Healthy Byte: New Non-Diet Approach

NOTE: Here’s an article that I don’t necessarily agree with but I do realize that what has worked for me (counting calories via MFP) does not work for everyone. So here’s some encouragement for those who is looking for the life style transformation that will last.

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We are gathered, dear friends, to pay honor and, just maybe, to say farewell forever to an acquaintance not-so-dearly departed: the calorie-restriction diet. Because in this world where women sip small-batch nut milk before barre class, legions of people who aren’t actually sensitive to gluten won’t touch a dinner roll, and eating like a cavewoman is considered a viable nutritional plan even though most cavewomen didn’t survive past 35, it has become devilishly hard to find someone who admits she follows a straight-up calorie-counting diet anymore.

Skeptics will say the shift is purely semantic, a case of political correctness in which everybody is still dieting but nobody wants to utter the dreary word itself. But if you doubt that the trim-at-any-cost mass culture is changing, consider that Lean Cuisine, which has had two years of falling revenues, recently revamped its frozen-food recipes and added words like “organic” and “freshly made” to its packaging. “We realized that low fat and low calorie were not the modern definition of what people were looking for in healthy cuisine,” says the company’s marketing director, Julie Lehman. It’s a similar story at Weight Watchers, the company that first implanted the calorie-counting chip in the collective brain of American women more than 50 years ago. “It’s a different age,” says R. J. Hottovy, a consumer-equity strategist at Morningstar, an investment-research company, which keeps an eye on Weight Watchers, whose sales had taken a hit thanks to things like fitness trackers and meal-plan apps (the brand has since gotten in on the game, too). Even with the help of the planet’s most effective pitchwoman, Oprah Winfrey, “[the company is] still facing headwinds,” says Hottovy.

And the most recent weight-loss trend to gain popularity, so-called intermittent fasting, alternates periods of “normal” eating with short bursts of severe calorie restriction. By some jujitsu of dieting logic, these programs, like the 5:2 plan, allow those who follow them to enjoy a sense of balance and satisfaction at most mealtimes.

The hard truth is that the once nearly universal obsession with cutting calories and eliminating entire food groups is simply no longer trendy. When was the last time you heard someone say she was doing the South Beach Diet, the Master Cleanse, or Ideal Protein? Women from all walks of life (including but not limited to bloggers, social-media stars, actresses, and activists) have dropped more-restrictive regimens in favor of plans that promise health, wellness, and mind-body balance. ” ‘Diet’ has become”—wait for it—”a four-letter word,” says Susan B. Roberts, a professor of nutrition and psychiatry at Tufts University in Boston who studies weight-loss habits. It’s not that people don’t want to lose weight and get healthy and feel better; even if they don’t use the D word, more than half of all U.S. consumers are on a diet of some kind, according to a 2015 report by the market-research firm Mintel. “The problem is that they’ve tried so many things and struggled, and for what?” Roberts says.

Deprivation, after all, has a dark side. Remember this scene from the front lines of weight loss? You’re in your bathroom, you haven’t eaten a carbohydrate in weeks, you’re living on foods high in protein but no individual servings larger than your fist, and you’ve just urinated on a small wooden ketosis strip to see if it’s working. “All of these diets have created such angst for people around eating,” says Judith Matz, a coauthor of The Diet Survivor’s Handbook (Sourcebooks), who advises her clients to eat a wide variety of healthy foods. “It’s meant to be a source of nourishment, energy, and pleasure. But when you have to pee to make sure you’re eating properly, you take that pleasure away.”

Not that calorie-restricting diets don’t work. They generally do—just not for long. Many studies have shown that, except for a small sliver of the population, the average dieter sheds perhaps 10 percent of her weight during an exhilarating honeymoon phase, then returns to her original size within a couple or three years or even puts on extra pounds. Traci Mann, a professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and the author of Secrets From the Eating Lab (Harper Wave), echoes a newly familiar sentiment: Eat healthy and stop counting calories. She has delivered her message about the futility of food restriction to audiences around the country. These days, she often feels she’s preaching to the choir. “I talk a lot about all these physical changes from calorie deprivation that make it harder to keep dieting, and people say, ‘That’s exactly what happened to me. I started dieting, and suddenly I was hungry even when I ate things that used to make me feel full,’ ” she says.

Even among the very large number of women who still eat for their bathroom scale, the tendency now is to dispense with calorie counting in favor of a “lifestyle.” Thirty-day challenges, the paleo diet, eating “clean,” even locavore or artisanal-food obsession can be ways to limit your overall intake without having to refer to a system of points—although any experienced nutritionist will tell you the only reliable way to lose weight is to take in fewer calories than your body burns.

Still, what the lifestyle plans do enticingly offer is a sense of control, possibly even joy. Maybe this is the most crucial point of all: You’re signing on to a new way of living, rather than chipping away at the one you’re used to. And some of them, at least, like the so-called Mediterranean diet, actually emphasize health and well-being over rapid, unsustainable weight loss. “As we get away from calorie counting, we move closer to nutrition,” says New York City registered nutritionist Keri Gans, the author of The Small Change Diet (Gallery Books). “People are starting to realize they have to be patient, move slowly, and give themselves time to create new habits.”

The lifestyle approach has another advantage. By choosing to go macrobiotic or to explore the benefits of cold-pressed juices, to name a couple of examples, the modern dieter can at the same time be a part of the infectious fun of the food-cultural revolution that is so dramatically remaking our grocery stores, restaurants, and entire channels of cable TV. “I don’t care if you live at the very edge of the forest during this Whole Foods moment, you still know there’s a buzz about kale and avocado,” says Amanda Chantal Bacon, the founder of the Moon Juice plant-based apothecary and food stores in Los Angeles, where Gwyneth Paltrow and Shailene Woodley come to shop for things like reishi mushrooms (believed to boost the immune system), mineral-rich maca root, and shilajit tonic, which is used in Ayurvedic medicine. In that sense, the new way of dieting is all about the benefits (#gainz, if you do your boasting online) and not just the losses.

