Track What Matters

Keeping “track” of various metrics can be a chore - calories, macros, BMI, % body fat - the list goes on! Not only that, it can also be a bore! Why spend your life laboring over the math of what you're consuming when you should be out there living it?? Keep in mind I say this with a grain of salt -- I realize there are situations when more strict and laborious tracking is vital for health and well-being of an individual person and I highly encourage and support that in those situations.

So now you might be wondering, what really matters then?? is any of this even helping?? why am I not noticing a difference?? Well, like most things in the world of health and nutrition, there isn't one right answer but, there is a better route and path that is right for you and like all good things in life -- it takes time and effort to find that good groove.

Explore what metrics are easy (!!), worthwhile, and meaningful to your health journey (in my personal, humble opinion) and see how not obsessing over other things (nitty-gritty calories, daily weight fluctuations, and BMI) can make you a much happier and fulfilled person.

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Trends
Here's the thing. Positive change and tangible numbers are what we're looking for, right? Specifically, measuring health metrics like blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and fasting blood glucose are an almost direct correlation of how you're eating and exercising - granted, genetics play a part but lifestyle factors can help combat even these numbers, too. Keeping yearly checks at your PCP and getting these labs to monitor trends will help keep you aware to conditions that the scale will never tell you -- diabetes, high blood pressure, risk of heart disease, etc.  Remember how far you've come (glass half-full kind of mentality) and keep that momentum driving your forward.

Movement
Sitting is the new smoking, as they say, and this is easily remedied! 10 minute chunks of movement throughout the day are all it takes to  build up to the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week. Finding an exercise buddy (person or pet...!) is one of the most helpful tactics you can take to hold you accountable to this piece of the pie. Further, I can't emphasize enough that finding movement that you enjoy is what it takes to sustain long-term adherence. Get out there and explore the different options and from there, build up to a regular frequency and from there, increase time/weight/intensity of said activity to avoid burnout and frustrating plateaus.

Plate / Portions
What I always encourage -> when your plate looks similar to the USDA's recommendations of 1/4 protein, 1/4 grain, 1/2 fruits and veggies with that sliver of dairy, you're doing it right and the calories of those portions will fall into place as they should. The specific breakdown of your plate also fits the recommended macronutrient distributrion % that is recommended for general health and balance. From there, using intuitive eating and the hunger scale to dictate when to eat and when to stop eating is a skill that takes time to master :) 

Mind
Improved mental health leads to overall better physical health - it's a no brainer ;) Doing things to keep your brain happy impact your whole body. Just as running or group fitness isn't for everyone on the exercise spectrum, meditation and yoga isn't for everyone in the mindfulness category. Mental health is so often overlooked and dismissed when it should be put at the forefront of our health. Setting aside time for yourself, taking vacations, or just a breather at work (sometimes just doing nothing!!) may seem like a waste of time. I get it. Over-productivity and multitasking is like the hallmark of the millennial generation, but I think enough of us have learned the hard way that planning "nothing" in our schedule is about as important as booking that 6am bike for your daily spinning sweat sesh.

Sleep
Quality sleep is some of the best preventative "medicine" out there. On the flip side, lack of sleep has long- and short-term consequences: poor judgment and hormone disregulation that often to lead to poor decisions with food and decrease the chances of engaging in physical activity. From someone who LOVES to sleep, you'd think this would never be a problem for me but even so, with busy schedules, getting to bed when I should (and taking naps when necessary) often gets pushed to the back burner. Remembering that good sleep leads to improved mood (see above) and overall productivity all day long is sometimes all it takes to get those necessary Z's.

 

If some of those other metrics, as mentioned, do work for you -- GREAT, keep it up! I just know from experience, on countless occasion, trying to stick to a strict regimen of counting and tracking can lead to more frustration and ditching the positive habits that were adopted and just not noticed. Try to go back to the basics of health - common sense that isn't over-thought, it doesn't have to be as complicated as we so often make it!
 

 

Kayla Hansmann