• 4 Reasons to Track Your Food

    I have been tracking my food intake for over 15 years. I was in college and I would keep a small notebook beside my bed. Amazon was mostly where you bought books back then, and I had found Calorie King’s Calorie Counter book to look up each food. I kept a mental log of what food I ate each day and came home to write it down in this notebook. I definitely couldn’t remember every single thing I ate and log it once a day now, but I was in my early 20’s so my memory must have been much better. I also ate a lot of fast food and this book had a good section for the most popular places. My goal was to hit about 1400 calories back then and it worked! I eat more calories than that today and I use MyFitnessPal to log my calories, but the concept is still the same. Here are 4 reasons why tracking your food is important…

    4 Reasons to Track Your Food

    First and foremost tracking is important because you have to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight. Bottom line, no ifs, ands or buts! The calorie deficit can be reached through a variety of methods… IIFYM, keto, paleo, etc. Tracking your food will allow you to know what your calorie intake is, and use that information to determine if your calorie intake needs to increase, decrease or stay the same. If you have someone calculate your macros, your typical daily caloric intake will play into what numbers they give you. If you are tracking your progress yourself, you may notice that at 1900 calories you aren’t losing but when you get down to 1800 you are seeing the numbers decrease. Use this calorie information as a tool to see what you need to do to achieve your goal.

    Being more conscious and mindful is another reason to track your food. This means to actually know what you are consuming, not just what you “think” you are consuming. If someone guessed how many calories they typically consumed it may be significantly different from your actual intake. You won’t know for sure unless you track yourself. In order to reach your goals, you need to be honest with yourself and this is one way to start!

    I recently saw a post on Instagram where someone said to make sure you count your “B.L.T.s”… your bites, licks and tastes. This is great! This goes along with reason #2 about being more conscious, but makes sure you are as accurate in your tracking as possible. I used to never add condiments, bites from my kid’s plates or supplements to MyFitnessPal… what a mistake! These can definitely add up to hundreds of calories (or lots of macros). If you aren’t doing this, I challenge you to start NOW. This can be the difference for you.

    Lastly, use your tracking information to recognize your own patterns. Here is what you could find out:

    • How much you eat of each macronutrient (protein, carbohydrates and fat). In the last 4 years I have started to look at my macros more closely, but before that I ate significantly high in carbohydrates and fat, and low in protein. Upping my protein intake has really helped with fat loss (not just weight loss). If you are eating low carb, this information will also be very helpful.
    • What times of the month or events trigger you to eat too much or too little (or a macronutrient change). Especially for women, those hormone changes or menstrual cycle can have an impact on how you eat. Being conscious of those times can help you prepare for them or at least identify those triggers.
    • Are you eating too much fiber, sodium, sugar??? MyFitnessPal is what I use, but I’m sure other apps have the feature to see all nutrients as well. Use this information to adjust the quality of the foods you eat. Try to get more fruits, veggies and whole grains to up that fiber intake. Back off on the processed foods to lower your sugar and sodium. Try to utilize all the information provided from your tracker, not just the calories.

    Do you track your food? What are your reservations for doing it? Let me know your thoughts and consider trying it temporarily to see if it helps you. Comment below or on my Facebook or Instagram!

    3 ways to stick to your diet

    Also, check out this blog post if you are having trouble sticking to your diet!

  • Instagram Story Templates and Tips

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    I am co-hosting a baby shower for my sister next month and I thought it would be fun to create one of the shower games as an Instagram story for the guests. This way we could share the game easily and the parents-to-be would have these images to save for the future.
    Baby Shower Game Instagram Story Template

    *Click the picture to download the story template!

    Instagram Story Template Tips:

    1. Make sure to use a hashtag for party guests to easily find or follow the story. If you have trouble creating a hashtag there are several hashtag generators out there. I love hashtags with rhymes, idioms or alliterations!
    2. Use and encourage others to use emojis in their answers. It makes it more fun to fill out and more fun to read others when they use emojis. Remember, a picture tells a thousand words!
    3. Tag anyone in the story that applies… the creator, friends that you want to see it, friends you want to have fill it out, or anyone else. This encourages more interaction and engagement in the story… the more, the merrier!
    4. Save the story to your highlights so you can refer to it later or share it again at a later date! It is always fun to reminisce.

    More templates…

    2019 goals instagram story template (2)

    2019 goals instagram story template

    2019 goals instagram story template

     

     

    Check out my Instagram to see more story templates or take a picture of the template straight from there!

  • My 2018 Health and Fitness Gift List

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    My 2018 Health and Fitness Gift List

    Do you have a health and fitness lover in your life? Here are my favorite products that I have personally used and recommend for all things health and fitness. I have also included a wish list of items that I have heard great things about and want myself. I hope you enjoy and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

    My Gift Recommendations:

     Beyond Raw LIT Pre-Workout – Gummy Worm flavor

    I am always looking for a good pre-workout, especially for my 4:40 a.m. wake up call for bootcamp workout. This one tastes great (actually like a gummy worm) and delivers with the energy boost. I have heard some people say the jittery-ness was too much, but I have been taking pre-workout for a while as well as drink caffeine daily so I’m used to it. Try this one if you already take pre-workout and need a new one in the mix!

