Now that Jon and I are training for a half marathon and have a few weddings this summer that we’d like to be in better shape for, I’ve been logging meals, water intake, and exercise in My Fitness Pal nearly daily. I’ve used the app on and off for a couple of years now, and I’ve always found it easier to maintain a healthy breakfast and lunch rather than dinners, especially on weekdays as opposed to weekends. (Weekend dinners are basically my downfall for the entire week.) But I’m trying to get better and am making an effort to enter everything I eat, which is very hard. I remind myself that just because I didn’t enter it in MFP doesn’t mean I didn’t eat it. It’s amazing how hard I try to convince myself otherwise.
I noticed after a recent update to MFP that now it tells you a little something about the food you’ve just entered, such as “This food has lots of vitamin C!” or “This food is high in saturated fat.” (I’m looking at you, cappuccino.) This has been really helpful and enlightening, though admittedly also slightly deflating. I hadn’t thought of a cappuccino as high in saturated fat because to me it was just a type of caffeinated beverage slightly more caloric than coffee because of steamed milk. I stand corrected.
So now that I receive these little tidbits when entering my meals, I’ve come to notice something that my family will likely think is glaringly obvious: I eat a lot of sugar. I know I have a sweet tooth (I may have had a Cadbury Creme Egg for breakfast—don’t judge me), but the grams of sugar just keep adding up more than I realized. “Your goal is to stay under 52 grams of sugar” . . . thanks for the memo, My Fitness Pal. It’s to the point that I have started equating myself with the farmer/giant bug alien from Men in Black. I really don’t want to end up with serious health issues down the road, especially when I have family members with Type 2 diabetes.
My Fitness Pal would like me to stay under 52 grams of sugar when I don’t exercise, and yesterday I consumed at least 63 grams. The day before, my goal was 66 (we ran for forty minutes, so I got some extra allowance) . . . but I consumed 105 grams. (WHAT?!) The funny thing is that I was still under my total calorie goal for the day by about 50 calories. I am quickly realizing that this whole nutrition thing is more than counting calories and exercising regularly. Just because I run for however many minutes and am under my calorie count for the day does not mean that I should eat that mug of ice cream with hot fudge and sprinkles. If I really want to wisely use those calories I burned from running, I need to do it in a balanced way and instead look at what is lacking in my daily nutrition, such as fiber, iron, or vitamin A. (MFP has made me aware of those deficiencies in my diet, so, at the very least, I am definitely learning!)
I am happy to have this new knowledge, but I suppose I am a little saddened by my lack of awareness of my own nutrition. I try very hard to prepare balanced meals for Jon to take to work, but I’ve never consistently done the same for myself. Case in point: Cadbury Creme Egg breakfast. But for Jon, I try to give him two to three servings of fruit (natural sugars are better than refined sugar!), some carbs (but not too many!), and dairy that his stomach can tolerate (hard/aged cheese or Greek yogurt) for him to eat at breakfast and lunch. Veggies are a part of his lunches usually in the form of raw carrots, celery, or cucumbers or in leftovers from dinner the night before (our dinners are usually very veggie- and legume-heavy). I think that’s pretty good! However, I don’t pay that much attention to my own food. I’ll eat dry cereal, Cheez-Its, chocolate chips (and most other foods starting with the letter C, apparently?) because they’re fast and easy to pack. My mentality was the fewer dishes I have to dirty or carry, the better; my focus was not on nutrition.
So now I’m trying to *actually* watch what I eat. I thought I had been doing that all along, but I guess I was missing a huge and important piece to an overall healthy, balanced lifestyle. I have also learned that I need to prioritize my own health and make nutritious meals for Jon and myself. I know it’s going to be a tough habit to break, but I want to be healthy in every way, which means cutting down my sugar consumption by a substantial amount and bumping up my intake of essential vitamins and minerals. Stay tuned as we continue our half-marathon training program, because I’ve decided to take this ten-week opportunity to really revamp our lifestyle and make positive, longterm changes. Wish us luck!