Way back in the "olden days," before everyone had smart phones, tablets, or even PCs, I was told that I should keep a food diary. So, for a few days, I would write down everything I ate hoping to get some insights into what I was doing that was causing me to gain weight. On paper (literally) it didn't look like I was doing anything horrible. There were two problems. The first was that I wasn't really writing down all the food I was consuming. The second, and more difficult problem for me to overcome was that I just didn't have enough data about the nutritional value of what was going into my mouth. All that changed when I got what, at the time, was a cutting-edge app and had access to the USDA database of foods along with access to "nutrition" information from select companies via their web sites.
I was in the San Diego airport, on my way to San Francisco for work, when I stopped in at the Starbucks and got my usual "morning snack"--a Chocolate Muffin and a grande soy mocha without whipped cream. While I sat in the departure lounge, waiting for my flight, I decided to enter the data from my breakfast and my snack into that new app that I had downloaded. I went through all the foods in my morning smoothie, creating a meal so that I could easily add the smoothie again the next day (yes, like most people, I'm a creature of habit when it comes to breakfast.) Then, I went to enter my Starbucks snack. There wasn't any data in the app for Starbucks, so I used my WiFi access to visit their website. I looked up the nutrition information for the muffin and the soy mocha and I was given a rude awakening. Together, the snack that I finished in fewer than 10 minutes had over 1200 calories! Holy Shiznit! That little snack accounted for almost 2/3 of what I was supposed to eat for the whole day! No wonder I was overweight!
From that moment forward, I made the commitment to keep track of everything I ate so that I was sure I'd have the data I needed to keep me losing weight. For the next year, I logged foods eaten and calories burned from exercise. I made certain that I had enough calories remaining before I ate something, sometimes going to the gym or for a run just so I could have a sweet treat at the end of the day. And, guess what...It worked. In that year, I made sure that each and every day I had at least a 900 calorie deficit (from eating less and from working out more) and the results were phenomenal.
Of course, times change and technologies move forward. The app that I had been using stopped being updated and I moved to a new platform that wasn't supported. So, I set out to find a replacement. Nothing that I found was quite right or as easy to use as that old app. And so, I stopped logging the food I was eating. At first it was OK. But little by little, I started to gain weight again. It became clear to me that in all of that year that I had been using an app to keep me on the path that I had actually neglected to look at the path itself. I had learned how to count calories, but I hadn't learned how to listen to my body so I could discern actual hunger versus desire for tasty food.
In order to get a grip on this area of my life, I decided that I had to take a two-pronged approach. First, I had to go back to counting calories. Second, this time I had to pay attention to what my body was telling me as opposed to what my mind was telling me. The first approach was easy. There are tons of apps on the market for Android, iOS and Windows mobile devices as well as computer and web based programs. Probably the easiest and most useful of those is MyFitnessPal.com which has programs to cover all platforms as well as a website for data entry. Basic functionality is free, and a premium version is available but in my opinion, doesn't really add enough features to be useful for most people.
The second approach was a bit more difficult, and this is also where I see my clients struggle at first. Most people who are overweight aren't eating because they're physically hungry. Their bodies aren't saying "I need more nutrients to fuel cellular energy and regeneration." Rather, the food gets consumed due to emotional and mental hunger. The problem is that emotional and mental hunger is never satiated by food. In fact, emotional and mental hunger is usually increased by eating food. The way to quell emotional and mental hunger is by emotional wellness, mental engagement and physical activity. At Proactive Evolution, emotional wellness, mental engagement and what we call "strenuous play" are the center point of our success with achieving physical well being. And really, this is the best diet tracker of the year: By recognizing, tracking and resolving the challenges that create emotional and mental hunger, you'll be able to employ effective strategies to lose weight and change your life for the better. If you're struggling with your weight, we can help. Click on over to the Contact page and get a free consultation to see how you can use the power of Proactive Evolution health coaching and personal training to finally reach your fitness goals. Whether you're local to us in Encinitas, CA or you're half-way around the world and can use Google Hangouts or Skype, we've got you covered.