Reading Food Labels to Lose 100 Pounds-Part 1

Reading Food Labels to Lose 100 Pounds-Part 1

Reading Food Labels to Lose 100 Pounds-Part 1

Why the heck would you want to read food labels?  Snooze alert… LOL  But reading food labels is an important part of the weight loss journey.  I recommend eating as many whole foods as you can.


I recommend this because I have lost 100 pounds 3 times!

It wasn’t until the third time when I chose whole foods that I was actually able to maintain that loss!

But it’s still important to be able to read food labels   And there is a lot to learn. So we are going to break this into 2 parts.

This week we will look at the basics…

Those processed foods and harmful ingredients to watch for that are probably stalling your 100 pound weight loss in ways you don’t even know about.

You will also understand calories and serving sizes, and sodium recommendations…

Next week we will dive into the basics of fats, carbs, protein and the other micronutrients your body needs.  

Let’s get going…


Don't know where to start?

If your new here, and you don’t know where to start on your journey? I lost 120 lbs and I have kept it off for 5 years.  These blog articles are the starting place for a journey that will be maintainable.  Check out these blogs to help you start rocking your weight loss journey.

And while your here, you should definitely join my FREE 5 day challenge to Jump Start your 100 Pound Weight Loss

Reading Food Labels & Processed Food

Food Label Ingredients

There are a few things you should know about reading food labels and processed foods, so let’s start with…

  1. All processed foods are required to have a food label, but whole foods do not have this requirement
  2. Processed foods are designed to be highly addictive. (3rd serving anyone?)
  3. They are high calorie and low nutritional value.  
  4. Eating a lot of processed foods, may leave you feeling constantly hungry and unsatisfied and lead to roller coaster binge eating.

Processed foods are designed to be tasty and make you want more… so if you are having issues with serving size and  your hungry all the time. Translation, you just plan hangry,  this may be something you need to consider.

Another thing about processed foods is that they are chock full of harmful chemicals, added sugars and sodium.  These additives, add to your waistline..

So in the section of the food label where you see the ingredients you should watch for any of the following harmful food additives, provided by ACE fitness:

AHarmful Food Additives

Here’s the list of top 10 additives to watch out for:  

#1: High fructose corn syrup

#2: Aspartame

#3: Hydrolyzed protein

#4: Autolyzed yeast

#5: Monosodium glutamate

#6: Potassium bromate

#7: BHA and BHT

#9: Trans fat

#10: Artificial colors

Each of these items increase your waistline, and they can be cancer causing.  As my health journey started after I lost my father to cancer, I really watched for this.  

5 years later I have now lost my mother to cancer.  Because of this I have become a real stickler when it comes to harmful ingredients…

Watch the Aspartame… all those low calorie diet foods that have aspartame could actually be harming your weight loss journey instead of helping it.  Aspartame made me hungrier…

These items could be a blog post all by themselves, but I don’t want to bore anyone while I geek out… if you want more information let me know and I will gladly comply.

The Order Of Listed Ingredients

You should know that there is a purpose to the order of the listed ingredients while reading food labels.

When you look at the ingredients the items are listed in order of largest used ingredient to smallest.

When working on a healthy lifestyle you want to try to eat foods that have either don’t list sugar at all (I don’t think I have found one yet!), or it should be #5 or later in the list.

As a side note, the more of the ingredients you can pronounce the better.  LOL

For now let’s head to calories and serving size…


August 17-21st

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Reading Food Labels:  Calories/Serving Size

Serving Size

Food Label Calories & Serving Size

Let’s start at the top of when reading the food label… The top area of the food label has the Calories and Serving Size.  It’s important to watch out for the gotcha…

What you may think is the serving size is not what the manufacturer had in mind!  

Keep in mind a ½ cup is about a cupped palm full… not 3 handfuls.

One of the biggest issues I had was stopping after the serving size.  I found that the high calories in the boxed and instant meals left me starving all the time.

Pay careful attention to serving size!  Not to sound like a broken record, but this is really key to losing weight. Often what we consider an individual serving size is not what the manufacturer believes is a serving size.  

There are visual guide’s like the one shared here for nutrient dense food… but when dealing with processed food this flies out the window.  I have a great guide for determining portion sizes using your hand.

Grab Your Hand Sized Portion Guide Here!

The big takeaway for this section is to pay close attention to how many calories there are in the recommended serving size.  

It always amazes me when I pick up a relatively small item at the store and it says 4 servings to the tune of 400 calories each.

There was a time when I would eat the entire item leading me to consume 1600 calories in one sitting….

So with this in mind, let’s look at a breakdown calories.


I think it’s important to understand what makes a high calorie, moderate calorie and low calorie item, so let’s take a look at that!

High Calories is anything greater than 400 calories. Considering a nutrient dense meal can be consumed at between 350-600 calories.  A single item with 400 calories is high calories

Moderate calories is 100.  This is a snack sized portion.  One item to consider is that 10 oz of watermelon is 85 calories.  Compare that to a 100 calories snack pack…

Low calories is an item with 40 calories.

This breakdown may shine some light on why it’s hard to lose weight.  When 1 tablespoon of yummy peanut butter is 190 calories, but 10 0z of watermelon is 85 calories.  It shows why whole foods will fill you up and keep your calories in the moderate range.

Another key to this whole label thing is sodium, so let’s take a look at that next!

Reading Food Labels: Sodium


Food Label Sodium

When reading the food label, what does this sodium line actually tell you? And why is it important?

The downfall to sodium is that it causes your body to hold on to water.  Our body does need some sodium, it is actually key to many biological processes in the body.  But too much sodium can be deadly.

To explain why, sodium pulls water from your body and puts it in your bloodstream increasing blood volume and thereby blood pressure.

