That Food Diary

My weight loss progress has, quite frankly, sucked so far, and though I do plan on sharing everything I’ve been doing, today I’m just going to point you toward my latest weight loss scheme. That Husband has been urging me to start calorie counting again, but I’m too obsessive to only do it halfway, and I’m not willing to give up part of my blogging time in order to do it.

Enter That Food Diary. I wanted to come up with a system that would force me to eat more mindfully without my old system of meticulous calorie counting, and this new blog of mine is an attempt to do so. The premise is simple, I’ve committed to take a picture of everything I put in my mouth. Big meals, eating out, dining with friends, snacking… it doesn’t matter where I am or what the situation is I need to take a picture of it before it goes in my mouth, preferably of the exact portion that I consume. The groomsmen at the wedding I shot on Friday thought I was completely crazy when I whipped out my phone and took a picture of the cake before I ate it.

I’ve turned comments off because this isn’t meant to be a chance for people to analyze and comment on my nutrition choices. If you have suggestions for changes that you think I would benefit from, I encourage you to email me. I figured those who are just being critical aren’t very likely to take the time to write an email AND if I don’t like what you say I’ll just delete it. 🙂

So far the system has been working really well. Yesterday when I wanted to eat my feelings? I chose to abstain because I didn’t want to take a picture of it. Hopefully over time you’ll see my diet change a bit as well, as I focus on finding ways to cook with less meat and eat more local and in-season foods.

Who knows if anyone will actually read, but I know That Husband is, and just the thought of having anyone check in to see what I’m eating should be enough to keep me consuming mindfully.

Jessica suggested I add a “like” feature to my posts which I’ve added at the bottom of each post. I’ve also had several requests for recipes. When a post gets a lot of likes I’ll go back and add in a recipe link or details on what’s included in the dish. I’ll also post recipes when I get emails or comments on That Wife asking for them (when I have them). I’m excited that so many people are interested in this! It’s really motivated to think that more than TH and myself will be glancing at it. 🙂 The recipe for the Coconut Avocado Ice Cream has been added here if you’d like to bookmark it.

Conductor, I’d Like To Switch Trains Please

When my family was in London several years ago we took the train up to the norther part of England to visit a family we know. The train station was a little bit overwhelming for a country girl like myself. There were long lines, prices in foreign currencies, and we had to pay to go to the bathroom!

In short, train stations are confusing. Which must explain how I somehow caught the FAT train, not the FIT train after the wedding. Although I didn’t weigh myself in October, I suspect I was somewhere around 145 lbs (a huge acomplishment since that’s where I was at when I graduated from high school). Now, 5 months later, I stepped on the scale today and saw a 1, 5, and a 5 staring back at me.

155! Yikes, that’s 2 lbs/ month since the day of bliss.

Obviously I haven’t been practicing what I preach in terms of calorie counting. I’ve been making excuses like “I don’t have time”, or “I’m content with the way I am”, or “I can eat half a loaf of pumpkin bread just like my husband can”. Why does it have to be so hard right? I fight and fight to get down to a smaller size, but if I don’t make conscious efforts to be healthy each and every day I start to gain again.

Well, get over it That Wife, because this is life. Yep, losing weight is hard. Yep, I have to “count calories” in some sense for the rest of my life. Why do I have to keep doing it? Because it’s simple science. Calories in versus calories out. I’m taking too many calories in, and I will continue to gain weight until I stop doing so. I don’t listen to my body very well. My body says “I’m hungry” and I say “Oh yes, a handful of chocolate chips would be really yummy right now and it’s so easy to get out of the cupboard.”

Usually I just jump into full fledged weighing/measuring/Fitday-ing, but I can’t seem to get myself over the hump this time, so I’ve developed a little plan. It’s a plan that you might like as well!

Week 1

Exercise at least 3 times/week.

Week 2

Exercise at least 3 times/week.

Count calories at breakfast.

Week 3

Exercise at least 3 times/week.

Count calories at breakfast/lunch.

Week 4

Exercise at least 3 times/week.

Count all calories for the day.

