4/26/11

Accountability vs. Obsession

I'll admit, I am apprehensive to discuss weight and weight loss on my blog. I have witnessed a great deal of controversy in the healthy living community with respects to this highly sensitive subject and I have always opted to tread lightly (or barely at all)

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.



Source

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
Reactions:

17 comments:

  1. Weight loss is so taboo in the blogworld and it's really a shame, because I think it prevents many bloggers opening up about their goals and being honest. Honestly, I wish I could be that person who never has to track their food, craves veggies, and doesn't weigh herself, but that's not me. As long as the numbers don't freak me out (they have in the past, but I'm more educated now), then I think they are safe to use for accountability.
    Like you, I have dealt with overeating (and sometimes binging) and I NEED a little structure to get myself back on track. I'm shooting for eating in moderation, but I'm not quite there yet.

    Good luck and keep on trucking (err, well, tracking!) :)

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  2. i have an iphone app for tracking my meals and workouts, but i am not very good about using it. i should get back to it. i've definitely let myself slip a bit lately!

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  3. I'm glad that you mentioned feeling apprehensive about speaking about personal goals and weight loss. I hesitate to mention much of this on my blog because although I'm not at my happy place, I almost feel a little vain saying "I really would like to lose xx pounds" but when jeans get tight, something needs to change. ;)

    I used to use an online tool and I can't remember the name of it. Perhaps I will try this out because it is a great learning tool and you're right a good way to get a better idea about portion sizing.

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  4. That's too funny - as I was watching the hockey game tonight, I was browsing on my iphone for free apps. I came across My Fitness Pal and downloaded it! It had over 1000 reviews! (and good ones!!). Although I'm not overweight, but not 100% happy either (can definitely relate to that sluggish feeling sometimes), I was amazed at how quickly the calories added up in what I ate today. 3 pieces of multi grain pizza were over 600 calories! That's nearly half my total recommended intake! lol. Thanks for bringing this up.. hopefully I can stay committed for awhile!

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  5. As you know I love My Fitness Pal. I love the accountability and being able to track what I eat. It also makes me feel amazing to put in a workout and see some calories free up!!
    It's the best calorie/exercise tracker I have found. Along with the support of some great ladies on there too!

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  6. great post!
    i think we are all accountable for everything we do and that includes our health. nobody forces us to eat those chocolates or drink those beers or sit on that couch. it is up to us to get our a$$es of the couch and go for a walk or run or do some yoga, etc. this is just as we are accountable for what we say to people, how we do our work, raise families, have relationships.
    and i love that there are tools out there that can help us with that. for example blogs. those are a great source for accountability. also the webiste that you signed up for. i actually signed up for sparkpeople.com yesterday and am loving it.

    again, great post!

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  7. I love MFP! I'm using it to get to my weight goal at the moment but I already know that I want to continue using it when I get to the "end". You are much more observant about how many calories, carbs, sugars, fat etc everything has. All a part of mindful eating and a healthy lifestyle in my opinion.

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  8. Great post! I might have to d/l this app for when I go on vacation. I plan on tracking my intake! I believe that weight SHOULD be linked with health (but not in every circumstance). I DO believe people should try to stay within 5 lbs of their "happy weight" and the scale is a great way to gauge that OR measurements OR how your pants fit. I think it can get obsessive but weighing at least once a week is a good idea for MOST individuals. I recently gained a couple pounds and so I've been tracking on thedailyplate. I really like that site. I've already lost 1 lb. just from keeping myself a little more accountable..living with a male is SO hard sometimes! Thanks for the app suggestion!

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  9. This is a great post!
    Its hard because i read the blogs every day that promote eating well and not monitoring intake but right now i know i'm a few pounds away from where i need to be so i have to track it somehow, sometimes i SHOULD say no to chocolate
    I used to use the Daily Plate app on Livestrong but i think i will give this one a try
    Again, great post :o)

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  10. I've tracked my food and excercise for 5 years now. Every day I write down everything that goes into my mouth. I've been tracking my excercise longer than that because I liked to get in a certain amount of workouts per month.

    I did Weight Watchers at first, but then started using the Tap and Track app for my iPod. It has such a HUGE database of food, and I can track my excercise there too. I love it!

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  11. Great post. I've been writing down what I eat for about 12+ years intermittently. I stopped when I was pregnant & then over the past year or so, & it made a huge difference. I am so much more accountable ot myself & make so much better choices when I track. It's easy, basically free, and lets me look back to discover patterns.

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  12. I'm just echoing what Running Girl says above. I really appreciate this post! I know I have to stray away from Andi scores because those numbers and metrics really trigger me

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  13. Great post, Samantha! I have always used sparkpeople.com when I've tracked my food, but I just downloaded the MyFitnessPal app the other day. Glad to hear a good review of it. I definitely think it's good to track from time to time because in our society it's so easy to be taking in an unhealthy amount of calories and not even realize it.

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  14. I used to count calories , I don't as much anymore because I generally know what my intake is. I don't have an obsessive personality so I just use it to make healthier choices. But I can see where someone who does have an obsessive personality could take it to the next level.

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  15. I think tools like this are great for people who can use them properly. I am not one of those people. Well, maybe I am now, but Im not willing to take the chance.
    Counting calories was how I controled my eating disorder, so now I refuse to even look at them. Im too afraid of where it may lead.

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  16. I don't always calorie count, but I try to be mindful of what I am eating. Overindulgence is all too easy for me and my massive sweet tooth, so I have to stay food conscious. I use sparkpeople on and off, but quite frankly, I don't want to spend 20+ minutes a day entering what I ate today or what I am going to eat tomorrow. It just feels restrictive to me. I have a good idea how many calories are in most unlabeled food items, and I try to eat home made treats in moderation. This is an ongoing balancing act for me: too restrictive vs. too indulging.

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  17. Great post, Samantha! I find it very empowering that you are comfortable (and brave) enough to show off your hot bikini body, even though you would like to lose a few more pounds. Bravo!
    I know how you feel re: talking about weight loss on your blog. I think you are taking a great, healthy perspective on it all.
    About 2 years ago I lost 40 lbs using MyCalorieCounter.com. They've changed the interface though I don't really like it. I'm going to check out MyFitnesPal. Even though the bulk of my excess weight is gone, and I'm feeling good where I'm at, I've been thinking that I could stand to lose another 10 lbs. I think carrying excess weight gets hard on one's joints and I pound on mine enough with all the running I do. Plus, maybe I'll run faster. :)

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