice

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BLOOMINGLENA 4/4/2013 9:32AM

    Great blog, Elle! Always to the point. I think I should start walking before I go to work as it seems I can't manage to do any exercise after that as most of the times something comes up and I miss my daily workout. Time to fix it now that the weather gets better.
Thank you, sweet Elle! emoticon

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HAKAPES 4/3/2013 4:12PM

    Great advice! Thanks!

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TRILEMMA 4/2/2013 5:35PM

  Good advice.

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MICKEYH 4/2/2013 5:34PM

    Thank you for great advice!! emoticon emoticon

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TRAVELGRRL 4/2/2013 12:38PM

    Wonderful advice. I love the "Begin as a Beginner." Too many people (ok, me too) jump in with both feet and then can't get up in the morning. Better to build slowly and be successful!

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NUOVAELLE 4/2/2013 11:16AM

    NEWCHINELO: Actually cool-down is a routine at the end of every workout that is intended to bring the heart rate down and almost always involves some stretching exercises. But thank you for pointing this out to me so I could add the clarification.

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NEWCHINELO 4/2/2013 10:59AM

    Also stretch after your work outs.

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BAKER1009 4/2/2013 10:54AM

    Don't skip warm-up or cool-down - I need to remember this! I am terrible about it. I always just want to jump up & go!

Thanks for the awesome blog Elle!!

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MONAKIN314 4/2/2013 10:17AM

    emoticon

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-AMANDA79- 4/2/2013 9:32AM

    Great, Great, GREAT blog!!
Making a schedule has really kept me committed to my home fitness routine.
emoticon

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THOMS1 4/2/2013 9:25AM

    emoticon Good information! emoticon

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WORKNPROGRESS49 4/2/2013 9:06AM

    emoticon emoticon

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The key ingredient in the maintenance recipe!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Iím probably not in maintenance mode. If I were, I would still be at my best-ever weight of 68 kilos that I reached last summer.

Iím not in weight loss mode either. If I were, I wouldnít be battling the same couple of pounds every weekend Ė borrowing the words from my good Sparkfriend Maura.

Maybe Iím at this ďtransition to maintenanceĒ phase that the leaders at the ďAt goal and maintainingĒ team so wisely added to the team name. And Iíve been here long enough to have given maintenance lots of thought and contemplation.

So whatís the most important thing you can think of when the word ďmaintenanceĒ comes to mind? Is it the correct calorie range? Or maybe the proper amount of exercise? Could it be the continuous motivation? Or a reward system for our continuous success? A support system of other maintainers maybe? Or is it just that we have finally established a healthy lifestyle that suits us and we can count on it?

Maybe one or more of the above. But quite honestly none of the above is the real reason Iím trying hard to maintain my weight. What has really kept me close to this all-time-low weight of mine is something else. Thereís a different reason I try to go back to my healthy habits every Monday even if my weekend has been a complete disaster. The key ingredient to my maintenance attempts Ė their degree of success being irrelevant Ė is always the same.

Failure.

To be more exact, past failure.

I never forgot how easy it is to lose control. Iíll always remember how unbelievably fast the weight we lose can be ďfoundĒ again. The disappointment I felt when I had to dig out the ďbigĒ clothes from the back of my closet cannot be forgotten. The silent, weird looks on the faces of the people who had congratulated me a few months ago are not ones that I would like to see again. And, worst of all, the awful sense of not keeping a promise to myself and of having let me down once more is definitely a thing to try to avoid at all costs.

It never gets easy. Yes, I have formed healthy eating habits that I try to follow. Yes, Iíve made exercise a routine. But still, there are days that I want to be like those people who have an out-of-this-world metabolism and can eat whenever and whatever they like Ė yes, they do exist even if they are a minority! There are days that temptation will be thrown in front of my face and coincidentally my defense system will have gone on strike! There are days that my emotions will be hard to handle and sweet treats will come to the rescue!

But there will always be the next day. And the next day I choose to remember. I remind myself where this can lead. And I begin trying again. I slowly push myself back on the right track. Simply because I recognize the other road. And I donít like the place where it leads. Iíve been there.

In short, I really believe that the more failures youíve had in your weight loss resume, the better your chances of maintaining are. As long as you translate these failures into lessons. As long as you ally with your mistakes and use them towards your goal.





I donít consider myself a successful maintainer. But Iím one that keeps fighting. Because Iíve learned my lesson. And maybe, just maybe, thatís what maintenance is all about.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KRISKECK 4/2/2013 12:58PM

    Thank you - that is food for thought (no pun intended!). I hadn't thought of it that way but you're exactly right. Having experienced that particular kind of failure has inspired me to work to avoid it as I proceed towards my goals once again.

emoticon

Have a great day!

