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Validity versus Reliability: Why Food Tracking Drives me Crazy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

If it's one thing that I have struggled with over the course of my healthy me journey, it's tracking food. Yes, we all agree we should do it. People who are more mindful of what they are eating are more successful.

But it's hard!!! Mentally, logically -- it is very difficult for me to track. So here is what I am struggling with today.

There are two keys to measurement: reliability and validity.

Reliability is that you will get the same results every time you measure the same thing. A weight scale is reliable if you weigh twice at the same time and you get the same results. Reliability is that when you put down a tablespoon, you actually filled the tablespoon correctly. Reliability is that you place the measuring tape in the exact same spot every time you measure yourself -- difficult, huh?

Validity is different. Validity means that your scale will weigh you the same as you would weigh on another scale, wearing the same clothes, at the same time. That you weigh what you weigh, in real pounds. Validity can be externally confirmed. Validity means that you used a measuring tape calibrated correctly.

So where am I struggling?

Here are some examples of the thoughts that go through my head:
Yes, I can weigh and measure. Yes, I can confirm that what looks like a cup of pasta is a cup of pasta. But what about a cup of pasta at a non-chain restaurant? How much salt did they add? Their tomato sauce may seem average, but is it? What about rice. How much rice is there on the plate at the Japanese place? When I start thinking about it, it makes my head explode. And if I find what looks like a similar dish from a chain, is that even remotely comparable?

Even for home cooking, I run into trouble. Spaghetti servings are measured by dry weight. Well who cooks dry weight spaghetti? Number of servings per box: Who has time to divide the box into that many servings? And even if I use the recipe tracker and dutifully put in each ingredient, how on earth do I determine the serving size for this big giant pot of stuff? Yes, 1 cup of soup, but how many cups are in there? It drives me crazy!!!

One last issue, and then I'll stop. Sometimes I cook with oil. Sometimes I fry stuff. Well clearly when there is oil left in the pan it didn't all go into the food. How on earth do you estimate the added fat content? How do you measure the calories in breading?

So I'm attempting to do this whole food tracking thing. I guess my plan is to look for days that appear to be over the top and analyze what I'm doing wrong. I know I'm high on the sodium, but I'm not sure how accurate that is either. I'm just going to try to get it lower. Then, if I'm reliable and consistent, it doesn't matter how valid it is. My 3000 mg may not be a "valid" 3000 mg, but if it's lower than my 4000 mg, measured the same way, then I'm going in the right direction.

My brain hurts!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    I know how you feel! Thus why I have been againist food tracking for so long haha. Hang in there, you are doing a great job and as more time goes on it will get easier.

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    Great reminder~! I know I struggle with this too, seems like we get lost in the food count, but I always try to know where I am at. However, I don't always do well with it because of the unknowns, this is why I find it best for me to eat at home.

Awesome luck to you!


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SHIRLANGEL 1/12/2012 4:19AM

    emoticon I've had some of the same thoughts and concerns in my head when trying to track my food. I have to say I think I tend to do some guessing now and then and hope it works out.

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ELISADENK 1/12/2012 1:13AM


Youch, my brain hurts just by reading your Blog.

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BLUE42DOWN 1/11/2012 3:24PM

    I do know what you mean. I like to eat Subway sandwiches, but I've had clerks put anywhere from a small dab of sauces to drowning in sauces, even had Light Mayo once because they ran out of regular. Generally, I overestimate where possible and just try to aim for a good balance over time.

Similarly, if I were frying in oil, I'd probably count the entire amount divided by servings. Ditto when I don't finish foods - I don't usually subtract those few bites.

With things like spaghetti, there are two options. One is how some people actually serve it - they don't mix the sauce and noodles in the pot. They spoon the noodles onto the place, then the ladle the sauce on top. Done that way, it can be easier to measure out a serving of noodles and a serving of sauce.

From dry to cooked actually depends in part on how you cook it - more or less water in the noodle, firmer or softer. Just a thought - if you measure the dry weight the next time before cooking, cook to your usual doneness, then weigh the result adding nothing else to it yet - you should be able to find the appropriate ratio and from there calculate the portion size cooked.

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Week One Results - Through 1/7

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Okay, I'm forcing myself to do this -- if I'm going to put goals out there I need to be accountable.