Which is not good for someone that already has high blood pressure…

Check out this article from the American Heart Association for even more geeky info…

Sodium Guidelines

For healthy individuals 2300-3000 mg of sodium is acceptable.  

I personally keep my sodium most days around 2300 mg.  But occasionally my cheese stick addiction takes me over this mark… hahah

One area of note is that canned vegetables can be very high in sodium.  Look for no salt added varieties. To keep the sodium low…

Now for special populations the USDA has a special recommendation, and just so I don’t screw it up I have quoted it below:

Specifically, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is urging Americans to choose more nutrient-dense foods and to significantly cut the amount of sodium in their diets, especially if certain factors put them at greater health risk. This includes individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, of African-American descent, or anyone over the age of 51. These individuals are advised to limit their daily sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg (a typical adult consumes more than double that amount each day)

A special item to note, is a food with less than 140 mg of sodium is considered low sodium.  So on your search to understand this food label dilema watching out for foods with greater than 140 mg of sodium will help keep you healthy!

So Let’s Wrap This Up….

Today we looked at the Food Label sections that include the ingredients, Calories and Serving Size as well as sodium content.  Each of these although a little dry are important when it comes to losing weight and more importantly to being healthy!

The key takeaways are watch for the key harmful ingredients!  Pay attention to serving size and calorie guidelines. And finally if you are basically healthy keep your sodium around 2300 mg.  If you have major health concerns then stick with 1500 mg.

Next Steps:


  1. Read labels!
  2. Watch for harmful ingredients
  3. Keep snacks between 40 & 250 calories(depends on how many calories you need daily)
  4. Keep meal total’s between 400-600 calories.
  5. Watch the serving sizes
  6. If your basically healthy 2300 mg of sodium per day is a good goal to shoot for
  7. If you have health issues shoot for 1500 mg of sodium per day
  8. Remember sodium adds up, so shoot for foods with less than 140 mg of sodium and track your sodium intake.



Coach Michelle

Ace Certified Health Coach, Precision Nutrition PN1 Coach, Fit Chicks Certified Fitness, Nutrition & Wellness Expert

Simple Weight Loss Over 40, MacrosHey You Amazing Lady! 

Let me help you reach your healthy lifestyle goals. I've lost 120 pounds and maintained it for 8 years, and helped countless others reach their goal too. I'm an ACE Certified Health Coach, a certified Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coach and a Certified Wellness, Nutrition and Fitness Coach for people who want to reach ONEderland (below 199 on the scale) and stay there, I coach you and give you the tools to change your nutrition and movement habits and change you life forever.

Through my passionate and open hearted Online Wellness classes, Digital products, and a Simply Healthy Accountability membership. I'm here to inspire you to change your approach to weight loss and wellness—while making it all feel like a natural part of who you are.

And when I'm not coaching you can find me walking with my teens, hanging with my hubby, or playing with my dogs (all four of them).

100 Pound Weight Loss Before And After-The 4 Area’s I Focused On to Lose 120 Pound

100 Pound Weight Loss Before And After-The 4 Area’s I Focused On to Lose 120 Pound

100 pound weight loss before and after’s are exciting!  They let us dream of all the possibilities! On the other hand, the journey to lose over 100 lbs can feel completely overwhelming.  And if you have been obese your entire life and your facing this journey for the 3rd time it’s terrifying.  I know this because this is what I faced 5 years ago.

Five years ago this month, I faced the mortifying fact that I was almost 43 years old and once again I was well over 100 pounds over weight.  This post is all about the before and after of my 120 pound weight loss.

Don't Know Where to Start Creating a Simply Healthy Lifestyle?

Simple Weight Loss Over 40, Macros

If you're new here, and you don’t know where to start on your journey? I lost 120 lbs and I have kept it off for almost 8 years.  Check out the following posts to get you started.

 And while you're here ya should definitely grab guide to get started creating some basic habits, the pre work no one talks about to creating a Simply Healthy Lifestyle.

My 100 lb Weight Loss Before Story

Just a few short months prior to this moment, I watched my father pass away.  And I realized that if I didn’t do something soon I wasn’t going to be around when my youngest was 42.

I had a lot of work to do, but all the available advice was being provided by 20 something young ladies that had never faced such a huge lifetime battle.  And they were mostly focused on a few vanity pounds not a life changing journey.

My goal here is to provide guidance to those women over 40  that need a starting point to wage their war.

I am going to look at each area I addressed and how I was before and after…

100 Pound Weight Loss Before and After-What You Need to Know First

Each of the following areas are equally important!  Don’t think for a minute that Nutrition and Fitness are the only important parts of this journey.  

Nutrition and Fitness are listed last for a reason.  They are the least important part of this journey!

I know your rolling your eyes at me and saying I am full of shit right now, but I promise you I am telling you the truth!

Until you learn to control your mindset and your habits you won’t truly be successful (you may lose weight, but I have yet to see anyone maintain the loss without Mindset and Habits).

So read along with me and let me explain, so you can get ready for your own 100 pound weight loss before and after…

100 Pound Weight Loss Before and After-Mindset

Mindset is a big topic and there are so many things to look at like your inner child and who gets to win, and really learning your why of weight loss and using it as a guide, oh and let’s not forget figuring out what’s preventing you from committing to weight loss.

But over all the one that has the biggest outcome for you and your journey to your 100 pound weight loss before and after is…

Negative thinking!  Being harsh with yourself and those around you will dig a hole in your sole.  And for my family it was horrible too.

I have written an entire blog post on each one.  Check out this post on Self Sabotage for idea’s to help you change!  So today I am going to focus on the before and after of negative thinking…

Before–Negative Thinking

Prior to my weight loss I was a miserable mother and wife.  I was judgmental with myself and my family.