Kristin

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ISHIIGIRL 3/28/2013 8:07AM

    I think you shed light on a very important aspect of successfully maintaining. We all have to have some motivation to stay in maintenance and for many that is a fear of failure. A fear we can't maintain what we have acheived. This rings true for me and for many. Great blog.

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MILLIE5522 3/28/2013 6:45AM

    Great blog!
You are so right. I never quite realized that this was one of my motivations too until I read your blog. Guess I am still learning about myself! emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 3/27/2013 9:24PM

    It never gets easy.

Oh yeah.

And like you I'm a successful maintainer because the memory of all my past failures is so powerful.

Great blog!

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-AMANDA79- 3/27/2013 8:34PM

    Great blog! I yo-yo'd for a long time, but think I've finally learned from those failures.

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TINAJANE76 3/27/2013 4:27PM

    I'm totally with you! I failed five times before I finally found success in maintenance this time around and I always have my past failures in the back of my mind when I feel as though I'm starting to slip or my motivation starts to lag. All of the other things I do definitely help, but not wanting to gain all of the weight back--again--is probably my biggest motivator!

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KANOE10 3/27/2013 11:58AM

    Great blog. I can remember all too well the sense of failure when you regain your lost weight. I do not want to return to this either.

Maintenance is hard work. Keep fighting. You are successful because you are fighting and learning from your mistakes.

emoticon

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BLOOMINGLENA 3/27/2013 7:12AM

    I know how it feels to lose weight and sense the success and then gain weight again and sense FAILURE! You certainly inspire me to continue my journey no matter how many turnarounds I make because I have in mind that I want to see myself in its best and not disappoint myself again. It is hard but worth the try! Thank you, my dearest friend Elle!
Love youxxxxx

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MONAKIN314 3/26/2013 8:59PM

    Great!!

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MJREIMERS 3/26/2013 6:49PM

    emoticon I understand where you are coming from because I've been there! All I can say is you are so right! emoticon emoticon and I'm here cheering you on!!! emoticon

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THOMS1 3/26/2013 4:22PM

    emoticon I'm thinking you are right. If we hadn't learned our lessons here on spark we wouldn't keep fighting to get it right. Thanks! emoticon

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MICKEYH 3/26/2013 3:10PM

    emoticon great blog !!

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TRAVELGRRL 3/26/2013 1:12PM

    Great blog, thanks! I've had a bunch of failures and am looking to make the last one MY LAST ONE!

I'm doing better -- instead of having an "I don't give a sh*t" month, it's now a week. Or a day. Or maybe just a meal!

It's almost easier to stay on the right road even if you're just jogging in place!

Thanks for sharing your insights.

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FITFOODIE806 3/26/2013 12:33PM

    Oh Elle, you know how much I get this. "It never gets easy." Nope! But seriously, how strong are we for keep working every single week???!! It would be so easy to give up. We will move over this transition hump. I know it.
(And thanks for the little shout out! Made me smile. )

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CARLYG8 3/26/2013 11:47AM

    Great blog!!

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NEWCHINELO 3/26/2013 11:45AM

    thank you dear!

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VIXSTERLU 3/26/2013 11:29AM

    I just have to say Elle...YOU ROCK! This is a great blog and a good lessen for anyone :)

And now I am going to throw my half full cup of froo froo coffee (you know the kind that has 400 calories). You inspired me to remember that this is exactly what lead me to that place before and I don't want to go there again. Ok, maybe one more sip :)

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SUNSHINE99999 3/26/2013 11:01AM

  Very important to learn something from our mistakes indeed. emoticon

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MIDROAD 3/26/2013 10:57AM

    Great inspiring blog. It gives me hope!

Thanks
Jeannie

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DLBROWN93 3/26/2013 10:53AM

    If we don't learn something from our mistakes, we will continue to repeat them.

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Working out at home, Part 1 - Pros and Cons

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

So, you decided to make exercise a habit. Good for you! This is one decision your body will be eternally thankful for. And since the first step is always the hardest and the path between the decision and the actual action is sometimesÖ never walked, forget about all the difficulties (no gym membership, no money to afford one, no friends to join you for a walk, etc. etc.) and start now! Begin working out at home. A fitness habit that comes with many advantages as well as drawbacks. Letís look into them.

First, the good things. There are many advantages to exercising at home.

- Privacy.
You can exercise completely alone with no eyes staring at you and with no embarrassment due to size, inability to do some exercises, over-sweating, being out of breath or anything else that could make you feel bad Ė even though it shouldnít but thatís another story.