Goal 1: 250 minutes emoticon - Had 267 Minutes -- Bought my book and read it in two days. I've got to stretch these babies out better!! I'm just such a fast reader.
Goal 2: Eat at least 5 fruits and Veggies Daily: emoticon
Goal 3: Strength Training: emoticon Did some, better than I was
Goal 4: Tracked Food: emoticon - Managed Full tracking 5/7 days, partial 6/7, one day I tracked nothing Weekends are hard for me. I get busy and don't even get on the computer.
Goal 5: Ate out less: emoticon Ate out 5/21 meals, for 23.8%. This might be a record low, but I'm just now starting to track this with number. I consider that a win. Trying to keep it under 25%.

New Goal: Sodium: Keep below 3000 -- yes, I know it needs to be less, but I have been freakishly high. So I'm going to start with trying to get it below 3000 - I was lower than 3000 3 out of 7 days emoticon

Weight change: Average weight was the same, 207.1 to 207.2. But I ballooned up after a high sodium day (over 4000), and I'm still trying to recover from that. Hence the added goal of lowered sodium.

I don't really care about the weight. I know that if I do these things and analyze results that eventually the weight will come off. I weigh daily and take the average weight as my gospel. I don't believe in taking one day as my weigh-in day.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

1HAPPYSPIRIT 1/17/2012 10:33AM

    .*`*☆ .*`*☆
..*) .*)
(. (. (....CONGRATULATIONS ON SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETING THE WEEK 5 CHALLENGE!!!!! Interesting about statistically keeping track of the number of meals you ate outside of your home. You enlightened me on that idea! THANKS!... ☆.*`*☆

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WENDYLEE15 1/11/2012 8:26PM

    Your doing great and on the right track!! Good way to view the weigh ins!!

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ELISADENK 1/11/2012 7:50PM


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BLACKJEN82 1/11/2012 6:38PM

    You rock, keep up the great work!!

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BLUE42DOWN 1/11/2012 3:47PM

    emoticon job!

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JESSIKA_56 1/11/2012 3:46PM

    Way to go with meeting so many of your goals and rewarding yourself! I love to read, but I am such a slooooow reader!

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TEENY_BIKINI 1/11/2012 11:46AM


Go rock star!!

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Never Say I *Only* Lost X Pounds

Friday, January 06, 2012

Please stop it. It doesn't matter to me how much weight you personally feel you have to lose. Don't say only, as in "I've only lost 15 pounds."

This happened to me today.

A dear friend of mine told me today told me she weighed 215, and I thought that was a loss for her, so I said, "That's a loss, isn't it?" because from her tone she didn't sound happy about it. Me, I get happy about any loss.

This is what she said -- "Yes. If I look at where I was this time last year, I was at 265. That's only 50 pounds."

I wanted to smack her upside the head!! This person has a stressful job, and a husband who doesn't have the best of health, which results in lots of reasons for emotional eating.

"That's great!!" I said.

"I know, but..."

"Stop with the buts," I interrupted. "There is no but. You've lost 50 pounds. That's awesome!!!"

I could tell she was clinging to the "but" at the end of that sentence. So I tried another approach. "How much does your youngest nephew weigh?"

"I don't know. I guess Isaiah weighs about 45 pounds."

"You lost an Isaiah," I said. "Next time you see him, carry him across the room and you'll see how much weight you've lost."

Yes, I understand she wants to be below 200. Don't we all!! But we have to stop undercutting our accomplishments with that nasty BUT word. I could have even seen using the but if she had gained most of it back -- which, to her credit she hasn't.

Fifty pounds is a lot of weight. It takes a while for your body to adjust to that and hormone levels to equalize. I find some of my sparkfriends are in the same boat. They lost a "first chunk" and plateaued, and they want to keep going. There's nothing wrong with that. But be kind to yourself in the process, and stop undercutting your successes. If you put the strategies in place to not gain it back, then when your body is ready to lose again, you'll have the tools.

No Ifs, Ands, or Buts about it. And definitely no Only's.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RICH1028 1/20/2012 12:46PM

    Well Stated Blog.

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VICROSE8 1/14/2012 11:26PM

    Great comment! We should all celebrate our successes. emoticon

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BUFFYSMOM2 1/8/2012 10:28AM

    Thank you. So true!!!

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1HAPPYSPIRIT 1/7/2012 10:23PM

    Good point!!

.:*ღ*:.:*ღ ღ*:.:*ღ*:.:*ღ

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JESSIKA_56 1/7/2012 5:16PM

    I like your illustration with the nephew - kind of puts it in perspective!

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ALLISON145 1/7/2012 3:08PM

    emoticon Blog.

An excellent reminder that we all need at one point or another!


