Summer is almost here, and you know what that means – no more hiding behind sweaters and loose shirts because bathing suit season is upon us! Several weeks ago, I wrote a three-part series called The Skinny on Skinny, which focused on diet, exercise, and your mindset each of which have an impact on your appearance. Soon after writing that series, I became curious about the what I ate and how that impacted my overall calorie, fiber, protein, and carbohydrate intake, so I decided to track what I ate.
For the past several weeks, I have used the My Plate tool on LIVESTRONG.com, which I somewhat equate to the points system Weight Watchers uses, which has been hugely successful. The My Plate tool allows you to enter what you have eaten over the course of each day and provides you a total calorie count for that day. Additionally, provides a breakdown of the calories, fat, protein, sugar, fiber, sodium and cholesterol you have ingested over the course of that day. It also shows graphs of your “performance” over time.
Honestly, I have tried to do something like this several times before and lasted one or two days, and then I would forget about it. However, this time, I genuinely wanted to know what I was eating over the course of the day and whether there was anything I needed to change. Because of this new found commitment, I have surprisingly stuck with the tool for one month now. (Remember what they say – It takes 21 days to make something a habit!)
What I also like about the tool are the following:
- My Meals: You can create “my meals” so that if you have a regimen of what you eat, you can create that “meal” and then each time you eat that meal again, you just click on it. For example, I often eat steel cut oatmeal with berries, walnuts, agave nectar, and a splash of almond milk to make it more hearty. Rather than entering each of these food items everyday, I created an “oatmeal with berries” meal. Each morning, I just click on it and voila! It is tracked.
- My Recipes: You can either enter the ingredients and number of servings for your own recipes or find recipes others have put online. Just like with “my meals,” you simply click on the recipe and note how many servings you had.
- Fitness: You can track any workout you did that day. Since I use a heart rate monitor, I know exactly how many calories I have burned, so I enter that. Otherwise, you can simply enter what you did and for how long, and the system will calculate the estimated calories you burned.
- Create a Plan: If you are looking to lose, gain, or maintain weight, you can enter data into the tool along with your goal. It will then tell you the number of calories you should intake each day.
What did I learn? I was surprised to find that I eat way more protein than is necessary over the course of a day and my fiber intake is just fine. I eat a few hundred more calories than I thought I did on certain days, and the culprits for me are cheese, booze, and red meat. I don’t ingest any of these very often, but even a little bit can take me from eating the right number of calories to “What on Earth have I done!?” What was reinforced for me is to keep eating vegetables and have more vodka sodas and less specialty drinks. I was incredibly surprised to find how few calories are in vegetables! I joked to my husband that I should go on a vegetable diet. Just remember, though, if you are eating canned vegetables, your sodium intake will go out the window!
If you are curious about what you eat, try this tool. It is a great visual representation of your eating habits. And please share with us your experience.