Tuesday, May 6

DDP Yoga - Food Diaries, why bother?

For several years, I have been a member of Spark People, a website for health and fitness that includes trackers for Food and Exercise. When I first used it, I was doing Weight Watchers and had to track every single thing I ate. I did it for a really long time, like a year or so, before finally giving up, because it was too much work I was too lazy to do it.

Two years ago, I started using Spark People again, to track my food, after a visit to a new doctor who asked me questions about what I ate, how much, etc. I have a weight problem, so this is a standard question at the start of a visit. I answered candidly, and he asked me if I kept a food diary. I told him I hadn’t for about a year and he told me I should start again. He also really opened my eyes to a lot of interesting ideas about food. He asked me to be open and watch a couple of movies. One was Forks Over Knives. The other was Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. I watched these two movies and I was intrigued. I started to really focus on the kinds of foods I was eating and, even more than how much, I started to focus on eating clean and healthy and eating more of a plant-based diet. I didn’t do anything drastic, like completely quit eating meat, but I did start to incorporate some plant-based days into my diet. After about 5 months of doing this and of regular exercise and working with a trainer, I lost about 25 pounds. During this time, I also had some major life events, so I was unable to continue with the gym, my food habits slid a bit and I regained the weight. (Again, admitting I was too lazy to keep the diary, honestly!)

I’m telling you this background because I think it’s important. It’s important to recognize where you came from and know where you want to go. It’s important to understand what drives you, and know how to “fall down right” and be able to get back up and on with your life.

When I started doing DDP Yoga last June, I decided to restart my food diary.I also rewatched Forks Over knives. I started paying attention to what I ate, when I ate, how much the food was processed, and I started incorporating plant based food days again. After about 4 months, I stopped the diary, thinking I “had this under control” and I didn’t really need the diary. At this point, I was losing fairly well, and had lost 28 lbs and 37 inches.

If you track me at all on Facebook, here, or on TeamDDP Yoga, you know that I have lost 28 lbs and 37 inches. Ahem. Note the date today. It is not November! I haven’t lost since I stopped keeping the food diary. Why? Well, here’s the deal.

My accountability partner, Mark Furniss, kind of clued in one day to the fact that I was always sore, always whining about something hurting. He asked me what I’d eaten. I gave him a recap and he immediately told me to add more protein. At first I balked, but then I realized I hadn’t been keeping the food diary. Hmmmm. 

So I started the food diary again. I faithfully filled in everything I ate. I also added protein shakes. In watching the food diary for a couple of days, I realized that even though I eat clean, healthy, whole real foods, I don’t often get as much protein as I need. I remembered back to working out with the trainer, and her telling me to eat more protein. I remembered my husband making me TWO turkey burgers for dinner, along with my veggies. So, I decided to add in the protein shakes. I have one mid morning, I personally love Garden of Life RAW Protein, which is plant-based and pretty darn yum. (It’s also dairy free, which is important to me!) I have it with almond milk, right after my coffee at work. Since I have added it, I’ve felt stronger, my workouts have been more consistent and, finally, the scale is inching toward moving. (I have lost a pound that had crept back on when I increased the intensity of my workouts.)

My personal feeling is that no matter what you choose for a diet, an important part of self-accountability is maintaining a food diary. A food diary forces you to write down every single thing you eat or drink. Therefore, you kind of stop when you might have splurged on something you wouldn’t normally eat if you know that you have to write it down. It will be there in black and white. For me, that right there is enough to make me stop!

In closing, I challenge you to start a food diary! Join Spark People, or join another site that has them, and track everything you eat and drink. Heck track your workouts too. See where it takes you, see how you feel, see if you are really feeding your body what it needs. Personally, I think I had underestimated the needs of my body when doing DDP Yoga. Sure, I was feeding it, and feeding it good food, but I was still starving it, which was affecting my loss. If you don’t eat enough food, your body can get into starvation mode. At that point, it will hang onto everything you eat, whether it needs it or not, because it’s worried that you won’t feed it again. Yea, it sounds crazy, and that’s a simplistic view of it, but basically, that’s what happens. Don’t go there. Track your food, eat clean, eat as many veggies as possible, and be sure you are eating to a level that your body can sustain a workout and recover quickly from it. If you are feeling crazy tired, crazy sore, and not feeling energized and amazing, look at your food. Is it in balance? Are you getting enough water? Check it out. #ownyourlife

If you want to learn more about DDP Yoga, please reach out to me, or click on the link at the right of the page. (Yes, it is an affiliate link, and yes, I get a small amount of money if you buy it through that link. No, that's not the reason I'm telling you to check it out.)

If you want to be my friend on SparkPeople, look for 1RadChick. I'm actually one of the Admins for the DDP Yoga team there. (A group which isn't too active, but will be at some point!)