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Old 03-31-2014, 03:39 PM   #1
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Frustrated with trying to keep track of carbs and calories - any advice?

Ok I am brand new to this whole concept, but I decided to start a low-carb diet. I'm only two days in, but I am just feeling overwhelmed! My main problem is trying to keep track of all the carbs and calories that I'm eating. It takes so long to look up every ingredient in every recipe I make, add it all up, divide that by the number of servings, etc. There has got to be an easier way! Any suggestions would be much appreciated
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Old 03-31-2014, 03:43 PM   #2
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To start with, just eat simple foods, stick to those approved on your plan, and don't track for now. What plan are you following?
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Old 03-31-2014, 03:59 PM   #3
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  • First simplify what you are eating so that the tracking isn't as cumbersome - the fewer ingredients the better
  • Second, there are some food trackers which allow you to aggregate the ingredients in a dish and then portion it out to say: (0.25) Sausage soup. I have found that if you create these aggregate meals, you can then portion out part of it, depending on how much you have.
Wishing you the best of luck!
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Old 03-31-2014, 03:59 PM   #4
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I'm not following a well-known or "approved" plan - although now that I think of it, that might be part of my problem. I just turned to a good friend (who is trained in health/fitness) for advice, and he helped me to put a plan together based on my personal goals and lifestyle.

I like the idea of paying attention to what I eat but not worrying about exact amounts yet, I'm feeling less stressed already. Thanks! I am a little worried about prolonging the initial "carb crash" that I've heard about though, will eating too much or too often be likely to make that worse?
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Old 03-31-2014, 04:02 PM   #5
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If you're new to this, I would suggest one of the main plans, like Atkins. Follow the plan as it is written for at least 2 weeks so you get your confidence.

Most food during Atkins induction is quite simple, so you won't have to do as much tracking of ingredients.
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Old 03-31-2014, 04:06 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by sbarr View Post
  • First simplify what you are eating so that the tracking isn't as cumbersome - the fewer ingredients the better
  • Second, there are some food trackers which allow you to aggregate the ingredients in a dish and then portion it out to say: (0.25) Sausage soup. I have found that if you create these aggregate meals, you can then portion out part of it, depending on how much you have.
Wishing you the best of luck!
Thanks! I've been keeping track of all of the recipes I've found so far, and hopefully once I've figured out enough of them I will be able to just cycle through those instead of entering new ones for every meal. I have been trying out a few different food trackers as well, but none have worked very well for me so far... which ones would you suggest?
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Old 03-31-2014, 04:19 PM   #7
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I actually considered the Atkins diet, and I just don't think that I would be able to stick with it. The plan that I'm following now allows for about 50 grams of carbs and 1200 calories per day, which is just about as low as I can manage. I'm used to eating a LOT of carbs, and I just don't have the self control and motivation to eliminate everything at once. I'd give up within the first two hours. I know that sounds negative, but I really just can't do it!
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Old 03-31-2014, 04:23 PM   #8
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I have found if I eat 60 carbs or less my hunger goes down and so does my calories naturally because I'm just not hungry.

I could never track carbs AND calories because I would get too overwhelmed with all the counting and just give up, probably after only a few days.
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Old 03-31-2014, 04:33 PM   #9
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That sounds like a really good balance - count carbs, not calories. I can do that! Thanks!!
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Old 03-31-2014, 06:05 PM   #10
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Hi Robyn - here's a link to ones that can be promoted on this site.

Information about Tools, Tracking Apps, and Similar Sites

We can't recommend or promote other trackers. I am using a different one. I wanted to find a tracker that I could flexibly add meals and get aggregate amounts, remove, etc. I also looked for one that has a high user base so kinks should be ironed out, iPhone app, etc.

If you plug in your top few menus, then you should be able to refer to it going forward, but again, I would stress keeping as simple as possible while you acclimate to your reduced carbs.

As far as being able to stick with a plan - the first two days are the roughest. Often, you need to white knuckle through it.

