Monday, October 28, 2013

Countdown to TTC: Week 42

Week 5


Track My Eating

Last week, following my visit to the nutritionist, I took stock of my goals for the year leading up to TTC and decided it was time to get serious about tracking what I eat.  As I've mentioned before, I have been a member of SparkPeople for a couple of years now and will sporadically track my food when I consider my weight loss goals, but I typically lose enthusiasm for it when I am not seeing the kind of progress I want.  In the past, I have always stuck to dieting strategies that involve extreme changes in my eating behavior, show quick results, and fall apart the instant I return to "life as usual".  

Well, these days I am determined to live a healthier lifestyle, not just get back into a smaller clothing size.  I don't want to go back to the days of extreme, unsustainable dieting followed by immediate weight gain, but I worry that my body won't respond to more subtle changes in my diet and activity levels.  I am trying to keep my focus not only on how my behaviors impact how I look and feel, but on how my choices might one day soon affect my child's development in the womb and his or her attitudes and beliefs growing up.  That is a big responsibility and I take it seriously.  I don't just want to lose weight for my own gratification anymore.  In fact, as the nutritionist pointed out, maybe I shouldn't even be focusing on weight loss per se.  So this past week I decided it was time to focus less on the scale and more on what I am putting into my body.  

I'm sure everyone has their own method of accountability that works, but for me it's been the online tracking tools that really help.  I can enter down to the last detail everything that I ate or every ingredient I included in a recipe, and then I can reuse those entries over and over for things that I eat frequently.  Plus, I can get all kinds of reports, like the one pictured at the top of this post (Note: that is not a picture of my own progress report -- I actually eat about 1650 calories a day for my current weight, and that is the bottom of the suggested range).  For someone with a scientifically-oriented brain, these features are indispensable for maintaining motivation and enhancing my feeling of self-control.  

Admittedly, I am sometimes at a loss for what to enter when I eat too many things outside of my usual repertoire (I went to a reunion this weekend and tracking just went out the window for the day), but entering my food has helped me to be conscious of what I am eating and how much I am taking in.  It isn't so great when I reach the top of my calorie limit for the day and still feel hungry, of course, but it is very freeing when I realize I have eaten less than the limit and can indulge in a little something extra at the end of the day.  Plus, I think it motivates me to eat more fruits and vegetables just so I can see them being added to the list.  

So far, tracking consistently hasn't caused me to lose more weight (crossing my fingers that this will change in the future), but it has stopped me seeing those occasional weight gains of two or three pounds and makes me feel certain I am eating the right kinds of foods in the right amounts for good health.  I'm hoping to remain diligent in this practice throughout the rest of my countdown to TTC and continue into pregnancy.  

What about you?  How do you keep yourself accountable for what you eat and how much you eat?  Do you personally feel helped by calorie counting, or does it backfire for you?  Anyone else track what they eat carefully but still not seeing movement on the scale?  Any advice on how to stick with a healthy lifestyle even at the times when you aren't seeing much change or improvement?  

For more in this countdown series, see last week's challenge about Seeing a Nutritionist.

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