Jul 112012
 

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?






Lisa Eirene – has written 1847 posts on this site.
About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and Glamour.com.

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  38 Responses to “How Do You Track?”

  1. I’m so old school. I like tracking on paper. I use the 3-month WW journals. It’s SO important!

  2. I’ve been writing everything down old school style in a notebook for a week. Wow. You do not want to see it :)
    RunEatRepeat recently posted..Ask a Monican #41

  3. I use MyFitnessPal – both the website and the mobile app – to record my food intake. It’s user friendly, has a social aspect and a barcode scanner to enter packaged foods directly. I love that last feature!

    To track my workouts, I am currently keeping a lot of duplicate recordkeeping (I’m not sure why!). I use DailyMile for the social aspect. I monitor my calories burned with a HR chest strap that communicates with my Garmin watch, so I use Garmin Connect. I also have a plain ol’ spreadsheet to track my runs.
    Lydia @ Inhabit the Beauty recently posted..Day 2 – Bob’s Skinny Rules

  4. Well, I’m quite an overachiever when it comes to tracking my workouts. For running I use Garmin Connect, Strava.com, Dailymile.com and my own spreadsheet. For Cycling, I use GC, Strava, and DM. For Crossfit and Lifting I just use DM. I don’t use anything to track my calories, yes you can technically still eat unhealthy on a vegan diet, I really don’t struggle with it at all.
    Alex (@alexbridgeforth) recently posted..Shoe Review Round-Up (Issue 3)

    • Haha, I love it! Overachieve!

      I haven’t heard of Strava–will have to check that our. I use the Cyclemeter for my cycling–tracks mileage, pace, elevation etc.

  5. Hi Lisa. Some days, tracking is such a “chore” but it makes SUCH a difference to the weight loss effort, so is worth it. Have a great day.
    Roz@weightingfor50 recently posted..Another rip roaring day of excitement….

  6. I’ve been a member of SparkPeople for several years now, though I wiped my old tracking data and started over this year. I use the site and mobile app to track food, exercise, and weigh-ins. I also use DailyMile to track exercise, and I sometimes remember to track on Fitocracy as well.
    Beth @ More Than True recently posted..Book Review: Past Perfect by Leila Sales

  7. I’ve been slacking in the tracking department, but I’ve been tracking for yesterday and today – go me! I use http://www.fatsecret.com because I can also enter recipes in there to get the nutritional information.

    I need to add you to my blog roll for inspiration to get my ass in gear! :D
    Biz recently posted..Sweet Pea Soup with Shrimp (kind of)

  8. I track all my food and fitness on Weight Watchers online. On Saturdays, I take the day off from counting. This has helped me keep my sanity, and I’ve lost 11.8 pounds so far (in 7 weeks) and I am happy with the results. I weigh-in on Wednesday, only once a week. Keeping track of what I eat is what has helped me lose weight, and it’s a big part of weight loss.

  9. I use an Excel spreadsheet I made that tracks each day’s food broken down into calories, fat grams, and WW old points. It totals up all my numbers for me, including telling me what percentage of what I ate was fat. It also has 2 slots for exercise each day, that takes into account calories burned and WW activity points, and under that finds my new totals for the day based on subtracting those numbers.

    Its more complex then it needs to be, but I love my system!
    Deb recently posted..Tuesday Day 270

    • Wow, did you build the spreadsheet yourself? Impressive!

      I forgot to add that I tracked my weight loss in an excel spreadsheet.

      • Yeah, and both my original version and my newer one that tracks fat calories as well are available to download of of my site. I have one page dedicated to just the nutritional values of foods. There are hundreds of things on there. Makes it easy because I can pretty much just copy and paste from there. :)

        Another thing I’ve found really helpful is this site. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/list You can find the “official” values of almost any basic food here. I find myself ref’ing more and more often.
        Deb recently posted..Thursday Day 272

  10. The Y that I am a member of uses ActiveTrax, which calculates your calories needed for your goals and lets you enter what you’ve eaten and your workouts. I’ve been using it and am happy with it so far.