- Itís free!
Yes, it is! When you hear the words ďworkout at homeĒ you may picture something like this:



But the truth is that you only need something like this:



Öor this:



Just a somewhat open space and your body! Itís true that a pair of dumbbells, some resistance bands or even a stationary bike or a treadmill, if you can afford them, could add variety to your workouts and make them less boring. But the reality is that in order to exercise your body, especially if youíre a beginner, all you need is your muscles, your heart, your lungs and your good will. So, no expenses here!

- Itís all-weather and all-time!
Snow, rain, hurricane, heat, darkness? They canít ruin your exercise plans! So, you get the benefit of no such excuses!

- Family motivation!
When you choose to exercise at home you get to inspire the people you live with. You can be the positive influence to your kids, your spouse, your siblings, your parents, your roommates. And they get to inspire you back after a while. And you can all help to keep each other accountable.

- Freedom of choice!
You donít have to follow the gymís pre-programmed classes and schedules. You can choose what you do according to your mood. Do you feel like strength training today? Or youíd rather try some kick-boxing to release tension? Or you simply want to just dance to your favorite music and have fun? (Yes, thatís exercise, too.) You decide!

Of course, as with every comfort, you miss out on a few things that a different place for exercise has to offer. There are disadvantages in a home fitness schedule but, fortunately, they can all be dealt with successfully.

emoticon - Youíre on your own.
No coach, no expert advice. This is probably the worst aspect of exercising at home, the most dangerous and the one hardest to surpass. It can lead to injuries, over-exercising or ineffective exercise, which in turn can lead to frustration, disappointment and finally quitting.
emoticon *Dealing strategy*: Educate yourself!
Read articles, watch videos, learn how to become your own coach. If youíre using videos to guide you Ė which is the best way if youíre new to exercising Ė always pay close attention to your trainer. Watch the video the first time and follow the moves the second time. Coach Nicole does a great job here. She explains everything in simple language with not many unnecessary technical terms and most of her videos are quite easy to follow even for a person who has never exercised before. Follow the instructions carefully and, above all, ALWAYS listen to your body!

emoticon - Youíre on your own.
Again. In a different meaning. No gym buddies. No people to keep you accountable and stay committed together. No company to make it fun and enjoyable.
emoticon *Dealing strategy*: Recruit support!
If youíre a person who likes to work out with friends and hates loneliness, this can be a tough one. Try to motivate a friend to join you or, even better, a family member or a roommate. If thatís not possible, you can still have a workout buddy by following the same workout plan with a friend Ė or a Sparkfriend, or many Sparkfriends! Ė even if each one is exercising at their own place. You can set goals together and keep each other accountable or even compete if you enjoy some friendly competition.

emoticon - Boredom.
Doing the same things again and again in the same environment will soon become tiring. The initial enthusiasm will wear off and the tendency to skip one workout will become a desire to quit.
emoticon *Dealing strategy*: Add variety!
Sparkpeople has so many videos and workouts that you can choose from. And the internet is full of free resources on anything you would like to try. And if youíre willing to spend some money on fitness equipment or DVDs, your options are endless! Mix them up according to your mood and surprise your body every day. It will surprise you back with its hidden strength and its transforming abilities.

emoticon - Loss of motivation.
This is actually the result of the previous one but it can also happen for many other reasons besides boredom, like ineffectiveness, tiredness or very high expectations that donít seem to be realized.
emoticon *Dealing strategy*: Keep yourself motivated by setting goals!
How many jumping jacks did you manage to do on your first day? 5? Thatís great! How many would you like to be able to do in a month from now? 10? 20? Make your goal realistic and stick to it. It will give you a reason to work out for and every time you reach a goal, the reward of knowing that ďyouíre strong enough to do itĒ will be worth all the effort.


Coming up next: Working out at home, Part 2 - Doís and Doníts

Stay tuned!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SIMONEKP 5/2/2013 9:16AM

    good tips

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WORKNPROGRESS49 3/26/2013 9:18AM

    emoticon emoticon

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MILLIE5522 3/26/2013 6:14AM

    Great blog! I have always preferred to do workouts at home however one other emoticon is that my dog gets upset when I start so I have to send him out of the room which he hates as well!!

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CANNIE50 3/25/2013 11:12PM

    I love your blogs. You put so much heart, and effort into them, and you organize them beautifully. I am like the other Sparklers who never work as hard at home as they do in a class at a gym, but I know there are plenty of people who do very well, by themselves, at home. It is such a great option, especially now that "Exercise on Demand" is so accessible, along with a jillion exercise DVD's! PS I am an "over-sweater" (love that term) and my attitude is that if people are offended by it, then they should go walk the mall for exercise, not do a boot camp! Besides, as an "over-sweater" (I am seriously stealing this term) I have the cleanest liver in town!!! emoticon

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KANOE10 3/25/2013 10:51AM

    Good advice and tips on working out at home. There are times when I prefer to stay at home rather than go to the gym.

