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Dieting | Tracking to Get Back on Track

The worst part of dieting for me isn’t the food restriction, per se, as much as it is the behavior adjustment. Weight Watchers people know all about this. It’s an essential part of their plan, the need to write down and account for everything you eat.

(Gasp?!?!) “You mean I have to be ACCOUNTABLE?”

Well, yes. Either you are accountable on paper, or your thighs are accountable in clothing. Was that a bit of a dramatic stretch, or is the only ‘stretch’ trying to fit in your jeans?

OK, let’s get serious. We’ve all heard the research that writing down what you eat gives you a greater success rate when trying to lose weight. So why don’t we take advantage of this advantage?

Because it’s mental. It smacks us in the face with reality. It causes us to play games with our own mind. If I choose to go the route of sticking to a calorie goal, and I luck out and hit it one day, no one will know that I ate that Pop-Tart for 200 calories over my limit because I didn’t write it down. If I don’t write it down, it’s not a diet infraction, right?

Wrong. Very wrong. And this will eventually show on the scale.

Mind you, some people can intuitively eat and stay slim. (If you are one of these people, know that people like me are insanely jealous of you.) For the rest of us chronic dieters, we need all the help we can get. After all, dieting is work. It takes dedication, perseverance, and a lot of thought. I’ve done my best at getting the proverbial ball rolling on a diet when I take some time and plan out everything I’m going to eat for the next two weeks, including the creation of a shopping list. If I have the food in my house, I have a greater likelihood to follow the plan.

I’ve used a couple of online trackers with great success. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a pain in the you-know-what at first, but these trackers have evolved a lot. There are ways to add foods you eat often that aren’t in their database, so that it is only a click away from adding the food to your daily tracker.

The two I recommend are Fitday.com and TheDailyPlate.com. I’ve used both of their free versions, although there is an option to pay for more functionality. I mainly used Fitday.com because it gave me a very simple read-out of the macronutrients I consumed. What I like about TheDailyPlate.com is that their database (at the time I used it) was more robust and included a lot of restaurant meals.

Another tip I want to share is one of the most enlightening tips I learned from my pal and fat loss guru Leigh Peele (www.leighpeele.com). Weigh your food by the gram. If you want a wake-up call on what you’re actually eating versus what you think you’re eating, or if you guesstimate or use a measuring cup, weighing your food will open your eyes. Because if you think about how the half-cup of oatmeal you ate this morning (and by half-cup I mean every oat that will fit into a half-cup scoop without falling off), the reality is that if you weighed out the 40 grams for the 150-calorie serving size, it’s considerably less than that scoop. You may unknowingly be adding 75 calories here, 50 calories there, another 100 calories somewhere else. Then you’re left wondering why you’re not losing weight. Well, if at the end of the day you’re eating 500 calories extra, and you think you’re at a 500-calorie deficit, you’ll be frustrated when the scale doesn’t move.

My advice: Invest in a digital food scale. I found one for about $30 at my local retailer. Pair that with the commitment to using an online tracker and you’ve got a nice one-two punch in your corner.


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[author_info]About the Author

 Lori Rypka is the Prime Parents Club Fitness Contributor, a mom of two wonderful kids first, a writer, wife, friend, personal trainer and marathon runner in training second. She enjoys helping others in their personal journeys toward living healthier lives. The biggest tool in her tool box: humor. Who says dieting can’t be fun? You can find Lori at http://www.fumbledintofitness.com/, or on Twitter as @LoriRypka.

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Lori Rypka has been certified as a personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise since April 2010, and enjoys helping friends find their healthy selves. Follow Lori on her blog at Fumbled Into Fitness.

5 Comments

  1. Crystal Paschal

    September 11, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Love this advice. Using an online tracker to keep track of my food was the biggest key to my weight loss success. I used My Fitness Pal, which I liked because it had a corresponding app for my phone so I could record my food at any time.

    I had no idea about the extra calories you consume if you don’t weigh out your food! I will have to invest in a scale.

  2. Prime Parents' Club

    September 9, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    The poptart comment was aimed at me, wasn’t it?

    /jackie

    • Marybeth Levine

      September 9, 2011 at 1:53 pm

      HA! At Jackie’s PopTart comment.

    • Liz Parker

      September 10, 2011 at 11:22 am

      lol.

      I recently started using MyFitnessPal, and I liked it a lot. They’re on the web (myfitnesspal.com) and I have an app on my Droid phone … they remember what I eat so when I eat the same meals frequently, I can just add it easily.