  11. Great job everybody! I’ve been tracking with Weight Watchers forever – first on paper and then online. I do like Cronometer though I do think that’s a terrible name. I keep forgetting it. I’ve looked up “chronogram” like 5 times.

    I need to learn how to set my targets better. Right now it always says I’m over my transfats (hunh?) and way over my proteins, but we’ll see how I do this week. I’m also tracking in WW to make sure my calorie range and my PP+ range are similar (they are).

    • I agree–the name is not good. It’s not catchy and it’s hard to remember. But the program works!

      I want to hear what you learn after comparing the two for awhile.

  12. I have never been good at tracking food. I generally eat healthy but wonder sometimes if I wrote stuff down if it might prevent me from eating that bag o chips or box o cookies…

    I did just download an iPhone app (free app last week from Starbucks) called Walk Tracker Pro (which also does running and cycling although I think people prefer garmins for running). I tracked my walk through the woods with my dog and then put it on Instagram!
    Stacie @ Snaps and Bits recently posted..I No Longer Pump Gas

    • Well for me it definitely made a huge difference SEEING it written down with that number getting smaller and smaller as I ate throughout the day. It really did become a “math game” for me. If I eat “X” for lunch, how many calories do I have for dinner? Etc etc.

      That’s cool that the app tracks all of the activities–that’s what I want. I hate having to have four different apps I’m using.

  13. I use the running log at the Runner’s World website to track all of my runs. They have some really nice features to help graph your stats to look at your progress and you can add in cross training activities, too. I’ve been using it for over a year now and I love it.

  14. Once upon a time I tracked in a little notebook. Now, I’m a bit more high tech :) I track at sparkpeople.com. They have a really user friendly calorie counter, and a fitness tracker, too. I found that the fitness tracker tends to overestimate calories burned (I got a HRM to be more accurate). I like sparkpeople because there are articles, message board, you can have a personal page, make friends… The social aspect is nice and keeps me accountable.

  15. looks like some great tools! I know I definitely eat more when eating out!
    Simply Life recently posted..Cheddar Gruyere Vegetable Quiche: Cooking Shortcuts

  16. I am pretty bad with tracking my food accurately (writing it down or using my fitness pal). I add up my calories while I eat, but because of that I usually end up a couple hundred over. I track my exercise by my heart rate monitor- monitoring how many calories I’m burning. My gym offers food coaching, which got me started on my weight loss but now I just book in once a month to get my measurements taken.
    I’ve been meaning to ask for a while; did you wear your heart rate monitor while you were losing weight? Did you notice drastic changes in how long it was taking you to burn those calories? I used to be able to burn 600-700 in a good 50 minute workout, now in 50 minutes i’m just making 500. And I can see by your posts the fitter I get the longer it will take me. I used to make ‘calorie goals’ when I was working out and didn’t want to…(get to 500 cal. for example) and I’m not sure now whether to take such notice of the calories or focus more on fitness levels and workouts. What did you find? You are probably the only blogger I follow that constantly wears a HRM and checks in calories burned.

    • Is the good coaching like seeing a nutritionist?

      You have a great question! I may end up doing a post about it, so thanks for the idea. The short answer:

      I didn’t have my HRM until after I’d reached my goal weight. I honestly didn’t know they existed. My boyfriend got me one for my birthday and it definitely changed HOW I worked out–specifically for running.

      Yes, as I got fitter, the less calories I burned. I had to change things up and workout smarter, not necessarily longer to get the same burn.

      • Thanks, I actually got a HRM at Christmas because of you! It was so interesting to see which of the workouts is been doing got my heart rate right up.

        The food coaching is is basically for accountability, and motivation they have different calories plans you can follow but basically it’s 20 mins once a week with one of the food girls and you go through your food diary and talk about changes you could make and get weighed and then measured.

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