Is Keeping a Food Diary Right for You?

Is logging food right for you? Traditionally New Years begins the season of, fitting back into your skinny jeans. Statistics show that most people abandon their New Years diets before Valentines Day. 

And so bring I bring up this question:
              Is keeping a food diary right for you?

This is more of a personal question than an argument for or against keeping a food diary. 
Why do diets fail? A plan that works long term, has two requirements. A successful life lasting diet must be one that A)Has an accountability plan in place and B) Can work with your lifestyle. Diets that fail, fall short of reaching these require long term.
If keeping a food diary will satisfy those factors. Then you have your answer. To help make your decision, let’s look at the pros and cons of keeping a food diary.
The cons
Weighing and measuring all food.

Figuring out amounts of each ingredient in a recipe.

Not being the committed to weighing your food. 

Not being patient enough to stick with the plan.

Not having a system for recording your food.

Not knowing the amount of food in restaurant meals

The pros:
Immediate awareness of what you eat

Accountability – owning your choices

Planning simple meals 

Minimizing impulse eating

Share your diary for added support

Becomes easier as you get familiar with your foods.

Use of mobile apps allows your diary to be at arm’s reach 

In 1999 I went on a popular diet and began keeping a food diary. The diet ultimately didn’t fit my life style, but the biggest take away I got from that experience, was that keeping a food diary worked in my favor. For the vast majority of the last 17 years I have kept a food diary, because it has helped me maintain my nutrition plan. Somewhere around 2008, I switched from paper and pencil to a mobile app, making it even easier to log my food. It is now second nature for me to record my food, and stay within my parameters. The only time I do not log my food is when I eat out, and on Christmas, and even then I intuitively. There are times where I want to splurge, and because I keep a food journal I can save some of my ‘food budget’ for that treat. This’s what I call ‘planned delayed gratification.’
 Keeping a food diary can work for any plan, because the built in accountability maintains portion control. All successful diets provide portion control. Most of them control intake by restricting one type of food or another, however the plan that fits your lifestyle, is the one that you will have success with long term. 

Celebrate Your Commitments

This is the hectic week before christmas, and the rush is on to create the ideal holiday setting. This week Ed and I also celebrate our wedding anniversary. 
In many ways. Life long fitness is analogous to a life long happy marriage.


To be successful, both require dedication and commitment. If you want each to last, you have to be present. You have to be committed. You have to put in major effort. If you want your marriage to last you have to own the responsibility of dating your spouse for life. If you want your fitness to last, you have to own your fitness habits. 
The holidays are no exception.  

Being married the week before Christmas, could be an excuse to blow off an anniversary celebration, in exchange for squeezing in more holiday preparations. Early on in our marriage, when we had two toddlers in diapers and sleepless nights, we got behind on laundry and gift wrapping. We spent that anniversary conquering mount-wash-more and wrapping gifts. We looked at each other and came to an agreement. Never again would we omit celebrating our wedding day to prepare for Christmas. From that point on, we learned to prepare ahead of time so that on 12/23 every year, we could relax with our family and celebrate our marriage. 
I treat my fitness lifestyle the same way. There are times when it would be easier to put off my fit habits, for example the weeks before Christmas. But I choose to own my fitness commitment. I chose to be consistent with my exercise and nutrition habits. Being consistent now, makes the transition to the new year less stressful. I don’t have to do resolutions for fitness, because I resolved years ago to be consistent.  
Like a marriage vow, be committed to your fitness. You will thank your self. 

And always remember to be grateful and kind.

Comfort Food For a Cold and Blustery Day

The way I prepare meals has evolved over years. As a younger mother, I was all about learning the family recipes from my mother and mother in law. There was a good deal of comfort food especially in the colder months. Often time those recipes were detailed and very heavy.

Over the years, I devised some of my own cooking skills to be lighter, and simplified. The reasons for this was that I did not have time between driving kids to sports, and helping with homework to prepare the comfort meals of my youth. Along the way, I also realized that it became easier to log my food with simplified recipes. I have been logging my food  almost continually since 1999. (Food journaling is a topic for another day)

Below is a simple recipe I came up with, on a cold and dark day, when I was wishing for the smell of my mothers Italian cooking.

This dinner is very light but feels hearty. It delivers on flavor, and comes together quickly.

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Chicken Thighs with Eggplant and Fire Roasted Tomatoes
Ingredients
1 medium to large eggplant
Olive oil nonstick spray
4-5 cloves of garlic sliced thin
8 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
Smoked Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper
1 (15-16oz.) can fire roasted diced tomatoes

2 Tbsp tomato paste (I like to buy this in a tube so I don’t open a whole can for 2 Tbsp)
1 tsp. each dry Basil and oregano
Directions:
1. Cut eggplant into 3/4 inch cubes, lightly salt and set aside.
2. Spray a cast iron or nonstick skillet with olive oil nonstick spray, and Place over a medium flame.
3. Add garlic and sauté just until soft, and remove from heat. Season chicken with salt and fresh ground pepper, and place in skillet. Return skillet to medium-high heat and sear chicken on both sides just until lightly golden. Remove chicken.
4. Add rest of ingredients and bring up to a boil.
5. Carefully nestle chicken in skillet, lower heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes.
6. Serves 4, One serving is two thighs and 1/4 of the tomato eggplant mixture.
7. Optional: serve with rice, pasta, or crusty French bread. Add a leafy green salad to complete the meal.