One of the objectives of Atkins, as restrictive as it is in the beginning is to "reset" your body so that you can gradually work in more foods. There are many other plans to consider, but I'm pretty conservative and would suggest Atkins to become familiar with low carb in general.

While the protocol is to start with induction and go up the rungs, another participant here, I'll have to look for her name was reportedly successful starting at 50 or so and then gradually working her way down. I need to see if I can find the post.
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Old 03-31-2014, 06:16 PM   #11
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My best advice is to keep it simple, like some have said. Make your menu boring and repeatable and easy to track, at least to start. It doesn't mean your food can't taste good. Just that its whole and simple. Good luck!
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Old 03-31-2014, 07:42 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miss robyn View Post
I actually considered the Atkins diet, and I just don't think that I would be able to stick with it. The plan that I'm following now allows for about 50 grams of carbs and 1200 calories per day, which is just about as low as I can manage. I'm used to eating a LOT of carbs, and I just don't have the self control and motivation to eliminate everything at once. I'd give up within the first two hours. I know that sounds negative, but I really just can't do it!
I did Atkins several years ago successfully, including induction, 50 lb loss then.

Of course, since I treated it like a diet, I gained it all back. A year ago I began another LC woe, greatly informed by the first try, and what did and didn't work for me.

I did not do induction this time, felt that it set me up to feel deprivation. I started again a year ago w/the goal of 50 NCs a day. Over the first few months I backed myself down to 25 to 35 NCs a day, by my own choice and decisions. What felt comfortable and doable for me. And that's where I'm still at.

Fade in fade out, I've lost 45 pounds over this last year, doing it the way that felt right for me.

I am a great admirer of Dr. Atkins and much of what has worked for me, I have him to thank for. However, the most important thing Atkins stands for, imo, is a lower carb lifestyle.

For MANY, Atkins is spot on w/his way to begin this woe, and eventually maintain it. i.e., induction and OWL. But for me, I had to back myself into it on the second go, because I needed to be free to make my own choices. And once that was possible, turns out I've made some pretty good choices.

Some of us do better with a very specific plan and marching orders. Others of us find that we need to find our own way to good choices. Both work.

Some will tell you this, some will tell you that, and every one of us means to be supportive and encouraging. But in the end, we must all find the way that works for us, the one we can maintain. This takes experimentation and patience.

But I can say w/out doubt, that it is a most excellent journey and well worth hanging in there with. I know this sounds crazy to newbies, and not very satisfying at first glance, but give yourself a good year to figure it all out. And, by that time, you'll be a lot slimmer than you were, if you're still working it.
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Old 03-31-2014, 08:41 PM   #13
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If you have a smart phone, I highly recommend that you download an app that allows you to easily track your food. The good ones come with huge databases of foods so you don't have to look everything up in a book. The one I use also let's me build recipes and set portion sizes. Sorry, can't give the name of the app but with a little research you will find a good one.
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Old 03-31-2014, 09:10 PM   #14
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Blue Skies - what a great post. You were the person I was thinking of who took another approach....
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Old 03-31-2014, 10:02 PM   #15
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If you are limiting your carbs to 50 a day you CAN do Atkins, because it comes out to about 50 grams of TOTAL carbs/day while the NET carbs (total minus fiber) runs 20 or so. Just count carbs, don't worry about calories. If you eat adequate protein and don't skimp on fat, calories tend to take care of themselves. And you don't have to do strict Atkins induction. Just limit carbs by making them mostly non-starchy veggies, eat good, healthy, REAL food with plenty of fat. It doesn't have to be hard.
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Old 03-31-2014, 11:46 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Janknitz View Post
If you are limiting your carbs to 50 a day you CAN do Atkins, because it comes out to about 50 grams of TOTAL carbs/day while the NET carbs (total minus fiber) runs 20 or so. Just count carbs, don't worry about calories. If you eat adequate protein and don't skimp on fat, calories tend to take care of themselves. And you don't have to do strict Atkins induction. Just limit carbs by making them mostly non-starchy veggies, eat good, healthy, REAL food with plenty of fat. It doesn't have to be hard.