Bacon’s esoteric brand of holistic living—a combination of kundalini and Vedic meditation, exercise, and meals designed to promote wellness—includes managing one’s weight without being consumed by it. A typical lunch might be zucchini ribbons with basil, pine nuts, and sun-cured olives with a cup of green tea. Outside experts could debate for days whether that actually constitutes a healthy meal or is just low-calorie dieting dressed up in New Age finery. But Bacon is evangelical about the need to “bust the myth of traditional dieting,” as she puts it. “I stand in good company, which includes medical doctors, when I say that what I put in my body can definitely help me maintain my weight. But along with that, my skin is different; my energy levels are very different; my personality is different. Food affects everything.”

THE ONCE NEARLY UNIVERSAL OBSESSION WITHCUTTING CALORIESAND ELIMINATING ENTIRE FOOD GROUPS IS SIMPLY NO LONGER TRENDY.

The scientific community has long accepted that idea, of course, along with the understanding that our weight is also determined by genetics and other physiological factors beyond our control. All of which encourages the emergence, in a parallel universe that coexists with all the super skinny fitness stars of social media, of the idea that a woman’s body can be considered beautiful and healthy no matter how it happens to be shaped and sized. Hashtags like #fatkini (accompanied by photos of large women in bathing suits) make the rounds on Instagram, where the extraordinary yoga instructor and “fat femme” Jessamyn Stanley has 168,000 followers and counting.

Popular women’s websites decry fat-shaming and celebrate body positivity. When Kelsey Miller, the author of Big Girl: How I Gave Up Dieting & Got a Life (Grand Central Publishing) and the creator of the Anti-Diet Project column at Refinery29, first joined that website in 2012, one of the dieting buzzwords of the day was “detox.” (“We now know what bullshit that was,” she says.)

Today’s buzzword is more like “DGAF” (look it up). Miller, who says she has spent her entire conscious life in the dieting cycle, now practices what’s known as intuitive eating, in which her meal choices are guided by what she’s hungry for coupled with an understanding of which foods make her feel healthy and energetic and, conversely, which ones slow her down. “It’s about getting over the idea that kale is the savior and the cheeseburger is the enemy,” she says.

Here’s what it looks like at mealtime: When Miller is in the mood for, say, a steak, potatoes, and spinach, she eats it. Or she gives it some thought and decides, “You know what? That sounds really heavy and not comfortable right now,” says Miller. The goal either way is to take worrying about her weight out of the equation and to focus on comfort, health, and satisfaction—to reach a state of Zen-like food neutrality.

Miller is the first person to say there’s a utopian, if still somewhat attainable, quality to her anti-diet philosophy. And there’s no going back—for her, and many others who have had enough of the old way of dieting. Elizabeth Angell, a digital editor in New York City, can’t imagine ever going back to Weight Watchers, although she found the program helpful when she wanted to lose baby weight after the birth of her daughter three years ago.

But ultimately it was no more helpful than accepting the fact that her weight will fluctuate, and the best thing she can do for herself is eat lots of fresh vegetables, prepare as many of her own meals as possible, keep sweets out of the house, and try to limit her consumption of carbs to once a day. “On a diet, you’re always ten pounds away from your goal, and I just don’t want to always be short of my goal,” Angell says. “I’m tired of saying no.”

Originally Posted HERE

HB Sig

Healthy Byte: Maintenance 3rd Anniversary (Day 1318)

Today started out like any other Saturday; the house was quiet, still full of sleepy heads, and two hungry pups. I laid in bed for a brief moment before I propelled myself out of the comforts of the warm covers and into the chill of the air conditioned room.

I glanced briefly down at my Fitbit and it stated “0930, SA 13.” The pups wagged their tails excitedly waiting for their breakfast and as they chowed down I retrieved my standard weekend breakfast of protein bar and cup of hot tea. Something about the date drew me to tap on the Fitbit again and I read “0947, SA 13.” Then it suddenly dawned on me, Aug 13 is the day. The day that I reach my goal weight three years ago from years of being overweight.

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This is what unhealthy looks like

This was me in 2000. I was 30 years old, 163 lbs at 4’10”, had a BMI of 34.1 (obese), hated photographs of myself, hated shopping for clothes, was the heaviest I have ever been in my entire life, and had accepted that this is how a mother is suppose to look. It wasn’t until 12 years later at an annual physical when my blood work came back declaring that I was pre-diabetic that I finally was scared enough to actually skip all the quick fix diets or miracle diet supplements and just settle down to put in the work.

Weight loss compared to was a breeze. The first two years of maintenance blew by with very little hiccup largely due to my fear of falling prey to the statistics regaining. I remained hyper vigilant on nutrition and gymming regularly. The only time I skipped gym was for a child’s sporting event. My weight remained constant within +/- 1-2 lbs and life was good.

This third year however, has been a series of challenges and it was the first time my weight fluxed back over 100 lbs. I was horrified, frustrated, and was in borderline panic mode. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong or what has changed or why is that stupid fucking number on the scale going in the wrong direction?!

Of course I knew all the answers but just became quite comfortable with what I am calling the ‘maintenance blinders’ squarely over my eyes. And that is exactly why I religiously log everything and anything other than water pass my little devil lips into MyFitnessPal. It is an incredible source of data to find the self-sabotaging pattern of eating. I can summarize my top pitfalls which has made my 3rd year of maintenance a bit of a roller coaster.

  1. I looked at my daily caloric allotment and felt it was time to increase it from what has made me successful in the previous two years. Instead of 1230 I increased it to 1450 – regardless if I gymmed or not, often eating over it, and abandoned my TDEE #s.
  2. I increased my strength training and reduced my cardio drastically.
  3. Due to increased strength training I was more hungry so I ate more. I became a huge fan of Peanut Butter … on everything!
  4. I associated the consistent weight gain to gaining muscle and rationalized that my pants were getting tight around my waist due to muscle – yes I really did quite an excellent job convincing myself of this one.
  5. A few days before my cycle I have always been famished but since I was doing more ‘strength training’ to ‘build more muscle’ which naturally ‘burns more fat’ I quenched my insatiable appetite with everything and anything with little regard to the quality of what I was consuming. The power of self rationalization is incredibly powerful.

