Losing 10 lbs. seems harder than the first 50

I haven’t lost my desire, nor will power to lose 10 more pounds, but it feels so much harder right now. I’m motivated, but not charged. I’m only in the gym like 2-3 times a week, I really need to amp that back up to 4 – 5 times. I’m about even from my goal, sitting steady at that 220 mark. I really want to get down to 210.

I think I need to challenge myself more…. I think I need to establish a new goal. I need to find a run to train for, and keep running. I’ve only been running once a week, I think capturing these ideas from my brain here are going to help me.

I find myself making excuses, or allowing things that I wasn’t previously allowing to distract me. I’ve been crazy busy at work. Excuse. I’ve had lots of things going on in my personal life. Excuse. I’m starting to see that I need to re-focus my energy.

I know I’m capable of getting to my next goal, I just need to reset my expectations and realize that this one is going to be harder than my first one. It sounds crazy, but I already know that is how it’s going to go. I need to establish a bigger goal (aside from losing the 10 lbs.) and allow that goal to push me into my smaller goal. I think running a 5K or maybe a 10K is where I need to go. I think the Shamrock run is approaching, maybe I need to register for that, and set a goal to finish in a certain amount of time.

 

Tech Review – BodyMedia FIT Link Armband

Logo

Never heard of the BodyMedia FIT Link Armband? I think you have. It’s the one that you see the contestants of the biggest loser wearing on their arms. You may have wondered, what is that? Simply put, it’s a calorie and step tracking device used primarily for weight loss and fitness. The first question you may ask is why would anyone want this? I’d counter that with a question back to you, can you tell me (with a high degree of accuracy) how many calories you burned yesterday? Can you tell me how many calories you ate? Did you end your day in a calorie surplus or a calorie deficit? The BodyMedia FIT Link when used in conjunction with their web, or iPhone application can tell you ALL of that, down to the last calorie you burn for the day.

When you set out to make a change in your life, it’s not an easy thing to do. My opinion is any tools or technology that help present you with a greater chance of being successful, you should consider using. I’m a huge proponent of better living through technology. I was the guy that stood in line for the very first iPhone (never again by the way) but at the time, it was so revolutionary; it changed the mobile phone market forever. The FIT Link Armband is something I feel strongly about as well, it’s an amazing piece of technology coupled with some very beautiful software. The technology itself is copied by many players in the market, but I think that BodyMedia is doing almost all of it perfectly. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some things I’d like to see changed, but the good overwhelmingly outweighs the bad, by a lot.

Photo Nov 30, 12 52 42 PM     Photo Nov 30, 12 52 59 PM

Out of the Box Experience
When I got my band at home, I opened the box it was shipped in, and found a typical clam-shell package containing an Armband, the sensor unit, USB cable (a nice and long one too!), and a small set of documentation. There’s really not much more to say, very standard retail style packaging. Nothing super special about the box it comes in. I did think it was rather large for the contents, it would be nice to see a smaller package developed. It felt like there was a lot of wasted space.

Photo Nov 30, 1 18 12 PM     Photo Nov 30, 1 18 57 PM

Setup
Being an excited techno geek, I tossed the instructions aside, and found the quick-start guide. In a perfect world, I love to have gadgets that don’t rely on my computer. My home PC I’ve built is kind of my 3rd kid, I don’t really install stuff on it much unless I’m sure that it’s something I’m going to use a lot, and software I trust. I’d read a bit about the Link Armband I had received and knew that it had the capability to link directly to my iPhone using Bluetooth. I figured I wouldn’t even use the computer with it. I’ll describe my experience, but I’m telling you right now, their software is good, trust it, and start with the computer first. I’ll describe my experience.

I knew I needed to setup an account first, so I went online and created my account. It’s your typical account setup, address, name, phone, email, etc. Nothing shocking. There’s some steps to tell them about yourself, birth date, gender, dominant hand, height/weight, timezone, and your sleeping habits (normal time to sleep, and time you generally wake up).