This judgmental nature was driven my complete insecurity and my inability to see the world around me outside of my dislike for myself.

Do you battle with this?  There is a light at the end of the tunnel, I promise!

I loved my family, but my misery was complete.  I don’t want this to go on for you for another day.

After–Negative Thinking

As I was losing weight, I worked hard to change my mindset.  I used activities like breathing in the moment and a LOT of positive affirmations.

It was difficult to change a lifetime of negative thoughts about myself and the world around me.  But it was worth it!

As a side note I believe it is easier to do this when you balance your body with nutrition.  See the nutrition section for more on this.

The biggest change was I stopped hating on me when I slipped up on my new lifestyle.  Going in this time, I stopped calling it a diet. I was changing my lifestyle.

Changing thoughts is possible, but it takes work.  My “before” thoughts had a lot of “not possible” and “you will never”… I focused on adjusting these…

So let’s get YOU some action items for changing your negative thinking because I know you want your own 100 pound weight loss before and after!

Action Items:

  1. First really pay attention to your thoughts-where are you negative to yourself and those around you?
  2. Adjust negative thoughts to positive thoughts
    • I will never lose this weight!
    • Change to:  I will lose this weight, I need to learn why I overeat and change that.
  3. Find a positive affirmation that works for you!
    • Mine was:  I am good enough, and I deserve love not food.  Keep working Michelle you’re doing it!

100 Pound Weight Loss Before and After-Habits

This was huge for me!  I was the least habit based person on the planet.  I flew by the seat of my pants and I was proud of it.  Even if my pants were huge.

My husband was the one with habits for everything.  I used to make fun of him :). For 20 years I fought creating habits.  I didn’t want structure.

Let me tell you adding a little structure, removes a WHOLE lot of stress.  It also set me up for success.  Let me explain…


Before habits I was all about all or nothing thinking.  I had to do it all now and I had to do it all perfectly.  

This lack of habits lead to a lot of burnout and a lot of procrastination.  It also lead to failure.  

And the failure fed the negative mindset.  See where this is going?

Creating mini habits allowed me to support my goals.  And it forced me to break things down into manageable steps.  

I had been doing this for a lifetime as a software developer with business processes.  But I seriously fought doing it in my life.

Changing this set me on the path for my 100 pound weight loss before and after!  So promise me you’ll consider it.


By setting up small changes that supported my goals and creating habits around these small changes I was feeling the success.

I began tracking all these little habits, and I became obsessed with the data.  I was seeing results on the scale.  And mentally I felt like I was accomplishing something-even on those weeks when the scale didn’t move like I wanted it to.

My habits were small things.  Like tracking a gallon of water per day.  Or making myself get up and move once an hour.  (Just walking around the house/office for a minute or two).  Planning the weekly menus and creating a shopping list.

All of these little things lead to big success! Most importantly, all of the habits supported my goal of 100 pound weight loss, and they lead to my 100 pound before and after!



100 Pound Weight Loss Before and After-Fitness

Ok, so I will tell you I was the kid that was always sick for PE in school. I didn’t take a PE class in college and sitting was my thing!  

So my before fitness was NADA.  🙂

One of my goals going into this journey was to be healthy.  And healthy people move in some way.

So using habits, I implemented some fitness changes that lead to my 100 pound before and after story.


So we have already established before there was no fitness in my life.  

But you should also know that I had mentally set myself up for failure in this area before I even started…


The following statements constantly came out of my mouth….

“I’m not a runner!”

“There isn’t an athletic bone in my body!”

“I HATE working out!”

Do any of these sound like you?  If they do make sure you keep going!


I wanted a new life… and I knew I needed to add some kind of movement to my world to be truly healthy and to lose 100 pounds.

But my fitness mindset was a real bear to overcome!

So I started VERY small!  

I started this journey in April, but I had asked my husband for an exercise bike that Christmas (I knew I needed a change…LOL).

That bike sat there and gathered dust for 4 months, but I decided it was going to be USED!

I faced it toward the window and rode it for 5 minutes while I watched for the kids school bus every day for months.

4 months later I changed that 5 minutes to 10 minutes.

Very slowly after that I built to 30 minutes 5 days a week.  

That’s it for the first year, and the first 80 pounds.  

Then I transitioned to walking, and built up to 10K steps a day.

And finally I began lifting and doing High Intensity Resistance Training (HIRT).

Now 6 years later, I love lifting heavy weights, obstacle course races with my family, playing golf and hiking.

There is a transition for you… but you have to find it.  It probably won’t mirror mine.  

I know several women that have lost 100 pounds or more, and go on to do triathlons, or marathons or become cross fit-aholics.

To get “there” you have to find what lights your fire! This fire will set you on your path to YOUR 100 pound weight loss journey!

What are your action items?

Action Items:

  1. Find something you enjoy doing
  2. Add that to your day in SMALL increments
  3. Build SLOWLY over time… no all or nothing thinking (It’s a trap… Star Wars geek here)
  4. Be willing to experiment! (I had no idea what I enjoyed, I had to learn)

Watch out for...

Working out even when injured

Pushing too far past your level–this just leads to injury!

Thinking more is always better

100 Pound Weight Loss Before and After-Nutrition

Before I started this journey, I thought we ate relatively healthy.  I cooked dinner every night, we sat at the table to eat. And there was always a vegetable….

Here is what I didn’t see…

All of our main meals came from a box or included A LOT of cheese, or noodles from a bag.

There was sodium galore and added sugars everywhere…

Don’t even get me started on all the ingredients I can’t name on the side of those boxes.

But they were meals my family loved, and I made the veggies even if they usually landed in the trash.

And my drink of choice was “Diet” Pepsi… since it had diet in the title it must be healthy right.  And it couldn’t be causing me to gain more weight… right? WRONG!