Thanks to my MFP pals and a mishap on the elliptical severely injuring my wrist, I refocused on getting back on track.  

  1. I have NO idea why I veered away from TDEE. I think subconsciously I reflected how easy the previous 2 years of maintaining was and just got a little cocky. I thought ‘hey maybe I can’t get fat again!’ I was sadly mistaken. LOL I dialed my daily baseline caloric allotment to a reasonable 1350, did not eat over it except for once a week on family pizza night, and I have strictly adhered to eating on plan during the workweek and loosening the reigns on the weekend (80/20 Rule).
  2. I did a bit of research and apparently there are studies which alludes that some people are physically built to respond better to cardio and some to strength training when it comes to weight loss. So I have tweaked my physical routine to strength training to be half of my cardio 5 days a week. While on the weekends I bump up the cardio and the strength training to a 60:40 ratio in favor of cardio.
  3. I have made peace with that peanut butter can be addictive for me, so I have tapper off on it and magically I no longer crave it on everything. lol
  4. I have also had to face the hard truth that if my weight is creeping up and my clothes are getting tight around the waist, it is NOT muscle weight but F-A-T. That was a very difficult truth to acknowledge because I no longer could use strength training/more muscle as an excuse to eat like a crazy person. Cuz let’s face it, eating like a crazy person with zero regard to outcome sometimes is just flat out enjoyable. But too much ‘enjoying’ resulted in a reality that I did not like. SO instead having ice cream 4 days a night I limit it to 1 on a non-pizza night. Instead of drowning my protein bar in PB I put it in the fridge so that it doesn’t need ‘something extra’ to make it more palatable.
  5. I still feed my insatiable appetite days before my cycle, but now I do so with the least amount of carbs & sugar with the most nutritional value. This little standard allowed me to make much better choices to satisfy without falling into the carbs & sugar addictive cycle.
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Purrty colors no?

Oddly enough the horrific wrist injury refocused me on nutrition because I knew my physical activities had to be highly curtail to accommodate my lack of mobility. I literally could not even walk on the treadmill because the vibration sent sharp shooting pain up my arm. Therefore without the reliance to ‘out-gym’ poor eating choices I was inadvertently forced back on track. As my wrist healed and I was able to slowly incorporate strength training again back into my cardio while being more proactive about my nutrition – not only did I not gain weight but lost. It was the first time this 3rd year of maintenance that I have regularly included strength training without gaining and I am elated.

I am back under 100 and 1.8 lbs from goal. I have been focusing on my shoulders and triceps and with the continued reduction in fat, I am finally seeing results.

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Happy 3rd Maintenance Anniversary to Me!

So thanks universe for my mishap on the elliptical to get back on track. hahaha

HB Sig

Healthy Byte: Food Journaling without Counting Calories

I am a total MFP fangirl because it worked & continues to work for me. But I also understand that tracking calories may not work for everyone. So I came across this little gem which will give an alternative to food jounaling which maybe less intense for some. Hope you’ll find it useful.

Illustrations by Elliot Salazar

There’s not a lot I miss about dieting, but one thing I secretly, whine-ily pine for on a regular basis are the tricks. For most of my life, I snatched them up everywhere, like a hungry pickpocket: Drink a big glass of water before a meal to trick your body into feeling full! (I read that classic in numerous diet books.) A friend-of-a-friend of a famous actress once told me she would eat half her meal, and then dump salt all over the rest to stop herself from finishing. Or this lunacy I picked up in an old O feature: If you’re still hungry after dinner, just chew on an orange peel!

I’m glad I’m no longer sitting around chewing on orange peels. But I miss the simple promise of diet tips, even if none of them actually delivered. With intuitive eating, there are no magic tricks or shortcuts. But there are some great tools. And one, in particular, has been more effective at changing my relationship to food than any orange peel: my food journal.

Food journals, of course, are also a staple of many diets. But, with this journaling method, I’m not tracking calories, points, or carbs. Instead, I’m tracking things like hunger, fullness, cravings, satisfaction, emotions, and any judgments I find my mind making about my meal. Yes, as ever, it’s a lot more complex than a diet food journal. But though it’s not a “trick,” this method works like magic. This is how I learned to be curious — not critical — about the way I eat. And that’s when my eating habits really began to change.

I began this practice back at the start of The Anti-Diet Project, at the urging of my eating coach, Theresa Kinsella. Each week, we’d go over my eating record together and note any patterns that emerged or any reactions that needed addressing. If I found myself flinching over a piece of pizza or boasting about my spinach salad, we talked about it. We talked about it until I was able to admit that maybe I had some lingering stress over eating pizza — and also that I found spinach brag-worthy.

Eventually, these conversations became more of an internal habit, and I no longer needed the journal. And that was the end of all my problems with food, forever! End of story — see you next week!

Just kidding (but can you imagine?).

As I wrote a few weeks back, I’m in the midst of my own “fresh start.” Having spent the past year and a half occupied with writing my book, a lot of those healthy, new, internal habits got shaken loose by the stress (and time-suckage) of maintaining two full-time jobs at once (plus, like, my life). So, when I finally got back some bandwidth to devote to my fitness and eating practices, the food journal was one of the first things I reached for.

This time around, I decided to simplify things even further and download an app that would suit my purposes. I wound up using the Rise Up + Recover app (not because anyone pitched or paid me to do so, FYI; it was simply the first app I found that suited my needs). The app is full of tools and resources, but all I use is the Log Meal feature, which has designated fields where I enter what I eat, when/where I eat it, and whom I’m eating with. It also has a seemingly endless list of feelings I can check off to gauge my emotional state — and a big, blank “notes” section where I can detail all those key observations about the meal. Here’s an example of a meal I journaled during my first week with the app:

Dinner
Time: 7:40 p.m.
Where: Restaurant
With: Friends
Meal: Grilled salmon with mashed potatoes. Side salad.
Feelings: Tired, happy, stressed.
Notes: Worried over the mashed potatoes a little bit, thinking I should maybe ask for a different side that wasn’t a starch. I ordered the side salad because I was worried about not getting enough greens in today, and also because it made me feel better about the potatoes. I reminded myself I have permission to eat potatoes, but I still didn’t want to finish them. Then, I finished the potatoes really fast. Am I still weird about potatoes?