BodyMediaRegistration1

You then choose if you’re trying to lose weight, maintain weight, or just get active. I am currently losing weight, so I chose that option. You then get to select your weight loss plan which is very similar to many other web sites, or phone applications that set a goal to lose anywhere from .5lbs to 2.0lbs. per week. You also define how you want to do it based on the activity level you want to achieve, from light to extreme, or you can set a custom definition for this portion.

BodyMediaRegistration2

BodyMediaRegistration3

BodyMediaRegistration4

Once that’s done, this is where you should just connect the sensor to your computer via it’s USB port. You’ll need to snap the unit ‘out’ of the Armband, there’s a ring that goes around it the Armband connects to, just hold each side of the armband in your hands and use your two thumbs to depress lightly in the center, and the sensor unit will pop out. I was a little scared the first time, but now it’s no big deal, everything seems to be manufactured well, and I’m not worried about it breaking.

However, what I did was now jump right to the iPhone application. Step one pair it with your phone’s Bluetooth. I read the instructions, and set the device into it’s pairing mode. I had all kinds of trouble getting it to pair with my iPhone. So I started googling it. A lot of other people had run into this as well, I found a blog with great information that said, use the computer first.

So I installed the FIT Link software that is available once you create your account at www.bodymedia.com. Their software (for PC) runs in the system tray, and when you connect the sensor to the USB cord that comes with it, everything starts to make sense. It instantly connected to the FIT Link and asked me if I wanted to apply a firmware update, ahhhh why yes, I bet that would help with my Bluetooth issues. Let me say that 90% of the time when I run into syncing and pairing issues, I really think it’s with the Bluetooth protocol and software, NOT with BodyMedia’s stuff. It took a few times, but I finally got it to pair with my phone! The amazing thing is that it hasn’t decoupled this pairing once, ever. Most Bluetooth devices I own require constant re-linking or I have to repair them on a frequent basis, not the FIT Link, it’s one of the best Bluetooth devices I’ve owned.

I’ve installed it on my Macbook too, with no issues, works great. As I’ve said their software seems really good.

Steps / Instructions for pairing
The pairing process was a little difficult, but I think that’s more of a Bluetooth problem than an issue with BodyMedia’s software or hardware. I had to do these steps a few times, and ultimately it just ended up working, I’m not really sure why.

1.) Put the armband in pairing mode. Hold the armband button for five seconds for an initial pairing. The status lights will alternate in amber color. It will remain in pairing mode for two minutes.
2.) Set your phone to discover the armband. For my iPhone I just went into Bluetooth, and it listed the armband as “JB’s Armband”
3.) If you’re prompted for a code, enter “0000” (all zeros) for the pin/pass code.
4.) If it doesn’t pair, go to step one. I had to do this a few times before it finally registered.

Using the Device
The device itself requires almost NO intervention to use. Just strap it to your left arm, halfway between your elbow and shoulder. I wear the sensor facing the back side of my arm as that seems to be most comfortable. BodyMedia says you should wear the device as much as possible, the longer you wear it, the more accurate it is. There is a button on the device that you can use to sync it’s data to the iPhone application if you don’t want to use the USB cable. The device is NOT waterproof, take it off to shower, but other than that, you should wear it all the time. I wear it to work, sleeping, and everywhere in between.

Battery Life
The battery life of the FIT Link is documented as 2-4 days. I’ve found this to be a very poor estimate. I’ve been wearing mine almost full time since I got it (almost two weeks now) without a charge. The software is reporting 50% battery life left. Battery usage is dependent on how often you sync to your phone, and how often you push data from the phone and armband to the BodyMedia online application. I’m beyond happy with how great the battery life is on this device.

Sensors
The Armband contains 4 sensors that measure motion, body temperature fluctuations, skin temperature, and skin conductivity (galvanic skin response). A proprietary algorithm uses this collected raw information along with your personal body parameters to deliver readings on calories, activity levels, steps, lying down, and sleep time. I’ve compared these to other trackers, and my personal feeling is that BodyMedia is the most accurate device available to consumers right now.