Let’s see what changed…


As you can see my before nutrition was like 90% of the people living in the US.  Hamburger Helper was our friend. It was quick and filled up my family.

This was our daily nutrition, we lived on the quick fix and the microwave meal plan.

All of our holidays were food based, all of our family activities were food based, and all of our social gatherings were food based.

One additional problem with the food based lifestyle, is that it’s NEVER healthy food… our life was one big Rice-Crispy Treat and Reeses S’mores bar.

These homemade treats although, they are tasty and they are ok once in a while, they were a daily activity in my house prior to my lifestyle change.

I had some pretty unhappy kids in my house when I quit letting my inner child dictate our menu.  🙂

I promise they all survived, and now are proud of their knowledge of what is good for them and what isn’t. How did I change my nutrition without a household revolution?


In the last 5 years I have made a lot of changes to not only my nutrition, but that of my families as well.

They all still love me, and no they didn’t starve to death in the process.  😉

Our after nutrition looks very farm to table as my friend once told me.  I still cook dinner every night and it’s just as fast. But I do it very differently!

Dinners without buying the boxes can be just as fast if you know a few tricks (that will be a later post so keep an eye out for it).  

Some tips for you that want to do this:

  1. Don’t overhaul everything at once!
  2. Start small and build on that.  Make one recipe healthier this week.  
  3. Ask for input on meals they would like, and if none of the meals they know are made with whole foods, experiment.

Now Back to my nutrition now… now we eat whole foods, and the vegetables I make at dinner we actually eat… because seasoning is life when you make this transition! And now they actually like the taste and flavor.

Now 90% of the time, I look for the best choice in a given situation and I don’t go straight for the deserts.  My foods of choice are often vegetables and fruits because they are flavorful.

I also didn’t give up the foods I love!  I love smothered burritos.  Really there isn’t a healthier version of these, so we don’t eat them weekly.  They are reserved for special occasions. Or if there isn’t one of those, I account for it and plan accordingly.

Another big switch I made was staying out of the inside isles of the grocery store and shopping 90% of the time in the outside isles.  The outside isles have the whole foods… the inside has the processed food.  🙂

Living in a body that is 100 pounds lighter is worth the trade off.  I am happy to forgo a burrito weekly to know that I am comfortable in my body 365 days a year.  And I have hacked my own healthy street taco recipe and a few others that keep me happy.  🙂

There is one more thing that is really important!  I didn’t cut my calories to an all time low!

Why is this important?  

It’s important because starving does a few different things including slowing your metabolism, and makes it hard to stay on track with weight loss.

It’s better to lose slowly, then to lose it fast and then gain it all back! –ONEderlandWellness

My guidance you, it start slowly and adjust.  Strive to learn new healthy recipes, and invest in an Instant Pot.  🙂 It is our family friend!  The one linked here is the version I have!  A side note, this is not an affiliate link, just a product I personally use.  🙂

Let’s Wrap this up…

I am a big proponent that weight loss is not just about the calories in and calories out.  Yes that is what we are striving for… but for me that wasn’t the hard part!

The hard part was changing my habits that included eating when I wasn’t hungry, and be a lump on the couch all the time!

An equally difficult aspect of the weight loss journey was stopping myself from using food as a punishment and a reward.  

I was able to overcome these parts of who I was by building on my framework.   

This framework focused first on mindset, and then went on to work on changing my habits and then finally building up to addressing the nutrition issues that were preventing a truly healthy transition.  

The very last aspect of my 100 pound transformation was fitness and including that in my lifestyle… wishing it was a trifecta, but in reality it’s really a quadfecta  🙂

The journey to lose 100 pounds and maintain it has given me a new outlook on life!  I want to help you move in that direction as well and help you get to your own 100 pound weight loss before and after story!

So let me share some next steps with you!

Next Steps:

  1. Start with mindset!  Get rid of that stinking thinking and realize it can sabotage your journey before it even starts!
  2. Begin learning about habits, and how you can use them to start losing before you even begin your “diet” simply by changing a few automatic actions.  
  3. As the first two steps begin to transform your world, start “just looking” for healthier options.  This doesn’t mean overhaul everything! Try a few healthier options and move in the right direction!
  4. Finally, think back to things you loved in your youth… hopscotch anyone?  Or maybe jump rope… how about dancing in your bedroom to AC/DC or Duran Duran with the music so loud your mom yelled at you?  Your mom now, crank that stereo and bang your head in the living room! Make your kids squirm! It’s what it’s all about! These small changes can make a huge difference!


Negative Thinking


Coach Michelle

Ace Certified Health Coach, Precision Nutrition PN1 Coach, Fit Chicks Certified Fitness, Nutrition & Wellness Expert

Simple Weight Loss Over 40, MacrosHey You Amazing Lady! 

Let me help you reach your healthy lifestyle goals. I've lost 120 pounds and maintained it for 8 years, and helped countless others reach their goal too. I'm an ACE Certified Health Coach, a certified Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coach and a Certified Wellness, Nutrition and Fitness Coach for people who want to reach ONEderland (below 199 on the scale) and stay there, I coach you and give you the tools to change your nutrition and movement habits and change you life forever.

Through my passionate and open hearted Online Wellness classes, Digital products, and a Simply Healthy Accountability membership. I'm here to inspire you to change your approach to weight loss and wellness—while making it all feel like a natural part of who you are.

And when I'm not coaching you can find me walking with my teens, hanging with my hubby, or playing with my dogs (all four of them).

You Should Be Tracking Healthy Habits to Lose Weight Consistently

You Should Be Tracking Healthy Habits to Lose Weight Consistently

If your new here, and you don’t know where to start on your journey? I lost 120 lbs and I have kept it off for 5 years.  These blog articles are the starting place for a journey that will be maintainable.  Check out these blogs to help you start rocking your weight loss journey.

