Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

lemonade12So it’s no secret that I’ve gained some weight this fall/winter; I’m about 5 from where I was last summer and about 10 from my comfortable weight.

I can see it in pictures, in the mirror … it’s there, and there’s no denying it.

So before 10 becomes 15, I would like to capitalize on my hardwiring as an anxious person and use that anxiousness to make lemonade out of lemons.

I’m still a loyal online WW member and have been since 2004 … which is even more perplexing as to how I’ve gained without going over my Points — the only culprit I can think of is the wrong choices within my points, since I am still working out the same and not even eating those APs I earn.

But I digress.

I’m not here to ressurect the past, only to look ahead to what can be done going forward. Last winter/spring, I lost about 7 lbs. by continuing on WW and also journaling on Sparkpeople.com, a free weight-loss jounaling site that actually shows you the nutritional breakdown of your foods in terms of calories, fat, fiber, carbs, etc.

Now, this summer I quit Sparkpeople cold turkey because I was journaling there, plus counting Points, plus keeping a spreadsheet that would make even an accountant cringe, it was that nitty-gritty.

It was obsessive to the extremes, and it just made me more fixated on food.

But the truth is, I did well when I logged my food there. I was able to shed those nagging 7 lbs, and then my goal was only 3 lbs away. (I never got there; I gained it all back and then some). Hardwired as an anxious person, though, I flourished using the site, journaling there, adding recipes, etc.

Suddenly I could visually SEE the nutritional difference between opting for sugar-free cocoa for dessert (1 Point) or 1/2 T chunky all-natural peanut butter (also 1 Point). Clearly, the peanut butter is the more nutritious option, providing good fat and protein — and most importantly, substance. But it took seeing it shown to me visually to really “get it.”

And I’ll be honest, once I stopped Sparkpeople, I didn’t eat as cleanly as I had been. I didn’t worry about sodium as much and I didn’t pay as much attention to carbs as I should have. (I am sensitive to them whether I want to think I am or not).

So I am doing a little experiment for the next couple days; I’m going to journal on Sparkpeople again, probably after I’ve logged my Points for the day, we’ll see how it goes. I don’t fear getting obsessive again because I think now I have the tools to call myself out on it if it gets to be “too much.”

It was like logging on and seeing an old friend. I noticed one new feature right away, the “Remaining Today” area where it shows how many calories, carbs, and fat grams are left in the bank.

I’m not doing it for the calories so much as for the overall nutrition Sparkpeople shows that WW doesn’t. I know I’ve been low on protein and fats, way high on carbs, way high on sodium. And I can’t lose that way. (In case you’re curious, the caloric range Sparkpeople recommends is about the same as my Target Points on WW plus the 35 Flex Points, so it’s not like a drastic change from that perspective.)

Turns out today’s 21 Point day (since I have no WPAs left til I reset for the week on Friday) was about 1400 calories. Since veggies are “free” on WW, I never counted them in, but they do add up! And this is a suuuuuper low day for me (normally I aim for about 25, with exercise).

So I imagine my 28 Point days (like I’ve been having) were pretty atrocious … even with burning 500 calories in a workout, it’s still not enough at this point (for me) to lose. What an eye-opener … just what I needed to rejuvenate myself!

My hope is that journaling once again on Sparkpeople just helps me eat cleaner and focus on nutrition more than convenience. A Point isn’t a Point. A calorie isn’t a calorie.

And the sooner I see that, the sooner I can get it together. Wish me luck, making lemonade out of lemons.

How about you? If you keep a food journal, where do you do it?

9 thoughts on “Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

  1. You make a great point here that all calories are not created equal! I think it’s great for people who are just starting on WW or any other weight-loss venture to be able to eat different foods based solely on points – it allows you to have more food choices at a time when you’re probably struggling to not feel deprived.

    But as you get down to those last few pounds – or are trying to maintain your weight loss – looking at the nutritional value is really key. Yay for making lemonade!

