The Key to Food Tracking and How to be Successful

Hi! I hope everyone had an amazing holiday season and New Year! I know I haven’t been around in a while… I’ve been busy making the most beautiful human being in the world (couldn’t resist adding a picture).  I brought my adorable son into the world in September and my life has been a wonderful whirlwind of love and chaos since then! In the midst of this chaos, one huge hurtle I have faced is trying to lose the baby weight while breastfeeding. Everyone always talks about how breastfeeding helps you lose the weight, but the hard part is not overeating. You  need enough food to support your milk supply, plus it’s so easy to overeat because you’re starving! The only thing to do was to start tracking my intake to be sure I didn’t go overboard.

So many of my clients ask about tracking as well. Is it important? Should I do it? Should I stop doing it? What app should I use? What should I track? My response is very individual. Some people should just not ever track. If you have an obsessive personality, tracking could be a rabbit hole for you, so find another way to lose weight. However, if you’re someone who is completely unaware of what or how much they eat in a day, tracking can be very helpful. If you’re a grazer, tracking is a great tool to help you cut down on that as well.

So what’s the most successful way to track your intake? Here’s the key- use your tracking tool (MyFitnessPal, Lose It, Weight Watchers, etc) as a way to PLAN your food for the day. Planning ahead is such an important part of any weight loss plan and is essential for success. You could track as you go, but that means never knowing what you’re going to eat or how it’ll fit into your diet until after it happens. If you wake up and don’t have a breakfast planned, you’ll end up at Dunkin Donuts or eating the bagels left in the conference room. Even if you have access to healthy food and make good choices throughout the day, tracking as you go could lead to accidentally going over your allotted calories/points. If you plan ahead and plug everything in as you do, you have the ability to adjust BEFORE you go over.  So each night, plug in your planned meals and snacks for the day, adjust to make it fit, and prepare whatever you’ll need to have available to make it happen. Make sure to add anything you eat that was unplanned during the course of the day.

More Dos and Don’ts:


  • Leave off food because it wasn’t planned or is unhealthy
  • Save all of your calories/points for one meal
  • Underestimate your portions


  • Track everything you’ve eaten, even if it was just grazing, was unplanned, or if it makes you go over
  • Spread out your calories as evenly as possible throughout the day
  • Measure your portions
  • Choose foods from all food groups and balance each meal and snack

All or Nothing

How many of you often say to yourselves or to those around you phrases like “I’m going to start next week (or when this class is over, or when things aren’t so busy at home, or when my kids get a little older or when I’m done having babies) so for now I’ll just eat whatever I want and not exercise at all”. Maybe you say “What’s the point of exercising or eating healthy today if I can’t the rest of the week?” How many of you jump into a hardcore 5-6 days per week workout program, go on a diet or meal prep an entire week’s worth of meals, and then hit a life obstacle as we always do after a few weeks (or if you’re lucky, months) and decide well I can’t do this all week or I didn’t do it last week, so why keep going? And then you’re back to “I’ll just start next month or when things calm down again”. 

While this is definitely not a new way of thinking, it’s something I’ve been noticing a lot lately. While it’s great to want to make changes, and you definitely can’t make big changes during a stressful or busy time, this way of thinking is what creates the “Yo-Yo” pattern. Most people that I come across who struggle with their weight are not “lazy over-eaters” as many people would believe (even about themselves in some cases). But the common theme is that they all are constantly stopping and starting a diet or workout plan.

It’s society’s pressure to be perfect that instigates this, and all the hundreds of “fad” diets and workouts out there just add to it. They all encourage you to push, push, push, no excuses. This leads us to not want to start something unless we can be perfect at it, and then feel like a failure when life stops the plan in its tracks.  And then the vicious cycle of starting, losing, stopping, gaining is continued. Aside from the fact that you’re literally spending your life dieting, gaining, and feeling bad about yourself when you could be enjoying and living life more fully, happily, and healthfully, you’re also severely damaging your metabolism. By the time my clients have come to me, they’ve tried every fad diet and workout out there, and they all worked for a while, and now nothing works and they feel defeated. So we then have to try to fix their metabolism and their self esteem.

If this all sounds familiar to you, know that you are not alone. We have ALL been there! It’s an extremely easy trap to fall into, so don’t beat yourself up!

Here are some tips to help get you out of this All of Nothing pattern! 

