Why I log

<Editor’s Note: I struggled with drafting this post – mostly because I find I have a much harder time putting into words just how food logging has impacted me in a positive way, so hopefully this post makes sense to you guys when you read it!>

One of the things I’m really digging so far about being a FitFluential Ambassador is the great conversations we can have on Facebook (private group) – it’s opened my eyes to some awesome new perspectives and introduced me to some pretty fab people, I must say.

One of the topics that came up recently was about food logs – where to get started, which apps are best for tracking, etc. One of the questions on that thread was around the “reason” or “motivation” to calorie count – beyond the obvious one: weight loss.

It got me to thinking – why do I log? I’m the one who tends to avoid anything that has to do with numbers (fitness-wise) yet here I am a huge fan of the food log and calorie counting. I’m even hosting a whole Fitblog Chat (Feb 7, mark your calendars!) on the topic of the “numbers game” yet the food log is one where the metrics and tangible aspect of it really works for me.

So, here it is — my (attempted) answer to the question: “Why I log”

The long and short of it? It works for me. And to be honest, I was SO hesitant to return to food logging when I started the barre n9ne 60-day challenge last May. I feared that it would take the “fun” out of eating, that I’d feel too restricted, that I’d lose that balance in my life that I so, SO craved. That I’d lose a part of me.

But what I learned instead? That I was *not* living a very balanced life prior to the start of the challenge (and my subsequent return to food logging), even though I fooled myself into thinking I was. I was way, way, way overdoing it every single weekend — not just a “cheat day” but a “cheat weekend” or “cheat week” were perfectly normal and acceptable to me. I worked my ass off all week at the gym and ate well during the week (albeit probably consuming more calories during the week than I needed, even if it was all healthy foods). But once the weekend hit? No holds barred eating/drinking fest. And I wondered why all the hard work I put in all week, spending hours at the gym, wasn’t resulting in a fitter body.

It wasn’t until I learned to embrace the food log as a tool for a healthier me, that I finally found the balance I thought I had before. And guess what? Food logging doesn‘t steal the joy out of food for me (because I still very much find joy in good food and a good glass of wine) – my biggest fear.

Instead, food logging has empowered me:

…I now have a MUCH better understanding of what my body needs (and doesn’t need), calories-wise (I eat the same number of calories everyday, weekends included, long run days included)
…I’m so much more in tune with my body’s hunger cues (and lack of cues) than ever before.
…I’ve learned to eat until I’m satisfied – and I understand how satisfied “feels” – versus eating until I’m done (two very different things).
…I now know how to plan ahead if I’m going out to dinner (where calories are harder to manage) or to a party or just plain ‘ol want a few glasses of wine during date night. Eating lighter during the day (without starving myself, don’t worry) so I can have a few glasses of wine with Scott later that night, for example.
…I understand how to eat for fuel, particularly during long run days (which will become even more important once I start training for Chicago!) and also how to recover, post-run.
…and most importantly, I still very much enjoy the foods that I love – even the supposedly “unhealthy” ones like my beloved dove chocolates or our famous homemade thick-crust pizza, so I never feel deprived or as though I’m on a diet. Remember – this is my year of no boundaries, right? 😉

Bottom line? I log for me. Was it easy to get here? Of course not. It took adjusting to a consistent number of calories everyday, no wild peaks and valleys. But now that I’m here? It’s helped me to find an incredible sense of balance that I’ve never had before. And I dig that. I also dig that my clothes fit better (um, smaller?) and that I never, ever wake up with a food hangover (worst feeling everrr).

Food doesn’t drive me anymore. I drive me. How empowering is that?

False advertising, and other ruminations (and #TheLittleThings!)

So – while I was elliptical-ing away the other night (which – even with my Kick music blaring, was still not the most exciting of cardio days for me – but like I said, it got the job done), I noticed the calorie burn listed on the machine. And then I looked down at my own handy-dandy heart rate monitor.


WAY off.

By the end of my workout (50 mins, roughly), I had burned about 450 calories according to my HR monitor. The elliptical machine’s monitor? Almost 600 calories.

That’s a big difference! And that was with me even adding my age, weight, etc. to the elliptical when I first got going. And it was still way, way off.

So not only is that total false advertising but it’s no wonder so many Americans unknowingly are caught overestimating their calorie burn during workouts and end up overcompensating on their eats and voila, they aren’t seeing the results they had hoped or expected to.