Tracking Healthy Habits leads to weight loss success!

It isn’t the only way to be successful, but it is a great way to succeed. Weight loss like anything else in life worth having takes work.

With that said, creating and tracking healthy habits to lose weight provides a lifelong framework for success.

Great books that support Habits:

There are a lot of books on the market about habits. A long time ago, I read Stephen Covey’s, 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.

Most recently, books like Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear provide a path for building any kind of habit.

Or how about the Compound Effect-Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success by Darren Hardy.

None of these books are about weight loss, but each of these books do discuss using habits to lose weight. 🙂

Creating new habits provide you with an external motivator. Habits also provide feedback on your journey that keeps you going!

Read more below to help you learn why you should track healthy habits.

I bet there are some habits that you may not have considered as part of your weight loss journey.  And there are some apps you can use to track these habits.

Grab your detailed Workbook to finally stop stress eating for FREE

Healthy Habits To Lose Weight: Why?

Focusing on the number on the scale makes for a slow, inconsistent weight loss journey.  

If you have 100 pounds or more to lose, finding easy habits you can implement and track increase the feeling of success.

This feeling of success is awesome!  

What’s awesome about it?  It keeps you motivated!

Motivation in your weight loss journey is what it’s all about!  In my case, I had over 100 pounds to lose, focusing on the scale alone was a horrible dredge on the journey!  

Finding little wins along the way, made they journey enjoyable and made me feel like a winner!  

Who doesn’t want to feel like a winner?

So by creating goals that support your weight loss journey you increase that feeling of success.  And creating habits that support the goal improves your chances of success.

On the other hand, if you focus only on that number on the scale, it can be a long painful journey.  And this journey is often filled with inconsistency and long train rides in the wrong direction.

Unfortunatly, we can’t control the speed with which our body loses weight, beyond lowering our calories and increasing our activity.

One way to really change your lifestyle is to implement healthy habits that support your weight loss journey.  But to create habits, we have to change what we are doing and we can control that.

Tracking these changes is a game, and a game changer!

Healthy Habits to Lose Weight: What Makes a Habit Trackable?

It needs to be finite!  You need to be able to put a number to it.  How many times did you…

It should support your goal of weight loss but it shouldn’t be just the number on the scale.

To be trackable it should be something you do a few times per day or week.  Or something you are shooting to do a few times per day/week.

There are a lot of habits we can track..

Good habits to track include

  • Number of steps
  • Amounts of water
  • Saying positive affirmations
  • Amount of veggies eaten
  • Number of times avoided junk foo

But there are a lot more see, below…

Are You Ready to Get Consistent With Your Journey?

Do you want to get consistent? Do you want to build up your self-esteem? Start right here with my free class. 

Healthy Habits to Lose Weight:  Choose Habits That Support Your Weight Loss Goal!

Breaking habits into 4 different categories makes the search a little easier.  These categories are Nutrition habits, Fitness habits, Mental Health habits and Lifestyle habits.

Each of these habits lead to a healthy lifestyle, and a healthy lifestyle leads to a healthy weight.  And isn’t that what each of us are trying to accomplish?

There are nutrition habits

  • Make just one meal a little healthier
  • Chose a healthier option
  • eating vegetables
  • Avoiding sugar
  • eating whole foods
  • limiting processed foods
  • Drinking water
  • Eating more leafy greens
  • Eating enough calories
  • Not eating too many calories
  • Eating according to “your” schedule

There are fitness habits

  • Work out 3 times a week
  • Move your body at least 30 minutes a day
  • Stretch daily/ or every few days
  • Include some cardio
  • Include some resistence training

Mental health

  • Meditate
  • Positive affirmations
  • Journal
  • Live in the moment as often as possible

Lifestyle Habits:

  • Meal Planning
  • Meal Prepping
  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep
  • Weighing daily

Each of these habits helps to move forward our weight loss journey!

But notice, not one of them is just the number on the scale!  And we can take small daily action and see immediate satisfaction with feedback from a sheet of paper or one of the App’s I discuss later.

Habits are the gold of a weight loss journey.  It’s important to note, they also help us be better versions of ourselves.

Importantly, habits allow us to focus on something that isn’t the number on the scale.

If you look above you will see, I did add weighing daily.  I do weigh-in daily as a small part of my tracking.

That number on the scale is one part of the information I collect to provide feedback.  But because it is such a small part of the information it doesn’t overwhelm me.

I also track if I read a motivational book for 10 minutes a day.  🙂

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Healthy Habits to Lose Weight: What Apps can I use?


There are a lot of Apps out there, I am only listing the ones here that I use daily. I prefer apps because we always have our phones on use.

Apps remove the need to “wait to record”. There are no excuses, if you have it on your phone.

Fitnes Trackers Apps:

  • Fitbit
  • Fitocracy
  • BodySpace
  • MapMyRun

Nutrition Trackers:

  • MyFittnessPal
  • LoseIT
  • MyPlate.Gov

General Habit Trackers:

Each of these apps are tools to track a different kind of habit.  

Healthy Habits to Lose Weight: Why Tracking Improves Consistency


One of the hardest things about weight loss is the waiting…  

Waiting is hard in a world where we get instantaneous feedback on everything we do.  

For example, the ding of the toaster and  the chime of our phone for each email, text, meeting alert… All Instantaneous Feedback!

All of these instant responses just make weight loss even harder.  To clarify, tracking habits that are not scale related give us instant feedback several times a day if we set it that way.

The real challenge is finding new habits that support your weight loss goal.   Above all, they need to light your fire.