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DGFOWLER 1/7/2012 10:22AM

    Love it.. You certainly do know how to turn someones blunders around. I love it when people ask me how much I have lost (especially since it's starting to show). I am proud of that number. Donna

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BRANDTSGIRL 1/7/2012 9:54AM


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SHIRLANGEL 1/7/2012 6:21AM

    Amen! Well said! I hope your friend takes heed to what you said. I will try to remember your good advice and leave out the ifs, ands and buts when it comes to how much I've lost.

I love the example you gave your friend - "You lost an Isaiah." emoticon

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ROCKINFOX 1/6/2012 10:31PM

    Love it! This is a case where the but's are an ugly thin lol.

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ONEWAYSTREET 1/6/2012 9:11PM

  Well said...."credit.. where credit is due"!!!

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MESEATURTLE 1/6/2012 8:29PM


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TARAFROMTX1 1/6/2012 8:12PM

    So very true!! You are so right!!! emoticon

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TEENY_BIKINI 1/6/2012 8:08PM



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FLUTTER-BY)L( 1/6/2012 6:21PM

    Well written. I have been guilty of this lately. I have a different life situation than your friend. However my numbers are identical. I really want to be less than 200. I feel upset to have lost 50 and still have so far to go. I too have a little guy who weighs just about what I have lost.

You are right how far I have to go does not change how far I have come. I will stop saying only. I will savor the accomplishment. Thanks for the blog.

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LOOZINITNOW 1/6/2012 5:52PM


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THATGALNIKKI06 1/6/2012 2:43PM

    I loved this blog. Your right a lot of us like to cling to the 'but" word. An accomplishment no matter how big or small is an accomplishment and we should see it that way!!! emoticon

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GOGOMAMA 1/6/2012 2:09PM

    What great advice!!! It is something we always have to work on, and it's a great accomplishment to have lost and kept it off!!!

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APIRLRAIN888 1/6/2012 1:27PM

    Love it great advise

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KICK-BUTT-MAMA 1/6/2012 1:08PM

    So true!

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Consistency Consistency Consistency

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

I won the consistency badge again in December. This is my favorite badge. Why? Because it underlines everything I believe in about weight loss. This is not a sprint. This is a marathon. I'll struggle with weight from now at 43 until I die. I will continue to have to make good choices when it comes to exercise and food.

I have yet to get the perfect attendance award, simply because often I forget to log in over the weekends. Then if I do log in to add fitness minutes, I forget to spin the wheel. But I'm on a 15 day streak, and I am determined to get that one in in January.

I'm using the journal tool to hold myself accountable daily for my goals. Yesterday I hit every one, and I'm going to hit them again today. I have a plan in place. I'm at work, I had a great breakfast, lunch is in the fridge, and dinner is in the crockpot. One day at a time, one meal at a time. I also have a plan for exercise later.

I keep hearing jokes about all of the "losers" who hit the gym in January, but are absent the rest of the year, and it's starting to p*ss me off. Who are they to criticize? Yes, I was at the gym yesterday, and I hadn't been there much in December, but that's only because I prefer to walk outside, and December has been warm enough to walk outside. However, winter has hit us in South Carolina, and walking outside yesterday was not in the plan. If someone makes the effort to go to the gym, in January or not, in my book they aren't losers. Or if they are, it's of the weight-loss variety.

My last thought for the day: we have to be consistent all year, not just in January. But why is January so important to all of us in our weight loss attempts? It's that sense of a new year, that we have a new chance, all of our failures are past us. For me, it's the fact that I was home with the kids for over a week over Christmas, and our routine was messed up. I was ready to get back to work and get back into the swing of things. It's easier to stay on plan when you don't have a pantry full of food to tempt you. For my friends who don't work outside the home, you face those challenges every day, and I don't envy you that.

Who cares if you didn't go to the gym or move much in December? The past is done with. Make your goals for 2012, make your plan, and make it happen. I'm behind you all the way. Together we can do this.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GOGOMAMA 1/6/2012 2:12PM

    Love your encouragement!! Keep up the great work!

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APIRLRAIN888 1/3/2012 12:32PM

    Awesome I was surprised I got it too for dec

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BLUE42DOWN 1/3/2012 12:32PM

    It's just wrong to call someone a "loser" (or just treat them like they're not really going to accomplish anything) for hitting up the gym in January. Even when it isn't a situation like yours and they really are the New Year's Resolution crowd, they have a better chance of succeeding if they don't feel scorned and run off by the attitude of the "regulars".

(Edit: Just to make it clear - I'm agreeing with you, not thinking you have that attitude at all. I find it sad when those who are already active close off from the newcomers rather than welcome them.)

