Originally written for www.leanfit.com
Client question: What is the best way to track my nutrition?
Tracking nutrition is a great tool for those looking to gain a better understanding of what their daily food intake is. It helps build awareness of nutrition and often shines light on areas of our diet where we may be falling short. Although it isn’t for everyone, and certainly not a strategy that needs to be used daily, all year long, it is a tool that people can utilize to get their nutrition on track and learn how their eating style may be affecting their body composition and goals.
In today’s era of technology, tracking is easier than ever. Numerous aps and online programs have been developed that allow people to simply track their daily food intake. By far, the most popular of these aps is My Fitness Pal. MFP offers a variety of features, including goal setting, macro, calorie and exercise tracking, progress reports, and sharing your journey with friends.
MFP is an awesome tool, particularly for those who are working towards a specific goal. Remember: the more specific your health and/or fitness goal, the more dedicated you must be to your diet. MFP allows you to track each meal and lets you know when you have hit your calorie and macronutrient goals.
As much as I love this tool, there are certainly downfalls to be aware of. First, anyone can add foods to the MFP database, and it’s not always clear whether the nutritional information on these items is correct. The best way to combat this problem is to use the barcode scanning feature (available through the app, but not the online interface) if the food is packaged, or look for similar foods with the green checkmark beside them. This means the content has been verified. Another tip to remember when tracking your food is that “eyeballing it” isn’t always the most reliable method. Serving sizes may be misjudged, and that can be enough to throw you into a calorie surplus when you’re trying to eat in a deficit (or vise versa). Unless you are loosely tracking to ensure you remain relatively on point with your diet, I do recommend weighing and measuring your food when possible. Again, this is for those individuals who are striving to reach a specific goal within a given time frame. Otherwise, a more relaxed approach to tracking is acceptable and recommended.
Another factor to be aware of is that, by no means, is tracking a perfect science. Not only can there be error in the data, but everyone processes calories and nutrients differently. So it’s very difficult to know how your body will absorb and utilize the amount of calories documented for a specific food.
If you are working with a professional, nutrition tracking may be as simple as keeping a food journal. Your coach or nutritionist can then view your log and provide suggestions moving forward.
In conclusion, I think food tracking is an excellent tool to have in your nutritional toolbox. It can help build food awareness and support you in reaching your goals. That being said, it can be time consuming and inaccurate. So take it with a grain of salt and only use it if it makes sense to do so. Tracking is not a strategy that needs to be employed 24/7, so take advantage of it when it can be most useful to you. If you find yourself obsessing over the numbers, it may be time to opt for a less all-consuming nutrition approach.
For the last few of years, I have immersed myself in the health and fitness world. Social media is an incredibly powerful tool and it has allowed me to be constantly surrounded by inspiring, strong, fearless women who motivate me to be better every day. I feel so fortunate to not only be able to learn and grow from these individuals, but to share my own journey with them and connect with others when I am in need of support or guidance. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and of course other blogs and podcasts have made this so easy, and have literally connected me with incredible people all over the world. There’s nothing more comforting than surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals.
Nutrition and fitness are my passion. Learning about and practicing both ignites something in me. It is when I feel the most like myself (does that make sense?). And there is nothing I love more than sharing this passion with others.
This interest has sparked conversations with many women in my life, some of who have become clients, and some who are just looking to chat or grab my opinion on a particular topic. This is often when the reality of mainstream media sinks in. I am dumbfounded when I learn that women are still doing an hour on the treadmill a day while consuming 1000 calories--and not getting the results they’re looking for.
I found out very quickly that the end of a school year + working on a course + planning a wedding/honeymoon meant not a lot of spare time for hobbies. So, it's been a while since my last post. However, Dave and I returned home to the chaos that is our condo a few days ago and I am ready to get back into it!
I wanted to begin by saying that we had an absolutely amazing wedding day! The sun was shining, to say the least (we apologize for any cases of heat stroke that may have been endured by our guests), and Dave and I both agree that it was the best day of our lives. It's difficult to describe the feeling of being surrounded by loved ones from all walks of life. It was surreal and humbling and the room was filled with so much love. We could not have asked for a better day. I now understand why everyone says that they wish they could go back and experience it all over again! We only have photos collected from family and friends, but here are a handful of pics to get the ball rolling:
Up until recently, I was not a yoga lover. I would take a class, from time to time, but usually only if a friend asked me to tag along, or if I was healing from an injury that prevented me from doing anything high impact. As a past Lululemon employee, the confession that I was indifferent towards the practice (a very “meh” attitude, if you will) was basically sacrilege. Practicing yoga is a big part of the Lululemon culture, and ultimately what the clothing line was inspired by. I was tremendously fortunate as a part-time employee--the company offered free yoga classes all over the city. I had the opportunity to try out any type of yoga I wanted, at various studios. Unfortunately, I really didn’t take advantage of this generous benefit as much as I maybe should have.
At the time, I was working two jobs (or was back in school), and was just trying to keep my head above water while staying in relatively decent shape. To me, yoga was not an efficient use of my time. I wanted to get faster and become stronger. I didn’t have an hour to waste lying in a heated room, downward dog-ing it, taking part in an ‘om’ or two. I just didn’t have the space for it in my life. And when I did attend a class, I felt even more weighed down, as I was determined to fit my regular workout into my schedule as well.
Keep in mind that during that time (and still today, as I am very lucky to have remained friends with a group of those amazing women, despite our ever changing lives) that I was surrounded by yogis. These girls (and some guys) lived, breathed, and sang the praises of yoga practice. I felt like a fraud in their presence.
Years have passed since these days, and many life experiences have been had. My life looks very different in many lights. And suddenly… I get it.
I have arrived at a place where I see the purpose for yoga in my life. And you better believe I am making room for it.
I have now seen two ND’s who have told me that in order to support my adrenal glands and proper cortisol production, I need to chill out. Sound familiar? We live in this world that is constantly on the move. For some reason, there is this mentality that if we aren’t on ‘vacation’ then we do not have the luxury to relax on a regular basis. Relaxation is indulgent. So we ensure that we pack every spare moment with activity or chore. Only recently has this realization hit me… and I am not taking it lightly.
I finally see that finding stillness and quiet is part of leading a healthy life. It can literally heal your insides. And this is something that I am absolutely in control of. I have the power to create that environment. So why haven’t I? Both naturopaths have suggested meditation. But, when I decided to give that a go, I woke up on the couch half an hour later. Turns out I think traditional meditation means napping. So I turned to the only other thing that I was familiar with: yoga.
I am committed to creating and maintaining my health. It’s amazing how this commitment has allowed me to see yoga in a completely different light. Suddenly, I realize how it can fit into my life with purpose. When I lay on my mat for the first time with this intension in mind, the practice became something new to me. I found quiet for the first time in a long time. Now when I practice yoga, I will my body to release tension and stress. I clear my mind and find this amazingly silent, still place that I didn’t know existed. And knowing that I am actually using this practice as a healing tool for my body allows me to recognize its importance and appreciate its value.
I am trying to hit my mat at least twice a week. Some days I head to my favourite neighbourhood studio, and others, I hit up one of the many amazing yoga channels on YouTube, and practice in my living room. There are really no excuses. Time, as it is for everyone, is still an issue for me. Life is busy. This new activity means that I may, some weeks, need to replace one of my regular workouts. Now that I understand the many benefits yoga can provide—not just mentally, but physically—I’m ok with that.
There are many things in life that are beyond our control, and that can be frustrating. So when you have the opportunity to take your health and well being into your own hands, do it. Don’t deny yourself healing that you have the power to create.