That said, there are two things that have really helped me get to where I am over the last year: feeling good (i.e. healthy) and looking good (i.e. finding clothes and other things that help me love what I see in the mirror). I'm hoping to alternate posts between these two things and general inspiration/thoughts about body positivity in our culture.
I'll start with feeling good and how I changed my diet to positively impact how I feel. On April 1 of last year, I decided to start just tracking what I was eating. I had gained a lot of weight, and I just didn't feel well. But, I have plenty of experience with so very many diets, and wasn't enthusiastic about re-committing to any of them. I just can't face another low-carb diet, even though they work for me. Calorie restriction also works, but I'm very concerned about the unnatural the additives in "diet" food, and the emerging research that shows that a lot of these additives mess with your body chemistry. I promised myself no judgement and no guilt -- I was just going to log everything I ate and get some insight about what I might, eventually, want to change.
I knew there were apps that would help me with this, and the first one I went with was HealthWatch 360, for one major reason -- the micro-nutrient tracking is the best I've seen anywhere, and since I was more interested in my overall health than simply in losing weight, I really liked having this information available.
|HealthWatch 360 food log and calorie tracker|
Like many other similar apps, you can set weight loss goals with HealthWatch 360, which will give you a calorie goal for each day, but the other unique feature is that you can track how you feel, how you're sleeping, your blood pressure and other health indicators and then set the app to look for trends that might be linked (or not) to diet. Like you can track sugar intake and energy levels, or protein intake and how well you sleep. There's an exercise log as well, where you can track your exercise, and also gain back calories (if you're tracking those).
Starting out, this was exactly the kind of information I was looking for, and it was a big eye-opener, especially when it came to exactly how many calories, and how much fat and sugar, I was consuming, and how little of other vital nutrients. It wasn't so much the amount of fat and sugar that was shocking -- it was the percentage of my diet that was taken up by those two components. Just having that knowledge motivated me to pay a little more attention to what I was choosing to eat, and how much. After a couple weeks of tracking, I felt ready to begin a more concerted effort to try to lose weight, and improve my health, by staying under a specific calorie target, and watching fat and sugar intake was a major component of that effort. I also used the micro-nutrient information to make sure I was choosing things that were lower in sodium and higher in iron, B vitamins and other places where I know my typical diet is deficient.
After a few months I did get really frustrated with their food database, which was very limited compared to My Fitness Pal, especially because I cook a lot and it was hard to find specific products for the recipe ingredients. So once I had a good baseline in terms of the kind of food I should and should not be choosing, I switched over to My Fitness Pal, which has a fantastic database and also has a more generous (in my opinion) calorie allowance for weight loss goals. Over the summer, however, HealthWatch 360 made some upgrades, which included expanding their database, so I switched back. It definitely is better than it was, but the searches are often a little weird and it's not always easy to find some products or ingredients.
As I continue to monitor my health, I'm no longer that interested in weight loss per se, or calorie counts. But I've stuck with tracking my food intake via HealthWatch 360 because I have chronic deficiencies in a couple areas (iron, Vitamin D and calcium, to name three). The iron deficiency is caused by biologic and genetic factors so it's not entirely addressable via diet, but it is good to know when I'm in danger of having a day with little to no iron intake.
I can't stress enough how important it was to head into tracking food with the attitude that I was just seeking information, rather than using it as another way to beat myself up. Just knowing how what I'm eating contributes to how my body functions and approaching nutrition from a health perspective, instead of from a perspective that emphasizes restriction and "good/bad" foods, was a really eye-opening change for me that helped me see eating as something I could do to take care of myself, rather than something that was either a punishment or a reward.
|If anyone knows the original source of this image, let me know.|