Case in point, tracking healthy habits provides a way to give positive feedback in much shorter intervals than the scale.

Let’s Wrap Up-Healthy Habits for Weight Loss!

As I made my way through my weight loss journey, tracking my habits kept me on track.  I often joke, I traded my food addiction for a healthy habit addiction.

You will often find me checking my phone for my step count, or to see that I have tracked some activity.  

I track my food, my weighing, my workouts, if I read, meal planning…

I personally use the obvious trackers listed above and Habitfy… But there are a ton of app’s.  

Most of the trackers allow for tracking 3 free habits without a purchase.  

I recommend only implementing 1 habit at time because more than that can feel overwhelming.  

Make your journey to add habits a fun game, not an additional stressor!


  1. Decide what you want to track.
  2. Start doing it in managable chunks.
  3. Find the app to track it, or buy a travel notebook to track.
  4. Begin tracking!
  5. Look for steady improvement
  6. When you meet your goal every day for 10 days, add a chunk
  7. Keep Building!

Sending you love and hugs on your journey!


Ready to take your journey to the next level? Join my group to Master your Weight Loss Motivation using Mindset & Habits!


Coach, Personal Trainer & Author

 100 Lb Weight Loss For Women Over 40. Lifestyle and Habit based instead of diet.Hi All! I am an ACECertified Health Coach, a certified Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coach and I am a Certified Wellness, Nutrition and Fitness Coach for people who have 100 pounds or more to lose, I coach them and give them the tools to change their habits and change their lives forever.

Through my passionate and open hearted Online Wellness classes, Nutrition Challenges and Coaching, I’m here to inspire you to change your approach to weight loss and wellness—while making it all feel like a natural part of who you are.

And when I’m not coaching you can find me lifting heaving things(often my teens), creating new healthy recipes or researching new lifting techniques.

Calorie Counting For Consistent, Maintainable Weight Loss Leading To That Sleek Body You Want

Calorie Counting For Consistent, Maintainable Weight Loss Leading To That Sleek Body You Want

Calorie Counting For Consistent, Maintainable Weight Loss Leading To That Sleek Body You Want

Calorie counting does get a bad wrap.  Many people don’t want to “live that way.”  I have lost 100 pounds 3 different times, and the only time I have been able to maintain it is with calorie counting and tracking.  This does not mean, I live in a diet mentality.  I choose to count calories, because I have issues stopping when it comes to eating.  I love food!  Which is fine, but there are a lot of foods out there that trigger me to eat A LOT.

Over the last few years, I have been able to turn weighing and measuring my food into a habit. I only eat what is on my plate.  Today we are going to discuss all the reasons calorie counting does work, why it may not work in some cases, and I have a special freebie for you today!  I created a step by step guide on how to put your favorite recipes in MyFitnessPal. My goal is to solve the issue of how to determine calories in soups, stews and pasta sauce, or any other one pot meal!  So let’s get to work.  😉


Does Calorie Counting Work?

Calories counting does work!  I have used calorie counting for my entire journey.  I do advocate tracking your calories, and here is why. Those little handfuls of food or pieces here and there really add up.

An additional much less talked about reason for tracking that has little to do with calorie counting is the habit factor.  Creating habits in our journey really make a difference, and tracking calories is a habit that gives a sense of satisfaction.  Just like marking an item off our to-do list gives us a little rush, it gives that same rush to complete the days calories. And finally, calorie tracking also provides instant feedback.

Calorie Counting Provides Feedback

The feedback and sense of satisfaction are both key factors in positive reinforcement!  Did you know the repeated actions when creating a habit, actually create and change the pathways in the brain? When I read this (I don’t remember where), I was like, I knew I was different.  Hahah! Another piece to this reinforcement is that it also creates a sense of achievement. So you get a win without the scale.

These factors make tracking an important part of behavior change, but it’s important to not fall into any of the tracking  traps. We will discuss this more later. However, it’s important to know less (calories) is not always better! And perfect is not required on this journey!

The biggest mistake is feeling bad about what you eat.  The goal of tracking is not judgement! It is really meant to provide you with the information you need to keep your journey going forward.
Tracking food should be considered a tool, not a judgement against you as a person!

If you are having issues judging yourself on this journey, make sure you check out my post about self-love while losing weight.  You can access that here.


Why would calorie counting not work?

Calorie counting shows us what goes in.  So if it ‘s not working, this usually means we are eating more than we are burning. But there are some other possible reasons.  I know it’s never easy! Let me provide some possible reasons, but you should always go back to am I eating too much?

If calorie counting isn’t working then there is an imbalance somewhere!  That imbalance can be calories in vs. calories out… But it can also be any of the following items.

    • Hormones
    • Lack of sleep
    • Stress
    • That time of the month–yes ladies it can make you look like you’ve gained 10 lbs overnight!  Don’t stress, because then you really can gain 10 lbs.
    • Lack of sleep
    • Not enough water

Don’t play the how low can you go game

Another issue I see is trying to see how low you can go.  Eating too few calories can slow your metabolism and you may gain weight before you lose it.  Or you could end up needing to lower your calories sooo low that you aren’t getting the nutrients your body needs to be healthy. This goes back to knowing how many calories you should be eating.  We will address this in a future post. 🙂

Don’t “forget” to enter foods

And yet another issue I see, “forgetting” to enter foods, nibbles, and snacks, and being confused by the lack of change on the scale. And yes, I know I stated, going over or under by 100 or 150 isn’t going to show on the scale as long as your eating in a deficit.  But consistently going over on calories and consistently forgetting enter foods will leave you with an equilibrium on the scale OR it could cause the scale to go up.

So what is the big mistake here?  The big mistake it lying to yourself.  Using calorie counting as a method of being aware is the goal.  And using calorie counting to support your habits is an amazing way to positively reinforce your new changes. But lying to yourself, doesn’t serve your goals.