Sensors

The BodyMedia FIT Activity Manager
The online application that your armband sends data to (whether it’s via a USB sync, or it’s being pushed from your phone) is one of the best ones I’ve used period. The graphs, and display of your calorie burning data, nutritional information, and sleep patterns is better than any of the other sites that I’ve seen.

One of the coolest things that’s available in the online application is the “Fit Coach”. It’s a non-intrusive part of the application that gives you valuable feedback about your nutrition, eating habits, calorie burn, and reminds you of your personal bests. In each measured section of the summary screen numbered icons appear to the left of each section, when you roll the mouse over these sections you get useful feedback about your historical performance. Good stuff like you didn’t eat enough protein, or you ate too much cholesterol. There’s good things too, it will inform you that you’re on track to burn what you’re supposed to for the day. Some days it will even tell you how well your day before was. It’s so great to get this kind of feedback, as it’s not something that most people consider, and it’s useful in your efforts, it’s also something that I haven’t seen in other applications.

BodyMediaFitnessManager

There’s a great notifications system too. The notifications appear in the top of the navigation bar near the top of the browser window. You’ll get notifications like new personal records, and other pertinent information.

Capture

The BodyMedia Activity Manager allows you to even sync your Withings scale to their site. Nothing makes me happier than not having to enter data manually into applications. Every time I step on the scale, it’s automatically recorded and stored at BodyMedia. It’s a nice feature.

The Activity Manager’s summary page breaks down information for you in the following manner (data is displayed based on the last point it was synced to). The left numbers in each header represent the target, and the right side is the actual measurement.

  • Calories Burned – Directly computed from your armband, so wear it all the time.
    Expanding this section shows you the total amount of calories burned, and shows the level over time.
    CaloriesBurned 

  • Calories Consumed – The responsibility is on you to enter this information.
    Expanding this section shows a detailed nutritional breakdown of everything that you ate.
    CaloriesConsumed 

  • Calorie Balance – Hands down the best feature of the application, shows you Burned – Consumed. This is where you want to see a calorie deficit if your goal is to lose weight. Having the calorie deficit available to see anytime you want is huge for me. My FAVORITE part of the application.
    CalorieBalance

  • Physical Activity – Shows the total time in minutes that are spent in moderate – vigorous activity.
    Expanding this section shows detailed graphs of when you were active, and how active you were.
    PhysicalActivity 

  • Steps Taken – Number of steps for the day.
    StepsTaken 

  • Sleep Duration – Amount of time spent sleeping.
    SleepDuration 

  • Weight – Shows your current weight.
    Weight

The area where things start to get a little tricky is around food entry. The food database that BodyMedia uses seems to be small, there’s been several times that I have had to pick “something close” to what I really had eaten. That’s frustrating because things like cholesterol, fat, and sodium can be way off. It’s easy to control the calorie amounts by adjusting the serving size, but for me, an application like Lose It just nails the food entry. What I would really like to see is the ability to sync food from other applications, like Lose it. Right now I’m entering my food consumed in two applications, and it’s really time consuming and a duplicated effort. The Summary page in the Activity Manager is so polished and has gorgeous formatting, but then you go to the food section, and it feels like a different application. It’s by no means a deal breaker, just something I think could use some improvement.

iPhone Application
The iPhone application is very similar to the online application with a few exceptions. First of all, one of the very best things that has been added recently is the ability to sync the armband directly to the iPhone application. You can then in turn push the data from your iPhone to the BodyMedia Activity Manager. This is a recent feature, and when I first started using the armband, this feature was not available. I was so frustrated by this early on. Since BodyMedia charges a small monthly fee (around $7) they promise to improve their software, and bring new features to their customers without forcing you to buy new hardware every year. I was originally skeptical when I read this, however, I’ve now experienced it firsthand. I have no problem paying a small amount of money each month for something that solves a problem and offers me a useful service. Just eliminate eating out ONE day per MONTH, it’s seriously not a big deal.