The answer was, uh, yes, I’m obviously still a little weird about potatoes. Consciously, I may recognize that they’re a totally acceptable, normal food to eat, but somewhere in my mind, there’s a diet-addled maniac who sees potatoes as the bad guy. Good to know.

This entire entire entry took about three minutes to thumb-type out on the subway ride home from dinner. Thanks to the journal, I now had super-helpful intel on my relationship to food, and I could use that the next time I encountered potatoes. It gave me the opportunity to remind myself of important intuitive eating axioms, like Permission To Eat. Furthermore, it gave me the boost of knowing I was actively reinforcing the healthy mentality I wanted to cultivate.

I won’t say it was effortless — or as simple as drinking a glass of water before a meal. Doing this food journal meant creating a new habit, and that requires a modicum of energy. But it’s a modicum worth spending. I didn’t do it perfectly; sometimes I didn’t remember to track my meals until hours later, or even the next day. But this was a promise I made myself, and so I did my best to keep it up as consistently as possible. And lo and behold: It was worth it.

I’ll spare you the weeks of food-based navel-gazing entries that followed and instead cut to one revealing meal the following month:

Lunch
Time: 2 p.m.
Where: Work
With: Alone
Meal: Roasted chicken thigh with vegetables. Side of roasted potatoes.
Feelings: Content, tired, stressed.
Notes: Felt good. Was satisfying. Didn’t quite finish, so put leftovers in fridge for later if hungry again. 

Not only is there zero Potato Panic in my notes, but there’s no panic, period. According to my “feelings” list, I was still tired and stressed (issues unto themselves, I realize, but honestly — who isn’t?). But when it comes to my food, I’m pretty much stress-free, at least in this moment. I didn’t even bother with full sentences, let alone the starch soliloquies I wrote during the first week.

Just food journaling alone won’t cure your food anxieties any more than just talking about your problems will make them go away. But if you want to solve a problem, you have to be able to see it. This kind of record gets your unconscious behavior out onto the page where you can see it — and understand it, and, if need be, get someone to help you figure it out.

It also takes your inner critic and turns it into an explorer. That’s not an easy change to make on your own. If you have the ability to say, “Oh, I’m just going to stop criticizing myself and, while I’m at it, have an entirely neutral relationship with food,” and actually do it, then great. (Can you email me? Are you a wizard?) But most of us need help to get there. Most of us don’t have magic, so we need our tools.

I now keep up with my food journal regularly (if not perfectly — I am “tired” and “stressed,” after all). It’s helped me reconnect with my healthy eating habits in a natural way. It’s kept me in touch with my physical response to food and has gently guided me back toward all those old, unhelpful issues I still have left over from my dieting days. Because they’re there. That diet-addled maniac shrieking over potatoes is still hanging out in my head, somewhere. Maybe she always will be, on some level. All I know for sure is that if I leave her to her own devices, she’ll run around like a crazy person, and I’ll never be comfortable with a plate of potatoes again. The only alternative is to sit down and face her — let her vent her worries as I tap them out into my phone. Then, I can see them for what they are: old nonsense I no longer need, as useful as chewing on an orange peel.

Then, I put away my phone and get on with my day.

Originally Posted HERE

HB Sig

Healthy Byte: Secret Weapon to Healthy

Anyone who has frequented & hopefully is a subscriber to my blog knows that I attribute my weight loss & keeping it off is the exercise & food tracking app MyFitnessPal (accessible on desktop & mobile). And now it is being touted as one of the most effective tools to getting healthy. Check out this article!

The advice is supported by numerous studies. “One of the most consistent research findings is that people who keep [food] logs — whether it’s daily or weekly, or in a notebook or tablet or phone — do better than people who do not,” weight-loss specialist Charles Seltzer, MD, tells Yahoo Health.

While keeping a food or exercise diary isn’t a new concept, technology — specifically the widespread adaption of cell phones and apps — has revolutionized the practice.

MyFitnessPal, one of the most popular diet and exercise tracking apps, has more than 90 million users, the company claims. Weight Watchers now offers a suite of phone and tablet apps for its members, and has an online-only membership option. Other food-tracking apps include, but are not limited to: My Food Diary, Calorific, Lose It!,MyNetDiary, MyPlate, Nutrition Menu, and Calorie Counter.

Do it quickly, and this habit isn’t rude — it’s actually the key to losing weight and keeping it off. (Photo: Ben Pipe Photography/Corbis)

Thanks to these apps, it’s now easier than ever to log every handful of chips, bite of pizza, or spoonful of peanut butter. “Tracking food intake and exercise is important because it brings a greater awareness to our daily activities,” says nutrition expert Dana Ryan, PhD, who currently works as the manager of sports performance and education at the nutrition and weight management company Herbalife. “Writing down what we eat makes us more accountable, because we are more conscious of every little thing we are putting in our body,” she tells Yahoo Health.

The Rise of the Weight-Loss App

Twenty-five years ago, recording every morsel that passed your lips was a laborious process. You’d flip through a paper calorie guide to find the food, figure out the number of servings you consumed, multiply that by the number of calories in a serving, and repeat for every single food and beverage — then add it all up at the end of the day.

The process became easier in the 1990s as websites started popping up with food databases and automatic calculators that made the process significantly easier. But that still usually required logging onto a computer in order to input that day’s meals and snacks, and the sites weren’t very user-friendly.