Comment edited on: 1/3/2012 12:33:08 PM

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-KATHERINE- 1/3/2012 12:21PM

    Congratulations on your consistency award! It is hard to stay consistant but you're right it is key!!! And I agree with you...I hate hearing that about where are all these people the rest of the year? Who cares if they don't go the rest of the year, they have the right to try and start over and make it work! Kudos for them, and we also don't know if they are working out outdoors either! When it is nice I also try to get outdoors. But January is the hardest month of all to get outside, in my neck of the woods anyways...
Keep up the great work!

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BABYSOX 1/3/2012 9:22AM

    Great blog. Consistency is the key to success. You are doing great and I know that 2012 will be a success for you. Enjoy your Crockpot Pot Pie..mmmmm!!

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BLACKJEN82 1/3/2012 9:07AM

    Yay! Thank you for this blog. We can do this! Keep up the great the gym or outside of the gym :) and I totally agree that the work routine helps. My poor mom who is a RDH can't get work right now. Each time I tell her my new weight loss total she tells me "I think I gained what you lost." I know it's hard on her being at home and depressing that she's worked her whole life, and now at 48 has to live off unemployment :( Anyway, happier thoughts: you are rocking the workouts lady!! Keep it up!

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Time for New Goals and a New Reward

Monday, January 02, 2012

One Goal this year:

1000 Minutes a Month

Well, I've reset my annual fitness goal to 12,000 again. It's a stretch goal, but it's a stretch to the extent that if I make it I know I will have achieved something. In 2011 I ended up with 9,267 and I had three months where I was over 1000 minutes, and another three months where I was over 800 minutes. I guess I achieved 77% of my goal. In contrast, in 2010, I joined Sparkpeople March 1st. If I had done 1000 a month I would have had 10,000 minutes by the end of the first year. I ended up with 8312, which is 83% of my goal. Overall, I did less in 2011 than 2010.

So, 2012 is the year that I'm going to stop making excuses. It's so easy to say that I can't. Well, I know that I can.

A refresher: 1000 minutes a month is roughly 35 a day. New tip: I need to remind myself not to take a day off if I'm behind my monthly goal. One mile or 22 minutes a day is not enough. See, I'm already behind because I only walked one mile yesterday. I need to remind myself of that!!!!

I'm going to try a different type of reward plan. If I get 25o minutes in a week, measured from Sunday to Saturday, I will let myself buy a book for my kindle. The books I generally purchase are less than $5, but I usually just buy what I want when I want it. Since that's a HUGE pleasure for me, I'm going to limit that and tie it to my fitness minutes. So if I think of it as earning my kindle books, then maybe I'll actually do it.

Extra Stuff:

Eat five fruits and/or vegetables a day.
Drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water/decaffeinated tea a day.
Eat out less.
Measure what I eat.

You notice weight isn't on here. There's a reason for that. My body isn't cooperating, and if I focus on the scale I'll go crazy. So I weigh daily just to keep myself in check, but I don't care about the number. (Except I will still celebrate when I get below 200 AGAIN) I'm also going to take my measurements on the first day of every month. I've been very inconsistent measuring.

So there you have it. I've got some books to earn!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JESSIKA_56 1/4/2012 10:10AM

    Woohoo, you can do it! Books, a great reward! I'm rewarding myself this year, too, and books are definitely on my wishlist!! :)

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ELISADENK 1/3/2012 9:19PM

    emoticon emoticon

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WENDYLEE15 1/3/2012 9:22AM

    Great plan and goals.Best wishes in achieving them and 2012 being your best year yet !! emoticon

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MISSMOLLY53 1/2/2012 6:41PM

    Great job thinking through your goals for 2012!!! Sounds entirely doable plus the reward idea is an awesome one. Good luck-- hope you get to add many books to your Kindle!

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BABYSOX 1/2/2012 6:36PM

    I like your goals for 2012. They will all lead to a healthier you. Just reading your blog has inspired me. I was not going to exercise tonight, but now I have decided to head down to the treadmill for a 30 min workout. Thanks for helping kick me in the butt. Happy New Year!

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TINNYWINNIE 1/2/2012 3:37PM

  1000 mins a month. You can do it!!

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BLUE42DOWN 1/2/2012 3:18PM

    Wonderful sounding plan! I like the Kindle idea - that you normally buy when you want, but now you have to earn them. Awesome way to make yourself WANT to earn them!


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APIRLRAIN888 1/2/2012 2:41PM

    U can do it

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