Moral of this story? Don’t trust the calorie burn on those cardio machines. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor (which I’m sure most don’t, unless you’re a fitness fanatic like moi!), my advice would be to use that calorie burn as a guide but not a hard and fast truth – in general, it’s probably at least off by 100-150 calories or so, at least based on my experience earlier this week proved to me.

So anyway, some random ruminations for you on this rainy, dreary Friday morning.

The good news? I have some #TheLittleThings catching up to do since I didn’t post yesterday.

Here you go:

#TheLittleThings for yesterday: Watching Isabel cooing away while my sister got ready before I left for work yesterday.  She did the same for me today – just look at this face, I mean – could she be ANY cuter if she tried??

#TheLittleThings for today? So much to choose from, but I’ll pick just one: Getting together with both of my sisters (and my niece, of course!) and one of my favorite friends for a little Friday night pizza action at the Sutera Manor. Sort of a last little celebration before my sister and Isabel pack up and head home tomorrow (*sniff!*). She’s almost through her recovery and I couldn’t be happier to have been so involved in the process these past couple of weeks. I’m so proud of her for how far she’s come, it’s been amazing to be part of it, to bond with her and the baby, I wouldn’t have it any other way. And, if you’re curious to hear more about her story, you should check out her blog, btw: http://squashgirlphd.blogspot.com/where she’s relaying her story from start to finish. Incredible.

Diet vs. Exercise: The Smackdown

Hey, ya’ll! Sorry for being a little lax in my blogging the last couple days but I was busy stay-cationing with Scott this weekend, so hopefully you don’t mind. 😉 There were frozen cocktails on the deck (thanks Heather for the low-cal version of the  straweberry/pineapple daiquiri’s I thoroughly enjoyed this weekend!), awesome steel-drum and carribbean-inspired tunes on our iTunes playlist, lots of yummy treats, and best of all – lots of time with the hubs, which I’m thoroughly enjoying while he’s gainfully unemployed. 😉

That’s my weekend in a nutshell – and now that I’m sunned-out from some awesome sunshine blazing down on our deck the last two days, I’m sitting on the couch with the Red Sox playing in the background and was inspired to blog based on an article I just read in Woman’s Health. The article was about diet vs. exercise. Basically, the premise behind the story was that yes, a healthy diet AND exercise is the ideal scenario, but not everyone can do both depending on the goals they’re trying to achieve. And, while I applaud the writers at Woman’s Health for acknowledging that sometimes its hard to strike a balance and achieve both, I didn’t necessarily agree with the article in its entirety.

Here’s the thing. I am ALL for balance – um hello, I just spent the weekend eating and drinking things i normally don’t eat/drink all that often – and enjoyed every bit of it. But, I’m also not for taking the “easy way out” in life (I managed to also run a 4 miler, a 7 milers and another 4-miler this weekend too, thankyouverymuch) and that’s sort of the vibe I got from the article. The story was set up to identify a series of goals and then offered a recommendation for the better option for reaching those goals – diet or exercise. For instance, their view is that if you’re trying to lose weight – choose a lower-cal diet because “it’s easier to cut 500 calories from your diet than it is to burn 500 calories at the gym.” While that may be true, c’mon – don’t take the easy way out! How about a compromise? Burn 250 calories at the gym AND cut 250 calories from your diet. Doesn’t that sound even more “doable” than one vs. the other? And I can almost guarantee that once you get started with a more balanced diet and a bit of an exercise routine (notice I said “a bit of an exercise routine” and not a “hardcore” exercise or diet routine?), you’re more apt to stick with it. Seriously, once a habit is in place, it’s MUCH harder to quit that habit (coffee drinkers, nail-biters, hair twirlers, etc. – you know exactly what I mean by habit).

While some of their points were good (i,e. if you’re trying to prevent cancer – diet and exercise is important), I sort of got the feeling that they were more apt to recommend a calorie-cut vs. suggesting exercise as the best bet. And, while there is clearly a case for cutting calories in certain cases, I can’t say that you can really make broad brush-stroke recommendations in this day and age. And maybe I’m just overly critical of the story because it felt generic (and honestly, they do have to write for a FAIRLY generic audience of readers), it just struck me as not really jiving with the balance mantra I try to live by.

Anyway, I’d love your thoughts on this concept in general. Are you more apt to focus on slashing calories vs. adding an extra workout to your schedule during the week? Do you think one is more beneficial than the other? Or is a mix of both the best bet? You know where I stand on the debate, I’d love to know where you stand. 🙂