 This frustration was the inspiration for brothers Mike and Albert Lee to create MyFitnessPal. “Mike and his wife were planning a beach wedding and they both wanted to lose a little weight,” Albert Lee told Yahoo Health. “They went to see a fitness trainer and he gave them a book listing the nutritional values of around 3,000 foods and a small pad of paper to use for tracking our calories. He had been programming since he was 10 years old, so he just knew there had to be a better way to keep track of … meals and snacks, but couldn’t find anything online that was good enough. Every digital product on the market at that time was just as painful and time-consuming to use as food-logging in that notebook.”

So Mike Lee went to work creating the platform that would, in 2005, become MyFitnessPal. The first iOS app launched in 2009. “Since then, we’ve helped more than 90 million people achieve and maintain a healthier and happier lifestyle. We have a database of nearly 4 million foods and hundreds of exercises, plus top fitness technology partners and community insights,” Albert says.

Published research on weight-loss apps has been limited, but most studies show that tracking calories via a mobile device is more effective than keeping a paper journal. A weight-loss study led by researchers at the University of South Carolina found that participants who chronicled their food intake with an app consumed significantly fewer daily calories than those who used a paper log. Specifically, the app users ate about 500 fewer calories each day than the other group — the amount most experts suggest people cut out of their daily calorie intake to lose weight.

In a 2014 study from Arizona State University, app users logged their foods more consistently than people using a paper diary or the voice memo app on their phones, although there wasn’t a significant difference in weight loss between the groups during the eight-week study. A year-long study published recently in the journal Obesityconcluded that the consistency and frequency of entering calorie information improved participants’ long-term weight-loss success.

What Successful Dieters Do Differently

Tracking what you eat forces you to confront reality, Seltzer explains. “It’s objective data. It forces people to look at their own habits without being able to have the out of saying, ‘Oh, this is just this guy telling me it’s wrong.’ The numbers don’t lie,” he says.

“Sometimes people will say to me, ‘I started doing that but I didn’t like what I was seeing,’” Murphy says. “Well, the app isn’t being mean to you, it’s just being honest to what you’re actually eating. So if you don’t like what you’re seeing, you’re in denial about what you’re eating.”

Arthur concurs that keeping a log can be a huge reality check. “It’s that someone is seeing it, even if it’s just you,” she says. “If you’re walking by the cabinet and grab a little snack of something, you can kind of pretend no one saw it, but when you put it on paper, you have to see it, and you have to face it.”

When Seltzer’s weight-loss clients start recording their calories, “they always say it’s an eye-opener,” he says. “Almost without exception, they say, ‘I’m eating so much more than I thought I was.’”

People are also surprised to learn which foods are high or low in calories, Seltzer says. At Applebee’s, for example, the New York strip steak has fewer calories than a fiesta chicken salad (480 calories for the steak versus 700 for the salad).

When Murphy started using MyFitnessPal, she realized just how much sugar she was eating. “I hadn’t really thought about it before, but seeing that pie chart [on the app] and seeing days where carbohydrates were like 70 percent of my caloric intake was shocking. … It was really eye-opening,” she says.

Marissa Vicario, a certified integrated health and nutrition coach, explains that most people know how to lose weight — they’re just not always doing it. “Diet tracking provides accountability to actually put what they know they should be doing into action,” she tells Yahoo Health. “When you can actually see what you’re eating, it makes it a lot more real.”

A Life-Changing Habit

Sarie Bronish was 240 pounds at her heaviest, about three years ago. “I was feeling horrible about myself. I didn’t have any self-esteem, and my depression issues were at their worst,” the Washington state resident tells Yahoo Health. “That was the point in my life where it felt like everybody else in my life had to change for me to get happy, but I didn’t understand that the problem was actually myself.”

Her turning point occurred at a friend’s birthday party. “I was worried that when I walked in the room, everybody was going to be looking at me because of my thighs, and everybody was going to be looking at my hips and my waist,” she says. “I couldn’t enjoy myself in public anymore because it seemed like everything in my own head was going back to my weight.”

She started making small changes, like switching to wheat bread instead of white, and buying almond milk instead of dairy milk to save calories. About a month into her journey, she began tracking her calories and walking for exercise.

The pounds started to come off, and Bronish started tracking her macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) using MyFitnessPal. “That’s when everything really started to fall off,” she says.

She has now lost and kept off 95 pounds and kicked her depression and anxiety issues entirely, she says. She still uses the app to track what she eats and make sure she’s getting enough protein. She also posts photos from her weight-loss journey to her Instagram.

Tips to Start Tracking Successfully

Keeping a lot of what you eat may seem inconvenient or intimidating. “But the tradeoff in the big picture is that you have a lot of flexibility over what you eat as long as you control the quantity,” Seltzer says.

If you’re new to tracking, experts and experienced MyFitnessPal users suggest these tips:

  1. Try it for two weeks. Learn how the app of your choice works and how to enter foods and recipes. “That two-week period is an excellent way to get used to the program without putting any pressure on yourself to do anything specifically,” Seltzer says.
  2. Don’t get down on yourself. “Just kind of go in without judgment and track for a while and see if you can spot some patterns,” Murphy says. “I think people can get really hard on themselves, especially in the beginning, and then that’s really discouraging. You just have to get over that hump.”
  3. Work with your habits, not against them. “I tell people to go back [into their logs] and start looking at their habits to realize what their natural tendencies are, and then adjust within their natural tendencies rather than against them,” Seltzer says. If you’re a grazer, don’t try to start eating three meals a day — just eat a little less when you do snack, or choose lower calorie foods. If you eat most of your calories at night, just eat a little less at night.
  4. Use whatever method works for you. Apps have convenient features, like saving your favorite foods and adding up calories for you. But some people like writing it down on paper. “It’s really a personal preference,” Arthur says.
  5. Record what you eat or drink right away. If you don’t, you’re more likely to forget about something you ate, or forget to do it altogether, Seltzer says. The habit will get easier with practice.

Originally Posted HERE

HB Sig

Healthy Byte: Day 1080 / 1090

 

On this Christmas eve, I acknowledge that In four days it will be three years to the nose when I received the shocking results of a much overdue annual physical that ignited a fear in me to finally take action on my health over vanity.

