Starting a food journal: being consciously aware of what you are consuming is half the battle.

There is a popular axiom that states, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

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Many people who are overweight are unaware of what they actually consume on a daily basis. Starting a food journal is one of the simplest and most effective ways to begin making healthy choices. Start by documenting everything that you have eaten over the past couple of days. Be honest; there is no sense lying to yourself.

CANI Consulting Food Journal

A large part of this process is being willing to face the unpleasant realities that we previously ignored. You can do a manual food journal by documenting everything in a notebook or you can use one of the many online food journals or smart phone apps that are out there. I recommend the app because it’s convenient and contains all of the nutritional information, making it very easy to use. The Calorie Counter App by FatSecret.com is a great option, but again there are many to choose from so find one that works best for you. Once you have the app (or a notebook) document each food item and the amount that you eat along with the general time of the day that you ate it (morning, late morning, afternoon, late afternoon, evening, late evening). Don’t forget to include your drinks: soda (pop), juices, beer/wine (unfortunately these contain calories too).

Nutrition_Lable

After you have added all of the food items, look at the total calories and nutritional values for each day, if you are doing it the old-fashioned way and using a notebook, you will have to manually look up the nutritional information for each item and do some math; either way the results may surprise you. The most important part of this exercise is becoming aware of what you are putting into your body. Armed with that information, you can begin to make some changes.

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Tipping the Scales: Getting Started on the Journey to a Healthier You

scale2

If you ask most people who are overweight or unhealthy, they will tell you that they want to get rid of the excess weight or start living a healthier lifestyle. However in many cases their aspirations are often followed with qualifying statements such as, “after the holidays,” “at the beginning of the month,” “next week,” “as soon as I finish (fill in the blank),”… Sound familiar?

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The fact is that many of us associate pain or sacrifice with living a healthier lifestyle, so it’s only natural that we will try to postpone that pain as long as possible.  The trick to getting started on the journey to your transformation- immediately–  is to associate more pain with being unhealthy than you do with the process of getting fit.

The tipping point:

When asked how they did it, people who have been successful at transforming their bodies and completely changing their lifestyles often state that they reached a tipping point. A point where the pain of continuing to live an unhealthy lifestyle outweighed (pardon the pun) the pain and sacrifice required to achieve and maintain their health. In many cases the tipping point was a simple event: getting winded walking up the stairs, outgrowing another pair of pants, being unable to play with the kids or grand kids, or simply seeing a holiday picture and finally realizing just how unhealthy they had actually become. While for others it was more serious: a heart attack, or perhaps the death of a friend or family member due to poor health. Whatever the event, no matter how big or small, it caused these individuals to take the most important step in their journey. In that moment, they decided that they were no longer willing to accept their current situation and that they were going to make changes immediately.

yes - notepad & pen

This is the point that you MUST get to if you want to have a truly successful journey. Make a list of the things that you can’t do or that are extremely difficult for you to do as a result of your unhealthy body and pick out the one or two things that you are no longer willing to accept. Think of the pain that these things cause in your life and associate that pain with your unhealthy weight/lifestyle. Now be unwilling to accept this pain for another day and be willing to do whatever it takes to get rid of it. Finally affirm your decision by stating it out loud:

“Starting NOW I will no longer  allow myself to feel like this or suffer from things that are within my ability to control. Starting NOW I will make the changes necessary to conquer this pain and  enjoy the life that I was intended to live.”

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Responsible Snacking: A quick tip to help you avoid overindulging on your favorite treats

eating chocolate

Do you find that  you approach snacking with the best of intentions, committed to eating “just one,” “a little bit,” or “only a taste” only to realize -a few short minutes later- that you have consumed your daily caloric intake in the form of M&M’s (they get me every time)?

This short video explains why that happens and how sugar affects our brain:

So should we stop snacking?

Of course not! Snacking is important. It helps keep our metabolism boosted between meals and can reduce our urge to binge eat, actually reducing our overall caloric intake. While we should try to enjoy healthy snacks as much as possible…we still have to reward ourselves with the good stuff every once in a while.

How do we prevent over snacking?

The solution to this problem requires a little preparation and some self-control.

First you will need the following:

Now purchase your favorite snacks: M&M’s, Doritos, Chips, candy bars, etc… these often come in large multiple serving packages (a major contributing factor to the over snacking problem).

Sit down with your scale and snack bags and divide up the snack into managed portion sizes (I like to make my own 100 calorie packs).

IMPORTANT: DO NOT DO THIS WHEN YOU ARE HUNGRY. 

Example:

If we use Dark Chocolate Peanut M&M’s (my favorite):

The nutritional information tells us that:

Each serving is .25 cup (about 43 grams) and 210 Calories.

Using our scale we find that each M&M weighs about 2 grams meaning that there are approximately 21 M&M’s per serving (43 grams in a serving/2 grams per M&M).

To make our 100 calorie pack we need to figure out the how many calories are in each M&M:

210 Calories / 21 M&M’s = 10 Calories per M&M (WHAT?! But they’re so small)

Now add the appropriate number of M&M’s to our baggie:

100 Calories/10 Calories per M&M = 10 M&M’s (THAT’S IT?!)

The large 19.2 oz bag should yield about 27 individual 100-calorie packs.

Note: Typically the more unhealthy the snack, the smaller your 100 calorie packs will be.

How does this strategy help?

First this helps you to become conscious of the relationship between portion size and calories of your favorite ‘junk’ foods. This means that even if you’re in a situation where you come into contact with these foods and you don’t have the benefit of portion controlled sizes; you will still have an idea of how many calories you are taking in.

It also creates another barrier to binge eating by making you mindful of exactly what you are putting into your body. Every time you open another bag you know that it represents 100 calories.

Woman Eating Strawberry

Finally you should be a little discouraged by the small portion sizes that these foods produce. Hopefully this encourages you to search for new more plentiful and filling healthy alternatives.

Let this mantra serve as your guide when snacking:  Become aware, prepare, and always…snack responsibly.

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