Oh, January. I love the start of a new year. It reminds me of the whoosh of relief you get after a huge exam mixed with the excited butterflies of a new relationship. Once we cross over that line in the sand, we are all bubbling over with hopes and goals and visions of doing things differently in the new year. It’s no wonder healthy eating and exercising are such popular topics this time of year.
Healthy living has been a priority for me for the past few years, in fact, it’s one of the reasons I started this ole blog (check out my take on healthy living here). My life struggle is balancing my love (obsession?) of food with my desire to maintain physical health. It sounds like an oxymoron, but I truly believe it’s obtainable.
As a creature of habit, there are a few tools I use religiously, day in and day out, to help me in my quest for health.
If you’ve ever tried to lose a few lbs, you know the first step is getting a handle on the amount of calories you consume each day. Plus, I’m a numbers girl, so I need to see the numerical nutritional breakout of my meals to understand if what I’m eating is really as healthy as it looks. I’ve been using MyFitnessPal since 2010. It’s an awesome tool for tracking calories consumed and burned, plus it has a huge nutritional information database. I also love that you can input and save recipes to the site (p.s., this is how I compute the nutritional stats for the recipes posted on the blog). The site also has a weight tracker, goal setting features, and smartphone aps. It’s COMPLETELY free. LOVE IT.
At least a couple times a week, I’ll catch someone staring at my hip before they point and blurt “what is that thing?!” I love my fitbit, and I’ve worn it daily for over a year now. In a nutshell, the fitbit is a pedometer that tracks your steps, distance, stairs climbed, calories burned, and even how well you sleep at night. AGAIN with the numbers. I know. The newest fitbit model synchs your activity data wirelessly, which I am oober jealous of. Once the data synchs, you can log onto the fibit site and see how your activity measures up to your goals plus you can challenge your friends. My personal fitbit goal is to log 35 miles per week and a minimum of 10,000 steps a day. If I see I haven’t reached my daily goal when I get home from work, I find an excuse to get moving. I take out the trash, I vacuum, I’ll go to the mall and do a few laps (yes, really). Whatever it takes to get to my goal. It all adds up. Another feature I love: the fitbit displays random words of motivation. Things like “WALK ME” or “I LIKE YOU” or “MISS YOU” when you haven’t been moving enough lately.
Other than Body Pump, running is my exercise of choice, and RunKeeper is the ap I use to track my runs. The smartphone ap utilizes GPS to track out my route and distance, and that data synchs up to the RunKeeper website (and Facebook and Twitter, if you choose). You can set the ap to give you status updates throughout your run, which helps me to track my distance and average pace in real time.
Perhaps I should rename this post to 73 Reasons Why Numbers are the Jam? I realize I am a number-obsessed accountant. Whatev. Information is power, my friends, and I’m horrible at judging a serving size by eyes alone. While it’s not a big deal if you eat an extra serving of chicken at dinner or eat too much oatmeal at breakfast, these excess calories can rack up pretty fast, especially with calorie dense foods like cheese, nuts, nut butters, and oils. I won’t sugarcoat things–I weigh everything. It has become second nature for me, and I even keep a small scale at my desk at work (for my PB, salad dressing, and roasted almond snacks).
I’ve tried out subscriptions to lots of food and health magazines, but Cooking Light is the only one I renew annually. It’s my go-to resource when I want a meal that’s healthy but still packed with flavor. Each month when the magazine comes, I scan the index and mark off recipes I’d like to try in the coming weeks. It makes deciding what to make for dinner a heck of a lot easier, and I like knowing I’ll get something that satisfies my belly while still helping me maintain a healthy lifestyle.
These are my top 5 tools for healthy living — what are your favorites?