No more quick fixes with diet supplements. No more special expensive home-delivered pre-prepared meals. No more blind reliance on gym fitness groups or trainers. No more eating one meal a day. No more excuses of maintaining a gym membership but never go because the hubs won’t go with me. No more wishful thinking while sitting on my bum eating my second Burger King double stacker for the third time in the same week.

No. This time I had to make a change not because I wanted to be a size 2 from a size 14 (at 4’10”). Rather, this time I had to make a change or I would have to face the dire consequences of the years of neglecting my body and solely depending on youth to counter my poor eating choices. I was facing Type 2 Diabetes which is one of the few preventable diseases for most people and I was petrified of the wide array of complications associated with Type 2 Diabetes. Much more petrified than any anticipated initial inconveniences to changing the way I lived.

I downloaded the food/exercise tracking mobile app MyFitnessPal and I invested a vast amount of time researching how to lose weight for the rest of my life. From the beginning I never set out to lose X lbs by X date for X event. It was always about getting my blood glucose & BMI back into the normal range which afforded me with the luxury of time – taking the pressure off.

But where to start? WHAT:  I started with finding a modest goal. I took the median weight of a healthy BMI for my age and height and that was my initial goal. HOW: I borrowed the concept of long term behavioral modification from the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov. In order for this change to be permanent I had to condition myself to a new set of habits which will lead to a new set of behavior all in hopes to ultimately lead to a new set of priorities & way of thinking. RESULTS: If I had to appoint one factor to my continued success in losing weight & keeping it off, I’d undoubtedly have to attribute it to committing to making small incremental changes to both my diet and physical activity regimen. Not that I am struggle free 100% of the time by any means, but I can say that most of the time choosing nutritionally rich foods over nutritionally poorer options and regular exercise is by & large my life now.

I thought it would be a fun reflection to share my top 10 incremental changes, the level of difficulties, and if I still miss it. So here goes!

ITEM / HABIT

DIFFICULTY LEVEL

MISS IT or DISS IT

White Bread to Whole Wheat

Low

Diss It

High Calorie Drinks (Homemade Lemonade, Starbucks, Strawberry Milkshakes, Cherry Icee) to Water or Tea

Low – limiting my calorie intake from what I drink has also helped the next one

Diss It

Sugar Reduction

Low – reducing the sources of sugary drinks and generally sugar intake has not only helped my calorie intake but also cleared up persistent cystic acne I’ve had for years

Diss It

Free Reign Gluttony

Moderate – LOL I know this sounds absurd but sometimes I do ‘miss’ eating mindlessly and without regard. Although on the 90/10 Rule I can indulge I still indulge mindfully 99% of the time. And the reason I adhere to staying on track more than not is because the few times I did eat mindlessly I was so lethargic, bloated, and generally feel like crap for days after that I just rather not. hahahaha

Miss It … Sometimes

Total Cardio to Cardio w/Strength Training

Moderate – once I got over the fear of re-gaining weight I was able to slowly decrease the duration of cardio & incorporate more regular strength training Also understanding that strength training doesn’t necessarily mean weight lifting has made a tremendous difference in my willingness to continue

N/A

Regular Exercise

Moderate – had to get over counting on other people to ‘motivate’ me to go to the gym because I had to accept that I needed to exercise for myself, for my health Transitioned over the course of 6 months from 15 minutes twice a week to 45 – 60 minutes 6-7 days a week

N/A

Chips

Moderate – I have no self control when it comes to any sort of corn chips, Doritos, or BBQ Fritos

Miss It – I don’t buy it or have it in the house EVER!

Simple Carbs to Vegetables as ‘Fillers’

High – took me a long time to slowly phasing out simple carb fillers like pasta, rice, bread for a wider variety of vegetables. Figuring out that I have a FODMAP sensitivity has been a godsend in consuming healthy items which doesn’t make me physically ill

Diss It

After Dinner Snack

High – had to transition through a few snacks diminishing quantities before I was able to go without most of the time

Miss It – when I do hanker for an after dinner snack I choose healthier options than what I instinctively go to (chips, milk chocolate)

Pasta/White Rice to Quinoa to no or low carbs for dinner

High – this was my last item to transition because it was the most difficult to let go of & I had to transition over the course of a year

Miss It – so I avoid it like the plague

 

 

 

ADDITIONAL  INFORMATION:

Vicious Cycle of Eating Junk Food

Type 2 Diabetes Complications

80/20 Rule

Nonceliac  Gluten Sensitivity (Intolerance)

Tips For Keeping the Weight Off for Good

Healthy Byte: Day 1040

Day 1040 2

I think it is fair to say that many of us healthy-life fangirls / boys have a tendency to toss around acronyms like BMI, BMR & TDEE and popular sound bites like reverse dieting, all things in moderation, and balance. For anyone who has been my MFP peep for any length of time knows that I am a huge cheerleader of the 80/20 RuleIt’s one thing to understand a theory or approach but I’ve personally noticed that there seem to be a disconnect in actually put it into real life application. Kind of like an attorney learning about the law in law school but to be able to apply that law to real life situation takes a different set of skills.

So I thought it would be helpful to share ‘a day in the life’ of what 80/20 eating regimen actually looks like. Please note that I’ve personalize a variation of 80/20 Rule. My eating habits just effortlessly gravitate more towards 90/10 then 80/20. The key here is no matter the ratio – whether it’s 80/20, 90/10, or 75/25, the build-in ‘off-plan’ eating takes the pressure of trying to be perfect all the time. Eating perfection (100% on plan 100% of the time) is a myth; it’s unrealistic & unsustainable goal.

