Back to Basics

Hello again and happy Friday! I am so excited to finally get back to you since microbiology is now done! Let the celebrating begin!

Bancroft cocktail

I don’t know about you, but with the snow, cold, and shorter days, my body has not been acting like itself. I was just about recovered from my holiday metabolic whiplash, when the Super Bowl and my birthday came along, and I was happy to have an excuse to indulge again. Ever since then I feel like I’ve been on one bad roller-coaster of cravings and increased appetite. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the incredibly cold temps, but I’m sure a part also has to do with my higher than usual sugar intake.

Chilly with text

I’m so sick of it that I decided to go back to basics to reboot my system a bit. Nothing crazy, just more accountability. For me, that means logging food in MyFitnessPal.

MyFitnessPal logo

The biggest problem I found after a few days of logging my food? Not eating enough at breakfast and at lunch. No wonder I’d be so hungry once I got home! How did that happen? I think I started playing the comparison game (never a good one to play!) as I looked at other peoples’ breakfasts and lunches on other blogs. The thing I failed to remember, though, is many people graze throughout the day. I don’t–I eat only four times a day (breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner) because I only eat every three to four hours, so each meal needs to have a solid 300+ calories.

Breakfast smoothie calories

The other inkling I had that I my eating was a bit more off? I seem to have a little more jiggle in the middle even though I’m more or less the same weight. Perhaps it’s my body’s ancient response to the cold, thinking I need to hold on to body fat to make it through the winter. Perhaps having a bulk of my calories at the end of the day and being so hungry caused me to overeat. Again, it’s most likely a combination of things.

Paleo oatmeal

Paleo oatmeal to help fill me up!

The other part that’s helpful about using MyFitnessPal is being able to see where my macros are going. I thought that I was eating more protein than I actually was, so increasing my protein will also be a focus for me. Protein always does a fabulous job of filling me up, and add in a good dose of fiber and fat? I’m good to go for hours!

Pollock over arugula

Protein and fat-filled dinner with a good dose of fiber

Another tool up my sleeve? I signed up to rent five fitness tracker through Lumoid. I want to see how many calories a day I’m actually burning so I can get a better idea of how much I should be eating. Depending on the calculations out there for my height, weight, age, and activity level, I should be eating anywhere from 1500-2000 calories. That’s a big difference! The service is also a great way to try out fitness trackers if you’re considering buying one. I’m already not digging wearing a tracker visibly on my wrist, so I don’t think the Jawbone UP is for me.

Jawbone UP

As I’ve always said, it’s not about the weight. It’s about feeling good and I just feel off. Tired, a bit stiff and achy (thanks again partially to the cold I think), weirdo appetite, and a bit softer than I’d like to be. I’m not soft by any means, but you know when you just don’t feel right in your skin? Yeah, that’s what I’m trying to make better. And I know that with a few minor tweaks, I’ll be there.

I’m sure the fact that spring is around the corner will help as well. I always find that once the warmer weather hits, the sun is out more, and I’m able to be outside more, my appetite and energy levels naturally regulates itself. Just having the warm sun shine on my face feels so good!

Questions: Do you have problems with your appetite in the winter? Do you usually stay on track? Do you use any tools to keep yourself on track?

Quick Tip: Keep an Exercise Log

Good morning! I know this sounds awful, and I shouldn’t wish my days away, but I can’t wait until this week is over. My work schedule is 1.5 hr later than usual thanks to week-long off-site training, which throws off my workout and study schedule since I’m still getting up and going to bed at the same time for traffic reasons. In addition, this week’s homework includes two chapters of reading (vs the usual one), a test, a quiz, a dissection (sheep brain), and a lab report. Finally, and something I’m looking forward to, tomorrow is WHH and my MIL’s birthday and we have various celebrations throughout the weekend. Everything happens at once!

Tired bunny

Wilbur is tired just thinking about my schedule this week

One thing that helps me not only during my regular weeks, but especially during the crazy weeks, is keeping an exercise log. What can I say? I’m a planner. It helps me look at the week and plan my days off around known conflicts. On crazy weeks I give myself a break and aim to get 3-4 workouts a week. Most times, depending on intensity and other various factors (e.g., if I pull something), I aim for 5-6 days a week.

