To Count Calories, or Not To Count Calories?
Disclaimer: I no longer count calories, nor do I recommend counting calories to patients/clients. I now practice an intuitive eating approach, both personally and professionally, and you can learn more about that in the more recent posts linked below.
My Journey to Food Freedom + Intuitive Eating Resources
The More I Embrace Intuitive Eating, The Less I Care About Food
Thoughts About Getting “Back On Track”
Why I Still Don’t Count Calories
That is the question.
As you know, fitness trackers are all the rage right now, and there are SO many to choose from. So which one is the best? Well, I can’t speak about all of them, but there are a few that I’ve tried and loved. First, I had a Polar FT40 watch along with a heart rate monitor that I wore solely while I worked out. The watch told me the time, length of my workout, heart rate, average and max heart rate during my workout, % of time in the “fat burning” zone, and total calories burned. For the most part, I was satisfied with my Polar, but after a while I started having issues with the heart rate monitor not connecting to the watch, which got very frustrating and distracting during my workouts. However, when it was functioning properly, I really liked it!
This past Christmas I got the Garmin vivofit, and I will never go back. The Vivofit is similar to the well-known fitbit, except better (in my opinion). You do not have to charge the vivofit; it has a battery that lasts up to a year. I wear it 24/7 – even in the shower! (waterproof = bonus) In addition, the vivofit has the option of coming with a heart rate monitor, which I also wanted. The vivofit has a screen on the band that tells you: total steps, time, date, calories burned, distance walked, and heart rate (when you’re wearing your HR monitor). You can sync the vivofit with the Garmin app on your iPhone (or other smart phone), which keeps track of all your steps, activities, and even sleep patterns. I always love to look and see how I slept the night before- it makes a lot of sense why I’m so tired some days! The app shows your average steps per week/month/year, whatever you want to know. And you can earn badges as you go which is kinda motivating and fun. I have over 1.5 MILLION total steps! You can even compete with friends who also have a Garmin device. My grandmother wore an (old school) pedometer for as long as I can remember, and her goal was always to reach 10,000 steps every day. Now that I have my own step tracker, I strive to reach at least 10,000 everyday too! A red line shows up on the screen if you’ve been sitting still for too long, which sometimes drives me crazy, but it helps me get my butt moving! You can ask my family… I often pace around the house and/or walk up and down the stairs just to get rid of that darn red line. 🙂 Lastly, the Garmin app syncs with the MyFitnessPal app, if that’s something you like to use. It pulls your calories burned from activity into MyFitnessPal, which counts towards your total calories allotted for the day. I strongly recommend this fitness tracker for anyone who is looking to purchase one! Bonus: the version I have is the second to last one that Garmin released, so the prices have gone down and it’s totally affordable! GO VIVOFIT!
The pics above are a couple examples of my sleep patterns. Some nights I wake up multiple times, and others it looks like I might have died in my sleep (see left).
The next tracking device I want to talk about is the MyFitnessPal app, which I mentioned above. Personally, I love this app and I’ve been using it since high school (AKA 5-6 years). First of all I want to point out, tracking food/calories is NOT for everyone and it is NOT a requirement. However, it has been shown to help people reach their weight loss goals, because it holds you accountable for the things you are putting in your body. Think about it. Do you really want to type in the 3 cookies, handful of M&Ms and 2 cups of ice cream you ate today? Maybe if it’s a holiday (in which case I usually take the day off 😉 ). But really, if you have weight loss or even weight maintenance in mind, give it a shot! It’s a good feeling when you stay within your calorie goal + have calories burned from exercise, and have a good distribution of macronutrients! The app shows you the % of calories you are getting from carbs, protein, and fat and breaks down specific micronutrients too. MyFitnessPal has an incredible database. Literally everything I eat is in there! Pretty much all the name brands and products you can find on the shelves at the grocery store, and even menu items from tons of chain restaurants (Panera, Noodles & Company, you name it). You can even scan the barcode on food items to add them into your food record for the day. Tracking your food throughout the day can really keep you in control and help you stay on track (pun somewhat intended). Once you have used it for a while, it remembers all the foods you have recently used, or that you frequently use. So if you’re anything like me and eat the same things all the time, it’s SO quick and easy to plug in your meals. It takes no time at all, if you’re worried that this would be “too much of a pain” or “too time consuming” for you.
Again, fitness/food tracking is NOT for everyone. It just depends on your personality and your fitness goals! I’m super type A and organized, so I think it’s fun. If this is something that you think would motivate you and push you to workout harder and eat better, then absolutely try it! But if you think these things would make you feel guilty and discourage you, then I would not recommend it – we can try a different strategy for you. : )
That’s all for today, friends!
eat well. live well. be happy.