Yes, just count carbs for now. There may come a time (if you stall), that yo might want to start counting calories. Keep it simple! And read the book!
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Old 04-01-2014, 03:01 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Blue Skies View Post
I did Atkins several years ago successfully, including induction, 50 lb loss then.

Of course, since I treated it like a diet, I gained it all back. A year ago I began another LC woe, greatly informed by the first try, and what did and didn't work for me.

I did not do induction this time, felt that it set me up to feel deprivation. I started again a year ago w/the goal of 50 NCs a day. Over the first few months I backed myself down to 25 to 35 NCs a day, by my own choice and decisions. What felt comfortable and doable for me. And that's where I'm still at.

Fade in fade out, I've lost 45 pounds over this last year, doing it the way that felt right for me.

I am a great admirer of Dr. Atkins and much of what has worked for me, I have him to thank for. However, the most important thing Atkins stands for, imo, is a lower carb lifestyle.

For MANY, Atkins is spot on w/his way to begin this woe, and eventually maintain it. i.e., induction and OWL. But for me, I had to back myself into it on the second go, because I needed to be free to make my own choices. And once that was possible, turns out I've made some pretty good choices.

Some of us do better with a very specific plan and marching orders. Others of us find that we need to find our own way to good choices. Both work.

Some will tell you this, some will tell you that, and every one of us means to be supportive and encouraging. But in the end, we must all find the way that works for us, the one we can maintain. This takes experimentation and patience.

But I can say w/out doubt, that it is a most excellent journey and well worth hanging in there with. I know this sounds crazy to newbies, and not very satisfying at first glance, but give yourself a good year to figure it all out. And, by that time, you'll be a lot slimmer than you were, if you're still working it.
Awesome Advice!
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Old 04-01-2014, 05:27 AM   #18
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I never count calories. I always just count carbs. I think after a few days the calories ill be lower because you won't be as hungry . The first few days is always the hardest when getting rid of sugars from body. I always need like three days off to start off well . Just don't worry about calories. The carb count will be fine
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Old 04-01-2014, 06:05 AM   #19
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GREAT POST BLUE!!!!!!
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Old 04-01-2014, 06:23 AM   #20
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Going LC does not have to be that involved. Just keep it simple. I eat eggs and bacon for breakfast and 4 oz of protein (pan fried/roasted/grilled/etc.) and (if I eat vegies) a cup or so of green vegies at lunch and dinner. Many times lunch is a big salad of greens with crumbled bacon, eggs and full fat dressing. Easy to count the carbs.

Some people don't count calories. I do because I have to as my daily allowance is so low to keep from gaining weight. You may not have to. I'd start with just counting carbs and see how it goes.
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Old 04-01-2014, 07:46 AM   #21
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I would also say count carbs first. You have time to work your way into tracking calories, should you need to. I never count calories . . . I am not opposed I just don't do it, and I am losing weight steadily (discounting bounces) if slowly. I don't run away from fat but I do keep an eye on quantities of fat and protein -- but my first focus remains carbs.
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Old 04-01-2014, 08:52 AM   #22
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I'm in a similar boat. Did the calorie/carb count years ago with limited success. I tell people now that the minute I say "I can have 3/4 cup of whatever" I'm done. I get too frustrated. This time around, I made simple rules:
1. No; sugar, syrup, honey, etc.
2. Minimize as entirely as possible; white bread, rice, pasta, potatoes.
3. Neutral (Don't have too much); carrots, corn, whole grains, fruits, etc.
4. No problem; non-green veg, beans, wine.
5. Love; meat, eggs, poultry, nuts, green veg, protein/fats.