Again, I think this is a good time to make the disclaimer that I am not a licensed dietitian or have any formal nutrition education. However, due to my own food sensitivities & BBFTB approach, I do invest a vast amount of time in researching what will keep me feeling satisfied the longest at the least amount of calories. Also please keep in mind that:

  • I am limited in what I can consume (food sensitivities). So once I find something that doesn’t have adverse effects I tend to stick with it.
  • I adore routines, schedules, plans, & goals. My go-to standard meals are my comfort foods.
  • And this really shouldn’t need to be mentioned but is always good to remind peeps that everyone is different! This is what has worked for me. And it may very well not work for anyone else. But I am hopeful by sharing details will spark an idea for someone who maybe struggling with the nutrition portion in maint or was looking for a new maint approach.

Alright, now onward with what my week-in-the-life of eating 90/10 looks like.

MONDAY – FRIDAY

(My 90% Eating on Plan)

Meal Item Food Group
BRKFST        
  • Whole Wheat English Muffin
  • Peanut Butter
  • Grape Jelly (just enough to make the English muffin not so dry)
  • 2 Mandarin Oranges Fruit Cups (drained the water – no sugar added)
  • Tea
  • Water
Complex Carb

Healthy Fat, Protein

SEE PIC

Fruit

TIP: First thing I do in the morning is drink as much of 16 oz of water I can while prepping lunches for me & the kiddos. I read somewhere that drinking water helps kickstart the metabolism & to be quite frank I don’t know how much truth is in this. However I have noticed on the mornings where I wake up absolutely famished the water helps temper that hunger until I can get to work and have a proper breakfast. So even if this routine has no metabolic boosting effects, it helps me be less hungry which is always a good thing.
Breakfast 1

Just a smidget of grape jelly to counter the dryness a toasted English muffin can be

Breakfast

Proper Breakfast: Complex carbs, Protein, Fruit (considering I never use to have breakfast at all this is a huge accomplishment) LOL

LUNCH:     
  • Low Calorie Whole Grain Bread
  • Cucumber slices
  • Spinach
  • Red or Green Leaf Lettuce
  • Rainbow Chard
  • 2 Slices of Turkey
  • 1 Slice of Ultra Thin Provolone
  • Lite Miracle Whip w/ Lite Italian House Dressing instead of mayo
  • 1 Mandarin Oranges Fruit Cups (drained)
  • Water
Complex Carb
Veg

Veg

Veg

Veg

Lean Protein

Dairy

Fruit

TIP: I have found that I visually need to be satisfied before I actually ‘feel’ satisfied aka Jedi Mind Trick.  [LINK to Earlier post – 40 lbs?] I’d venture that I probably physically consume a higher quantity of food then when I was overweight. However, because it’s higher quality of foods instead of Doritos, a sugary yogurt, & a sugary granola bar, overall I am consuming less calories but not necessarily less food – if that makes any sense.
Lunch

Perfect nutritionally balanced lunch: Complex Carbs, Lean Protein, Dairy, Veggies, & Fruit. You can see how visually it’s a “huge” sandwich but believe it or not the entire sandwich is under 250 calories.

DINNER:                                     
  • Diced Cucumbers  
  • Chopped Spinach
  • **Chopped Red or Green Leaf Lettuce (part left raw)
  • **Chopped Rainbow Chard (part left raw)  
  • **Shredded Carrots
  • **Green Peppers  
  • **Small amount of Onions (FODMAP)

[** Indicates I lightly stir fry these in EVOO in heavy spices for flavor]

  • Protein of Choice: 2.5 oz of Salmon with no more than 4oz of hard protein (ie. chicken, pork, beef – always via baked, grilled or slow cooker) for a total of 6 – 6.5 oz of protein
  • Fat Free Ranch
  • Tea
  • Water
Veg

Veg

Veg

Veg

Veg

Veg

Veg

Veg

Veg

Protein, Healthy Fats

Lean Protein 90% of time

TIP: Along the line of eating more food but consuming less calories, my dinner is a good example that ¾ of it is ‘filled’ with vegetables. So instead of using white rice, pasta, macaroni & cheese as ‘fillers,’ I use vegetables. Also instead of drowning it in ketchup or some other high sugar sauce I learned to season, season, & more season for flavor because let’s face it veggies can be bland.
Dinner 1

Proteins: 2.5 oz of Salmon & 4oz of Meatloaf

Dinner 2

Diced Cucumbers for a little crunch

Dinner 11

Baby Spinach Leaves – Roughly Chopped

Dinner 6

Leaf Lettuce wrapped in Rainbow Chard Leaf – Rolled tight for easy chopping

Dinner 7

A portion of the chopped leafy greens goes into the stir fry The rest gets tossed into the bowl raw for a bigger texture variation

Dinner 4

Stir Fry Base: Garlic, Onions, Green Peppers, Shredded Carrots, & Rainbow Chard Stems

Dinner 9

Stir Fry w/Leafy Greens

Dinner 8

Raw leafy greens & Protein mix

Dinner 14

Lightly Dressed Va-La! An obnoxious bowl of food under 300 calories!

SATURDAY

(My 10% Eating Off Plan)

SAMPLE

BRUNCH:

[Varies based on Leftovers Available but I always try to squeeze in an obnoxious amount of veggies no matter what it maybe]

  • Diced Cucumbers
  • Chopped Spinach
  • Chopped Red or Green Leaf Lettuce
  • Chopped Rainbow Chard
  • Shredded Carrots
  • 2.5 oz Salmon
  • Spicy Marinara Sauce
  • Low Cal Mozzarella Cheese

All ingredients above on leftover pizza and toasted

  • 2 Mandarin Oranges Fruit Cups (drained)
  • Tea
  • Water
TIP: Even though the pizza itself is for the most part nutrition-poor, I try to bump it up with veggies & lean protein so that I’m not hungry an hour later. This also helps me to indulge completely guilt free.