I made a simple sheet in Google drive that I keep updated throughout the week. I keep four weeks’ worth of workouts visible at a time to make sure I’m constantly mixing it up. Since I only do some workouts once a week (yoga and barre), it also helps to look at when I did it last week so that I’m sure to evenly space things out, if possible. Here’s what I’m currently looking at:

Exercise log

I’ve already tentatively filled in the rest of the week based on what I may or may not be able to fit in.

The thing I love about keeping an exercise journal is that not only does it help me plan (“If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail!”), but it gives me a great sense of accomplishment of what I’ve been able to do over the past month. It also helps me see where my training may be lacking and helps me fill in the blanks. On days that I have no idea what I want to do, I’ll look at the gaps. Have I not done strength in a while? Running (not that I’m likely to forget that!)? Yoga?

Please keep in mind that this is meant to be one tool in your toolbox of healthy living tools that you can use, not something to obsess over or feel bad about. I didn’t feel bad about these weeks, for example, when I was clearly ill:

Off weeks exercise log

And I won’t feel bad this week if I don’t get in my usual workouts. I make an effort to be especially mindful of what I eat to “make up” for less physical weeks, so to say, but even if I’m not, it’s just one week. Not a big deal in the larger scheme.

Perhaps you don’t want to keep a nerdy excel-like spreadsheet as I do. You could also do the old-fashioned pen and paper. You could get a little fancier and buy an actual workout journal.

Workout Journal

You could use an app, such as my favorite MyFitnessPal.

MyFitnessPal logo

You could find a free printable one online.

Source

Whatever it is, make it work for you. Perhaps you don’t need or want an exercise journal. That’s fine. I just wanted to share what works for me and how I keep myself motivated, accountable, and making sure I’m as healthy as I can.

Questions: Do you keep an exercise log? Why or why not? If you do,what kind? Are you a tracker and planner by nature?

Friday Favorite: My Fitness Pal

Can you believe it’s already the Friday before Christmas? Where did the time go?!

Today I wanted to share with you one of the items that really helped me finally lose some stubborn weight a couple of years ago and from which yesterday’s weight chart came from: My Fitness Pal.

MyFitnessPal logo

It was really easy to get started. I created a profile on their website, which consisted of putting in my current measurements, then choosing a goal. You can choose how much weight you want to lose (or gain) per week, as well as how often you want to work out, and they’ll automatically calculate how many calories you should be eating each day to create the correct weekly calorie deficit/surplus. Since I’m not currently trying to lose any weight, my goal page looks like this:

MyFitnessPal goals

As soon as I started tracking my food, I couldn’t believe how many calories I was actually eating! No wonder I wasn’t losing any weight!

Eating bubble

At first it was time-intensive to log all of my food, especially when it was an odd quantity or wasn’t available in their database (which is extensive!). But after I had everything in, I was able to quickly update throughout the day on my phone app. I chose the half pound per week weight loss goal, as I found that the most manageable and the easiest way to keep my sanity. The one pound per week weight loss regimen was too restrictive for me.

The app is currently available for Apple, Google, Blackberry, and Windows phones and can integrate with a variety of other apps, such as RunKeeper, the one I use for running. I like that if feels as though you get a virtual high-five when you’ve met your net caloric intake each day.

Since I used the app for such a long time, I was able to figure out exactly what I can eat to keep my body going without having to log my food, which I really see as the end goal. Who wants to constantly run to their computer or phone to track what they’ve eaten? Currently I only use it to track my weight.

Speaking of tracking weight, as predicted yesterday, today’s weigh-in was back being closer to my maintenance weight. See the dip down at very right of the graph below?  And it only took a little tweak and mindfulness to achieve!

Weight change December 20

Has anyone else used this app or a similar one? Did you find it helpful or did you become too obsessive?

I hope you have a great weekend!