the WHAT of tracking

You want to track. You intend to track. But, what do you track?

Don’t say everything. Unless you’re already tracking close to everything, everything might be too much.  Since tracking helps you focus your attention and energy on changing behavior and habits, consider what you want to change.  Then track that.

You could track…

individuals walking shoes

Your steps: If your goal is to get more steps, then tracking the number of steps you get each day is important.  If you don’t know how many you did yesterday, then how will you know you got more steps in today unless you track it. Check out how 100 more steps add up.

Cute parson russell terrier dog on lead on walk with his owner10 minutes of activity: If your goal is to move more, you could track your time in 10 minutes blocks of physical activity.  A walk around the block for your morning break could be one check-mark. Vacuuming the house could be another couple of marks. Walking the dog, yet another.  Soon you’ll want to mark off one more block then you did yesterday, or you’ll make the effort to get at least one in today. Change it up.


green and red healthy foodYour servings of fruits & veggies: If your goal is to eat 5 or more servings of fruits & vegetables each day, then give yourself a gold star for every serving.  Soon you might be planning your weekly menu around your veggies to ensure you get your gold stars. Increase your plant slant.


water with mint, cucumber, and limeYour water: If you’re trying to make water your go-to beverage choice, tracking the number of glasses or ounces you grab each day can help.  Celebrate and mark each time you choose water over soda.  Drink up.


use the remote control to change channels on TelevisionYour TV time:  Your tracking goal doesn’t just have to be about increasing the better choices. Sometimes tracking can help you decrease behaviors that you want to change.  With a goal of no more than two hours of recreational screen time each day, you could track your TV time to identify your baseline watching and then make changes from there.  Remember, I may have written TV, but this could include your computer, smartphone, and tablets too.  What’s in your day that shouldn’t be?


bigstock woman decision donut fruitYour emotions, feelings, level of satisfaction, or stress:  Tracking creates awareness about choices, situations, and behaviors.  If you track your emotions or stress level before you eat, you could identify a trend that when you feel bored, you reach for crunchy snacks.  After certain situations, you note that you’re feeling extremely stressed, and you go for chocolate.  If you track your satisfaction level during meals, you may find that you stop eating when you feel comfortable and not waiting until you feel full. Make each day delicious.

WHAT will you track this week?

if you want more potassium, grab this instead

When I get leg cramps I tend to grab a banana, but there are more ways to get potassium than you may have realized.

Forget the sports drink after a hard work out – grab your fruits and vegetables.  They’re a much better source of the vitamins and minerals you need.

But, why is potassium important?

Potassium is a mineral that is found in most foods. It helps your body in several ways. Potassium helps to balance fluids and minerals in your body. It also helps your body maintain a normal blood pressure. Potassium helps your muscles contract and your nerves function normally. 

 There is also indication that increased fruit and potassium consumption is associated with stronger bones.  A diet rich in potassium may decrease the risk of stroke and kidney stones.   It can also help with keeping blood pressure down.

It’s recommended that an adequate intake of potassium for men and women, ages 19+ is 4,700 milligrams (mg), but with the average American diet, we’re not getting enough.  This doesn’t mean take a supplement, this means eat more fruits and vegetables that are good sources of potassium (unless your doctor has specifically told you to stay away from potassium rich foods).

Foods such as:

  • 1 cup cooked beans (more on dried beans)
    • white beans (1189 mg)woman shopping for vegetables
    • edamame (970 mg)
    • lima beans (707 mg)
  • 1 cup steamed greens
    • Swiss chard (961 mg)
    • spinach (839 mg)
    • beet greens (1300 mg)
  • 1 cup baked, cubed acorn squash (899 mg)
  • 1 medium baked potato with skin (751 mg)
  • 1 medium baked sweet potato with skin (542 mg)
  • 3 ounces of cooked halibut  (449 mg)
  • 1 medium banana (425 mg potassium)
  • 1/2 papaya (390 mg)
  • 3 ounces of baked or broiled salmon (319 mg)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (312 mg)
  • 1 medium raw tomato (290 mg)
  • 1/2 cup of mushrooms (280 mg)
  • 1/4 of a medium avocado (245 mg)
  • 1 small orange (240 mg)

Various sites provided differing amounts of potassium in the foods above.  That’s okay since you’re not necessarily trying to add your potassium up to reach 4,700 milligrams exactly.  The goal is to eat more fruits and vegetables.  Reach for these foods to get the vitamins and minerals you need to get and stay healthy & happy.  Also keep in mind, how you cook it is important.  Stay away from boiling.  Instead bake, broil, grill or lightly steam them.  Of course, some you won’t even need to cook.