    90 Degree By Reflex – High Waist Power Flex Legging

    These leggings are some of my favorites. I have bought several pair from Amazon (great prices), but they have their own website as well. The quality is so great and the high waist stays up well. You can search for the design and length you want, and they have great options. Check these out!

    Sports Research Premium Collagen Peptides Powder

    Collagen powder is all over the place if you are following health and fitness social media accounts. There are several brands that people recommend, but I have liked this Sports Research one because I have enjoyed the quality, it is easy to use and the price is better than others. I mix it with my hot tea, coffee and even oatmeal. Like it says, it is flavorless so you have no idea that it is in there. From what I understand, collagen is not a complete protein so it should not replace other protein intake (but do your own research). Collagen powder is said to help with hair, skin and joints… and I believe it! I have not had any cystic acne when using it regularly and had less problems with my joints when working out.

    Apple Watch Series 3

    Last Christmas my Fitbit bit the dust and my husband talked me into getting an Apple Watch (Series 3, 38mm). I cannot express how much I love this Apple Watch enough, way more than ever using a Fitbit. The various apps and feature benefits are too long to list, but specifically for health and fitness the Workout and Activity features are fabulous! I track my exercise, “move” calories, steps and standing on a daily basis. See my previous post to learn more about what I really think of fitness trackers. It has allowed me to put down my phone more and just respond to important messages or calls, instead of keeping my phone by me 24/7. Even though it is expensive, I have found it to be totally worth it!

     

    My Wish List:

    Victorem Booty Resistance Workout Hip Exercise Bands

    Some women in my bootcamp workout use these bands and rave about them. They are thick, wide and made of cloth, so they say they do not roll up. I spend way too much time adjusting the current latex bands I have, so I think these are worth a shot. I have added these to my Christmas list, so I hope someone gets them for me!

    Muscle Up Top from Ollie Marie Boutique 

    I actually already have this top (actually bought both the medium and then small), so I highly recommend it but I am wishing for some more muscle tops like this. I love working out in muscle tees instead of tank tops for some reason, but it is hard to find muscle tees with arm holes that aren’t huge. If you want a good muscle tee (with great quality) I recommend this one, and comment below if you have found some other great ones out there!

    adidas Women’s Ultraboost Running Shoe

    I am in desperate need of new workout shoes and I have heard great things about these. I also happen to love Adidas, so I definitely have my eyes on these. Green and blue shades are my fav… hint, hint. What workout shoes do you love?

    I hope these recommendations help you solve any holiday shopping dilemmas. Hit me up on social media and share your favorite health and fitness gift ideas!

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  • My Intermittent Fasting Experiment: The Update

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    Intermittent Fasting Update Results

    In September I started experimenting with Intermittent Fasting. You can read my initial thoughts of My Intermittent Fasting Experiment here. But now after over a month of incorporating it into my lifestyle, here are my thoughts and results.

    The Process: What Did I Do?

    As you can read in my original Intermittent Fasting (IFpost, I researched various perspectives on this method. I decided to go with the 16/8 method, but aimed for approximately 15 hours of fasting each day based on the recommendation for 14-15 hours for women. My original motivation for trying IF was to not blow through so many calories before 8 a.m., so this plan was primarily to combat that issue.

    I started using the Zero App to track when I started and stopped each fast. I REALLY liked using this app! It was very helpful to just press a button to start, and not have to actually remember the exact time. It reminded me through a notification on my iPhone AND Apple watch when my fasting period was over. You can customize how many hours you want to fast and it will notify you when that time is up. I was already at school working by the time I needed to break the fast, so this was especially helpful for me.

    Each day I would stop eating after dinner (approximately 5:30-6 p.m.), and then start eating around 8:30 for a 15 hour fast. It worked with my schedule when it was just me and the kids at home for dinner, but not always when I would wait for my husband to get home to eat. The weekends were also tricky. I tended to eat dinner later on Friday and Saturday, so I would have to eat breakfast much later the following morning.

    Honestly, I did not fast every day since I began in September, but did do the majority of the days.

    The Results: Physical and Mental

    Mentally…

    • I liked having more control over when I ate.
    • It helped me avoid snacking, by mentally cutting myself off after dinner.
    • I was not scared to get hungry, and that was a real fear I had while at work.
    • Sometimes I felt like I would worry more about my fasting time than my calories or macros.

    Physically…

    • I did not have the feeling of hunger the majority of the time when I was fasting.
    • My weight did not change, but I did lose slightly over 3 inches during this time. 
      • I take body measurements for my bust, hips, waist, biceps and thighs.
    • I did not physically feel different otherwise.



    The Verdict: Does It Work and Will I Continue?

    There are a lot of pros and cons that people promote about IF across the internet. I did not find any other benefits other than it helping me adhere to my calories/macros by shortening my eating window. Some may say I was not “hardcore” enough because I did not fast long enough to see any other benefits, but that was not my motivation for the experiment. I used it in a way to address my problem.

    My personal verdict is that Intermittent Fasting is a tool to use to help you stick to your eating plan. I still believe a calorie deficit is the MOST important aspect of weight loss, and increased protein (IIFYM or Flexible Dieting) helps with body composition (fat loss over weight loss). Intermittent Fasting is just a way to stick to it.

    If I feel that I am not sticking to that calorie deficit on a regular basis, I may implement IF as a part of my plan. For now, I will stop eating after dinner and wait until after 8 a.m. to eat breakfast, but I will not track how many hours I fast.

    Have you tried Intermittent Fasting? What did you think? Share your experiences by commenting below or visit my Instagram to share!

  • 3 Ways to Stick to Your Diet

    This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.

    Spoiler alert, most diets work because of a calorie deficit. Whether it’s keto, 21 day fix, low-fat, high fat, paleo… the list goes on and on. The actual weight (or fat) loss is a result of energy balance.  The key to weight loss is STICKING to the diet you have chosen. Here are 3 ways to help you adhere to the diet of your choice!

    3 ways to stick to your diet

    #1 Tame the Munchies

    No matter what diet you’re on, you will encounter the munchies at some point. They may be physiological or psychological, but you’ll get them. You need to be prepared to deal with this uncontrollable hunger. There are two methods you can take…

    • Do not keep any snacks at home that you will overeat. If you know you like chocolate or chips and you cannot control yourself around them, just keep them out of the house. Fill your house with healthy snacks, so when you get the munchies you will only have the healthy options.
    • You can also keep some 0-100 calories snacks around the house, that if you eat them in a munchie-frenzy it will not derail your progress. Some of my favorite low-calorie snacks I keep around the house for this reason are: pickles, sugar-free jello or frozen yogurt bars (Yasso is my favorite).

    #2 Create a Time Limit

    I have been playing around with Intermittent Fasting (see my blog post), and one thing I have learned is that it can help you stick to your diet. If you know that you tend to overeat at certain times of the day, this is a great strategy!

    I wake up at 5 a.m. and have to be at work at 7 a.m., so recently I was eating way too many calories before work even started. By postponing my first meal I have already helped myself stick to my calorie and macro ranges. If you are a late-night snacker, you may want to stop eating after dinner. Just look at your habits, and see what time frame would work best for you.

    #3 Get Busy

    Okay dirty mind, that’s not what I mean (but not a bad idea either). What I mean is to busy your mind and body if you eat out of boredom. When you get the urge to snack, find something to do. This will really help you distinguish real hunger from just being bored. Here are some more ideas of things to do to keep yourself busy:

    • Read a book
    • Get some chores done
    • Write a blog post
    • Take a walk
    • Make a grocery list for next week
    • Chug some of your water intake for the day
    • Get “busy” 😉

    These are just a few ideas that will hopefully help you. It is most important to be consistent in your meal plan and exercise routine. If you get off track, just get back to it right away. One mistake does not mean you have to quit completely.

    Follow @myenergybalancingact on Instagram to see my post-pregnancy weight transformations and continued weight loss tips and tricks!

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  • FREE Habit Tracker Download

    This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.

    Consistency is key! A quick, easy way to track your healthy habits is in this FREE Habit Tracker Download. Mark off each day that you complete your individual goals. Even if you mess up one day, you can get back on it the next day and over 30 days you will see the impact it has made.

    healthy habit tracker

    My inspiration for this was Rachel Hollis’ #last90days challenge, where the goal is to improve yourself the last 90 days of the year instead of waiting until New Year’s Day. BTW, if you haven’t read Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis that is great start to changing habits in your life. See my post for my reasons why you should read this book.

    When you download this FREE Habit Tracker, you get 4 versions! There is a 30 and 31 day version for the healthy habits tracker and the customizable tracker. The healthy habits version includes diet, water intake, exercise and sleep. The customizable tracker has 4 spots for goals to track.

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    How to Use the Habit Tracker Tips:

    • Keep this print out in a place that you will visit daily.
      • Maybe by your bedside to mark off each evening.
      • Post it on the fridge as a reminder before you grab something you shouldn’t eat or to drink more water.
    • Set a reminder on your phone to mark your habit tracker for the day.
    • Involve your kids and let them mark it off for you. My 4-year old would love to do that and it would help keep me accountable.
    • Give yourself a reward if you fill up all spots for that month.
    • Take pics and share your habit tracker in progress! Tag @myenergybalancingact when you do!

    30 Day Habit Tracker

    Click here for FREE Habit Tracker Download