As I stated earlier, I wish the iPhone application could sync food logs from other applications. The other feature that is seriously lacking is the ability to scan bar codes using the phone’s camera. Other fitness and nutrition applications offer this feature, it’s so handy. There’s so many things we eat everyday that come pre-packaged, having the ability to scan a bar code, and have it log the calorie and nutrition information would be worth double the online price BodyMedia charges. Hopefully we’ll see this come in future versions of the software.

There’s a workout function, that allows you to record your workouts, I’m not entirely sure of why you need this, but there’s a screenshot below. It logs your activity as you workout, and you can start and stop it via the button on the armband.

Photo Dec 01, 12 11 47 PM     Photo Dec 04, 8 00 54 PM     Photo Dec 08, 9 37 21 AM

The graphs on the iPhone application are STUNNING.

Photo Dec 12, 9 10 13 PM     Photo Dec 12, 9 10 32 PM

Photo Dec 12, 9 10 29 PM

The nutrition section of the application is not as polished as the Dashboard. It’s very similar to the online application. It needs some work, it’s functional, and does not ruin the experience, it just takes a bit to learn to use, and the food database is not as big as other applications. It would be good to see some integration and user interface work here.

The Good
The iPhone and online applications are stunning. The software you install on your PC just works, and doesn’t get in the way. Having a calorie deficit available to see keeps me focused.

The Bad
The only area for improivement in my opinion is the food entry and food database that sits behind the applications.

Conclusion
The manufacturing, online experience, features and functionality of this device have surpassed my expectations. While I wish the food entry section was a little more polished, I would wholeheartedly recommend using this product. The biggest thing that I like about it is that it measures your calorie burn very accurately, all day long, and shows you the calorie deficit you’re creating. If you’ve ready my blog at all, you know this is my number one suggestion for losing weight, create a calorie deficit. Knowing each day that I’m creating at least a 1000+ calorie deficit is priceless to me. A lot of people may be concerned about wearing an armband all the time, but it’s super comfortable, and nobody notices it, even when I’m wearing short sleeves. The BodyMedia FIT Link sells for $149.00 with the first three months of online access free, after three months there is a  $7 per month subscription. If you’re on the fence about spending that kind of money, you should order one today, you’ll learn so much about your exercise and eating habits. If you stick to the plan you setup, you will lose weight. The device is not magic, you’ll have to be accountable, but if you follow it’s plan the weight predictably comes off. You can find BodyMedia on the web at http://www.bodymedia.com/, or you can follow them via @BodyMedia on Twitter.

Disclosure of Material Connection: BodyMedia sent me this Link Armband for free for me to review on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I would use and think you would find useful. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Going to the Movies

MoviesI went to the movies the other night, and realized how much I used to love sitting there eating popcorn and drinking soda. I don’t even want to figure out how many calories I would eat sitting at a two hour movie, I’m sure it’s mind blowing. I decided that I wanted to snack on something. My girlfriend and I were out at Target, so we hit the candy aisle. I started looking at the $2 bags of candy, for something that would be satisfying, fun to have during a movie, and not insane calorie-wise.

It was downright depressing. Almost all of the bagged candy was about 140 calories (or more) per serving, with 5-10 servings per bag. I knew that if I chose a bag, opened it, and tried to just have a serving, it would be two, then three, then I’d say screw it, and eat the entire bag. I looked at bagged popcorn, it was just as bad. Licorice wasn’t the answer either, the reality of calories and sticking to a budget set in once again.

I was getting bummed out, and then decided to go look at granola bars and fruit leather/snacks, they were lower in calories, and smaller portioned, but still wasn’t what I wanted. I finally ended up with a moderate sized bag of beef jerky, 3 servings at 80 calories each. Yes, I ate it all, and while red meat is not the greatest for you (or the sodium), I think it was better than the 1000+ calorie mistake I was about to make. I also got a bottled water, awesome, no calories, and a total of 240 calories for my movie snack. I left room in my daily calorie budget, it was high protein, and a decent amount of calories in comparison to candy, popcorn, or nachos!

