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The weight loss tool that I love to hate!

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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 everyone's 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 wouldn't come off. That's 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: "If you're going to do something, you have to do it right!" 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 couldn't get rid of it, my high cholesterol (ok, there's 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 haven't 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 don't 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 can't lose weight. Mind you, it can be rude! But sometimes that's what we need to realize our bad habits: a rude awakening!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thank you! I also have hated the idea of using the nutrition tracker but I realize that I have to now. I too have gained and lost the same 5lb for a year. I work out like a chimp and I love to track my fitness, but my goal is to lose 30lb in the next year and tracking food is what's missing:). You're inspiring. emoticon emoticon
    903 days ago
  • NLYR20
    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...
    emoticon emoticon
    1656 days ago
    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.
    1665 days ago
    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.

    1692 days ago
  • PJM1963
    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!
    1693 days ago
    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

    1693 days ago
    1694 days ago
    I'm with you. I'm really bad at tracking my food, but it helps to see how I'm eating!
    1696 days ago
    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!
    1707 days ago
    I was not a fan of the food tracker when I first began, but over time it has become my friend
    1727 days ago
    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.
    1742 days ago
    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.
    1746 days ago
  • 223DAISY
    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...
    1750 days ago
    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
    1754 days ago
    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
    emoticon emoticon
    1757 days ago
  • GEORGE815
    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.
    1759 days ago
    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.
    1759 days ago
  • WORTHIT374
    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!
    1761 days ago
    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.
    1774 days ago
    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.
    1775 days ago
    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!
    1775 days ago
  • DEENER20
    "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
    1775 days ago

    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.

    emoticon m emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

    1777 days ago
    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
    1777 days ago
    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.
    1778 days ago
    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
    1778 days ago
  • KAB7801
    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
    1778 days ago
    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
    1779 days ago
    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.
    1779 days ago
    1779 days ago
    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.
    1779 days ago
    Such a great blog! Well written and oh so true! Congrats on the 19 kg!
    1779 days ago
  • MAJONES1225
    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.
    1779 days ago
    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.
    1779 days ago
  • 1SALLY2
    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
    1779 days ago
    1780 days ago
    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!
    1780 days ago
  • NIKKIJ55
    That tracker helps keep me accountable and understanding what I am eating. Love to hate it too..
    1780 days ago
  • KIPPER15
    Tracing for me is a necessary evil.
    1780 days ago
    emoticon m emoticon emoticon emoticon Jo
    1780 days ago
    love this emoticon
    1780 days ago
    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.
    emoticon emoticon
    1780 days ago
  • ONUTHIN125
    1780 days ago
  • FYRAM45
    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

    1780 days ago
    Love/hate relationship? So true!
    1780 days ago
  • PANIK257
    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. ;)
    1780 days ago
    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!
    1780 days ago
    emoticon on losing 19 kilos!
    1780 days ago
    Amen to this!
    When I tracked, I lost. Exercise alone isn't doing it!! emoticon Now, I need to track again!
    1780 days ago
    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.
    1780 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

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