Why I Got Rid of My Fitness Pal

standard January 15, 2018 Leave a response

While I was in school to become a dietitian and was training for a marathon (Goofy in particular), I got in the habit of tracking what I ate in MyFitnessPal. Not so much to make sure I ate less, but to make sure I ate ENOUGH.  While it is true that most people gain weight when training for a marathon because of the free thinking of running warrants eating whatever you want, this is not always the case. When I was training for Goofy, I was following a fairly strict plant-based runners diet that filled me up on fewer calories, so I was struggling to maintain my weight. And yes, part of me was happy with this change. But I also knew I needed to eat enough to fuel the extra distance that this training required. I wasn’t just doing one long run on the weekends. I was doing two to mimic race day.

Nothing I was doing seemed unhealthy. I was consuming what I needed. I was feeling good. I was, however, spending almost all my free time thinking about what I was going to eat next, when I was going to prep it, what I needed to buy at the store. I made everything from scratch (crackers, cereal, sauces). I worked from home when I wasn’t traveling, and the husband was traveling so much, I mostly had to worry about my own meals. So I had the time to spend my energy on this. I was also living in Chicago, walking everywhere, and practicing hot vinyasa yoga twice a week.

So yes, it was helpful to track my calories to ensure I ate enough.

Fast forward three years, and I was still tracking my meals. When I wrote out my meal plan for the week, I input all my recipes into MyFitnessPal and planned out what I was going to eat for each meal. This helped me not waste food, as I was able to plan out how many meals of food I had to eat within the week. It also helped me not have to think about what I was going to make at mealtime. The app just told me, and I followed it without thinking. I was so used to planning things this way, that when I got pregnant and found myself not interested in food or meal planning, I ended up kind of lost. My phone wasn’t telling me what to eat anymore.

I eventually got back in a meal prep routine and continued to track, estimating the extra calories I needed for growing a baby.

And then I actually HAD a baby.

No one has time to plan and track all their meals with a newborn. Your only goal is when you can sleep. People are bringing you meals, so you don’t have to think about food.

But I also found myself STARVING. All the time. Breastfeeding hunger is REAL. I had snacks next to my chair for each middle of the night feeding. The people who brought me those snacks were my best friends.

Once I got back into (very slowly) running again, the hunger only increased. I realized I needed to start tracking again to make sure I was eating ENOUGH. Or at least that’s what I told myself. The hunger eventually subsided as I figured out how much extra I needed to fuel my current lifestyle.

I continued on this way for a while. Until I started seeing counseling clients again. I don’t have clients track meals. I encourage them to listen to their body, their hunger and satiety cues. What does your body need from you today? Is it a salad? Or is it cake? Whatever it is, go eat that. Savor it. Enjoy it. And move on.

So why wasn’t I taking my own advice? What happened?

I looked back over the past few years and realized that the breakdown from me listening to my own body’s cues for what to eat to relying on an app for every meal had happened without me even realizing it. I really do LOVE food and the whole process that comes with eating. Planning, shopping, cooking. The feeling you get when you prepare just enough and have everything ready for the week and then seeing the empty fridge on Saturday before starting over again. I have this crazy JOY in all of it. But somehow I had twisted that love into this reliance on an app instead of honoring my own body’s needs. I was practicing, in theory, a twisted form of dieting. I was limiting what I ate to what I had pre-scheduled out, based on my caloric needs for the day. No, I wasn’t restricting overall calories. I was making a plan based on an adequate amount for my current stage of life and activity. But I was addicted to those numbers. In hitting them, in making sure I had the right amount and balance of nutrients each day. That I drank enough water. It is possible to have disordered eating around a healthy diet. And I had suddenly found myself on the edge of something that could have very easily gotten way worse. It’s easy for any of us to do. But as dietitians, people look at what we eat A LOT. They assume we eat perfectly all the time. That we eat only kale salad and green smoothies. (Guess what? We don’t!)

Right then and there, I quit. Cold turkey. I made a split second decision to just stop. App deleted off my phone. I got out a piece of paper and a pen and wrote out my meals and grocery list for the week the old-fashioned way.

It was honestly, very strange at first. Not necessarily hard. Just different. I relied on that written down menu A LOT the first week. I just had this compulsive need to know what meal was next. And then thought to myself, WHY? Why did I know what I was going to eat for lunch? Why couldn’t I just make what I wanted when lunch time came around? The learning curve for me took some time. To remember to just eat what sounded good in that moment with what I had. Granted, I don’t keep a ton of food on hand in the house. I like to keep a lean pantry and fridge to avoid waste. But of all the things we did have, I still had a variety of options to choose from each day. I could afford to not plan out every single meal.

After a few weeks of writing everything down, I slowly ditched that as well. It wasn’t as intentional as it was time-saving. I just didn’t have the time to sit and plan everything out anymore. I had a set grocery list of things we bought every single week. And then I just bought a few extra things that sounded good at the time. On Sundays, when I planned out my schedule for the week, I wrote down in my calendar a rough dinner plan. And that was it. That’s where I am at today. No formal menu. No real grocery list. Just a handful of staples plus some extras. Sometimes I pick out a handful of recipes for the week. Sometimes we do Hello Fresh all week. It all works out. No one is starving. Even jumping back into marathon training, I have enough fuel and energy to succeed in my workouts.

I have clients that ask me if I want them to keep a food diary. Or if I can just tell them what to eat. It seems so much easier to have someone else, or something else, dictate it for you. But there is no JOY in that. Yes, it may help you with your short-term goals. There is a place and a purpose for tracking intake. I do 24 hour food recalls with all my new clients to get an idea of their usual dietary patterns as we get started on their goals. But every day, mapping out meals, is just not worth the time or the energy. Let’s get back to what our body needs today. It’s smart. It will tell us. We just have to learn to listen and interpret what it’s telling us.