What about intuitive eating?

Research shows that people who track calories to lose weight, lose more weight overtime and maintain that loss longer.  I would love to be able to eat intuitively, and stop when I’m 80% full. Unfortunately, I don’t have that skill, it’s not that I haven’t tried.  I have tried, but my need to clean my plate overrides my need to be healthy. So I had to find a method that worked for me long-term.

What Counting Apps Are Best For Calorie Counting?

Over all the app you choose is personal preference.  There are several apps available. I use MyFitnessPal because it links with my Fitbit.  It is also good for tracking MACROs. Since I pay attention to these, MyFitnessPal is my personal choice.

Here are the three I usually recommend.

    1. EatThisMuch-This app is nice because you can set it up for meal planning.  When I am looking for new ideas or combinations I use this app to come up with ideas
    2. MyFitnessPal
    3. Fitbit

And here are a couple of popular apps that I don’t use, but some of my clients have in the past:

    1. LoseIt
    2. MyPlate

How to Count Calories with Homemade Food

Calorie Counting Meal MyFitnessPal
One challenge I hear often is how can I calculate the calories in homemade food and soups, sauces and stews.

The process isn’t too bad in MyFitnessPal after you get used to.

Do this during meal planning so you don’t have to try to do it on a busy week night!

I have created a great step by step guide for creating a reusable recipe in MyFitnessPal.  Go here to get it!


So if eating intuitively, doesn’t work for you, I suggest tracking.  I also suggest measuring/weighing your food. It takes the guesswork out. You can also check out this article by AceFitness this article discusses both intuitive eating and self-monitoring (tracking).  Working toward a new lifestyle is work in the beginning, but once you find what works for you it’s a lot easier!

A little story on measuring for you… last summer I fell in love with Kodiak Cakes.  They are sooo very awesome!  I was diligently measuring everyday.  One day I decided I would weigh my normal serving, and to my surprise, I was actually make 2.5 times a serving.  So be very careful when measuring! This little experiment taught me a very important lesson. Weighing out does measuring every time!

Let’s wrap up calorie counting…

Overall, I am a huge fan of calorie counting.  I am aware it can become an unhealthy habit.  In my opinion it is more healthy than being 100 pounds overweight.  For all of you that have issues with trigger foods, and feel that eating intuitively is failing you I do recommend you give this a try.  Now overall eating intuitively is the end goal, feeling in charge of your choices is key on this journey.  Do what works for you! 🙂

Sending love & hugs to you on your journey to healthy!

Coach, Personal Trainer, Author

Michelle Thomas is an ACECertified Health Coach, a certified Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coach and she is a Certified Wellness, Nutrition and Fitness Coach for people who have 100 pounds or more to lose, she coaches them and gives them the tools to change their habits and change their lives forever.

Through her passionate and open hearted Online Wellness classes, Nutrition Challenges and Coaching, she’s here to inspire you to change your approach to weight loss and wellness—while making it all feel like a natural part of who you are.

And when she’s not coaching you can find her lifting heaving things(often her teens), creating new healthy recipes or researching new techniques.

Weight Loss Program| Are you Afraid to Ask Which is Best?

Weight Loss Program| Are you Afraid to Ask Which is Best?

There are a lot of questions about what is the best weight loss program, is it Paleo, or Keto or Whole 30… To be honest, there isn’t a “Perfect Program”. Everyone has their belief, but diet isn’t a belief system. It’s a bunch of biochemistry and numbers with a little hormone thrown to keep it interesting.

When trying to lose weight implementing a lifestyle you can live with is the best choice. A diet that provides the nutrients the body needs to function, and makes you feel good and energetic.

Sorry guys, in reality pizza is not a food group. But even completely removing this from your diet is not a lifestyle. If you can go the rest of your life without Pizza and Burritos I salute you! The goal with a lifestyle is to include these items without overdoing it. It is possible to eat two slices of pizza and a salad for dinner. 🙂

Weight Loss Program|Based on Nutrition Camp

The nutrition camp you decide to join is up to you. Making conscious nutrition choices is huge. To go along with choosing minimally processed foods. These two actions will have the biggest effect on that pesky number on the scale.

The primary goal with nutrition is to eat balanced minimally processed meals. A balanced meal includes those meals that have Protein, Fat and Fiber (Yes carbs are required and fiber is a carb). The balanced diet, keeps the body functioning at top performance levels.

To eat balanced meals, and yes to include carbs is the goal. But why do you keep hearing how bad carbs are? We will address this next!

Weight Loss Program|The best has to be Low Carb or is it Low Fat?

What about carbs?

Weight loss program-Weight Loss tips-Nutrition for Fat Loss

Carbs are not bad!!! Our brain and body need them to function. They are fuel for our muscles, brain and body, and on average our bodies can use/consume over 200 grams of carbs per day. Cutting carbs give the immediate weight loss you see on the scale. But what you are seeing is the depletion of carbs and water from the muscles.

This depletion makes it look like you have lost a lot of weight fast, but the carbs in the muscles store water. And it’s this water weight you are losing. That is the where the term I lost water weight comes from. If your goal is to lower body fat cutting carbs isn’t doing much for you in the long run. All it is doing is changing the number on the scale quickly.

Where is the “bad” carb thing coming from?

To be honest it’s the processed carbs, that are bad for you. Fruits and vegetables are carbs too, and we should be eating around 12 servings of these per day. Whole grains are also good for you too. The goal is to eat whole grains that don’t have added sugars and are minimally processed. Think rice, corn, oats, and quinoa.

