Keeping A Food Journal: 12-Week Challenge

Doubling down on food journaling! Today kicks off the start of my 12-Week Tracking Challenge.

Doubling down on food journaling! Today kicks off the start of my 12-Week Tracking Challenge.

Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m horrible at tracking my food. I don’t know why. I seem to go through cycles. Some weeks I am the most awesome tracker in the world. Others, I completely suck at it.

Guess what cycle I’m in now?

I know tracking works. When I track, the pounds fall off. It’s that simple.

Over the last 2 weeks, I went from tracking everything everyday to just a couple of meals a day to no tracking at all.

A part of me just thinks I don’t have to write it down. I can count my points and carbs in my head. Ha! I ended up snacking all last night and lost count sometime between dinner, the jello, the almonds, the wine, and the late night chicken wings.

Tracking Challenge
I decided to create a 12-Week Tracking Challenge using both paper and my iPhone. I want to reinforce a good habit…hence the 12-weeks. I’m tracking:

  • Food (PointsPlus and Net Carb)
  • Water
  • Exercise
  • Goals
  • Weekly Challenges

Paper Journal Vs. Apps
Conventional wisdom says apps make tracking “easier.” But I’m not so sure.

I find with paper, I’m actually thinking about what I’m doing. With the app, it’s more like I log it and think more about improving the app, not myself.

Since I’m tracking both PointsPlus and net carb values, I plan to use Weight Watchers, My Fitness Pal and Carb Master apps during the first phase of the challenge.

Truth is no one app does what I need it to do – calculate PointsPlus and net carbs, and track my activity. My Weight Watchers’ app is my workhorse for tracking, but it doesn’t count carbs (please WW gods add this feature!).  Friends recommended My Fitness Pal and Carb Masters. So I’ll also review the apps during this challenge.

Behold the Fitbook! My paper food journal for the next 12 weeks.

Behold! My paper food journal for the next 12 weeks.

I know paper isn’t a walk in the park either. I don’t know the PointsPlus value or net carb count of everything I eat. Paper is so DOS!

But again, if I write it, I tend to think about what I’m doing. Thinking is key to living healthy.

For the paper tracking, I settled on using Fitlosophy’s Fitbook. It’s a 12-week fitness and nutrition journal. It includes long- (3 months) and short-term (weekly) goals. It’s very clean and allows detailed info. It’s small enough to fit in my purse so I can take it with me.

The challenge starts today and ends December 18.

Loving My Weight Watchers eTools & Mobile App

Weight Watchers' food tracker via mobile app.

Weight Watchers’ food tracker via mobile app.

I’ve been playing with my Weight Watchers mobile app and eTools website. Here are my initial thoughts.

I have to say I’m enjoying using them. They really do a great job at making it easy for me to find the points value of foods when I’m on the go. The food tracker is very nice. Its library of foods is excellent and does the calculations for you. Not a whole lot of typing like other tracking apps. It also does a very nice job of storing foods I put in – I can recall them very easily.

There is also a spot to track my activities and the intensity. With Weight Watchers, you can earn activity points for working out. Those points can be turned into food points for the day – something I don’t do. But I do like that I can track my activities. I just wish the activity tracker could do more. I love my MapMyWalks app. I can actually see the progress. Now Weight Watchers has rolled out ActiveLink which closely monitors your activities. There is a $5 monthly fee plus the cost of the device. I haven’t signed up. I tend to skip the first generation of these types of roll outs to get all the bugs out. Plus I’d like to hear from other WW members using ActiveLink to see if it is worth it.

Dot to Trot's applesauce meatloaf recipe - 6 points per serving!

Dot to Trot’s applesauce meatloaf recipe – 6 points per serving!

This morning on eTools I tested their recipe builder. I keyed in just a couple of my standard meals I make weekly. The points are calculated for me. Awesome! I would suggest that WW look into creating shopping lists from the recipes. Since there are a few meals I make regularly, and I plan out our menu for the entire week, it would be great if I could just click on the recipes and poof – instant grocery list. So please get on that now!

One minor hitch with the recipe builder – it’s buried. I went the the recipe section at first and found lots of nice recipes and good info from Hungry Girl. I finally found it under My Tools area. I think an easy to find link in the general recipe section would be nice. It might be there, but I didn’t see it.

Weight Watchers' cocktail cheat sheet via its mobile app.

Weight Watchers’ cocktail cheat sheet via its mobile app.

While eTools has a ton of good info, I have to say I really enjoyed the cheat sheets. One of the hardest things to do is guestamate the points value of food when eating out. I’m not in control of how it was prepared. I’m not measuring or weighing everything. So there is a lot of guess work. The cheat sheet is a nice idea to give you a general idea of how many points you might be consuming. From a breakfast builder to happy hour foods, the cheat sheet is perfect for folks on the go. However, the mobile app version is lacking. Right now it’s limited to pizza, cockktails, pasta and salads. And some of those are limited too. I’m optimistic that WW can improve the app version.

Overall, well done Weight Watchers. There is so much on eTools that I still haven’t explored – especially the social component (which I’m looking forward too). The mobile app gets the job done. I have a few minor quibbles, but they are minor. The food tracking piece is excellence, and that is the heart of the program. If you do Weight Watchers and are not on eTools or the mobile app, I suggest you give it a try.