Some other ideas are granola bars, generally 110 – 200 calories per bar, fruit leather (natural) around 80 – 160 calories depending on serving size. If you’re at home, you can air pop popcorn with no butter, and light salt for about 15 calories per cup! You need someone with a decent sized purse to smuggle it into the theater. The best thing to do is go with a plan in mind. If you like to snack during a movie, don’t deprive yourself, just make a better decision than the last minute popcorn/nacho/candy purchase, your scale will thank you, AND you’ll save a TON of money too. I think a medium popcorn and large drink tops $12 here in Portland. You can buy two packs of beef jerky (not the cheapest snack) and two bottled waters for that much!

Calorie Budgets and Holiday Stress

During the holiday season it’s usually a very stressful time to try and lose weight. There always seems to be an infinite amount of food, candy and sweets no matter where you go, and people always wanting you to try their favorite (read – fattening, caloric, un-needed) food. Everyone’s favorite excuse is to delay making any sort of weight loss pledge until the holidays are over. “I’ll start after new year’s”. We all know how it goes, “This year will be different…” or “I’m going to get fit this year!”.

It’s always so relevant and decisive to be past the holidays, but people usually don’t stick to their new year’s resolutions for more than a month at best. That’s why I’m telling you now, don’t let the holidays be an excuse. If you can get through the tempting holidays while continuing to consistently work towards your weight loss goals, imagine how empowering that could be. It’s huge, and a testament to working hard, controlling your eating, and winning over your emotions.

Turkey on GrillThis Thanksgiving I was exactly in that position. And while I did eat more than I should have, it wasn’t repugnant like holidays past. I wasn’t sick-to-my-stomach full. The thing I noticed is I was eating because the food was available, not really because I was hungry. It was just there, and so easy to snack on. I snacked (a small amount) pretty much all day long. When it came to dinner, I was hungry, but not starving, I took a reasonable portion of turkey, a small amount of mashed potatoes, and some green beans, that’s it. I splurged a bit and had some wine too, probably 2-3 glasses. I was probably around 2400 calories for the day just about 800 – 1000 calores over my budget. When you figure most men eat 2000 – 2200 calories per day, that’s not that far out of whack.

The next day I woke up, kind of scared to get on the scale. I had gained two pounds. I was so disappointed. It was a setback, I kept thinking how long it takes to lose two pounds and I just undid this in one night? My (awesome) girlfriend said I was being too hard on myself, she was right. I used to let something like this be enough to derail me and send me packing. Not this time, I decided I was over-reacting and headed to the gym. I drank tons of water, and went back to my calorie counting regimen. The next day I had dropped those two pounds, and a little more. Sure there’s probably some ‘water weight’ in play, and it’s normal to fluctuate a bit, but my point here is realize there will be setbacks and failures, make sure you don’t let these bumps in the road over power you.

My holiday advice is pledge to lose weight now. Don’t wait for the holidays to be over. Create the challenge for yourself and excel at it. Realize that on the holidays you may go overboard a little, have a reasonable amount of snacks and candy, but don’t make that be the norm. Keep focused in your goals and fight everyday to ensure you get to where you want to be. It’s all in your control, it’s all up to you. Now go and do it, because you have the ability, desire, and drive to accomplish whatever you decide to do.

Losing Weight and Eating Right While Traveling

Airplane landingWhen you’re traveling for work, or vacation, there’s so many difficult things to deal with if you’re trying to eat healthy and lose weight. It’s especially hard when you’re doing it for work because your meals are typically paid for by your company or client; all of a sudden almost anything you want to eat is an option. Often work trips or vacations include more alcohol than you would normally drink on your dime.

While it’s hard, it’s sure not impossible. There’s several things to remember when you’re away from home, and you’re roving from restaurant to restaurant.

Know how your food is prepared – Remember that you’re in control of what your put into your body. When you’re at an eating establishment that you’re unfamiliar with, ask questions. How is the meat prepared? What kind of oil do you use? Is it grilled? You have every right as a consumer to know what you’re eating.

