MONDAY MOTIVATION: HOW TO TRACK NUTRITION WITHOUT GETTING BURNT OUT

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope that wherever you live, you're experiencing some nice spring weather. We had an incredible weekend here in NYC. I walked five miles yesterday including the Central Park Reservoir. Fantastic.

Passover began Friday at sundown, and we had Seder with our families both Friday and Saturday nights. It's funny, whenever Passover rolls around, I kind of think to myself, "I can't believe I can't eat bread for the next eight days because some fool forgot to bring flour that day Moses parted the sea." I mean, that's a really dumbed down version of history and obviously I'm kidding (sort of). But sometimes you just gotta laugh. 

I'm actually going without grain for two weeks instead of just eight days because I've decided to do an elimination diet with one of my clients. I'm SO excited for both of us to see the changes in our bodies, sleep and overall moods at the end of this. And even though I've done this before, it doesn't mean it's easy for me! On a regular basis, I don't eat much grain, but there's a big difference between having a little bit and ruling it out completely. 

I was talking to one of my other clients a few weeks ago and she told me about her experience with the 21 Day Fix Diet. (I've never done it, but here's a great explanation if you're curious.) She said that while she understood whey there was excessive tracking required, it kind of sucked the joy out of everyday life. It's a great point, actually: as important as it is to have accountability during a weight loss journey, sometimes we get so wrapped up in keeping tabs on our healthy habits that we lose focus of the big picture. And sometimes, ironically, it feels easier to eat healthier when you're not stressing out about it.

These days, a lot of people are tracking their food intake via applications like MyFitnessPal. When I start working with a new client, I ask them to keep a detailed food log for a set amount of time and share it with me afterward so that I get to know them through their food choices. What we eat is incredibly personal and I know how hard it can be to share this information with others, but it's next to impossible for me to coach someone without it! I have been ridiculed many times over for MY food choices so I really commend the people I work with for opening themselves up to my help. I know how important it is not to JUDGE. I do not judge ANYONE'S food choices because I know how hard it's been for me when people verbally judge mine. I simply observe and I offer my knowledge. Personally, I've been tracking my own food intake on and off for the past few years, and I know it can be challenging to find the balance between responsibility and spontaneity. Here's how I track my nutrition without getting burnt out.

Count macros, not calories. I tell my clients this all. of. the. time. Focus on the amount of macronutrients you're getting - proteins, fats, and carbohydrates - rather than simply counting the amount of calories you're consuming. If you're trying to lose weight and counting calories, I cannot stress enough how much changing this habit will help you. I use MyFitnessPal to figure out how many macros I need. MFP (MyFitnessPal) is also great for looking up the macro info on tons of different foots. 

Learn about the macros of the foods you eat most often. I'm a creature of habit: right now I have a smoothie for breakfast every day, an omelet or a salad for lunch and lean protein with veggies for dinner. On any given day, I know where most of my fats are coming from. This is important for me because in the past I've gone overboard eating healthy fats. Maybe you eat too little or too much protein, or perhaps you're cutting back on carbs. Whatever it is, do some research and get a sense of what your macros look like on an average day. 

Set aside a time (or times) to track. My client told me that when she was doing the 21DFD, she was required to check in with a support group several times a day, and that it was a bit draining. I know from experience that it's very easy to become obsessive about tracking. In fact, that's why I've been taking a break from MFP recently. I got a little overwhelmed by how much time I was spending on my phone (my schedule is a little all over the place these days - literally and figuratively - so I depend on my phone A LOT since I'm not near a computer all day) and decided to back off for a bit. I've been writing things down and journaling instead. When I AM tracking via MFP sometimes I'll plug in all of my meals for a day the evening before, so a) I know what I'm going to eat the next day; b) I don't have to worry about tracking after the fact and c) I have a general idea of whether or not I have any wiggle room. If you can't track the night before, make sure you have a dedicated time or times during the day to take a few minutes to either write everything down or plug everything into the app you use. 

Have several different ways to track, and take at least one day off. Plugging food into the MFP can be a bit time consuming, not to mention tedious. BUT. If you're focused on weight loss, it's IMPERATIVE to take the time to do this! For your mental health, however, I recommend taking a day or two off from detailed tracking each week. This is NOT a pass to go hog wild and hit up a donut buffet. Look at your day(s) off from tracking as an opportunity to enjoy the healthy food you love without having too think too much about it.

Give yourself a break! If this shit were easy, we'd all have like 15% body fat and the world would be a really boring place. Take pride in your journey and celebrate all victories, big and small. And always, if you need help, I'm here. :)