I realize this plan is anything but revolutionary, but I’m loving how each week builds on the progress of the week before. Instead of feeling overwhelmed at the though of weighing and measuring every little thing at first, I’ll just worry about weighing my milk and cereal. And then it will be time to add lunch in to the mix. And then I will conquer the hardest one, dinner. I did my exercise yesterday, 30 minutes of DDR, but I might have to switch to something with less impact on the hip since I’m feeling a little sore today.

Before you know it, I’ll be back in the groove again. Because even though it seems strange, I actually L-O-V-E calorie counting! I feel so empowered, so strong, and so healthy when I do it on a regular basis. This time, I just need to take a little bit extra time to ease back into it.

I was going to take a picture of myself in all white, looking not that great, because I love a good “before” picture, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Let’s focus on the thought of a fantastic “after” picture instead.

Guest Post:

Today’s Guest Post is written by Megan, a former roommate of mine with a BS degree in exercise science with an emphasis in fitness and wellness management. She is certified through the American College of Sports Medicine as a personal trainer, is certified through Silver Slippers and AFFA, and has worked as a personal trainer/nutrition counselor for over two years. Basically all this means that she is my go-to person whenever I have questions about fitness/nutrition. If you want more tips and tricks for everything from how to avoid sweets or how you should arrange your workout to decrease body fat, visit her blog, Munch and Crunch.

When Jenna asked me to do a guest post about, the online version of Fitday, I was more than glad to do it. It is one of my favorite websites, and has been such an essential tool in helping me reach my goals. I have used both the online version and the PC version, and I think they are both great. I have internet access at work, but I don’t always have my own computer with me. Being able to access my info online whenever I need to makes it a lot easier for me to stay on top of my recording. If I were to have to wait until I got home to enter in all of my info I probably wouldn’t be as consistent, and consistency has been the key to my success.

I have been using the off and on for about 3 years. I love knowing exactly what I’m eating everyday. I know which percentages come from fat, protein, and carbohydrates, and I can see if I’m getting all of my proper nutrients in. When it comes down to it weight loss is a science. You have to create a calorie deficit in order to lose weight. Knowing exactly how many calories you are burning and how many calories you are consuming is crucial to creating this deficit.


There are a lot of great features with the online version. First of all, it’s free. You can’t beat free. I have also been pleasantly surprised with the food database that is provided. There are a lot of name brand foods already entered in. By going to the food entry page and searching for the food you are looking for you can look through the options that are already listed.

If you can’t find the food you are looking for in the database, (or one that is similar enough to use), you can enter in your own custom foods. This is another favorite feature of mine.


There are a few things that I love about this feature. All foods that you buy have nutrition labels and it only takes a few seconds to enter them in. You only have to enter them once and then it’s saved in your “custom foods.” Also, I’m a HUGE fan of looking up nutrition facts from the restaurants I eat at. I love to look it up and enter it in to my custom foods. I would highly recommend looking up the nutrition facts to your favorite restaurants. I know a lot of people go out to dinner with the mindset of “We’re out on the town, I don’t want to think about it…” BUT, ignorance doesn’t change the calorie count. Knowledge is power. There are great choices of sensible foods wherever you go!

I am a creature of habit. I think a lot of us are. I tend to eat a lot of the same foods all the time. The “recent foods” tab is awesome for this reason.It keeps the foods that you’ve eaten recently in a drop down tab. This makes for easier access to those frequent foods, so you don’t have to search for them every time. If you enter in the foods from the “recent foods” drop down menu it also saves the amount that you entered in previously.Another trick I’ve learned from the “recent foods” feature is if you go down to the bottom of the drop down box there is an option to
select “more.”


When you choose this it pulls up your past days entries in list form and you can just check the boxes and select a whole list of your common foods at once. It makes entering your foods so much easier.


One thing that is good to remember is although it may seem a pain to enter in your foods that aren’t in the database, you will only have to do it once. After a period of using for a while most of your common foods will be in there and you won’t be entering custom foods in as often. This makes your recording a lot easier.

There are other great features included in the online version such as the ability to calculate your daily activity level, your weight changes, your goals, journal your daily thoughts and moods, and pull up several reports of what your stats are showing. I think the online version is super user friendly, but I’d love to answer any questions for those of you who are new to the program. Remember, consistency is key.