I also agree with you about seeking new dvds or motivational tools when you get tired of exercise.

emoticon

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MICKEYH 3/21/2013 2:06AM

    emoticon emoticon

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THOMS1 3/20/2013 6:38PM

    emoticon

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TRAVELGRRL 3/20/2013 4:19PM

    I admire people who can CONSISTENTLY work out at home. I can't do it. Too lazy. I'll never, EVER work out as hard on my own as I do in a class! But more power to the people who can and do!

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MUSICALLYMINDED 3/20/2013 2:53PM

    emoticonblog!

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BAKER1009 3/20/2013 2:32PM

    emoticon
emoticon

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FITFOODIE806 3/20/2013 1:33PM

    I love your positive take on all the cons. The Y is so much a part of me and my family that I can't imagine life without a gym. But I know that it's not for everyone. We all got to make it work!

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-AMANDA79- 3/20/2013 12:20PM

    Great blog!! When my 5 am boot camp class got canceled back in January, I was really worried. But 2 months later, I'm still going strong with my 5 am workouts!



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BLOOMINGLENA 3/20/2013 10:51AM

    Your blog is so to the point! I couldn;t agree more to all the points stated and I like the *dealing strategy* parts! I am trying my friend to follow your advice so as to keep moving and be healthy.
Thank you! Looking forward to part 2!

emoticon

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TINAJANE76 3/20/2013 9:46AM

    Very encouraging blog for those who might be reluctant or unable to join a gym. I especially like your tips for how you can overcome the cons of exercising at home. Thanks so much for this thoughtful blog!

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A streak that leads to strength

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

emoticon 91 weeks of at least 90 minutes of exercise per week. emoticon

Thatís my current fitness streak. And it would be much bigger if I hadnít gone through some terrible weeks of lower back pain prior to the last time I pressed the reset button here on Sparkpeople. Because when I last restarted my attempts to lose weight, back in June 2011, I promised myself that no matter what happened with my weight, no matter how good or bad my eating habits would be, I would do my best to keep exercising every week at least three times. I made a promise to myself that I would seek for all the health and strength and freedom of movement that years of living on the couch had stolen away from me. And I kept that promise.

The majority of my fitness minutes is exercise done at home. Working out at home is one of the things that helped me lose weight (combined with healthy eating, of course), is what filled me with energy, is what gave a new meaning to my everyday routine and itís what helped me Ė an unemployed stay-at-home-mom Ė stay sane! It wasnít an easy road. I had to fight boredom and loss of motivation. I had to educate myself on different ways of exercise. I had to make up for the absence of a coach by spending hours on reading fitness articles and watching videos here on SP. On the way I got discouraged, I fought injuries, I struggled with ineffectiveness, I was disappointed at the expected results that I was too anxious to see.

But I had a promise to keep.

A few rainy days spent in the comfort of your living room, reading and watching TV, donít make you a couch potato. You canít expect a few days or weeks of mild exercise to turn you into an athlete! So, I kept pushing. I continued trying on my own to regain my lost endurance and acquire a certain level of fitness. Yes, a gym or a personal trainer would have been much easier. But I couldnít afford that, neither financially, nor emotionally, neither in terms of time, nor in practical terms like having someone to watch over the kids while Iím gone. Two choices were available: be my own coach orÖ the couch!

Working out at home solves many issues. But is working out at home ideal for everyone? What are the positives and the negatives? How can we adjust it to our own unique needs and preferences? After 91 weeks of trying and learning, I thought I could share with you some of the things I learned during this fitness journey. The mistakes I made, the challenges I faced could be found useful by those of you that are now starting out on home fitness. I started taking notes on the things I would like to share but they were too many to fit into only one blog. So, Iíll have to divide them in more.

Let me stress out here that Iím not an expert and I canít offer individual fitness guidance and advice. My purpose is to share my own experience hoping that I could help someone who is just starting out or someone who is trying to overcome obstacles.

Making exercise part of your daily life is not an easy thing to do. Itís a road paved with sweat and soreness. Itís a road onto which you have to be guided by commitment.

But itís a road that leads to health and strength.

Itís a road worth taking.

Stay tuned!

emoticon emoticon emoticon

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SIMONEKP 5/2/2013 9:07AM

    emoticon

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KANOE10 3/19/2013 8:07AM

    Good for you making exercise a daily part of your life. You have figured how to do it at home and it is working!

My motto is never more than one day without exercise. I have done that for a year. I feel much better.

You are inspirational with your determination and your efforts!

emoticon

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BAKER1009 3/14/2013 8:44AM

    emoticon blog Elle! Thanks for sharing your story! Yes, it is a road worth traveling!
I'm staying tuned!

