The truth is, while I recognize and agree that our society puts a lot of emphasis on body image and a distorted understanding of what the ideal female shape is, I still believe weight and weight loss are topics that can't be ignored.
To me weight serves as one of the (but not the only) key indicators of health.
A healthy body weight, when achieved through good nutrition and adequate physical activity, signals that we are providing our bodies with the fuel to perform at an optimal level on the inside and out.
Additionally, I can't help but look at weight maintenance as a preventative measure against diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
So yes, while it can be difficult to discern what a healthy weight and body shape is, and in many case it is varied from person to person based on a set of circumstances, I will come right out and say that I believe people do need to be held accountable for their health.
Food, exercise, rest and stress reduction are a part of health. When done properly these all lead to a healthy weight.
Thus, healthy weight=accountability, at least in my opinion.
I don't look past the fact that for some people a focus on weight becomes obsessive. Then again, I don't believe it necessarily goes hand in hand with obsession either. I believe many people (although perhaps not all) can hold themselves closely accountable without bordering on compulsion.
Okay, let me take a step back. I'm not a doctor or a trained professional in this area, so I will continue by talking about myself specifically:
I believe I can and SHOULD track my eating habits and exercise patterns because this keeps me accountable and therefore healthy. Believe me when I say I want to be healthy. I really do. But sometimes its just to easy to "forget" about the Easter eggs you snuck before dinner or underestimate the number of calories in a yummy drink from your local coffee house.
Sometimes its easy for me to let myself slip, again and again and again. And then, as if out of no where I am feeling sluggish, my pants are much tighter, I have a reoccurring headache and I've gained 10lbs. Ooops!? Yeah, not exactly.
Enter My Fitness Pal, an online application that allows me to plug in my goal (weight loss, weight maintenance etc), my personal details including my activity level and voila I am given my calorie target. Throughout the day I input all the food and beverages that I consume and their calorie totals are subtracted from my initial target, ultimately determining if I am on target, over or under.
My favorite things about the tool are:
- I am able to input my exercise for the day which add to my calorie target. In all honesty my target is quite low on a daily basis but when I exercise for 30 minutes or more I definitely have a more manageable calorie allotment for the day. (This has increased my motivation to workout pretty significantly)
- The tool tracks saturated fat, fibre, protein and other nutritional information which are just as valuable as calories for overall health
- The tool recognizes foods from my local grocery chain and restaurants which makes tracking quick and easy
- Seeing the calorie content makes me take a closer look at the food I eat and the portion sizes. I am much less likely to overindulge if I know what a portion looks like or that the entire appetizer is 960cal (This happened today and I nearly fell off my chair. I didn't but proceeded to eat a 1/4 and "donated" the rest to The Boyfriend)
- The tool has a Blackberry App so I can continue to track on the go. (The App is available for iPhone also)
I would honestly recommend this to anyone who want to track their eating and exercise habits for the short or long term. And while I would gather that many people are attracted to the tool for weight loss purposes I genuinely believe it can be beneficial for so much more then that.
Not everyone has pounds to lose but I do believe the vast majority of people could benefit from a closer inspection of the food that they eat for all the aspects of nutrition, calories included or not.
That said, I would not recommend this to anyone that has dealt with certain patterns of disordered eating as I fear that it could be a trigger for severe restriction.
My plan is to use the tool for a least a month in order to adopt the habits associated with eating the rights foods and enough (but not too much) of them.
I will say that I am struggling with some binge eating issues (I discussed them here in the past) that I will address in future blog posts but this is a positive step in the right direction for me to get back on track with respects to my eating patterns.
I will update you in a month with my experiences using this tool and the impact it has had on my health-focused lifestyle.
So tell me, do you track your food intake or exercise? How do you feel about weight loss in the blog world?
*Please note that these are my honest opinions about the online application My Fitness Pal. I am not affiliated with the product or company and do not receive compensation for using or reviewing the application