SUNDAY

(My 10% Eating Off Plan)

BRUNCH:

(Current favorite Sun brunch meal)

  • Sweet Potato Waffle w/ PB&J instead of Syrup or Butter
  • 3 Scrambled Eggs (2:1 EW:WE Ratio Sometimes 4 scrambled eggs at 3:1 Ratio)
  • Protein: Some sort breakfast meat ie. sausage patties or leftover chicken or pork (2-4 oz depending on what it is)
  • Tea
  • Water
WEEKEND DINNER VARIATION
DINNER:
  • PB&J on Low Cal Bread or English Muffin (depending on mood)
  • Snack of Choice (Current Favorite is Chex Mix)
  • Tea
  • Water
OR

(Depending how hungry I am)

  • Diced Cucumbers  
  • Chopped Spinach
  • **Chopped Red or Green Leaf Lettuce (part left raw)
  • **Chopped Rainbow Chard (part left raw)  
  • **Shredded Carrots
  • **Green Peppers  
  • **Small amount of Onions (FODMAP)

[** Indicates I lightly stir fry these in EVOO in heavy spices for flavor]

  • 2.5 oz of Salmon or Scrambled Eggs 2:1 Ratio
  • Fat Free Ranch
  • Tea
  • Water

OVERALL 90/10 TIPs

  • Boring is Good: Yes, yes, I eat very plain, very boring but I like routines so this suits me.
  • Heavy to Light: I front load my heavy carb items (breads, fruits) towards the beginning of the day & by dinner time I consume very little carbs (during the week).
  • No Water Conservation Here: I try to have 3 (16 oz) cups of water by 12 noon (lunch time) – this has helped tremendously on my stomach (bloating) issues & energy levels (weekday only – not very good about it on the weekend because I’d rather have tea hehe)
  • 100 % Tracking: I fanatically, religiously, & obsessively weigh / measure / track the following:
    • protein (too much hard protein can give me GI issues so I’ve really had to reign this one in).
    • carbs (My body process carbs poorly. When my weight fluxes towards the high end of my range, 99.9% of the time it is because my carbs were a little out of whack).
    • snacks (When I’m hankering for a snack I never say to myself, “MMMMM let me gnaw on this large piece of rainbow chard leaf!” {HAHAHA I wish right?} No, it is almost always a hankering for the less nutritional stuff like Chex Mix, or Cheez-It™ Crunch’D™ Hot & Spicy, or milk chocolate covered pretzels).
      • I very rarely will purposely deny myself of my hankerings because that just leads to binging
      • I measure out a portion of the snack – sometimes I will have a portion of both the Chex Mix & Cheez-It then another portion of Chex Mix – That’s A-OK
      • I snack with some form of liquids either tea or water and enjoy the crap out of the treat(s)! LOL
  • Pseudo Tracking: aka eyeballing it track the following:
    • sauces/spreads (Perhaps the sneakiest & most well hidden calorie bombs) I don’t tend to drown my food in sauces any more so I don’t go through the trouble of being too precise. And there is just SO much PB I can put on a English Muffin due to it’s small size). LOL
    • fruit Mine comes in a pre-measured cup so this one is easy (due to the sugar – although it’s natural sugar, I try to watch my intake because I am acne prone).
  • Freebies: Veggies are FREE REIGN! 🙂 WOOHOO!
  • Red is Okay: Although MFP likes to emphasize my overages in jarring red font, I don’t sweat being over my calorie allotment any more. Even when grossly over (ie. 1000+ calories – can be achieved easily with a few slices of deep dish hahaha) because A-I’m entitled, B- it’s not a regular occurrence, every few weeks or months. Again, this is NOT something I purposely suppress my wants – no. I’ve found many times that I’d just rather have my standard meal, my personal ‘comfort food.’ This choice – not mandate mentality makes a tremendous difference in my ability to stay eating on-plan most of the time. It is a choice and not something I have to do. This is also the primary reason why my food diary remains private. If someone glances at my food intake on the weekends or on Family Pizza Night without looking at the big picture from the rest of the week or month, the natural human inclination is to jump to conclusions that would not be an accurate reflection of reality. So, instead of subjecting myself to potential unsolicited unpleasantries I much rather opt to just remove that temptation for well meaning people who doesn’t fully understand the highly individualistic nature of our own methods and approaches to healthy living. (see 3rd bullet of disclaimer).
  • Eat-Fest: To be able to recognize & acknowledge when I am simply too hungry (for whatever reason) to indulge in nutrition-poor and/or highly processed foods like pizza or Chinese takeout has been a monumental leap forward to curbing the after dinner snacking. A sample ‘eat-fest’ goes something like:

Eat 4 slices of deep dish pizza – still hungry; eat leftover cheesy bacon bread – still hungry; eat any leftover pizza – still hungry, snack – still hungry; snack again.

By this point I feel weighed down (like after Thanksgiving dinner of old x3), sluggish, bloated, fatigue, and yet still not fully satisfied. And then there’s the first 24-48 hours after such a eat-fest to contend with.

  • The Day After … or Two: For the first 24-48 hours after the eat-fest I will constantly crave more carbs. The crap in the vending machine I nonchalantly pass by 3-4 times a day, everyday will all of a sudden call my name.

Vending Machine: “psssst hey baby, I know you want this Whatchamacallit. Doesn’t it look yummy?”

Tempted Me: “ahh .. oh … ooooo Whatchamacallit!”

Gate-Keeper Me: “No. F – off! That Whatchamacallit is going to lead me to those Oreos. The Oreos will lead me to those peanut M&Ms. The peanut M&Ms will lead me to the Cool Ranch Doritos. And then I’m back to where I started. So NOOOO F-the-hell off!”

This is the one of the few times where I consciously deny my cravings because I know it’s not derived naturally; that it’s chemically induced & fueled. The processed food addiction factor is very real – at least for me, which further extend the eat-fest misery.

Be a Detective: I’ve been able to curb the after dinner snacking quite successfully because I’ve discovered that most of the cravings were remnant of an eat-fest. So in order to truly stop this pattern of eating behavior once & for all, I had to really live 90/10 – and not just use it as a cool tagline. It’s actually quite silly and required nothing more than a change in my own perspective. I had to embrace that I’m not ‘missing out’ on anything when I delay the indulgence. The delay itself doesn’t somehow make it less of a treat. Once I’ve come to really accepted this, the rest fell into place quite effortlessly.

HB Sig

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