DOING WHAT WORKS, EVEN THOUGH IT'S HARD
By Tina LeBlanc
The date for the Longhorn Open has been set! It’s November 3rd, a little over 12 weeks away. I have no new PRs to report, but my weight is coming off on schedule. So far, I have lost approximately 24 lbs. If I can lose another 18 lbs by the event, I’ll be down three weight-classes. That’s exciting, but also a little daunting. Amalia thinks I can do it. I’m not sure, though.
Several people have asked me about my weight/fat loss strategy. The answer isn’t one that everyone wants to hear. I TRACK MY FOOD. Is it a pain in the butt? Sometimes. Do I do it perfectly every day? Probably not. Is it the key to my success? Absolutely.
Before I started tracking my food, there were dozens of excuses I used to avoid doing it: It’s too hard; It takes too much time; I’m not in front of a computer all day; I eat the same thing everyday, so I don’t need to track it; and on and on. Of course, I now know the real reasons were that 1) I am lazy, and 2) I ate a ton of crap everyday and I didn't want to face up to it. My giant belly and nightly indigestion were certainly acknowledging all the crap I was eating, but consciously, I thought ignorance was bliss. It wasn’t bliss. Far from it.
First, why is it important for me to track my food? We mindlessly eat a lot of our food. A handful of cashews here, a Starbucks latte there, chips and salsa, a couple of cookies when we pass by the break room at work, snacking while cooking dinner... We don't even realize we are doing it and we definitely don’t think about how those calories add up. By tracking food, it becomes very, very clear. Writing down what I eat gives me useful and important information to base my decisions. Now that I am aware that the Starbucks latte is 240 calories, I can make a more informed decision. I might still get it, but I will do it less often and I will cut calories some place else to make up for it.
It’s also important for me to track how much protein I am getting. I try to eat at least 100g each day so that I can maintain my lean muscle mass. Without tracking my food, I would have no idea of my protein intake.
Second, how do I track it? It's important to log the food as I am eating it. It is very, very easy to forget eating something. Or to misremember how big of a portion it was. I often measure and weigh my food to increase the accuracy of my food log. I'm lazy, but I really want to fit into my clothes again. My results have been easily worth the extra work.
Of course, food can be logged simply with paper and a pencil. Even the act of writing the food down in a journal (without attaching calories to it) can make a substantial difference in the amount that someone eats. I have found the easiest way is to use a tool like My Fitness Pal (MFP). I have an app for it on my phone so I can quickly enter food as I’m eating it. MFP has a huge database of items and is very simple to use. Because I tend to eat a lot of the same things over and over, these items will pop up first in searches.
But here is the MOST important part. I have made a promise to myself – I will NOT cheat on reporting my food. If I consciously leave things off my food log or under report the amount I am eating, I am only cheating myself. No one else really gives a rat’s butt what I’m eating. Not Amalia or Pattie or my boyfriend or my parents. No one. The day I start lying on my food log is the day it turns from being a useful tool to a ridiculous waste of time.