That's how I started out. From that guideline, I started narrowing down recipes that I found here. It takes a little tweaking to figure put where some fruits and veggies belong.
Once you have in mind, for example, that carrots are kinda neutral, you can sort of figure out how the recipe with carrots is going to look.
Plus, if I have the occasional small starch, I don't feel as guilty, since I'm avoiding them.
Keep in mind, this is just what's working for me.
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Old 04-01-2014, 09:27 AM   #23
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I've calculated the figures for a lot of recipes that I've used over the years, and sometimes I feel like if I sit down with my tracker, calculator and pencil one more time, I'm going to scream. (It seems like just one more way to be obsessed with food.) So, from time to time, I make a pledge to myself to use only recipes/foods I've already figured out for a certain period of time: one day, or three days, or a week. It gives me a break from being overly obsessed with numbers. It helps me, if only in my head.
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Old 04-01-2014, 02:59 PM   #24
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If you use a food scale, this process can be easier.
  1. You weigh each ingredient as you add it to the recipe.
  2. If you include everything, your finished dish should weigh about as much as the ingredients
  3. Then when you go to eat some of the dish, just weigh out however much you're going to eat and use the weight for your portion tracking.

This way, you don't have to weigh the final dish and then measure out your portions, which I agree is a pain.
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Old 04-01-2014, 03:01 PM   #25
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Thanks so much for the advice and encouragement! I've got some confidence back now - I was feeling completely overwhelmed but now I think I have a more realistic plan to work with, thanks to you all!!
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Old 04-01-2014, 03:03 PM   #26
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I have to say, though, that this time around I rarely weigh and measure stuff. My meals are really simple, 90+% of the time. A meal is a protein, a salad with full-fat dressing, and often a cooked vegetable. Keeping it simple means I don't have to mess with measuring and tracking.

I do "spot check" my eating from time to time, to make sure I'm eating enough of the right stuff, and if I went into a stall the first thing I'd do would be to start tracking again. But it's more of a problem-solving strategy for me now, rather than a daily practice.
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Old 04-01-2014, 03:48 PM   #27
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I just LOVE LOVE LOVE what I have read on this thread! This is the approach that I have been leaning toward with this whole low carb w.o.e. Here are my guidelines, for what it's worth.
First....and most important..... NO...ABSOLUTELY NO SUGAR, POTATOES, BREAD, RICE, PASTA OR ANYTHING ELSE THAN TURNS IMMEDIATELY TO SUGAR WHEN YOU EAT IT.
Second... FEEL FREE TO ADD BUTTER, SOUR CREAM, HEAVY CREAM, CREAM CHEESE, ETC. TO YOUR MEAL WITHOUT MAKING A CONSCIOUS EFFORT TO EAT A STICK OF BUTTER FOR THE SAKE OF LOADING UP ON FAT
Third ... DON'T STRESS OVER STICKING WITH 20 CARBS OR UNDER. THERE ARE TOO MANY LITTLE CARBS LURKING IN ALMOST EVERYTHING YOU EAT...AND KNOW THAT STAYING SOMEWHERE AROUND 30-35 CARBS A DAY FROM PERMITTED FOODS WILL BE JUST FINE. FOR MOST OF US, THAT IS ABOUT 400+ CARBS LESS THAN WE NORMALLY WOULD EAT
Fourth - TRULY MAKE IT INTO A W.O.E. AND NOT A DIET. MAKE EVERY MEAL INTO DELIGHTFUL TASTES....EVEN IF IT MEANS USING SOME ARTIFICIAL SWEETENER (IF IT'S TRUE THAT ARTIFICIAL SWEETENER CAUSES STALLS, I DON'T WANT THIS W.O.E. AT ALL. LET ME HAVE MY SUGAR-FREE JELLO AND MY COFFEE WITH A FEW DROPS OF EZ SWEETZ WITHOUT THE GUILT!!!)
If this w.o.e. is EVER going to be a whole new w.o.e. for the rest of our lives, it just has to be liveable. Giving up so many of the foods that most of us have loved for all our lives is hard enough. Making it so restrictive that we are afraid to eat anything for fear that it has hidden carbs is unproductive. If you are truly omitting all sugar, potatoes, rice, pasta, breads, etc. you are doing a remarkable thing. Having a few extra carbs in a few raspberries shouldn't matter all that much. This low carb eating is great for one major reason....it controls my appetite. That's good enough for me. If I lose more slowly because I don't stay under 20 carbs, I'll accept that.
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Old 04-01-2014, 04:20 PM   #28
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I just LOVE LOVE LOVE what I have read on this thread! This is the approach that I have been leaning toward with this whole low carb w.o.e. Here are my guidelines, for what it's worth.
First....and most important..... NO...ABSOLUTELY NO SUGAR, POTATOES, BREAD, RICE, PASTA OR ANYTHING ELSE THAN TURNS IMMEDIATELY TO SUGAR WHEN YOU EAT IT.
Second... FEEL FREE TO ADD BUTTER, SOUR CREAM, HEAVY CREAM, CREAM CHEESE, ETC. TO YOUR MEAL WITHOUT MAKING A CONSCIOUS EFFORT TO EAT A STICK OF BUTTER FOR THE SAKE OF LOADING UP ON FAT
Third ... DON'T STRESS OVER STICKING WITH 20 CARBS OR UNDER. THERE ARE TOO MANY LITTLE CARBS LURKING IN ALMOST EVERYTHING YOU EAT...AND KNOW THAT STAYING SOMEWHERE AROUND 30-35 CARBS A DAY FROM PERMITTED FOODS WILL BE JUST FINE. FOR MOST OF US, THAT IS ABOUT 400+ CARBS LESS THAN WE NORMALLY WOULD EAT
Fourth - TRULY MAKE IT INTO A W.O.E. AND NOT A DIET. MAKE EVERY MEAL INTO DELIGHTFUL TASTES....EVEN IF IT MEANS USING SOME ARTIFICIAL SWEETENER (IF IT'S TRUE THAT ARTIFICIAL SWEETENER CAUSES STALLS, I DON'T WANT THIS W.O.E. AT ALL. LET ME HAVE MY SUGAR-FREE JELLO AND MY COFFEE WITH A FEW DROPS OF EZ SWEETZ WITHOUT THE GUILT!!!)
If this w.o.e. is EVER going to be a whole new w.o.e. for the rest of our lives, it just has to be liveable. Giving up so many of the foods that most of us have loved for all our lives is hard enough. Making it so restrictive that we are afraid to eat anything for fear that it has hidden carbs is unproductive. If you are truly omitting all sugar, potatoes, rice, pasta, breads, etc. you are doing a remarkable thing. Having a few extra carbs in a few raspberries shouldn't matter all that much. This low carb eating is great for one major reason....it controls my appetite. That's good enough for me. If I lose more slowly because I don't stay under 20 carbs, I'll accept that.