  2. Ugh, so frustrating to figure out what works and what doesn’t for our bodies. I agree with you – a calorie is not a calorie. Eating 1800 calories of carbs would cause to swell like a balloon, but if squeeze in lots of protein and plenty of good healthy fat, 1800 calories is about perfect for me. If I do want to figure out my daily intake, I use Fitday.com, but I try not to do it everyday as I can get obsessive. I’ll check in every once in a while to make sure I’m getting a good balance and enough fat/protein.

    Could you just use Sparkpeople and not count your WW points? I mean, you know about how many calories to you should be eating, right? At least with Sparkpeople, you know if you are getting all of your nutrients. I know you have to do what works for you, but it just sounds like you’re using so many methods to calculate your intake for the day. It would be too much for me.

  3. Thanks so much, Auntie. πŸ™‚

    Heather, it is so frustrating. I like SP more than FitDay but I know a lot of people that feel the opposite — both are great!

    I don’t plan to do both forever; I was just doing a little test for a few days on SP and if it seems to be working, I might nix Point counting for a bit. I am more interested in nutrition and bang for my buck at this point. Since I’m towards the end of my WW week (I reset Fridays) I will probably just journal on SP next week, but I did want to finish out my WW week.

  4. The first time I used SparkPeople – purely because a friend was and it sounded interesting, I wasn’t actually trying to lose weight – I started to get a little obsessive. I’m very competitive, so I saw it as a game that I could “win” by eating close to my lower calorie counts. Nevermind the facts that I a) wasn’t trying to lose weight and b) was playing lacrosse for two hours a day and needed fuel! Luckily that only went on for a week or two before I realized that I shouldn’t be using the site.

    Now I use it every so often for a week or so in the way that you’re talking about, just to see where I am in terms of nutrients, specifically calcium and fiber, which I know I usually don’t get enough of. I don’t go crazy with it, and I don’t pay attention to the calories, but it’s a useful tool to make sure that I’m eating well.

  5. Hi Emily. It’s def a good way to see those nutrients; I can already see areas of improvement and I don’t think it’s a bad thing. even us “experts” at this game need a refresher course from time to time. πŸ™‚ Getting that healthy fat in has been a good thing! So I think after I finish up my WW week, I’ll do a week of strictly SP.

  6. I would also recommend just tracking in SP and nixing points for a while. I think WW is a good program overall (though I think Core is the best way to IMO) but I hate how two foods that have the same calories can vary by 1-3 points and it is usually the healthier option that is more points (think salmon vs some diety 100 junk pack) So in a sense you are “penalized” for eating healthier! And it is possible to eat too many 0 pt foods.

    One other thought–have you ever tried eating some or all of your AP’s? Some people really do find they lose better when eating more. I see it all the time on the boards.

  7. Hi Lara, my week ends today so starting tomorrow, I won’t be counting Points. I just wanted to make sure I was true to my week πŸ™‚ Same thing — I’d have put more walnuts on my oats (not just 3 halves) but they’re so pointy … and that’s why when I did do Core, I was journaling on SP πŸ™‚

    You know, I lost eating all my APs and most WPAs. I earn about 28-32 APs a week (I wear a HRM) but I fear eating them b/c I just kept gaining when I was eating them. And if I am following SP, APs don’t come into play anyway. (I fixed my plan to show 2800 burned a week). They recommend a range based on that and my goals.

    But if I am super-hungry one day, I will let myself go over my range — esp. if I had a tough workout. It just needs to be on good stuff, not Chex mix πŸ™‚

  8. This is a great point! I’ve been a WWer for awhile now and as I think more seriously about WW (went thru a time where I slacked and gained back about 10 pounds) it makes a lot of sense to look at the nutritional content of your food. I know that WW has the good health guidelines but if i have points left at the end of the day I usually use them up on chocolate or something that probably doesn’t have a whole of nutritional value! Sparkpeople sounds interesting! I might have to check it out!

    Love the blog as always! πŸ™‚

  9. Hi Krystyna, I know Momentum encourages us to eat healthier (as Core did) but I just kind of want to see the nitty-gritty. We’ll see how long this enthusiasm lasts; I had enjoyed the mobile WW planner, so we’ll see. I might jot there on the go and then plug into SP when I’m home — that might be how I use WW (I pay for it anyway).

    Aw thanks πŸ™‚

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