I love when spring comes and the winter coats can be put away. I feel lighter inside no longer having to wear a bulky winter coat, hat, gloves and boots. I also love spring because it means storm season has arrived and I begin stalking the Storm Prediction Center and the Weather Channel. During a disaster an important part of the response and recovery is the damage assessment. Basically it is an assessment of the current damage in the area after a disaster such as a tornado or flood. It is critical so the first responders understand the magnitude of the problem and can begin prioritizing, planning and begin recovery.
Whether you are starting or getting back on track with a healthy lifestyle you need to know the full situation, how well (or not so well) are your exercise and eating habits. If you physically wince at the thought of assessing yourself, then this is definitely for you. After having pneumonia and giving birth to our third child, I didn’t want to even think about starting to exercise again. Eventually life settled down and I was able get on the treadmill. I was shocked to see how much muscle and endurance I had lost, I could only walk 2 mph on a flat incline. My choices were either a) cry and eat some chocolate b) cry and eat chocolate while walking on the treadmill or c) admit I was woefully out of shape and make a plan to become stronger. Eventually I choose the third option.
A quick side note: I am not a doctor, dietician, nurse, x-ray tech or any type of professional in the medical field. I am only sharing information to encourage you to live your best life. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. But if you would like advice on good coffee or chocolate I can help you out!
So here are my suggestions in doing your own assessment:
Track what you eat
During damage assessment responders go house to house noting the address and the extent of damage. What would happen if a couple of blocks were skipped during the assessment? The responders would not have a complete picture of the damage causing problems in the long run. We need to do the same thing with what we eat. It doesn’t matter if you use paper, computer or an app but track what you eat including the calories, carbs, fat and protein. Knowledge is incredibly powerful to help us to change our eating habits.
I have been using My Fitness Pal for over four years to track my food and when I use it daily I find the best success in staying on target.
The reasons I love using My Fitness Pal is:
- Scan a barcode to quickly add food to my diary
- Extensive searchable food library, rarely do I find an item not listed
- Add a recipe from the web to my food diary
- Numerous apps connect with My Fitness Pal for workouts and other health options
Honestly there are many wonderful apps and websites to track your food, My Fitness Pal is just one. Find an app, site or food diary that is the easiest for you to track your food.
Action Step: Record your meals and snacks either on paper (check out WebMD Food & Fitness Journal) or use an app such as My Fitness Pal (Apple) (Android), Lose It (Apple) (Android) or a website such as My Plate. Also check what apps or sites your friends use so you can do it together.
Right along with assessing what we are eating, you and I need to know how active we are in a day. A healthy lifestyle requires eating the same amount of calories or less of what you burn. I easily over assume my activity level so I found using a fitness tracker a great benefit. Some mornings I am able to do a workout and other days I rely on my daily goal of 12,000 steps for my activity. I use the FitBit One which also tracks the number of stairs climbed and hours slept. During my workouts I also use a Polar H7 Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Sensor with an app called Digifit to calculate the calories burned. During a workout the heart rate monitor is the best way to gauge the number of calories burned. There are a lot of fitness trackers with some also combining the heart rate monitoring such as Fitbit Charge HR.
Action Step: If you are starting to exercising, make a plan for at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity and track it on your calendar, planner or use WebMD’s Food & Fitness Journal. If you want to move up to the next level to track steps, consider a basic pedometer and set a daily goal such as 10,000 steps. If you want to know your calories burned, floors climbed and other data then consider a fitness tracker.
This is where the beauty of tracking my food and activity come together. I can see in My Fitness Pal’s food diary the calories I eaten and expended, giving me a true assessment of the day. If I eat more calories than I expend, I can see the negative number at the end of the day. So maybe my evening snack is cancelled. Or if I have extra calories I will have some sliced bananas with whip cream and cocoa powder. Speaking of the evening you may be interested in my previous post on two lifestyle changes (sleep and water) that can have dramatic impact in your life.
Now it is your turn, what is the most frustrating thing about eating healthy or exercising for you? Is it finding time or maybe or having the will power?
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