Isn’t there an app for that?
In the past, I’ve used an app to track my food intake and weight. However, there are a few things that I don’t like about using apps for this.
Calorie Entry in apps
First of all, I usually know the number of calories that I want to enter. For example, I know that a cup of rice and beans is about 220 calories.
Using an app, if I search for “rice and beans,” I’m greeted with a smorgasbord of options. I don’t want a smorgasbord! I just want to enter “220” and be done with it. There are workarounds, but it still feels tedious.
Exercise Tracking in apps
At first, I loved that my app would sync with my Apple Watch to record my activity and increase the number of calories I was allowed to have that day. However, that wasn’t working for me. I don’t like having my activity “allow” me to eat more on active days, because it doesn’t help me create good eating habits. I want to be in the habit of eating about the same number of calories each day.
Weight Tracking in apps
My biggest beef is with the weight tracking in the app. It leaves a lot to be desired.
It’s not pretty.
It’s hard to find, so I can’t easily see if my weight is creeping up. (Hello 2020!)
It only saves the data for a year. When I look at pictures of myself looking smoking hot from 10 years ago in Google Photos, I may want to know how much I weighed on that day, how many calories I was averaging, and what I was doing for workouts.
Limited View in apps
Finally, it’s hard to see the big picture in an app. Typically, I can only see one day at a time. I want to see everything on one page.
My Weight Tracker
I’ve been using my Weight Tracker Spreadsheet for the last 4 weeks. I’ve already lost 2.5 pounds just by being more aware of what I’m eating, how I’m exercising, and what my weight is.
It’s easy to enter my information, and best of all: I can see an entire year at a glance! I really like this, because I firmly believe:
You are the sum of your habits.
Added bonus: it’s pretty, and it’s fun!
I can track my weight, calories, and workouts on my computer, or conveniently on my phone on the Google Sheets app.
I created it in Google Sheets for people who know how to work a spreadsheet. If you have never heard of Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel, this Tracker is not for you!
Weight Tracker Spreadsheet Sections
The top section of my Weight Tracker is the Weight Entry.
I can enter it using my computer, or the Google Sheets app on my phone. To enter on your phone, just click the cell, then click the pencil icon to make edits.
You’ll notice that you can see the entire year in one small area.
Simply enter your weight in the cell that corresponds to the date. The top row and the graph display your average weight for the month. I like this because it smooths out the daily fluctuations, and I can see if my weight is creeping up (or down!) month after month.
By the end of the year, I can see what I weighed on any day of the year. But my weight is the result of thousands of choices during the months and years leading up to that day. That’s why I’m more interested in my monthly averages.
Calorie, Food, and Exercise Tracker
The bottom section is where I track my daily calories, food, and exercise. Again, I can use my computer, but I usually use the Google Sheets app on my phone for convenience.
I enter the calories I consume, as well as a description of the food for future reference. If I don’t know how many calories are in something, my favorite tool is https://www.calorieking.com/us/en/.
To the right, I enter the exercise I did that day. I’m not interested in how many calories one kettlebell workout burned off. I’m interested in controlling X and solving for Y.
“If I average X number of calories each day, with my regular exercise habits, my weight will gravitate to Y lbs.”
I’m interested in long-term trends, not short-term results.
The top row displays the average number of daily calories for the month. Because of this, it’s important to note: If you don’t record your calories for an entire day, delete what you recorded for that day, or it will skew your average.
For ease of viewing and entry, I hide the rows of the months I’m not currently in.
How much should I eat?
After 4 weeks of tracking, it’s become undeniably obvious that I’m losing weight on the pizza and beer diet.
However, my pizza may look a lot different than yours. Often, it’s a whole wheat crust that I make from scratch, topped with veggies and greens, some of which may come from my garden. Oh, and I make my own beer too. But that’s not the point of this post.
The point is, that generally, your weight is going to depend on your average calorie balance. That means I have to monitor how much pizza and beer I consume. Yes, there are differences in the thermogenic effect of calories from different sources, but the fact remains; in order to maintain your weight, you will need to intake and output about the same amount of energy.
That’s why your habits are so important vs. knowing how many calories you burn during one hour of kickboxing. I’ll say it again. What you want to know are X and Y.
If I average X number of calories each day, with my regular exercise habits, my weight will gravitate to Y lbs.
Any change I make to my exercise or eating habits, I have to ask myself, “Am I willing to do this for the rest of my life?” Making a temporary change will make temporary results, and could likely make losing weight harder for you in the future.
What should I eat?
That’s the subject for another post. But long story short, I read Eat to Live in 2005, and it changed me forever.
It’s been about 12 years since anyone accused me of being a fitness instructor. Who knows? After a year or two using my Tracker, maybe it will happen again!
Let me know how you like the Weight Tracker!
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