My Healthy Challenge Progress
Post by Olivia Martino, Registered Dietitian and Co-Owner, Nourish Northwest
So it has been 2 weeks of working on my goals and I’m here to report on my progress. Overall, things have been going well but I have definitely encountered some challenges.
Fitting in exercise is hard to do. The only way to ensure I met this goal was to schedule it in just like I would any meeting or appointment. At the beginning of each week I had to make sure I planned out which days I would exercise and what I would do. Most importantly, I had to follow through and the benefits of doing that are so worth the scheduling effort. Exercising makes me feel great, makes me want to make healthier food choices and makes my overall mood and stress level better.
Not drinking during the week is just as challenging as I thought it would be. This is 100% related to social gatherings and events. There were celebrations at bars, dinners and concerts. I went to some and didn’t drink, but passed on others.
Not eating sweets was actually pretty easy. I always tell people it takes only 3 days of omitting sugar to kick the craving and I stand by that. It’s amazing how you don’t even crave it when you aren’t eating it. I highly recommend taking a 3 day sugar challenge if you feel like your intake is getting out of control.
Biking to work has been a challenge because of some of the barriers I have. It’s important to consider barriers when setting goals and I failed to really think this one through. The main problem is that each day I have to transport food for the day, my laptop, purse, workout clothes and/or business clothes to work and I have no efficient way of doing so on a bike. I need to invest in a sturdy backpack or bike bag to transport my things. A couple of days I planned ahead and brought enough stuff for a few days that I could stash at work. I also don’t own rain gear, so with the upcoming forecast this goal is going to get difficult. However, one thing I learned is that I love riding my bike to work. It adds more exercise into my day and helps me de-stress. I need to invest in appropriate gear and then I would love to continue to set this as a goal.
Tracking food was a very interesting experience for me. I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I didn’t find it tedious like I had expected and I definitely noticed that the act of food logging made me more mindful of what and how much I was eating. I really liked the MyFitness Pal app. It has a huge database of foods, including recipes I used from popular blogs and websites. I can see how this can be an effective tool for weight loss.
On the flip side there are some things I dislike about tracking, one of the main ones being the focus on calories. My Fitness Pal does give you a more detailed nutritional breakdown of your day but calories are emphasized as the main thing you are supposed to be focused on. I actually noticed myself making less healthy choices because of this. A few times I chose a non-nutritive rice cracker as a snack because it helped to keep me within my calorie goal. When I realized that my super nutrient-dense homemade protein power balls always made me go over my calorie intake for the day it made me want to steer clear of them. I was experiencing a shift away from my philosophy of focusing on quality of food and heading more towards focusing only on quantity. I can see how this could happen for many people that track and I don’t think that’s a good thing. I firmly believe quality of food is more important than quantity. If a snack that is chock full of omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, calcium, Vitamin E and protein has more calories than a snack that is devoid of any nutrients, my choice is going to lie with the nutrient density. This is the type of nutrition I have always practiced and I don’t want to get away from that.
Tracking my goals has helped tremendously. It seems like such a simple concept but it really made all the difference in the world. Seeing a visual of my goals and progress every day kept me accountable. It was also a great way for me to measure success. Recording my exercise and whether or not I met my food goals at the end of the day really made me feel like I had accomplished something.
In 2 weeks the scale has not changed, a reality that I was aware may happen and may be frustrating. According to My Fitness Pal I should have lost 8 pounds by now, which is a goal I know is not realistic for my body. It’s not a simple equation of calories in vs. calories out. Everyone’s metabolisms, body types and compositions are so different. I have had many clients that get frustrated by their rate of weight loss but the reality is, it can take a long time. Eating healthy and exercising have benefits that extend far beyond weight loss and the scale won’t tell you that. It’s important to measure success in ways other than weight, which is another reason why setting concrete goals is crucial.
What I have really learned from this experience is that for me, the hard part is not eating well and exercising, it’s about planning, scheduling and setting goals. The busier I get, I know that this is something I will need to continue to do. Maybe the scale will change and maybe it won’t but I know that I feel a lot better, stronger and healthier already and that is enough to make me want to stick with the plan!