Cron-o-Meter

How Do You Track?

Being accountable, even only to yourself, is how you stay on the path to weight loss and successful maintenance. It’s a very different beast to kind of “count/guess” in your head and to actually write it down. Seeing it in black and white can often be the shock of reality that is needed. At least, it was for me.

If you need to catch up on some old posts on how to lose weight, here are some links:

Week OneWeek One Check In

Week Two , Week Two Check In

Week Three

Week Four

Week Five

Five Truths of Weight Loss

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. How do I track my food and fitness? Do I track every day? Yes, nearly every day. Every once in awhile I take a few days off from counting, sometimes when I’m on vacation I take a few days off but not too many. It’s been awhile since I’ve taken a break. Sometimes our brain just needs a break!

Tracking Fitness

I see people on Twitter  posing this question often: how do you track your workouts? When I’m in the gym lifting weights, I see a lot of the serious people with a little journal keeping track of what they’re doing. I’m incredibly impressed that they can do this. It lasts about a week for me. I just didn’t want to track which machines I used, how much weight I lifted, etc. (Don’t tell Suzanne!)

I *do* however keep track of mileage for running and biking. I use simple Excel spreadsheets, nothing fancy, and just keep a log there. It helps a lot when I am training for an event. I keep track of my individual mileage as well as my weekly total.

Tracking Food

When I first started counting my calories I wrote it down on paper in a little journal. Not very high-tech. Eventually I got an iPhone and started exploring the apps that are available out there. My favorite is by far the Cronometer because of the in-depth analysis it gives me.

I want to make sure I am doing the right things, eating the things my body NEEDS and kind of assess what I’m eating too much of (um…sugar, carbs…dammit….). The Cronometer gives me good feedback for that.

Eating out at restaurants is one of my weak points and I’m sure you guys struggle with that, too. It’s difficult to go to a restaurant and stay on a plan when you have no idea how many calories are in something. Some of those weight loss apps have restaurant information. Check it out.

The single biggest factor in keeping the weight off is TRACKING. Keeping track of my food has helped me so so much I cannot even stress that enough. It has to be done consistently to work, too. It’s not like tracking food one or two days a week will do the trick. In order for a lifestyle change to be effective and stick, it needs to be a healthy habit!

QUESTION: How do you track everything?

Deficiency

I got a great comment from a reader, Katie, about my post about the Cron-o-Meter. Here is her comment:

“I’m really happy you published this. I would never have known about it otherwise. I’ve been using it for about 5 days now and really like it. In addition to being a good weight management tool, it’s excellent for figuring out where nutrition needs to improve. Within a few days, I found out that I’m not getting anywhere near the potassium or vitamin D I need each day. Now that I know, I can fix it. Yay!”

I was happy to read that she liked the website and was finding a lot of value in it. But her comment also reminded me that I wanted to write a follow-up post about what I’ve also learned about my eating habits. I know where I need work in terms of the basics: I eat too many carbs, I don’t drink enough water, and I need to cut down on my sugar intake.

Beyond that, I wanted to know what I was deficient in. I try to eat a fairly balanced diet. My snacks are fresh fruit, I eat a lot of veggies. What works for me is high protein meals, and I do pretty well in staying within my calorie range each day. But what was my diet lacking?

The following info is just to give you an idea of what I learned and where I’m deficient.

Day One

This example does not include the Multi-Vitamin I take with breakfast. I wanted to see what I was naturally low in just with the food I eat every day. The conclusion:

Low in Vitamin C

Low in Vitamin E

Low in Vitamin K

Low in Potassium

 

Energy: 2379 (2030 net) kcal / 1693 kcal (141%)
Protein: 121.3 g / 46.0 g (264%)
Carbs: 288.8 g / 130.0 g (222%)
Fat: 68.9 g / 65.0 g (106%)
95% of Nutritional Targets Achieved

 

Day Two

Low in Potassium

Low in Vitamin K

Low in Fiber

 

Energy: 1918 (1167 net) kcal / 1693 kcal (113%)
Protein: 94.5 g / 46.0 g (205%)
Carbs: 195.4 g / 130.0 g (150%)
Fat: 87.5 g / 65.0 g (135%)
95% of Nutritional Targets Achieved

Day Three

This day includes the Vitamin B and Multi-Vitamin I take. Even taking those vitamins, I’m still low!

Low in Potassium

 

Energy: 2083 (1344 net) kcal / 1693 kcal (123%)
Protein: 99.9 g / 46.0 g (217%)
Carbs: 194.5 g / 130.0 g (150%)
Fat: 102.9 g / 65.0 g (158%)
97% of Nutritional Targets Achieved

 

Conclusion

First, the site is awesome and I love how in-depth it is with the information. I see patterns in my tracking and it made me rethink some of the stuff I’m eating. Yes, I know I eat a lot of carbs. Some of that is from all the fruit I eat–which I won’t be changing. Second, I’m happy that my “Nutritional Targets” were all pretty high. For the most part, my nutrients were fulfilled. Now on to the deficiencies.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K aids in blood clotting, protects the heart, and helps to build bones.

Vitamin K is found in green, leafy, vegetables like kale, collards, spinach, and turnip greens. It can also be found herbs, scallions, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, cabbage and prunes. I eat a lot of salads and broccoli, so I’m actually surprised that I’m low in this. But it could just be that I’m not accurately recording the volume that I eat those things.

Potassium

Potassium is an essential nutrient used to maintain fluid and electrolyte balances in the body. A deficiency in potassium causes fatigue, irritability, and hypertension. This definitely makes sense to me!

Potassium rich foods are: avocados, apricots, bananas, prunes, raisins, pistachios, seeds (pumpkin, flax, etc), fish, beans, dates, chocolate, paprika and chili powder.

I used to eat a lot of bananas, but stopped eating them so often because of the high sugar content. I do eat a lot of fish and beans, so I’m surprised that I am deficient in Potassium. I also take a medication that can alter potassium levels in my body and I have to have an annual blood test to make sure my Potassium levels aren’t too HIGH. So this one makes me think it’s not a big issue.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E can help protect against heart disease, cancer, and age related eye diseases.

Foods rich in Vitamin E are sunflower seeds, almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, apricots, cooked spinach (yuck), herbs and green olives (martini anyone?).

I eat a lot of nuts but probably not a sufficient amount on a routine basis. I’m pretty hit or miss on how often I eat nuts–it’s usually just a “grab a handful at work to snack on” kind of thing.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a magical vitamin I think. It aids in developing scar tissue, blood vessels, cartilage, and dopamine. It’s a powerful antioxidant and in my line of work I need all the vitamin C I can get to keep from getting sick all the time!

The foods highest in Vitamin C are chili peppers, guavas, bell peppers, dark leafy greens (like kale and mustard greens), broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kiwis, oranges, and strawberries. YUM! It’s all foods I love to eat!

Fiber

I’ve raved about fiber many times before. It’s an awesome thing when you’re trying to lose weight because you feel full! Fiber helps with proper digestion of foods, proper functioning of the digestive tract at large, and for helping you feel full.

Fiber rich foods are beans (YAY!), dark chocolate (sign me up!), bran, flax seeds, sesame seeds, sun-dried tomatoes, nuts, leafy green foods (mustard greens, kale), and squash.

The Verdict

I need to start eating kale, apparently.

I also want to buy a digital scale to measure some of the veggies and things I’m eating. Part of me thinks that I am actually getting enough nutrients–I’m just not measuring correctly.

QUESTION: Are you deficient in anything and if so, what? What foods are you trying to eat daily to make sure you aren’t deficient?