My new motto is "The tortoise wins the race." You're never going to make this work for a lifetime if you "have to lose 50 lbs as fast as you can for the wedding", or whatever # and event is upcoming! It's not about avoiding all carbs forever, it's about gaining controlling over them for the most part. YMMV

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Old 04-01-2014, 08:05 PM   #29
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I never count either calories or carbs. I'm a creature of habit so I eat pretty much the same thing every day. What's important in my diet is that it's low in carbs and sugars, and high in fat and protein. Since I eat almost the same thing every day, I don't have to worry about whether some item I'm eating has more carbs than what I had yesterday, or whether I need to eat really low carb for dinner because I had too many carbs for lunch, etc.

I realize a lot of people would get bored eating the same thing every day, but if you think you can do it, just find one good set of regular meals that fit your guidelines, and don't worry about day-to-day changes because there won't be any.
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Old 04-01-2014, 10:49 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leeloo View Post
I have to say, though, that this time around I rarely weigh and measure stuff. My meals are really simple, 90+% of the time. A meal is a protein, a salad with full-fat dressing, and often a cooked vegetable. Keeping it simple means I don't have to mess with measuring and tracking.

I do "spot check" my eating from time to time, to make sure I'm eating enough of the right stuff, and if I went into a stall the first thing I'd do would be to start tracking again. But it's more of a problem-solving strategy for me now, rather than a daily practice.
this is what I'm doing, too.
Yvonnem2000 is offline   Reply With Quote
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