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Meal tracking: 12 days in

I tracked extensively from June 2014 to June 2017. I tracked on and off from July 2017 to August 2018. I primarily used My Fitness Pal, but I also found myself journaling my meals on and off in 2017 and 2018. It wasn’t just about writing down the macronutrients or the calories, it was also about writing down how I felt when I ate certain foods and looking at the motivations behind certain choices.

Whether it’s going from a sport extreme like competing or dieting for an extended period of time, you need to make a transition plan. So when I decided to stop tracking all together in August, I had already been working toward it.

My transition plan, tracking everything in MFP to journaling just the calories along with physical and emotional connections to food, to tracking calories in dense things, to only tracking the food items, but not the calories or portions. Then at some point, not tracking anything at all.

The idea of weening was helpful for me, but I know it’s not something for everyone. I also know that it takes a great deal of self trust to write things down in this way and a lot of honesty to do so too. It takes more self trust to not track at all and that can be terrifying.

While I talk with all my face-to-face clients about their week including eating and exercise, some of my clients are also taking photos and tracking progress more closely because they want to and it fits their goals. For those clients, I have them fill out a detailed questionnaire once a week either in between or before our check in that asks them to reflect on the previous week. There are some general questions that everyone will answer, and then there are some that change greatly based on the individual.

Since I’m tracking my food in a food journal as I prepare for the fashion show in June, I thought I would utilize the same strategies I offer them to make consistent and healthier choices.

Nutrition

What was it like tracking again after not tracking for almost 7 months?It was a little weird writing everything down. I decided to use my notebook from before because there’s still room in it and I really like the notebook. I’m keeping it in the kitchen and some days I write out things I know I want to eat that day like my veggies, and sometimes I’m just writing things down as I eat them. If I don’t eat something I had planned I cross it out, and if I eat something that was planned, I put a check mark beside it.

What was your favorite meal this week?I made a steak and cheese wrap with provolone with shredded steak I bought on sale. I added onions, peppers and mushrooms. It’s been a few months since I made a steak and cheese and it just tasted good.

What did you learn from tracking the first few days?My fiber was lower than I thought it was and I was still eating more grains that I wanted to be. I would probably eat bread or grains of some kind with every meal, but I also know that I need more diversity than that. I’ve started to loosely track fiber intake when it’s on packages and using what I know about portions of certain foods from my experience of measuring from before. I’ve also started to plan at least two vegetables each day and a fruit (mostly bananas).

How was meal timing? Since I’ve been writing things down I’m more aware of when I’m eating my snacks and meals. Starting meals for the day are usually between 6 and 7:30 depending on when we get up to start the day. Since JP was sick we both were sleeping in a bit, so meals started on the later side. His appetite was all over the place so I ate a lot of meals alone and that made it easier for me to eat earlier or later if I felt I needed it. I noticed that most of my breakfasts have been including a bit more fiber and grains since I started writing things down so I’m not needing my midmorning snack as often as I did before.

How do you feel about the meal timing?I think it’s working out well. I’m not timing out meals, but listening to hunger cues and determining what is helping me stay full and satisfied as well as what sounds appealing and tastes good.

Do you think you’re eating enough? Yes, I think on average I’m eating enough and I’m not putting myself into a deep deficit. The fruits I’m eating are carbohydrate dense, I’m still eating about 2-3 servings of grains a day (1 slice of bread is technically a serving). I think I’m leaning a little more on fat and carbohydrates over protein, but I don’t think I’m significantly under eating protein that I’m concerned. My workouts feel pretty good and my recovery is fine.

Any supplements that are helping? Probiotic with 15B IU, Biotin 2500 mg and fiber gummies (6g of fiber) as needed. Half scoop to full scoop of protein powder in smoothies, pancakes, waffles, oats as needed.

Exercise

Did you exercise on the days that you said you wanted to? Yes. I lifted 4 days and walked for 30 minutes 1 day. The 4 days I lifted I walked for about 15 minutes on the treadmill. Looking at my 7 days spread – last Sunday to Saturday, I hit 55,139 steps with 3 days hitting my step goal of 8,000.

How did workouts feel this week?They felt pretty good. Leg day left me more sore than I thought I would be, but that’s what happens when you’re not consistent for a while.

Do you feel like you were challenged?Definitely, I wrote out workouts that were a bit more difficult and then wrote down notes to make some adjustments. These are the workouts I want to use for this month and then make some adjustments for April. The walking I’m doing, I am hoping to move to outside when the weather is nicer. The walking isn’t challenging, but the purpose of it is to help offset the high level of sitting I do most days of the week.

What was your favorite workout this week?I really enjoyed back and shoulders. My deadlifts felt really strong and I can feel and see the difference in my range of my motion in my shoulders when I do shoulder flexion exercises.

Were there any exercises that were difficult to do this week?
Cable kickbacks were surprisingly tough. I had to adjust my posture a few times.

Overall Wellness

How did you sleep this past week? Sleep was on and off. Since JP was sick I woke up a few times from his coughing and then we eventually decided I needed to sleep in another room so I don’t get sick.

On average, how many hours did you sleep? 7 hours.

Are you on your period, if not, when should you start ovulating? I got my period on Thursday night, it was a day late according to my tracker. This is the 7th consistent period, but the symptoms are almost non-existent. I had minimal cramping on Saturday, and had some bloating in the morning on Thursday and Friday, but I also think that’s because I had way too much fiber at breakfast both Thursday and Friday. I had no breast swelling or tenderness like I normally do.

Any biofeedback that is notable? I need to be really mindful of how much fiber I’m eating throughout the day, and try to not load a meal with it – I felt really bloated Thursday and Friday morning into the afternoon. Overall energy has been pretty good during the day. I did lay down one day for an hour-ish, but that was more to just relax and watch some TV, which I never get to do. Workout recovery was pretty good. I did do a little more foam rolling this week. The knee issue I was experiencing was from tightness in my IT band, so I rolled at home and at the gym during my warm up and my cool down.

What challenges did you face? How did you cope with the challenges you faced? I had some anxiety on Tuesday, but I was able to talk to a friend and work through it. I mostly just needed to talk out what led to it and what I was doing to process through it.

What strategies helped to you to be successful? Planning out vegetables helped me increase and maintain consumption. Scheduling my workouts helped me create the time for them. Also, maintaining honest communication with my own clients helps me stay accountable to my personal goals as well because we create mutual understanding about communicating in between check-ins so I don’t feel compelled to respond immediately to a text if I’m at the gym or doing something that also requires my attention. Two days I stayed up late to get some work done, which helped me to shift a few other things around and manage my schedule a bit better.

How do you feel about this week’s check in? I’m pretty happy with the video I took the other day in my suit and I think using the suit and how I feel in it are good tools right now. I think the food journaling is a good tool right now too. I think checking in at the end of the month to decide what a next step is would be smart. While I’m at a healthy size, this is very lean compared to where my journey was at the very beginning, which does mean that it may be harder for me to become leaner without seeing some of the numbers like calories. Paying attention to natural hunger cues and making sure that I’m eating enough is going to be key right now.


There are more questions that I may ask a client, but right now these ones were appropriate.

Right now I feel really good about the past 12 days. I think this is a realistic and sustainable way to approach the fashion show. I’m not required to be stage lean, but I know others will be – so thinking about my goals and purpose for being on stage, this approach helps me make some adjustments while not being extreme. I don’t think I need to be do a check in like this every week, but I do think every two weeks holds me accountable, and gives you some insight of how you can approach your own journey in a less extreme way.

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