Lose Weight...Through Knowledge
Knowledge is power. I'm not talking about "knowledge" in terms of being super smart or being the best at Trivial Pursuit.
I'm talking about knowledge of yourself. We all want certain things (#Goals) but do we actually have the knowledge we need to hit them?
Being curious and understanding what is actually going on is half the battle here. And one of the weapons we have in our armoury is.....Tracking.
Tracking. We track a lot of things in life. Parcels, work progress, finances, books you've read, birthdays, to do lists, (dare I mention track & trace and).....I've lost track*
* Sorry not sorry
One thing many of us don't track regularly is food and why would we? We're not taught this, it's not something many of us would ever think of doing and fair enough! If I ask clients "Have you tried tracking your food?" some very common replies are:
"It sucks the fun out of food"
"Too long winded"
"I always forget"
"I always go over my allowance and give up"
"I don't know how"
"I don't want to get obsessed with calories"
All very valid responses. But hear me out on why tracking could be something to give you knowledge and, thus, POWER.
What is the point of tracking?
Tracking doesn't have to make you focus on the numbers or to restrict your diet or to make you feel bad about food. But what it can do is raise awareness of what you are putting into your body. It's to gain knowledge and build good habits with awareness.
If you eat cake and its 500calories, then you know that you've eaten 500 calories of cake. Fact. You've got the knowledge and can make the call off the back of it. It's like fighting a battle with the whole army, rather than being blindfolded and sent out into a battle with no weapons and praying you hit something.
Increases knowledge of foods and their nutrition
Gives you an understanding how many calories are in what you are eating
Allows you to be aware of how much we are eating
Helps to get to our goals (weight loss or strength gains etc)
Notice patterns in eating habits
See how much of each food group you are eating or not eating
What to Use?
Apps. Usually the quickest way to track on the go. Most apps have pre populated foods you can quickly add and you can create meals you cook regularly. Apps you can try out are My Fitness Pal, Nutracheck, See How You Eat (this takes pictures of food and not for calorie counting. A good one if you don't want to be looking at the numbers)
Old school diary or wipe board. This takes a bit longer but it does really make it an activity and noticing labels and being aware of what is actually in the food we are eating!
When to do it?
It depends. Depends on you as a person, when you have time, what fits your personality style etc etc. Have a play but here are some pros and cons of both.
Tracking before you eat:
PROS: You can use the app or diary as a meal planner, you know what you're eating that day is within your calories, saves time during the day, limits the chance of "forgetting"
CONS: Takes sometime to plan in meals. Slightly more strict. Think it's done and can forget to add in snacks.
Track during or after:
PROS: Pretty accurate as you can log as you go. Allows for more flexibility. Keeps track for snacks.
CONS: Risk of going over calories. Takes bit of habit building to remember.
You could always mix the two, add your meals first, then track snacks as you go? Try out what works best for you.
Our top tips?
Track it all as close as you can including things like oils, condiments and drinks.
Count the good too! Things like fruit and water are good, achievable targets to look at.
Note feelings after eating. Add as a note in the app or on paper This could be really interesting to see how certain foods affect you.
Get curious about the macros! Your Carbs, Protein, Fats etc. In most apps, it will break it down for you so you can see the breakdown of your food. This can be great to see what areas you can boost or reduce.
Not about passing judgement or punishment. Remain curious and kind to yourself. You giving yourself awareness.
It's not about being perfect everyday, its' more "consistent" to look at your weeks average rather than day to day.
Share diaries for more accountability
How long for..?
Wait, wait! It's a difficult question to answer and it really depends from person to person. Could be 6months to a year or till you feel you've gained a fuller more rounded knowledge of foods and which choices to make.
Could be until you hit your goal BUT feel comfortable going it eyeballing or once you've learn't what you can from it.
Could be you keep doing it as a habit built into your day.
If you don't want to track...what else could you do?
If tracking really, really, REALLY isn't for you, but you are wanting to lose weight, then what you need to be doing is burning more than you're eating...sustainably! Fasting or eating tiny amounts and exercising like crazy will lose you weight...but it wont keep it off long term nor is it fun or healthy.
You can try:
Hand Method: Palm size of protein, fist of starch and veggies, thumb of fats
Cook recipes that have the calories on them
Count your veggies and fruit, water and protein
Taking pictures of your meals
Note your mood after eating
And there you have it. You are have a new tool in the toolbox, another string to your bow, another lightbulb for your...lamp. Whatever it is, you have something you can try out. See what works for you.
Also if you happen to be good at Trivial Pursuit, please can you be on my team. I need help.