*picture above is before the simmer time.
Macros: For 5oz. chicken and 1/4 of the tomato eggplant sauce: protein 42g, carbs 30g, fat 10g, fiber 11g.

Frantic Food Anxiety and Sesame Cookies

Frantic Food Frenzy

 Food can foster family and community. Food can be joyful. Food can make you feel good. But—food is not love… Food is food. 

Look on the web and you will find many methods to manage holiday temptations. But consider this, copying someone else’s diet is like trying to fit into your best friends jeans. They look great on her, but not so much on you.

We have all read countless tips, like ‘eat a big salad at home…yeah, right. That big salad with dry tuna does not get me in the party spirit, nor prevent me from wanting amazing party food. Instead, of focusing on what you shouldn’t do, try this instead. Take a moment to be grateful. Now, consider if you are stressed, and if you are using food to self sooth.

Embrace this: What you do the majority of the time, will impact your progress more than what you do once in a while. The most effective strategy then, is to be consistent, because being too restrictive will lead to a binge and being too indulgent will make you feel guilty.

If an over indulgence happens, just make peace with it and move on. The next day have some extra water with lemon. Then just eat normally. Falling into the trap of over indulgence followed by severe restricting is the opposite of consistency.

Look for your personal middle ground, the place where you can wear your clothes comfortably and yet not feel deprived. Make a conscious effort to stay there. Remember not to be too restrictive, too little is always followed by too much. Now, you still have to be somewhat restrictive, because to maintain your middle ground you get everything you need, and some of what you want.

“To maintain your consistency, your middle ground, you get everything you need, and some of what you want”

Please don’t obsess about all the little food rules. Pick your own rules, and be consistent. If you are looking for direction, check out my 4P Plan for suggestions.

Judy’s 4 P’s  

Protein:   Consume some protein  at every meal.  This should average out to the size of your palm in thickness and area.  About 4 palms worth a day.

Pump:     The hands down most effective way to keep your body burning calories like a wood fired pizza oven is to pump iron. (Like you know…heavier than your designer handbag)  The stimulus will keep your metabolism in burning mode.

Prime:    Prime yourself with water all day long, every day.  A well hydrated body digests and more efficiently.  At social events, try alternating water and cocktails.

Plan:       Have a plan in place where you allow yourself one treat per day.  It could be a special adult beverage or a little sweet that you covet.  Make it special, and savor it.   There is no reason to overdo it because you will have some more the next day if you want it. Decide when and where you want that treat, then have it and stop.  By having it you avoid the cycle of deprive-binge-deprive again-binge more.  That just leads to self-disgust.  Let’s face it; overindulging always makes us feel like shit the next day. Having a treat is the best of both worlds. Enjoy yet still have be in control.

Finally, find your joy in non food activities, and remember to always be grateful and kind.

Below is one of my mother’s old Christmas cookie recipes

Sesame Cookies (Family Recipe) 

Cream the following with a mixer:

  • 1/2 cup shortening or butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs

Add in:

  • 2 tsp milk or cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Add:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Roll into finger width snakes and cut into 2 inch pieces. Dip in a milk bath and roll in sesame seeds. Bake on greased  cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

 

Respect Your Efforts…Clint Eastwood says so!

 

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Last week I asked our  tribe about their fitness challenges in December. The response was split between making time to train, eating moderately and staying motivated.

How do we manage this? Because in January nobody wants to feel regret, tight clothes or the urge to crash diet.

I am NOT not going to suggest some unreasonable meal plan, or a long list  of rules.

Just do this: Love and accept yourself.

Because when you affirm your self acceptance every single day, two outcomes happen. The first is you are more likely to minimize your indulgences, and second, if you do indulge, you are still recognizing that it doesn’t change you.

“Your value as a person is not dependent on your diet/exercise compliance” – share this

Clint Eastman once said:

“Respect your efforts, respect yourself. Self respect leads to self discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that’s real power. ~ Clint Eastwood

Turn this into a daily affirmation:

I respect my efforts.

I respect myself.

My efforts and self respect give me power.

The take home point is this:

Let go of feeling guilty for not having the perfect month. Know that you are doing your best, because when you do your best, what ever it is, it is good enough.

Love yourself enough to want to practice your healthy strategies.

If your time is short and you want to get in some exercise. Look at my complimentary December exercise  plan in the exercise section of the Gratefulfitnessny.com web site. This plan is intense but it only takes 5″ after warm up. If you are unclear on any of exercises, contact me.

Always be grateful, and be kind to yourself.

DECEMBER MADRUSH

“There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs”

That is great, except in the month of December. How many Decembers have you actually stayed dedicated to your exercise plan?

I get it.

As Moms wives sisters and daughters, we can get bogged down with holiday preparations. And before we know it we have lost our consistent exercise routines.

Could you commit to doing a 5 minute minute workout at home daily in December?

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My inspiration for 5 minute workouts came from the book Mini Habits, by Stephen Guise. The message of this book is that “mini habits” can help us to create lasting habits, based on the fact that a mini habit is more likely to be done more consistently than an overwhelming time-hog habit. Often times people do more, but the key here is that you only have to do the mini habit, in this case a 5 minute workout.

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I am sharing my 5 minute per day exercise plan for December. This plan can be done anywhere with no equipment.

Five Minutes. Period. Most of us waste more than that daily on social media.

An interval timer app (I prefer Tabata Pro) on your phone is helpful, but you could get away with the second hand on your watch.

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