Stay away from fried foods – I’ve found that almost every place I’ve ever eaten on the road usually has fried food. Even when you’re in places like this, there are generally healthier options. Look for grilled foods, look for “lighter fare” portions. So many places are now offering healthier options, sometimes you just have to dig deeper and look.

Ask for calorie/nutrition information – A lot of restaurant chains are starting to publish their calorie information in their menus. Pay attention to this. Sometimes things I’ve thought are healthier, have more calories and fat that a burger and fries! Ask how many calories are in the food that you’re ordering, sometimes it’s just not something printed in the menu, but most places have this information available.

Stick to what you know – If you see places you know, and you’re familiar with healthy options they have, stick to those places! Do what works for you. When you frequent places that you know from home, you’ll be a step ahead, and using this approach can save you time and stress dealing with restaurant staff.

Breakfast – Breakfast is one of my favorite meals. I used to love getting a big plate of eggs, hash browns, toast, and meat. It’s an awful way to start the day, tons of fat and sodium. Try sticking to yogurt, a whole grain cereal, or just some eggs. A lot of the places I’ve stayed in have free continental breakfasts that offer a lot of great options, like yogurt, fruit, and oatmeal.

Lunch – Lunch is one of those meals when you’re traveling that you may be eating with other co-workers, clients, or if you’re on vacation, looking to indulge. One of the things I’ve done when I’ve traveled is found local grocery stores, and bought fresh salad by the pound, a bunch of spinach, some chicken breast, a little egg and balsamic vinegar, it’s a delicious lunch, and you can take it back to where you’re working, or eat it at the store. I love Whole Foods’ readily available foods.

Dinner – Dinner can be perceived as one of the meals that if you’re not paying for it, you should splurge. I say, challenge yourself to spend less, pretend like it’s your money. I try to eat a smaller portion of steak or chicken, maybe a potato and a small salad with the dressing on the side. They KEY with restaurant salads is to make sure to ask of the dressing on the side, and then use as little as possible. One of the things I like about balsamic dressing is that it’s low in fat and calories. Use a ton of it!

Subway sandwiches is a great place to go because they focus on low calorie sandwiches, and they are EVERYWHERE. They’re in just about every major city across the US. They also publish and make readily available all of their calorie and nutrition information. They also have gluten free options available and are very conscious about cross contamination, although they say they can’t guarantee 100% gluten free dining.

Airports can be brutal. Sometimes you have VERY limited choices. That’s why I always carry some good snacks with me. I have almonds, cashews, beef jerky, and other snacks that I can dig into if there are only fast food places available. If you don’t plan ahead, and you’re forced to eat fast food, be sure to stay away from “King” or “Super sizes”, order grilled white meats instead of red meats or fried items. A lot of fast food places now even ofter salads and things like yogurt. Just be aware of the portions and calorie counts of what you’re eating, and make good decisions despite the fact that you might not be eating at your first choice of restaurant.

Just remember, that YOU are ultimately in control of what happens. Everyone slips once in a while, everyone indulges, just make sure that you’re not making that the norm. Don’t let being away from home create an excuse to sabotage the work that you’ve done. When you do decide to stray from your course, remember to get at it strong the next day, and don’t let your faulty step become a habit.

Spicy Chipotle Tomatillo Salsa

I’m not a huge vegetable eater. I don’t like the textures and the chunkiness of them. So when it comes to salsa, I typically like the kind that’s totally blended. I first really discovered that I liked this when I found Chipotle’s spicy red tomatillo salsa. I’ve asked them if I could buy it in larger portions, but they won’t sell it anything but a 2 oz. cup.

