I Ate What?
Like I said, I had no clue what I was eating. I was astounded to find out and I found our using a very simple tool – a food diary.
The one I used was LoseIt!.
You can find it at LoseIt.com and they have a great app for your smart phone. You can log your food and your exercise either online or on your phone; so, there’s no excuse not to get things input. I used their free version which has a few deficits. I don’t know what the features are for their paid version are.
Their food database is extensive with lots of restaurant foods included. I can scan bar codes for a super fast input and can add my own foods and recipes. Since I make my own spaghetti gravy, I have to calculate each ingredient individually, then figure out the nutrients per serving. As long as I make it the same way every time (fat chance), I have to do that only once.
Their exercise database is also pretty extensive and it allows me to add my own, as well. However, the exercise duration times are only in blocks of five minutes. If you’re maintaining your weight or if you are exercising for a couple of hours a day (yikes), fudging a minute or two is no big deal in the larger scheme of things. BUT, when I first started, I could run only a couple of minutes. I could manage only ten or so sit-ups and, by golly, I wanted every drop of sweat to count. This app (at least the free version) didn’t let me account for that.
The one I’m going to use this time is MyFitnessPal.
I’ve played with their free version a little bit, but I’m still not totally familiar with it. Like LoseIt, I can log my information either online or on my phone.
Their food database is also extensive and includes lots of restaurant foods. The one issue I’ve encountered is that there are sometimes duplicate entries for the same item. The duplicate entries may list different nutritional value for the same item. I normally choose the entry with the highest caloric value. Even if my calorie count then ends up artificially high for that day making it look like I ate at least my minimum calories when I didn’t, that error won’t happen every day; so, it’s not like my long-term progress is going to get knocked off track. While LoseIt also tracks carb, protein and fat calories consumed, it doesn’t tell me which categories I’m light and heavy on. MyFitnessPal does and I like that. I like being able to look at my daily summary and see that I need to concentrate on vegetables at my next meal. This app also allows me to add my own recipes so that next time I cook up a big old batch of Peel-a-Pound soup, it’s already in the database.
Their exercise database is also extensive and lets me add my own. The real plus here is that I can count every. single. minute. of exercise. I don’t have to do five minutes of sit-ups, two minutes will count. They won’t count for much, but they will count. As my friend Trish says, “Ounces make pounds.” Calories ingested or burned account for ounces on or off. Each one counts.
Both of these programs allow me to share my exercise and my weight loss (or gain) via Facebook and Twitter. I really like that. My friends and family have been an invaluable cheering section throughout my process. It’s like a group weight loss program stacked with a group of people who already love me. It’s great!!! (By the way, neither site posts your actual weight. I was a little worried about thaton account of I was a big girl.)
I would like to be able to change the caloric value for restaurant foods, but neither application allows me to do that. For instance, if I order a Cobb salad at Chili’s, but I ask them to hold the cheese, croutons and dressing, my salad is going to have fewer calories than the one listed in the database. To get an accurate count, I would need to measure the remaining ingredients and build a recipe, which is just not going to happen sitting there in the dining area. It would be nice if the salad in the database had check boxes underneath for all ingredients. You could check the ones you didn’t eat and the calorie count would adjust accordingly. I’m sure that’s an absurd amount of programing work or maybe their paid versions already let you do that. Hey! If you know, tell me!
Also, if you use, have used or know of another food diary (besides a note pad and pen, please) share it with us!
The big thing with these applications is that they are effective only as long as you use them and are honest with yourself. If you ate two cups of Cheerios rather than the 3/4 cup serving listed, then count that. That fish stick you ate to clean off your child’s plate must show up in your diary. Lying to ourselves and/or being oblivious about what we eat is one of the reasons we can’t zip our pants now!
Together, let’s be honest with and accountable to ourselves in all things. Nobody else has to know ; however, we are worth that attention! Let’s make sure we get it.