  • Avoid fad diets and workout plans.  Anything that requires you to exercise a certain amount of times per week, stick to a rigid menu, limits your foods or restricts your quantities is a fad. If they tell you to eat an unreasonably low amount of calories, if the plan leaves you starving, or tells you not to work out, it is a fad. Avoid these at all costs.
  • Make small changes and build on them gradually. Instead of overhauling your whole diet and workout all at once, choose 1 small change to make at a time and gradually add new changes over time.
  • Do what you can, when you can. During a particularly busy or stressful time in your life, just do what you can. On a slower week, go grocery shopping and organize your snacks and plan some meals for the week. If the next week is busier and you know you can only do on-the-go meals and snacks, just commit to making a healthy choice when able. For ex: choose a salad or grilled chicken sandwich at a fast food chain instead of cheeseburger and fries, and a greek yogurt from Wawa instead of a candy bar, etc. Then if the next week is better, go back to planning ahead, if not then keep going with your healthy on-the-go options. If you can’t work out one week, but you can go for a short walk on your lunch break, then just do that instead of thinking that a walk won’t get you the toning or cardio you are used to so you might as well do nothing. Another time I notice the all or nothing mindset is with meal prep. You don’t need to spend all day in the kitchen cooking 7 days worth of dinners for the week in order to be prepared. You can just make a plan, grocery shop, and organize the food to be ready to go during the week so that you just have to throw it together each night. 
  • Remind yourself that these small changes are NOT pointless! Yes, these small changes may have less dramatic results. But if you tell yourself that you won’t do anything for the next month, that time will still pass and you’ll be no further along, and you may even be worse off. But if you spend that month doing whatever small changes you can, when you can then you’ll be in a better position to kick it up a notch when you’re ready to. They’ll also help keep you from slipping backwards during your busy and stressful times. For instance, if you are really consistent in eating healthy and exercising for a month, and let’s say you lose 5 pounds as a result, but then the next month gets busy and you don’t do anything because you feel it’s pointless, I promise you’ll gain the 5 pounds back and maybe even more. But if you just do what you can, when you can, it will minimize this setback. Also remind yourself that by just doing a little bit of what you can, when you can, you will keep food and exercise from being an added stress to whatever you’re dealing with. If you forget it all together, you’ll feel sluggish and guilty, which just adds to your stress. 
  • Forgive yourself. Everyone has time periods in their lives when things get too busy, or you have a major life change, or even a minor life change. We are human, and it’s only natural to not be able to keep up with your healthy habits.
    Give yourself a break and forgive yourself! Do what you can, know that you’re doing your best in every aspect of your life, and move forward. You’ll get back to your normal healthy habits, I promise!
  • Love yourself and your body! The pressure to be perfect is all too real in this society. Just know that you don’t have to look like a VS Angel or a fitness model that you follow on Instagram in order to be healthy and happy. Not looking like them does not make you “fat” or unhealthy. You do not have to workout hardcore 6-7 days per week or stick to a strict diet plan in order to be healthy or happy. We are all different. We all need different things and have different priorities and values. We all come in different sizes and shapes. And we are all beautiful for just being ourselves!

Nutrition and Culture: Costa Rican Tipica!

Well the past few months have been exciting and busy! I apologize for abondoning you just in time for the holidays! I was planning a wedding last year so the fall came and went before I could barely notice! We left for our honeymoon in Costa Rica just after the wedding and got back just in time for Christmas. I hope you all had an amazing holiday and New Year! My next blog post will definitely be about the New Year and your resolutions, but for now I can’t stop thinking about the food in Costa Rica!

First of all, almost everything we ate was delicious! Even my husband enjoyed just about every meal, and his usual go-tos at home are steak and potatoes or chicken parm and pasta. I’m thrilled that he ventured out of his comfort zone because cooking at home should become much less boring! There aren’t many healthy meals I can make that he’ll actually eat, but that’s all about to change now that we adapted in to the Costa Rican culture for 9 days.

The first time we had “tipica” Costa Rican cuisine was when we ventured out of our hotel on the 3rd night to what the Ticos call a “Soda”. This word basically means diner and we were told that we would find the best local food and experience at any place with this word in the name. We ended up at a place called Soda Viquez in La Fortuna (you can actually find it on Trip Advisor!). Like all of the restaurants and bars in the area, Soda Viquez is outside with just a wooden roof overtop- very cool atmostphere! The menu was large and we had trouble figuring out what everything meant. Our server spoke very little English but she did her best to describe the food and how it would come. The first dish we learned of is called “casados”. It’s actually the word for “marriage”, meaning that the dish is a combination of many foods. You can get casados with chicken, pork, beef, or fish. It comes with the meat, white rice, black beans, vegetables, and plantains. We learned over time that exactly what is on the plate varies a little at each place you go. This place had salad, beets, and mashed potatoes in addition to the meat, rice, beans, and plantains. I know what you’re thinking! It sounds like a ridiculous amount of food. But the portion of each was very small, probably only about 1/4c each of rice, beans, potatoes, beets, and salad and just a sliver of the plantain. Because the meal is so well balanced and in such moderate portions, it is extremely satisfying, and all week we never felt over stuffed!- Well maybe that first night because we acted like we were never going to try another local dish and ordered a 3rd dish to split… shh! We took the leftovers though :)  I was able to take a picture of this meal. It might not look like much but it was very good! The meat is under the pile of sauteed onions. The fried plantain is the dark thing next to the black beans. I am not sure what the heck was in the center, but it was really really delicious!

Over the course of the 9 days, we also tried their beef fajitas (see picture below) and a dish called Arroz cantones (a mound of fried rice mixed with chopped pork, beef, chicken, peppers, onions, and other vegetables. We also had empanadas, lots of pineapple, homemade cheese from a local dairy farm that we visited, tapioca bread, and fresh Costa Rican coffee. All the food is farm to table, so you can just imagine how fresh and delicious it is. You’ve never had a pineapple until you’ve had one from Costa Rica! The coffee was even fresh tasting and so rich and delicious! You can’t drive anywhere in Costa Rica without passing farmland. We saw farms growing everything- pineapples, plantains, coffee, sugar cane.

Overall the Costa Rican food and diet is pretty healthy! Even with all this food, and ordering appetizers and dessert every night, we never felt too full or sluggish. It’s full of fiber and protein, as well as high amounts of vitamins and minerals. Plantains are extremely high in potassium and vit A, as well as fiber and vit C. Between the healthy diet and all the active tours we did over the course of 9 days, we definitely came back a few pounds lighter than when we first got there!

We will definitely be back to this beautiful country! Not only was the food and culture amazing and healthy, but every view was incredible, the wildlife was so interesting and exciting, and the locals are beyond nice and genuinely happy all the time. We can’t wait for our next trip, but until then we will definitely be incorporating some of their staples into our diet! I already jumped at the opportunity to use plantains and made a casserole, sort of a plantain lasagna with pork and black beans. It was delicious! You can also incorporate them into your diet by sauteeing them as a side dish (replacing the starch), make chips to serve with guac or black bean dip, or even mash them! Next time I make the lasagna or any other plantain dish, I’ll post the recipe and some pictures!

Check back soon for a post about the New Year!