Here are the sources I used for my list:

Huffington Post – Foods With More Potassium Than a Banana – Potassium Content of Foods List

WebMD – Are You Getting Enough Potassium?

Get the Facts_ Sodium and the Dietary Guidelines - Sodium_Dietary_Guidelines

When you find information about potassium there is usually a link to information on sodium.  If you’re  interested in learning more about salt in your diet?  Check out the CDC’s Get the Facts –  Sodium and the Dietary Guidelines.




What potassium rich foods will you reach for this week?


Organizing Ideas for Getting Your Potassium

Make a meal plan this week around the foods listed above.

Put 5-7 of the foods listed above on your shopping list now.  If you don’t have a shopping list, start one.  You can use:

  • sticky note on your refrigerator – Your family as well as you can add to it, and you can grab it when you’re headed out the door to go shopping.
  • white board on your refrigerator –  Again you and your family can add to it, then you can take a picture of it before you head out.
  • there’s an app for that.  I use ShopShop which allows me to email or text or share with another app user.
  • if you’re using a meal planning app or program, there’s probably a shopping list feature built in.  Use it!
  • join the Paperwork Party on Saturday (May 30th) and make the time to finally create that master shopping list you’ve been meaning to.  Click here to register.
  • What do you use for a shopping list?

Pre-cut, -chop, -wash, and prepare several snacks from the foods above.  You’re more likely to reach for the healthier snack if it’s ready to eat.  If you have to fix it, it’s probably too late.

revisit & revise

collection of forks with vegetables and fruitLast week I talked about putting your fork down, which then led me to revisit the concept of not putting food in my mouth when I have food in my mouth (if there’s food in your mouth).  Sometimes we’ve made changes and found strategies that worked, but over time, we may have drifted away from using them.  It’s now time to go back and revisit one strategy, change or idea that worked for you.  Put it back in play this week.

In addition to focusing on putting my fork down and finishing my food one mouthful at a time, I’m looking at my habits around what and when I drink.  In the morning, I drink coffee, and that’s not going to change (at least this week), but I do want to revise what I reach for in the late afternoon.  As the days transition into summer, it’s time to make water more exciting than my other options.  I could drink more water by:

  • Adding mint leaveswater with mint, cucumber, and lime
  • Adding fresh or frozen berries, cherries, or other favorite fruit
  • Choosing mineral water with a slice of orange
  • Adding cucumbers
  • Making flavored ice cubes from fruit juice (I miss my lemon tree!).


What change or strategy will your revisit?
What habit or behavior could you revise?


Organizing Ideas for choosing water

Pull out your favorite pitcher and fill it up in the morning.  Either place it front and center in the refrigerator (blocking your previous beverage choices) or put it on the counter with your best water glass.

Prep the mint, cucumber, or fruit ahead of time so that’s it’s easy to add.

Challenge family and friends to find refreshing and tasty zero-calorie ways to liven up your summer beverage.

Track the amount of water you get each day or gain awareness of what’s in your other options — drink up.

let go of your fork

Put your fork down between bites.  I don’t know how many times I’ve read that strategy for losing weight.  And I always gave that advice a nod and a ‘yeah, yeah’, but I never really tried it.  I always thought of it as a behavior or a habit that I couldn’t quite change.  But that changed when I read The Jean Nidetch Story by Jean Nidetch:

…people who are overweight still do the same thing.  They hold on to the fork all through a meal.  They never let go, because they’ve never learned how.

When I read those words, the light came on.  I realized that, for me, holding on to my fork was more of an emotional attachment.  It was a security blanket that I wouldn’t let go.   No wonder I’ve had such a hard time putting down my fork.  It wasn’t about changing a behavior, it was about changing my thoughts.  It was about overcoming that emotional attachment and seeing the fork as a tool for eating rather than as my Excalibur against life’s pain and frustration.  I will again be practicing letting go of my fork at least once each meal this week.

Can you let go of your fork this week?


Organizing Ideas for letting go of your fork

If you are eating with someone who eats slower than you, you could make a game or challenge yourself to:

  • put your fork down if you see their fork down.
  • sneak a peak at their plate when you’re half-way done and wait for them to catch up.

You could use your non-dominant hand to hold the fork.  I’m thinking that this would not be a good one to try in public initially.

read for your health

I was reminded how important it is to read the label, each and every time.

bigstock-child-halloween-pumpkin-bucket-8862712I was baking cookies as a Halloween treat for one group of trick-or-treaters we get every year – our neighbor’s two young boys.  One of them has a nut allergy, so cookies are the requested choice for treats.  I was at the store, grabbed a roll of sugar cookie dough, checked the warning below the ingredients and it said ‘wheat and eggs’ only.  No warming about nuts.  Great!