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BLOOMINGLENA 3/14/2013 8:41AM

    Thank you my dear friend Elle for sharing what you experienced throughout your successful journey. I have learned a lot from you and keep learning. Thank you for the support and inspiration. I am so looking forward for your next blogs!

You are awesome my emoticon emoticon

Love you!

emoticon

Comment edited on: 3/14/2013 8:41:50 AM

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TAFODIL24 3/13/2013 11:33PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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REBECCATKD 3/13/2013 10:22PM

    Wow! I am so impressed with your streak! You have promises to keep and miles (and minutes) to go before you sleep. Keep on pushing -- you're an inspiration!

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NEWCHINELO 3/13/2013 5:06PM

    You have done a great job!

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THOMS1 3/13/2013 3:35PM

    emoticon emoticon

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BEE2LE 3/13/2013 1:07PM

    Great job with your streak! I find working out at home is the only thing that works for me. Often, it means heading out my front door & taking a walk. Sometimes, it's sparkpeople videos. But, going to a gym has never worked for me. It's always a challenge w/ kids underfoot.
Thanks for your posts! So glad to read them!

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MARIONJEANA 3/13/2013 12:46PM

    emoticon emoticon

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HOLLYS_NEW_LIFE 3/13/2013 12:46PM

    You're awesome! It's so hard to stay motivated when you work out at home. You've done GREAT!!!

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MRSJERRYBUSH 3/13/2013 10:35AM

    emoticon emoticon

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LOSE4LIFE47 3/13/2013 10:27AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Voted Popular Blog Post: View All Popular Posts

The weight loss tool that I love to hate!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

My relationship with the food tracker has been a love-hate one. I never liked the idea of writing down everything I eat, even though I had heard of many dietitians and nutrition experts who would recommend it. According to them and to many researches and surveys, it can highly contribute to everyoneís weight loss efforts.

When I first joined Sparkpeople, I tried to use it for a couple of days. All products were in American brands and most measurements were in oz or packages which I had no idea how to convert to my own metric system. Already being negatively biased towards it, I found every little difficulty insurmountable and forgot about it. And I spent two years as a Sparker who would lose and gain the same couple of kilos!

I had already put exercise in my life for good and I was already considered a somewhat fit person but still the weight wouldnít come off. Thatís when I decided this ugly, despicable tool had to be given a second chance! But the difficulties still had to be surpassed in a way. And the perfectionist inside my mind started shouting: ďIf youíre going to do something, you have to do it right!Ē So, I started putting everything in the food tracker from scratch! The food labels became my second favorite reads, the best sellers of my weekly reading!

And the awful tool became an eye-opener! Suddenly it all made sense. Distorted idea of right portions, high fat content where you least expect it, calorie-bombs out of "just a treat"! The reasons I had put on so much weight, the reasons I couldnít get rid of it, my high cholesterol (ok, thereís a bit of DNA in that one), all the puzzle pieces fell into place. And I have to admit it. The food tracker, the tool that I love to hate, was my best friend in losing 19 kilograms.

No, I havenít kept on tracking ever since. I used it sporadically but it was still helpful. My feelings towards it are still mixed. I still ask myself the same question. What is the food tracker? Is it an indispensable tool for weight loss? Is it a necessary evil for maintaining weight? Is it an obsessive habit that in a weird way helps us balance our relationship with food? Or is it all of the above? I donít have the answer to that. And if you think you do, I would really like to hear it!

But I know one thing. Everyone who has had a hard time losing weight should definitely try it. It may not suit you as a weight loss tool, you might not become a dedicated user for life but it will definitely provide you with valuable information concerning your eating habits. Use it for a couple of days or for a week. But be honest with it. It will pay your honesty back by showing you the real reasons you canít lose weight. Mind you, it can be rude! But sometimes thatís what we need to realize our bad habits: a rude awakening!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NLYR20 8/7/2013 12:10PM

  I am having love/ hate relationship with food tracker. But as you said, it gives call in right direction. It will help to build smart habits...
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UNIQUELYME7 7/30/2013 8:52AM

    Your thoughts and feelings about Food Tracker mirror my own love/hate relationship with it. Sometimes I'm frustrated with not being able to get the exact food in to track the nutrients correctly, and often I think it takes too much of my time tracking everything. But the biggest truth for me is it's a shock to see how much those "little" snacks and bites here and there add up, especially in the evenings when the "what would taste good" feelings take over. I'm finding the time taken in recording every bite is well spent in making me face the truth that the weight not coming off and not feeling better about how I look is largely (pun?) the result of what I have put into my body. The truth hurts, but now is becoming healing through my Food Tracker and Spark People!
Thank you for sharing your journey.

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MADAMES 7/2/2013 6:21PM

    I finally figured out that in order to be successful I have to track! Having access to an online tracker that is free of charge is a real blessing for me.
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PJM1963 7/1/2013 10:00PM

    Good job! I did Weight Watchers three times and did well each time, but fell "off the wagon" for different reasons. Now, I can't get to the meetings, which is why I joined SparkPeople. That being said, one of the eye-opening experiences for me was just how powerful--and how much of a pain in the butt--it was and is to keep track of your food. It definitely keeps me responsible and guides what I'm doing at the end of the day. Keep up the great work and thanks for posting!

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NIGHTPHEONIX 7/1/2013 9:59PM

    I'm with you the measurements are hard because they tend to not be metric and I have a hard time doing it daily but It does help for I keep using it periodically to keep me on track and that seem to do the job. Congrs on what you have lost and good luck on reaching your goal. emoticon


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SCRIPTEDFLIGHT 6/30/2013 11:10AM

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SUPERSYLPH 6/28/2013 11:18AM

    I'm with you. I'm really bad at tracking my food, but it helps to see how I'm eating!

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MAD_WRITER_TAL 6/17/2013 1:29PM

    i had a similar relationship with the tracker for a long time, but when i re-started my plan, i decided i was going to implement it. its gotten easier to use the past few years as far as adding materials in from scratch and whatnot, and does give me good pointers on where i should shave calories off here and there. I've dropped a few pounds since using it again myself. it also makes sure i stop thriving in my ignorance and has me do something about it instead. You've preached to the choir here--i needed that today (hee hee). All the best to you and your journey--hope its still going strong!

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WHITEANGEL4 5/28/2013 10:27PM

    I was not a fan of the food tracker when I first began, but over time it has become my friend

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BRADIA 5/13/2013 8:24PM

    Congratulations. I am also foreign but all the measurements also come ingrams and I have no problem doin kilos and grams.
But you do need at least an hour a day to keep a real good track of everything and read good articles on nutrition and all the stuff that is bringing me to my goals.

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CRUELMONTH 5/9/2013 11:09PM

    Tracking food is tedious, but eye opening. The accountability helps me to stop and think about what I am eating. After awhile I am also able to identify meals and snacks that help me reach my goals for protein, carbs, and fat. Love the nutrition profiles and graphs I can generate with the info I've entered.

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223DAISY 5/5/2013 2:10PM

    The hardest part for me is, it's time consuming. I find that if I know what I am going to have for a good part of the week then I will put as much in on Saturday's for the following week as possible. I do like that I can copy the meals for various days. Oh well everyone...Happy logging...

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WALKINGCHICK 5/1/2013 3:28PM

    Much like you I hate the food tracker, but using it really makes me think hard about what I'm eating, and why I'm eating it. This means that I don't eat as much cake as I used to, and that a whole lot of other food has become a treat again! Thanks for showing how helpful the tracker can be, and for reminding us of its importance! emoticon

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MAYBER 4/28/2013 11:47PM

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about the food tracker
Have not used the one on SP do write down everything that enters my mouth your blog just may be the one that gives me the push to try the tracker so very much appreciate your comments
One day at a time
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GEORGE815 4/26/2013 6:40PM

    Yes its both tough and challenging to track nutrition daily. I have done this for about 3 years. After doing this for awhile, its one of the only ways to successfully keep an eye on it.

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RED_DEVIL_APRIL 4/26/2013 4:03PM

    I downloaded the app & I use it when I'm.on a hurry. I try to keep balanced & do a lot.better when I track.

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WORTHIT374 4/24/2013 9:12PM

    I resisted tracking the first time I tried to lose weight. It was that "you have to do this" factor, I guess. But then someone reframed it by saying, "I track my food to make sure I get to eat every point (WW) I'm allowed to have for the day!" After that, I didn't mind tracking!

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FATNHOGGY 4/11/2013 1:27PM

  Yes, food tracking is a drag! However, I have found that I do okay with just a list of food eaten each day---without the tedia of listing carbs, fat, calories, etc. It really helps just to know how much you are eating each day.

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VTCOWBELLE 4/10/2013 2:38PM

  Great blog. I too hate tracking my food, but I have been doing it obsessively now for about a year on paper, since I am not always on the computer every day. It is not rocket science to see that 6 crackers with cheese, 2 glasses of wine and a bowl (1.5 cups) of ice cream, that I had to write down after the broccoli, baked chicken, and other virtuous things is Not going to further my weight loss. It really helps you see how all those extra calories sneak in so easily. At least it makes me accountable to myself. Nobody is sneaking in at night and feeding me in my sleep.

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TROLLER7 4/10/2013 12:19PM

  You're absolutely right!!! I felt the exact same way when I first started last year. I started off strong, and slowly began to stop tracking. Now I'm trying to get back into the habit of doing it again to loose those last couple of pounds I need too. You're right, it does help you learn about you're habits though. Thanks for motivating me to start back up!

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DEENER20 4/10/2013 9:53AM

  "Is it an obsessive habit that in a weird way helps us balance our relationship with food?"

For me personally...I think this nails it.
I also educated myself as I went along....and that was an eye opener. I was NEVER the type to track food...and now I don't have a single day go by that I don't diligently attempt to track everything that enters my mouth.
AND, I have some fab results because of it.

TRULY enjoyed your blog!! thank you

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LESCANTOONOW 4/8/2013 9:21PM

  Hi! NUOVAELLE,

I've Tried The Food Tracker Method, And It Does Work. But Like You I Don't Do It Constantly. Although The First Time I Tried It, I Used It For About 6 Months, But Then I Slacked Up On It. Then I Would Use It For A Few Days, And Then Stop Again.
I Do Notice When I Use The Food Tracker Method, I Do Lose More Weight Than When I Don't Use It.
But, I Think We Just Have To Do The Best We Can, And If We Can Only Do The Tracking Once In A While, It's Better Than Not Doing It At All!

Keep Up The Good Work You Are Doing, And I Will Try To Do The Same.
WE CAN DO IT!

ALL THE BEST TO YOU,
MS. L. CARMEL (LESCANTOONOW)
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EMPIRECAT 4/8/2013 10:54AM

    Thanks for sharing your journey, and congratulations on your awesome achievements! I also have a profound dislike for tracking - not because I'm afraid of what I'll see because I'm very aware of what I eat - but because it does take time to do it. There are also numerous entries by people for the same exact food - which one do I choose? More time taken trying to determine the best one. Time is the biggest thing that keeps me from doing it. Will I try it again? Not sure.

Keep up the good work! emoticon

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SAPPHIRAE 4/8/2013 7:41AM

  Wow, I have been struggling with the same issue with the trackers on Sparkpeople. Everything is in US brands that I don't recognise and I battle to calculate the portion sizes (I have no mental concept of what an ounce is, I can do the maths but I still have no instinctive feeling for these quantities, whereas I can guesstimate a cup or quarter cup or whatever). Perhaps I need to try again, be more persistent, and add local foods to the database to use too.

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BHEALTHY4ME1 4/7/2013 3:38PM

  Tracking has been very helpful to me. It is so easy to think that you are doing fine on your calorie intake until you actually add it up & compare it to your calorie output. Mmmm...maybe that's why I can't lose weight? emoticon

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KAB7801 4/7/2013 9:29AM

    I did not like at first but now I love the accountability knowing before I eat that "cheeseburger"I'm going to have to track it really helps

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NELLYARGY1 4/7/2013 4:46AM

  I have the same problem, it is very difficult for me to convert, I have no idea of the brands mentioned and i try write down a journal of the food I eat which of course it is not the same and it is very difficult to calculate the calories. I don' t think I can use this tool although I believe it is useful

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POPEYETHETURTLE 4/7/2013 12:41AM

    There are a few days out of the month I don't use it for every meal, but being overweight AND an Insulin dependent diabetic gives me a very strong reason for using it regularly.

The meals that I don't use the tracker on are usually already know the carbs on the meal.

Then I just multiply the carbs by 10% (for me) and I get the units of Insulin I need.

I am considered to be "Tight Control" and by A1c for the past five years has averaged 5.9 (anything under 6.0 is considered "normal").

After battling diabetes for 30 years, every day and every night, I don't feel "normal". I can say, however, I still have all the feeling in my feet and fingers, I have no diabetic lesions and have no diabetic vision problems.

I think that the food tracker has definitely made it much easier for me to keep track of carbs that my body can't convert to energy without lots of help.

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LADYPYE 4/7/2013 12:03AM

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OLSKOOLGIRL 4/6/2013 7:42PM

  What a surprise for me to see this blog in my mail box. I have yet to really track here with spark people. Different reasons, new to site, lazy etc. But what is so coincidental is the fact I just had dr appt and when talking with the dr about my weight and my struggles he suggested I journal. Opening this blog and reading has now got me thinking I should really try and get this going and start being accountable to ME. thanks for the well written blog and congrats on the loss.

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DOCAHOLL 4/6/2013 5:26PM

    Such a great blog! Well written and oh so true! Congrats on the 19 kg!

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MAJONES1225 4/6/2013 3:58PM

    I truly agree with you. But I do have to say since I have been using the tracker it has made me realized that some of my favorite food was not good for me. It helps me to eat more healthier food. So, I will still continue to use it. It really works for me.

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SINGLEMOM501 4/6/2013 11:48AM

  I am using the tracker to find what I have in the house as close to possible as the tracker. I am going to make a grocery list from the meal tracker that I can buy when I get my food stamps on the 14th. Then I will have plenty of food for the meal tracker.