Sound to good to be true? If you’re ready to change how you look at food and meal planning, I’d love to talk to you! Leave a comment below, or schedule a quick chat with me here.


A Year of Cultivating Authenticity: 2018 Goals

standard January 8, 2018 Leave a response

Happy 2018! Yes, we are already a week into this bright, shiny, new year, and I am just getting goals down on paper. Something about the New Year arriving on a Monday made the whole of last week into an extended break that was much-needed. My brain was not ready to jump right in to all the projects and tasks and appointments of normal, routine life just yet. So I gave myself the pass to ease into this year at my own pace. I am so thankful for the opportunity to work for myself, doing work I love, and being able to make my own schedule, fitting this time in.

As I was working through my Power Sheets over the past month, I struggled to figure out what my overarching word or theme for the year would be. I like having a word to give meaning to the year as whole, and usually one just comes to me, based on the season I am in, that aligns well with my goals for the year. Last year, I wanted to Be Present in my life, for my new baby, for my family. The year before I was Celebrating each small thing, starting a business, and traveling.

This year I felt at a loss. A lot of change is happening this year, and I’m already getting lost in the overwhelm of all that is currently going on and what is yet to come. I tried to remove some of that from the equation, to see what I wanted to focus on regardless of the changes. And I also looked through the lens of the unknown, recognizing that whatever I plan now will most likely change as life happens this year.

And that brought me back to just being real. Authentic. Genuine. The definition of genuine is “Truly what something is said to be. Possessing the claimed or attributed character. Authentic. Sincere.” No matter where life takes me this year, no matter how my business grows, no matter what goals I complete or cross off, doing everything to the best that I can, with sincerity, will make this year a success.

2018 is the Year of Being Genuine.

As I started brainstorming goals, I discovered the categories I usually focus on (personal, family, work, faith, fitness) fit in well with the framework of the Power Sheets prep this year. While my biggest areas of focus are on relationships and spiritual and personal growth, I set goals in each of 8 categories. To cultivate authenticity related to health, friends, my marriage, family, finances, work, spiritual and personal growth, and recreation. As usual, not all goals every month will target each category. And some are more small step, every day changes that will be ongoing. Similar to last year, I will highlight the top 5 or so each month, to direct my energy, keep me accountable, and see progress in different areas throughout the  year.

My intention in sharing my goals each month and each year are not just to keep me accountable or show off or be silly. I work with my nutrition clients to set small goals that will add up to big changes in the long run, and I share my own goals and struggles and progress as a way to model goal setting. To practice what I preach. I’ve been even more aware of that the past few months as I’ve made some bigger nutrition changes of my own (which I will be sharing more about later this month). I’d love for you to chime in with your goals each month, your struggles, your wins. Let’s do this together, this year. Here’s to being Genuine.

2018 Goals:

  1. Cultivate a healthy, real, GENUINE body. (health)
  2. Cultivate GENUINE, purposeful friendships.
  3. Cultivate a GENUINE marriage.
  4. Cultivate a GENUINE, life-giving home. (family)
  5. Cultivate GENUINE stewardship of finances.
  6. Cultivate GENUINE intention in spiritual and personal growth.
  7. Cultivate efficient and effective, GENUINE work.
  8. Cultivate time for GENUINE rest and recreation.

January Goals:

  • Clear out clutter in one room each week.
  • Set income goals for the year.
  • Set up weekly date nights.
  • Take a walk to the park/swings each week.
  • Go to bed by 10:00 pm each night.

What is your word for the year? Any big goals you’re ready to tackle?

Setting a new morning and evening routine is top of mind for me this month. Starting with simply getting to bed on time!


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Healthy Holidays: New Year’s Resolutions Aren’t Just for January

standard December 29, 2017 Leave a response

With January fast approaching, bringing with it a bright, shiny brand new year, it’s easy to get caught up in all the “New Year’s Resolution” hype. All the things we hoped to get done this year that we didn’t finish or forgot about. The things we decided to change and were waiting until January to implement.

While there is nothing wrong with starting resolutions on January 1st, you don’t have to wait until then to get started. Today is a great day. So is tomorrow. So is February. So many people start resolutions on January 1st and by mid-February or March, they’ve lost all momentum and have fallen back into their old habits. If you are tempted by the shiny newness of the New Year, try out these tips before jumping in with your 2018 goals.

1. Wait until Spring.

If you are a chronic January 1st resolutions-maker and by Spring, you’ve given up on all your goals, it might be better to spend January reflecting on the why of your goals and get started later in the year when you are more likely to stick to it.

2. Focus on the WHY.

Even if you do start in January, spend a little time this week reflecting on why the goals you are setting are important to you. What made you write those down as resolutions for the New Year? What is the big picture behind the specific action?

3. Set up accountability.

Determined to lose 50 pounds? Wanting to eat healthier? Or try to get your kids to eat more vegetables? Having outside accountability can dramatically help in sticking to the daily or weekly tasks that will get you to your goal. Have a friend meet you at the gym in the morning. Create a recipe swap group with your friends to share healthy recipes and tips. Tell people about your goal. Text a friend. Post a picture. Do whatever you know will help make it stick for you.

4. Don’t give up.

You will have set backs. You will “mess up.” But that one incident should not be reason for you to give up on the whole big picture. Refocus on the WHY you created. Follow up on the accountability you created. And start fresh tomorrow. None of us are perfect. We all give in to temptations. And what sets apart the quitters from the achievers is the mindset to keep going. Forgive yourself. Pick back up and keep going.

Catch up on earlier Healthy Holidays posts:

Healthy Holidays: Maintaining Balance at Mealtime

Healthy Holidays: Managing Food Allergies

Healthy Holidays: Staying Active