Thank you Megan, this was definitely a post I could not have written myself. I think Megan might be interested in coming back and guest posting a few more times. She is so smart and uses big words like deficit, I think we could all learn a lot from her. Would you like to hear from her again?

Food Diary: 2-22-09

Has anyone else been noticing that my food diary posts have been a little too close to perfect? I could always use more vegetables and fruit in my diet, but my fat intake has been low, protein high, fiber good, etc. I’m pleased to tell you that this tracking day I did not do well at all. It is very weird to feel pleased about a bad day, I know, but I wanted these posts to be about my real diet, and in my real diet I don’t eat really well all the time.

This was definitely a day full of bad choices.

2-22-09 food log.bmp

{Click to Enlarge}

I started out well, with my favorite Kashi cereal.


When we got home from church I had a snack. Do you know about Stacy’s Naked Pita Chips and Laughing Cow Light Swiss wedges? I buy both in bulk at Costco. Be careful when you reach for those pita chips though, it’s easy to eat way more than one or two servings! This photo was taken on a salad plate, not a dinner plate, so the portion is quite small.


This dish should not have been that bad, but I used way too much Parmesan cheese when I made it. I invested in the higher priced 98% fat free ground beef to keep the fat content low, and then I went crazy with the cheese! Rookie mistake. This photo was also taken on a salad plate.



Another huge mistake. I didn’t roll out the pastry dough like I should have, so the portion of dough was much larger than was directed. I knew that pastry dough wouldn’t be healthy, but I didn’t realize it would be so awful, and I was so stuck on the idea of making this recipe that I ignored the nutrition stats on the package until after I made the dish. Big mistake.


The spinach and chicken borek wasn’t nearly filling enough for me that day, so I finished things off with an apple. Have I talked about Pacific Rose apples before? They are my favorite.


I really like showing this day to you because I think it shows that you really have to pay attention to what you are eating. The casserole and the borek don’t seem that bad, the meat was 98% fat free, the casserole was topped with healthy chicken, spinach, and reduced fat feta, but I wasn’t being really careful with all of my ingredients, and I definitely paid for that.

So painful to look at these stats!

2-22-09 nutrition stats.bmpI had double the fat, 3 times the sat fat, and 600 more calories than I would like to have on a daily basis yesterday. Yes, I’m a little bummed, but I 100% believe in the principle that it isn’t what you eat in one day that matters, it’s what you eat over time. The old fat Jenna would have had ice cream and oreos for days after looking at nutrition stats like this (actually the fat Jenna wouldn’t even have realized how many calories she had!), but the new Jenna knows that I can make up for this by learning from my mistakes.

Calorie Estimation

I had a really great response to my Food Diary post yesterday, and I’m definitely going to keep doing it. I think some of you thought I was going to post like that every single day. Are you crazy? I can’t even imagine how much work that would take. But one day a week is hopefully going to be good for both me and you. Good for you, because you might be able to glean some ideas to incorporate into your own life, and good for me, because I will be calorie counting at least one day a week! Using Fitday is really tough, it takes an incredible amount of dedication and right now I’m sitting at a mediocre weight. I look fine, I’d like to look better, but I’m having a hard time taking that next step to really commit to weight loss once again. Right now I’m stuck in the stage of weight maintenance.

The reason for this post is to answer some questions a few of you brought up. Really great questions that all calorie counters face over and over. Julie asked:

So what would you do about things you do not make yourself? Like say, a coworker has a birthday so another coworker brings in a homemade rhubarb pie to celebrate? And you have absolutely no idea whatsoever went into said pie?

and Stef K asked:

My problem is if I have one thing and can’t figure out the content – say, our monthly office luncheon, or a celebratory dinner out with friends for her bday, etc…- then I get really discouraged and bummed out and feel like I’ve failed. I mean, what’s the point of putting in the 1000 calories I did count if I went out and got something and have NO idea how many calories there are in it? Is it better to guess and include it and just log it in as best you can? Or don’t count at all that day? B/c 1000 calories only for that day is inaccurate (obviously), but guessing and keeping it at 3000 calories is better than not guessing at all, ignoring fitday, and consuming 10,000, right?