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1SALLY2 4/6/2013 10:16AM

    I track and the thing I find hard is getting my counts correct. Most days I am right on/near my calories, another day 100 over, the next day 200 or 400 under. emoticon

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AMANDACOETZER 4/6/2013 7:23AM

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WESTERNSAGE 4/5/2013 11:37PM

    Several years ago I read that a major survey of weight loss systems showed that keeping a food log was the single biggest aid in losing weight and keeping it off. My general practitioner (GP) and cardiologist have both been after me to lose weight. But I found the looking up and writing down process too time consuming and tedious. Last September my daughter told me about SparkPeople and the Food Tracker. What a godsend! The Food Tracker has made the process manageable and, like so many who have already written, I found it an eye opener about portions and calories. I'm a slow loser (being 66 years old doesn't help either) but I have stuck with it. I know I could lose more weight faster but I would have to cut to below 1200 calories a day to do it. So I have accepted losing about a pound a month. Best of all, I can't wait to see my cardiologist this coming mid-May to tell him about SparkPeople. I'm sure he gets frustrated telling people to lose weight but not having a good way to tell them HOW. SP and especially the FoodTracker saved my life and I hope I can pass it on to help a lot more folks.

Oh yes, the exercise tracker helped me realize how many calories I do - or don't - burn with a particular exercise. It's a good balance for the Food Tracker!

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NIKKIJ55 4/5/2013 11:04PM

    That tracker helps keep me accountable and understanding what I am eating. Love to hate it too..

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KIPPER15 4/5/2013 9:44PM

    Tracing for me is a necessary evil.

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LOLAJO54 4/5/2013 9:14PM

    emoticon m emoticon emoticon emoticon Jo

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NEWTINK 4/5/2013 9:13PM

    love this emoticon

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GINIEMIE 4/5/2013 8:07PM

    I personally think that all ingredients/foods should have grams and other measures as needed. I personally prefer using grams as it is more precise and I am in the US, but have lived and visited in Belgium at various times in my life. I like the metric system as it makes so much sense.
I try to use the food tracker often for the reasons you listed, plus I have to watch my sodium intake and it helps me with that too.
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ONUTHIN125 4/5/2013 6:50PM

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FYRAM45 4/5/2013 6:32PM

    I fully agree it is a love / hate item, especially the "Distorted idea of right portions" my morning mug of coffee, which I thought was one cup, turned out to be two! Yep...gotta love it, it's an eye opener! emoticon


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CORNERKICK 4/5/2013 6:14PM

  Love/hate relationship? So true!

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PANIK257 4/5/2013 4:30PM

    If it wasn't for the food tracker I would never lose weight. I am terrible at judging what I should eat. I agree though I hate it just a little. ;)

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WEIRDSUE 4/5/2013 3:30PM

  I LOVE the food tracker! In fact, it's the only tool that I'm using from Spark People. I've lost weight in the past when I was younger by simply jotting down the foods I'd eaten, but didn't keep that up. The food tracker does much more than that, though. It tells me how much nutrition I'm getting. And since I'm getting good nutrition because I'm eating balanced meals, I'm not that hungry or stupid because of low blood sugar and I should be able to keep with it! I'm not doing the weigh in thing, but I do notice that the clothes that were tight aren't as tight now and I don't need my bra extender any more (hopefully, that was back flab lost)!

Been on it for over a month now & I'm still gung ho and haven't eaten even one cookie!

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MOTHEPRO 4/5/2013 2:02PM

    emoticon on losing 19 kilos!

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HEALTHYSLIM2 4/5/2013 2:02PM

    Amen to this!
When I tracked, I lost. Exercise alone isn't doing it!! emoticon Now, I need to track again!

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WRITINGDIVA1 4/5/2013 1:56PM

    I hear you and feel your pain. Using it is kinda like waxing your eyebrows. A touch of pain in the moment, but fabulous afterwards. Thanks for the reminder. I will definitely get back on the tracker.

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KRISTINEJB 4/5/2013 1:35PM

  Without the food tracker, I would not be able to lose for any length of time. I just don't realize how many calories I'm actually eating without it. Two nights ago, I had been too busy out and about all day to track anything. Got home, ate dinner, had a Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich. I was really wanting another one until I sat down and tracked everything I had during the day. I then realized I was already at the top of my calorie allowance for the day! My desire for that second i/c sandwich disappeared. Had I not tracked, I would think 'it's only 150 calories', but it would have put me over. I'm usually at the lower end of my calorie allowance, and I feel full. I'm not always in a mood to sit and do the tracking, especially if I put it off. But, it's absolutely necessary!!

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