So I set out to find what the recipe was, and replicate it as best I could. What I found is that Chipotle is very secretive of their recipe. Everyone online has claimed to have replicated it, but reading the comments and looking at the vast ingredient differences it’s a sea of confusion. After much discovery, I finally found one that sounded right. I am not taking credit for the ingredients, just reviewing the recipe. It’s not quite the same as Chipotle’s, but it’s so darn good. The thing I like best about it, is that it’s ALL vegetables, except for a dash of sugar and salt.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here’s the recipe that I used. I made some variations on it, which I’ll discuss. The ingredients I used are:

      • 12 small green tomatillos, husked and washed
      • 4 vine ripe tomatoes
      • 10 cloves of garlic – left in the skin
      • 1 onion – cut into strips
      • 1 can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
      • 4 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
      • a pinch of sugar
      • salt – seasoned to taste

It’s very easy to make this salsa. Start by taking a rimmed baking sheet, line it with aluminum foil, and spray the foil with pam, or lightly rub with olive oil. Turn your oven’s broiler on high, and move the rack about 4″ from the broiler. Put the tomatillos, tomatoes, garlic (in skin), and onion on the baking sheet. Place under the broiler, and roast the veggies turning them often until they start to brown or slightly darken, they will almost fall apart. Remove from the oven, and peel the skin from the garlic. Put all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend to the consistency you want. I personally like no chunks. If you want to add more spice, you could add two cans of peppers.

I like it with corn chips (in a measured portion) or on eggs, low calorie crackers, or on salads its good too. But the thing I like is that it taste great, and I don’t feel like I’m choking down veggies. The flavor is sweet, smoky, and the acid from the tomatoes with the flavor of the garlic and heat from the peppers all blends really well. It’s not quite a clone of Chipotle, but I like it enough to keep making it at home!

The finished product!

Snacking

Snacking is tough when you’re counting calories. When you have way less calories to consume for a day, snacks can cut a huge dent into your overall calorie allotment. I’ve been trying to come up with better snacking ideas, I used to love having chips, cheese, and crackers. I think I’m finding better choices to not feel like I’ve lost those things, and doing a way better job at portion control.

Good stuff, 35 – 50 calories depending on flavor.

Cheese is my number one vise. Love it. When I got my food scale I started to weigh the cheese I would eat, and it was crazy to know how many calories I used to consume. An ounce of cheese is about 110 calories.

I’ve recently discovered “The Laughing Cow” brand of cheeses, low calorie, but good taste. One type of their cheese is sold in round packages like brie, but when you open it, there’s 8 individually wrapped cheese triangles. Depending on the type you get, they are 35 – 50 calories per triangle. They are good to eat right out of the package, or spread on low calorie crackers.

Just 125 calories!

I love carbs, and by no way am I carb-free right now, but I am eating way less of them. Crackers were one of the things I used to really love. But now I’ve found that I can still have them, but there are way lower calorie options available today. My new favorite thing is Wheat Thins flatbread crackers. You get two long strips of them for 60 calories. Compared to other crackers that are way higher in fat and sodium.

String cheese is another favorite of mine. The pre-packaged ones are about 80 calories for a single stick. I like them because you can grab one and just run out the door with it. Being that it’s a measured portion, unlike a block of cheese that you can just keep cutting more and more off of, it keeps you from eating too much.

Fruit is another great snack. Apples have 80 – 130 calories depending on size, and are great because you can easily carry them with you. You can also eat them just about anywhere.

Fiber one makes some good granola style bars that are about 140 calories for a single bar and is a good source of fiber, taste great, and again, are easy to grab one and go. It’s nice to have several options available to keep things from getting borring.

I’m under the opinion (for me) that snacks need to be 150 calories or less. My 1600 calories for the day can get eaten up quick if I’m not careful. ~300 calories for breakfast, ~400-500 for lunch, ~400-500 for dinner, leaves about 300 or so for snacks. Sometimes dinner can even be more than 500. I really like to finish under 1600 if I can. Adding exercise allows me to subtract the burned calories from my food, and I have some days where I have a NET calorie intake of 400 calories. (Total Calories Eaten – Calories Burned Working out = NET daily calories.)

Red meat is not great for you, but in moderation, I think it’s ok. I keep a bag of beef jerky around and just grab a piece or two when I’m hungry. It really fills you up, and the protein is good to have instead of carbohydrates. I of course track and log everything I’m eating, it’s crazy to see how many calories are in things that I used to eat with absolutely no thought about it before.