Essentially they are both asking “How do I estimate calories when I don’t know what is in the dish I am eating?

I employ three different strategies when I run into these situations.

1.  A principle I like to call “Overestimation”.

  • Fitday does have one fatal flaw, and it is that the program can’t handle decimals. So if the package says 1.5 grams of fat, I can’t put in the exact number. I have to round up, or round down. With things I should eat less of, like fat, sat fat, cholesterol, etc, I always round up. With things I should eat more of, like fiber or protein, I always round down. In my life, I tend to eat too much fat/cholesterol, and not enough protein/fiber and this ensures that when I sit down to figure out what my calories have been over time, that I’m always headed in the right direction.
  • I use the same principle when I eat out, or have a treat baked by someone else, or any other situation where I don’t have control over or knowledge about what went into the food. My rule of thumb, is to overestimate everything. I assume real butter, real sour cream, extra oil, all of those things. It might throw my calories off, but at least it throws them off in a way that encourages me to eat less the next day. Keep in mind that the principle of overestimation is only good if you tend to overeat and overindulge in fatty/sugary foods. If you are one of those people that can’t eat enough (like my husband), this is probably not the best system for you.

2.  I make use of websites like and

  • Let’s pretend Julie’s situation was really happening to me. My coworker (Ohhhh, what job do you think I am working? It’s fun to pretend I have a job sometimes) brings in a rhubarb pie that smells divine, and I have a slice. If I’ve been really diligent at my tracking for the last few days it can be really frustrating to think that all the work I just did went down the drain. (I tend to get all crazy when I calorie count for extended periods of time because I find it thrilling to be really exact with my measurements. Don’t even think about eating off of my plate if I’ve measured out my portions! )

Instead of giving up on my counting for the day (or week, or month), I go home and look up a recipe for rhubarb pie on  I look on the right side of the page and there are some nutrition facts!

Nutritional Information
Rhubarb Pie IV

Servings Per Recipe: 8

Amount Per Serving

Calories: 407

  • Total Fat: 15g
  • Cholesterol: 27mg
  • Sodium: 290mg
  • Total Carbs: 64.4g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1.8g
  • Protein: 4.4g


About: Nutrition Info

Powered by: ESHA Nutrient Database

I decide if I think I ate 1/8 of the pie, plug in the stats, and then I do something magical: I let it go. I tell myself that I’m not perfect, that I can’t have absolute control over every morsel that goes in my mouth if I want to live a social lifestyle, and I move on with my life. is great for homemade things, and is wonderful for commercial/restaurant items. Over time, you will get better at estimating things.

3. Willpower.

  • The last, and most difficult strategy is willpower. It’s packing a lunch every day, resisting the free doughnut you are offered by your friend, eating out less, making yourself breakfast in the morning instead of grabbing something from the corner bakery. There are always birthdays to celebrate, baby showers to attend, wedding cake to eat, and holidays full of sweets and fat around every corner. These things will always be happening for the rest of your life. You can either choose to shut yourself up from the world and not attend any of those events,  make excuses for why this birthday cake must be eaten or why the free doughnut couldn’t be resisted, or you can exercise willpower and decide if you really want something.

There is no harm in a slice of rhubarb pie, or in going out with your girlfriends to celebrate a promotion, or eating a slice of cake at the wedding. I just had to decide if I would rather pass on the free doughnut and celebrate my lost weight later, or indulge just one more time. I kept saying “But it’s my birthday!” or “But I love things with chocolate!” or “But it’s free!”, and then somehow I was really fat. I had to find a way to balance my desire to splurge, and my desire to save. Oh yes, remember, calorie counting is really nothing more than calorie budgeting.

Oh, and one last thing, don’t be afraid to be the nerdy person who asks for the recipe all the time. Most people won’t have any idea you are calorie counting, and will just assume you like to cake/cook all the time. You might find people are being nicer to you because they think you are secretly baking all the time and they will begin to hope you will bring in your goodies to share with the office. Little do they know 🙂