Monday, January 21, 2013

Helpful Tools

I talked about the goals I set in my last post. In the long run though, you can talk about goals until you're blue in the face but it won't really work until you've talked about the tools you have to reach your goals.

This is true no matter what your goals are! These tools don't have to cost a million dollars or even $1. For example, if you want to workout and don't have a gym membership, there are many workouts floating around the internet that just use your own body weight as resistance. Sometimes a tool is just having a support system around you in the form of friends and family.

In my case, I definitely had that! My beautiful cheerleaders and my husband who is game for just about anything stood behind me the whole way, and they continue to do so! I had some other tools too though.

I mentioned in a previous post about my Fitbit. I really believe that this was a major player in my life the last 5 months. I'm a pretty competitive person, so having that reminder to get up and move was pretty challenging.

If you're not familiar with fitbits or other tools like them, head over to and check it out. No, I'm not affiliated with them. I paid for my fitbit completely with my own money. Walked right into Best Buy to purchase it. I put all my own effort into using it and I would do it again in a heartbeat. There are other tools like these, but I had some reasons for choosing Fitbit over these. One is that there was one price to buy this fancy pedometer, but no monthly fee after this to use their website and apps. Another reason is how small and inconspicuous it is. I can where it securely and privately and not have to answer questions about what it is. I had a bodybugg briefly but I was somewhat large and I had to wear it on my upper arm. It was sort of uncomfortable and people stared. So I wore it about a week and gave up.

What this tool does is measures your step counts and stairs climbed for the day. It uses this information in addition to your weight, age and height to calculate what you should be eating in order to reach your goal (whether that goal is to lose weight, gain weight or maintain current weight). I have found that it's pretty accurate for me. In fact, unless I come within a 100 calories of my goal at the end of the day I'm starving by the middle of the night.

It also pairs you up with your fitbit user friends for a list of who's who in the steps ranking. I find that really motivates me! Did I mention I'm a little competitive? It has a few other cool features too, but I'll let you check it out if you're interested. Another cool thing about fitbit is that I was able to sync it up and use it in conjunction with my next tool.

I also mentioned that I used and it's smart phone app to track calories. Now, I'm getting ready to wean off that now that I'm getting so close to my goal weight. However, in my effort to lose that weight, I wanted a user-friendly app to help track things. I've used a few different programs but I found MFP to be the easiest to use, which of course meant I was more likely to keep it up. In my experience, even if I tracked the not-so-healthy things, I felt I was more likely to stay committed if I knew I was going to write it and track it. This included all the days I ate a few too many Christmas cookies. You might not feel comfortable with tracking every calorie, but if you're trying to lose weight at all, sometimes having a journal to look at will help you locate areas you could improve your diet in. Maybe you're having a little too much wine with dinner (5oz or so = around 100 calories), or that pasta serving is bigger than you thought (about the size of the palm of your hand cooked = around 200 calories). It adds up, and it can really help you pinpoint which changes might help you reach your goals.

The thing I learned that was most helpful? How to eyeball a serving of nut butters. I LOVE peanut, almond, sunflower, coconut butters, etc. It can get pretty out of control though when you don't keep an eye on your portion size. It's healthy fat, especially if you're chosing a brand that is void of extra sugars and preservatives but calories are calories and each serving of these types of foods is around 200 calories for 2 tablespoons. So for me, that was a big eye opener.

The last two tools I want to mention are major roles but people don't often think of them that way. One is my water bottle. One of the first things I did was buy some reusable water bottles so I was always able to keep a full bottle with me. I notice right away when I am not drinking enough water, and now I even start sipping as soon as I wake up in the morning. It's one of the first things I tell people when they ask for tips. I even made sure to get all 5 of us a bottle (plus an extra) so that when we're all in the car, we all have enough to drink. Especially one the days that we're super active, or when it's really hot.

The second is to NOT ignore my sweet tooth. Ignoring a craving is one of the easiest ways to lose track. If you feel like you can't keep a supply of something in the house, a single-serve something is better than nothing. For me, it's dark chocolate. Luckily I love the stuff and I can be healthy when it's a good quality product and eaten in moderation. I also make sure to eat it slowly and really taste it. However, I've even had not-so-healthy things like Sour Punch Straws and 3 Musketeers. I know not to buy huge bags of those things, but the occasional indulgence makes it much easier for me to stay on the right track.

I'm sure there are other tools I could mention here, but those are the ones I felt most like getting into.

What tools help you during your day?

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