Waking Up to What You're Really Eating

By , SparkPeople Blogger

If you have been following along with my weekly blogs, you know this is the second in a series.  Last week we talked about WAKING UP and beginning to LIVE again.

How many calories do you eat in a day?

Did you stay within your recommended calorie range?

When did you last look at a label to know what is in the food you're buying?

Do you know what your BMR calorie burn is for a typical day?

You aren't sure about any of those answers?  I wasn't either when I started but I am here to tell you it is all at your fingertips.

This month, I'm sharing my personal success factors that helped me lose 100 pounds and keep it off.

Step 1: Know WHAT/HOW much you eat daily (track it).

Here's the deal: If we really want the outside of our body to look great, we must take care of what we put IN our bodies.  I'm sure we've all heard that saying "garbage in and garbage out."  Well, it's true.  If we put garbage in our bodies, then that's what we'll get out of our bodies.  Your body is a very meticulous machine.  Learning to FUEL your body is not easy; however, you'll notice a difference fairly quickly if you pay attention to what you put in it.  Yes, this means that if you give up a few things like fast food and soda alone, and replace them with a healthy snack and 8 cups of water a day, you will see a huge difference. 

I have to give massive props to my wife for the idea of looking at the labels at the store.  She did the homework and realized that changing our family's lifestyle meant we needed to start paying attention to the packaged products we bought.  If there are words on the ingredients list that we cannot pronounce, we simply don't buy it.  There are other items that we no longer buy if the sugar content is too high or the sodium is out of control.  We no longer buy something simply because it says it is fat free.  This can be deceiving unless you look thoroughly at the nutrition label and ingredient list.  Knowing WHAT you are putting in your body matters. 

Once you get a better understanding of what is going into your body, now you need to determine how many calories you are taking in during the course of one day? 

When we all signed up for SparkPeople, we completed a series of questions to establish our starting points and our goals.  We were then given a recommended range of calories to eat and calories to burn to accomplish those goals.   How cool was that?  We got this expert advice that comes from years of experience absolutely free!  Are you using this to your advantage?

SparkPeople's Nutrition Tracker is the most amazing tool to track this information.  This tool is very simple to use and doesn't take more than about 5 minutes to complete each day's meal tracking.  The main database is very extensive and I'd say that nine of 10 items anyone eats can probably be found there.  If you can't find an item, look at the foods entered by other members.  That's what makes SparkPeople so great: people helping people!  This database is massive, but if you can't find something, you have the opportunity to add an item and share for the next member.  How simple is that?  But there is more!  The ability to add foods to your favorites list OR create a food grouping if you eat the same foods for lunch daily all help in making the process speedy quick.  (VIDEO: How to Use SparkPeople's Nutrition Tracker)

Now that you have tracked your nutrition for the day, you KNOW how much you have eaten.  You can tell if you stayed within your calorie range or not.  Knowing this information is CRITICAL to your journey. Without this information, your success will be hindered, period.  Can you have success without tracking?  Probably, however I'd venture to say that most major success stories track everything. 

But wait, there's even more!  The reports section contains amazing information about your nutrition, fitness and calorie differential. Did you even know they exist?  Using these reports you can see your nutrition intake for a week or month.  This is crucial information.  The reports will hold you accountable to your daily calorie count of a given period of time.  These reports were crucial to my personal journey and I used them daily when I was in weight loss mode.  Knowing how my calorie intake was affected by my calorie burn thus giving my differential was absolutely amazing for my journey.

Get to know the nutrition tracker, learn about what you are eating.  Pay attention to what goes IN your body to enhance your daily performance.  Your performance might be as an athlete or simply to get through the daily grind we all face.  Whatever your needs are throughout your day, remember to fuel your body, not fill your body.

Tracking your food, knowing WHAT/HOW much you are eating daily is crucial to your journey.  I can't stress this enough. 

Disclaimer: There days when I fail. There are days when I go crazy with my calorie intake, some days it seems that my metabolism is raging and I simply can't get enough to eat.  I don't beat myself up over it.  I make every effort to learn from the mistake and move on, not stressing about it.

Men, I have a challenge for you.  I challenge every man who reads this blog to do two things. 

1. Make a habit of tracking your food, you WILL see a difference. 

2. Comment below. Put it in writing your commitment to track it. 

Let those who might read this blog after you, know that you are committed to your health.  Something you say might spark the next person into action, and there is nothing more rewarding than that!
Are you ready to wake up and start tracking what you're eating?