It is true that fruits have sugar, but they also have a lot of other nutrients our bodies need to function. Removing fruit from your diet due to natural sugar isn’t going to make you any healthier or lose weight quicker. Keeping fruits at 2-3 servings per day, you are still getting way less sugar than you would with a bottle of soda.

What about Fat?

So what about Fat? We are trying to lose fat, why would we eat it? Our bodies actually need certain kinds of fats in an amount that sits around 25-35% of our daily calories. These fats help keep our hormones balanced and help keep us feel full longer.

Ever notice when you eat something with a high fat content (Pizza) how full you feel and how long it lasts? That is the fat content of the food. So all that gooey cheese is actually doing something besides clogging arteries. 🙂

Fat’s & Their Effect on Hormones

Now, when I say hormones, I am sure most of us start to think about Estrogen and Testosterone. And yes fat’s keep these balanced too. But there are also digestive hormones. Leptin and Ghrelin as well as a few I can read, but can’t pronounce. 🙂 These hormones are responsible for a good part of our digestion, and how full we feel. Eating fat keeps these hormones balanced too. They also help us feel full longer and absorb the nutrients we eat.

Now part of this is because fat’s are calorie dense. A very low calorie diet will cause an increase in the hunger hormones. And a decrease in the hormones that make us feel full. But that is a topic for another post. Let’s say, I am not a fan of a 1200 calorie diet for anyone. Because MOST people need more than to sustain their bodies.

It is better to lose the weight slower, keep it off, and not still be starving 2 years after your diet. Because this hormone imbalance can be a long term side effect.

Okay, going full circle back to the topic at hand…

Weight Loss Program| But you said there wasn’t a Perfect One, and here you are saying we need carbs & fats & protein.

And yes, that is my “belief”, but that doesn’t make it a perfect choice for everyone! You see I don’t fall into the Paleo, Whole 30 or Keto (which I always want to call Atkins… yes, I’m old) camp. I fall into the whole foods made with love, with a side of anything in moderation camp. LOL

Over my lifetime of dieting, this is the first time in my life I can say, I know what foods trigger me to overeat. I got to this point with the mindset work we are doing in the my facebook group (Click here to check it out! Everyone is welcome!). But I can also say no to these foods when I need to. So I don’t cut them out of my life, but I choose when I eat them. And if overeat them, I don’t beat myself up. I just return to normal at the very next meal. To me, for the first time ever, “I feel normal.”

So my question to everyone reading the post, what is your desired normal? Keep in mind it’s not possible to eat whatever you want, whenever you want it. Most people can’t do this and maintain a healthy weight. (Unless you have the metabolism of my husband, but if you did, you wouldn’t have a need to read this post… 😉 )

Share in the comments below, what is your desired normal?

Sending love and Hugs to All!

Sleep & Weight Loss: Could Lack of Sleep Be Causing Your Weight Loss Plateau?

Sleep & Weight Loss: Could Lack of Sleep Be Causing Your Weight Loss Plateau?


When we think of a weight-loss plateau, sleep isn’t usually the first thing we think we need to change. Instead we think cut calories, kill ourselves with a vicious workout, maybe about being hangry. But not more sleep… however, maybe we should put this at the top of the list.

Weight Loss Plateau Boring old stat’s!

Ok so we are going to start this section off with a quote from the CDC…

“A third of US adults report that they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep. Not getting enough sleep is linked with many chronic diseases and conditions—such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression—that threaten our nation’s health.”

Center for Disease Control

What does this really mean?

Now, I didn’t bold the above because I love to bold things (but I do, LOL). There is a link between lack of sleep and the problem, most everyone reading this, has. Obesity

This correlation I don’t believe is by chance. Lack of sleep causes an increase in the hormone cortisol. This little hormone is involved in the body’s reaction to stress. When stressed it’s ok, as long as the stress doesn’t hang around long. But if we’re constantly under stress, and we don’t allow ourselves to recharge, it has the unpleasant side effect of helping us store stomach fat. BLAAHH!

Well, really it’s telling us to store fuel for waking hours that turns into fat if it’s not used. This isn’t a good thing!

How much sleep do we need to keep the weight loss plateau at bay?

Well this really depends on the person, most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep. women tend to need a little more than men. The quality of sleep, the nutrition consume the day before, and the downtime before going to sleep all play a role in good quality sleep.

Tracking sleep


We recommend tracking your sleep and how you feel. We use the FitBit tracking to determine the amount of sleep, and the quality of sleep. This isn’t sleep lab accurate, but for in home studies and being accountable to one’s self it’s pretty good! You can also track on a sheet of paper, when you went to sleep, the time you wake up, and how you feel during the day.

Whichever way you choose to track, long-term tracking isn’t necessary! Just get yourself an idea of a good bed time, and wakeup time and follow that daily.

How to improve sleep quality…

There are several things you can do to improve sleep quality. Here is a list I took from the CDC. Well the last item I can’t credit to them, because I don’t know where I read it. But it is still a really good idea…


  • Are you going to bed at the same time each night and rising at the same time each morning?
  • Are you sleeping in a quiet, dark, and relaxing environment, which is neither too hot nor too cold?
  • Have you made your bed comfortable?
  • Do you use the bedroom only for sleeping and not for other activities, such as reading, watching TV, or using the computer?
  • Do you avoid large meals before bedtime?
  • Are you getting at least 7 hours per night?

What about Rest Days & a Weight Loss Plateau?

Ok I am throwing this is in here. Rest days are another thing that we need to reduce cortisol production. Over exercising can produce cortisol as well. But what is over exercising… Well that is a topic of its own, and I will address it soon. But if your primary exercise is walking or low intensity, you probably don’t need to worry about this.

If this question is making you go hmmm… please feel to free to reach out to me via any medium that makes you happy. ?We love to answer questions! That is what we are here to do!

As always sending Love & Hugs!