I then spy a batch of the same brand of sugar cookies but they’ve already been pre-portioned and were ready to place on the cookie sheet.  No extra work of slicing the roll. I didn’t bother to check the label until several hours later when I started baking.  There, under the ingredients, was the warning that this dough could contain ‘peanut or macadamia ingredients.’  Yikes!

I hadn’t bothered to read the ingredients or the warning because I assumed the same brand of the same cookie was made in the same nut free environment.  I was wrong and it could have been bad.

I also remember finding a high amount of salt in canned tomatoes when I was searching labels for the sodium content due my brother’s hypertension and heart condition.  I never would have thought to look otherwise.

This week, read the label of any new foods you’re thinking of bringing home.  Check out the labels of some of your favorite foods.  You could focus on the ingredients, the serving size, the fat, the sodium, the fiber or anything you’re interested in tracking.


nutrition label fda ucm272448
What will you look for on your food labels this week?

Check It Out

Make Your Calories Count is an interactive learning program from the FDA on using the Nutrition Facts Label for healthier weight.

Eating Healthier and Feeling Better Using the Nutrition Facts Label

what and how much

Screenshot 2014-10-19 07.55.27If you’re not quite ready to restrict your calorie intake across the board to lose weight, one small step you can take is to focus on reducing what or how much you eat for ONE food.

You could decide that…



  • if you choose to have bread, you’ll enjoy it without butter.
  • if you choose to have sweets, it will only be ice cream (or any one type of dessert you really enjoy).
  • you’ll substitute veggies for the potatoes, rice, or noodles when you eat out.



  • if you have bread, you’ll enjoy one piece.
  • if you have sweets, you’ll savor one piece.
  • if you have potatoes or rice or noodles, you’ll leave half on the plate.


You have the energy and the ability to focus your awareness of what you eat or how much you eat of ONE food.  This ONE food will make a difference.  Because you are building your awareness and decision muscles, you will then be able to focus on the next food, and the next.

What’s the ONE food you’ll focus on?

Check It Out

Health At Every Size® Approach from The Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH)


Leave a comment and share how you are living your day. 

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it’s stress not hunger

There I was, standing with the refrigerator door open, searching.  Stress or Hunger -eat or build a better coping habitMy eyes passed over the apples, as if they didn’t exist.  I was searching for answers, for relief, and for peace.  I couldn’t  find anything in the refrigerator that would help.  My mind went to the pantry, wondering if I had the ingredients for brownies or cookies.

It has been quite awhile since I turned to a batch of chocolate chip cookies as a solution to my stress and discontent.  It’s been more than nine years since I whipped up a batch of sweets to quite my distress and here I was thinking, “did I want to jump in the car and go shopping or should I call my sister to bring home the goods?”

bigstock-Detail-Of-Overweight-Woman-13897697 (1)I knew what was going on.  I understood that my mind was turning to old (and ineffective) copping strategies.  I also knew that my general crankiness was adding to my suffering.  I was fully aware that eating a batch of brownies was not going to solve the problem, but it was an old routine that never quite went away.

The good news is that I choose to put a heaping spoonful of cocoa in my coffee and go curl up on the couch and watch TV.  Okay, okay, I know.  The best solution would have been to either take my mocha java outside and let nature soothe my soul or better yet, forget the coffee and take a walk.  But hey, I at least chose a better solution than eating my feelings.

There are three things that reinforced my healthier stress relieving choice:

Environment was free from the foods (and ingredients) that I have used as an emotional crutch before or have a hard time limiting.

Support was provided by my sister because she chose not to bring home ice cream.  She was having a similar day and was thinking about a couple of quarts of our favorite ice cream.  She decided against it because we were both working on our weight and our health.  Thanks, Anne!!!

It's a journey, celebrate your successes and accept that your doing the best you can in the momentAcceptance that this is a journey; that a decision today does not mean the entire goal is derailed; that even if I’ve gained weight back, the fact remains that I have made some major changes that have stuck (such as not making a batch of brownies); and that I’m doing the best I can.  Though it may not be the best I’m capable of on other days, today… today, I did the best I could in the moment.


What can you do this week to:

Make your environment healthier?

Your support system stronger?

Your acceptance deeper?


Check It Out

Step #1 from Organize for Weight Loss … …place your portion control tools where you’ll use them.

Six Tips to Design the Ideal Bedroom for Sleep from the National Sleep Foundation


Share your journey.  Tell me about your environment, support and acceptance – leave a comment.

choosing ‘healthier’ options

healthier isn't always as clear as donuts vs fruitChoosing healthier options isn’t always easy, but knowledge BEFORE you choose is essential.  Don’t assume something is healthier or lower in calories or “not that bad”.  Take the time to find out before you bite.

