Friday, April 3, 2009

Tracking your eating an exercise habits

Tracking what you eat and how much you exercise is a great way to stay on top of things and keep yourself in check and shape (so long as you keep it up and review it). I've struggled with physical fitness most of my life and after graduation from college I started to focus on my health because it had been so neglected during school. Here is a bit of the chronicle of my attempt to keep track of my health improvements and slips.

I used peertrainer for more than a year (with a few times of falling off the wagon). It was great because you could just list what you ate, instead of having to fill out endless pull-down menus to choose things that vaguely represented what you ate/ made for yourself. It was up to you to make sure you were making good choices. There are groups and teams and I liked this idea however my group only had one other person in it who actually was there most of the time. We had people join, say/post nothing for a week and then leave the group. There is a hand conversation box to the side and you can see what other people in your group are eating and what exercises they are doing. If I could have found a more solid group I think I would have kept it up. I tended not to post on weekends because I wasn't sitting at a computer all day like I do on weekdays. I generally posted my dinner and snacks from the previous night on the following morning at work.

I have also used a notebook created for training and keeping track of exercises and food consumption. I liked that I could carry it all the time and even to the gym to really keep track of my weight training which I have a tendency to forget (how much weight, what exercise, how many sets). At that time I was training with a friend from work for a 5K race. I'd set a goal of 45 minutes and I beat it by about a minute and a half. This was pretty fantastic for me because in K-12 I was one of the kids who walked the mile run. I did track and field... but really just field. I watched the runners in awe of their fit bodies and ability to jump hurdles (which scare the crap out of me.) I wanted to sign up for another race, in fact my running buddy and I talked about doing a marathon (she'd already done one) but then life happened (and winter) and we fell out of running and then she became more interested in hot yoga. This notebook was I think my favorite method of tracking my weight. It wasn't so strict in what kind of information you can put in, it had spaces for weight training, cardio, vitamins, glasses of water. Probably even better would be to have a personal trainer you talk to at the beginning of using it and when you finish the book- or even once part way through.

I have also created spreadsheets with graphs to keep track of my weight in the past. (Have I mentioned that I love spreadsheets? 'cause I do.) I like seeing a graph of progress. (Being a visual person seeing a line graph was encouraging rather than having to sort through numbers.) Excel and Google Documents makes it easy to create graphs with information, all you have to do is input the information. You can even set up your chart for how ever many days you want then all you have to do is plug in your weight/ waist measurement when you take it and watch your chart update (hopefully in a downward motion!) As you can see I was doing great for a while then I fell off the wagon. I'm trying to get back on now, hence the flurry of weight related posts! That's frustrating to look at now- I hadn't opened this file since last summer. I was so close to my goal. I wonder what happened that pushed me so far off track... time to review some calendars from last year and learn more about my habits and what happened in that sharp uphill turn!

(* I just checked the dates and that was 4th of July weekend. When the holiday and the food and the family time got the best of me. I remember being really frustrated after that!)

There was a Weight Watchers free online trial for 14 days that I did two summers ago. I joined again last year for a couple months, but failed to go to a meeting because of schedule and location options. I found the website annoying to use because you had to list everything in such detail, and a lot of things weren't easy to list (this was on the points system).

Visiting KE's sister (also KE!) in Philly, I got a glimpse of Wii Fit and I loved it. It made keeping track of your weight fun and balance exercises fun (which is something I really need to work on as my main goal for getting in shape is to be a better snowboarder). Unfortunately I don't have a Wii Console, I'm keeping my eye out for deals though! Perhaps I'll get one for myself when I'm at grad school... hmm....

Now that I've pulled that graph out from the past I'm excited to get back to my lower weight. I've just signed up for another online tracker- this one is weight and waistline tracking at RealAge. This site was suggested to me by a friend who knows I get a high of tracking things and charts and graphs and visualizers of success. I've just joined and input my goals and starting date information. Time to get back on track! I'm excited, are you excited!? Woot!

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