A few things to think about:

  • Just because something is labeled “organic”, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily lower in fat or calories.  Check the label or ask.
  • Just because it says ‘low fat’ doesn’t mean it’s low calorie.  It may have more sugar than you want.  Read the label and check the ingredients.
  • Just because it’s a salad, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily low in calories.  Ask for details.
  • Just because the main ingredients are vegetables, doesn’t mean that it’s not loaded with salt or high calorie additions.

A good place to start gaining knowledge of your choices is the foods that you routinely choose.  Ask questions about how it’s prepared and what’s in it.  Do some research on-line, ask the wait staff how it’s made, or check out some books from the library.  Even a little bit more awareness will help you choose healthier options.

Will you find the nutritional information for ONE of your favorite foods?

Check It Out

How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label from

The Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service’s Cultural Cuisine recipes for Hawaiian, Korean, Filipino, Thai, and Vietnamese dishes.

Leave It Then Eat It: Slow Cooked Island Recipes from Nutrition Education for Wellness

Share what you find out about your favorite food – leave a comment.

yes, I will be eating on vacation, I’ve got a plan

Travel & Food

Part of the pleasure of traveling is the food.  We have the opportunity to experience new foods or old favorites.  New and different restaurants beckon us.   

Part of the challenge of traveling and maintaining a healthy weight is the sense of freedom and wild abandon that draws us to ask for that second exotic drink or order appetizers in addition to a full meal.     

As I mentioned last week in have plans, will travel, I will be at a conference in Arizona for my first week of vacation.  No buffet lines but there will be socializing over drinks, conference food (veggies swimming in butter) and continental breakfasts (no protein and lots of pastries).  Here’s my 3 Point Plan for eating healthier at conference.

  • For every alcoholic drink, I’ll have two glasses of water. I’ll stick to red wines because I’m less likely to order a second.  It really is about the conversation.
  • I’ll get up in time to have a real breakfast and make sure I have enough protein.  No continental pastries for me.  
  • I’ll spend the money and buy fruit for snacks.  Fruit always seems to be outrageously expensive in hotels, but I’m worth it.

The second part of the vacation is probably the more dangerous to my waistline.  I haven’t seen my husband in three months and the last time we went on vacation I gained 5 pounds in 3 days.  It ain’t going to happen again!  Here’s my 3 Point Plan for vacation with hubby.

  • Restaurant meals are shared.  I’ve got to try the french fries on the sandwich that seems to be a signature dish of the Pittsburgh area, but I don’t need to eat the whole thing myself.bigstock-Little-boy-spending-happy-time-43429318
  • The rule of two glasses of water to every alcoholic drink is extremely important to continue here.  I’m sure we’ll be visiting some micro brew pubs and spending our evenings watching the sun sink below the horizon with a glass of wine in hand.
  • No eating in front of the television.  The only exception is our ‘pizza and a movie’ tradition on Fridays.  Maybe the rule should be: no television, let’s enjoy the sunsets.
How will you eat healthier on vacation?

Check It Out

Though it’s not Thanksgiving, the 5 small changes to make on… apply to vacations as well.

Finding Healthy Foods on a Road Trip – for those driving

Have you ever wondered why being organized, getting organized or staying organized is so hard for you?  Check out my article on chronic disorganization, Why can’t I get organized?.  Includes resources that can help.

Share your tricks for traveling healthier.

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tracking AGAIN

I’m sticking with tracking as my small step this week.

I went from 0 days of tracking to 4.3 days of tracking last week.  If you do the math correctly, my percentage increase in tracking is infinite.  After all something is infinitely more than nothing.  Yes, even though I only tracked 61% of my food last week, I still had an amazing increase from the week (or rather months) before.

So…I’m sticking with tracking this week and focusing on the value of tracking.Yes, You Can!

What’s the value of tracking?

  • It makes me aware of my choices, at least after the fact. I can then make a different choice the next time I’m reaching for something to eat.
  • I become aware of the amount of food I eat.
    • How much satisfies me.
    • How much does my brain think I need vs. how much my body really does need.
    • What 1/2 cup really looks like.
  • I lost 1.6 pounds.  Even with tracking only 61% of my meals, I lost weight.  This week that 61% won’t have the same effect but as my tracking improves, so will my results.
  • I can look back at previous trackers when I’ve lost and use those same meal ideas.  Meal planning done!
Will you track with me again this week?

Check It OutSuccess is not final, failure is not fatal:  it is the courage to continue that counts.  Winston Churchill

Other things to track and other ways to do it: