If you read my weigh-in this week, you know that I was rather discouraged with the results. I listed several reasons why I thought I might not have seen the results, with “not counting calories” being the number one reason.
Did I ever tell you about the time I did Weight Watchers with some degree of success? I lost about 40 pounds before I plateaued, got frustrated, and quit. However, during the really successful part, one of the leaders asked those of us in that week’s meeting to share one thing that we felt contributed to our success.
“Writing down every thing I eat and tracking the points,” I said.
Many of you have asked me how I’ve been so successful this time. “Using my body bugg and knowing exactly how many calories I burn vs. how many I consume,” I’ve told you. (The body bugg subscription service allows you to log your calories consumed and compare the two.)
So, why is it, when I obviously clearly know how important it is to log your food, I inevitably convince myself that I don’t have to do that now?
It’s only been a day and a half, but I love My Fitness Pal!
I like it better than SparkPeople and, honestly, I like it better than the body bugg site. Want to know why?
Massive Food Database. The food database is so comprehensive! I’ve found even the most obscure of the things I eat on the MFP database – like my favorite flax cereal, my granola from Costco, and my favorite wheat hamburger buns.
Whole Packages. Both of the other sites I’ve used have let you build your own recipes, like My Fitness Pal does, but MFP is the only one I’ve seen that lists a whole package of something as an option.
For example, if I’m making a casserole the calls for a pound of ground beef and a can of diced tomatoes, MFP lists a pound of ground beef or a can of tomatoes as a serving size option, rather than me having to multiply a single serving by how many servings are in the whole package of beef or can of tomatoes.
Ease of use, y’all. That’s huge!
Psychology. How many of y’all know that at least half of weight-loss is psychological? Did you all raise your hands? I’m thinking that, psychologically, MFP works for me.
See, I put in my height, my weight, and my goals. It came up with a custom plan for me that says I can eat 1200 calories a day. Um, are you crazy? My body bugg gives me 1500 calories a day and I have to burn 2300 – or something like that.
Here’s the psychological part: MFP adds any calories I burn through exercise to what I can consume for the day. So, if I want 1500 calories to eat, I have to make sure that I burn at least 300 in exercise.
That’s the same thing the body bugg does except it assumes that I’m going to burn that many calories, so it goes ahead and includes it in my calorie budge.
Now, my mind is saying, “I can consume 1500 calories.” The fact that I have to ensure that I burn my calorie goal is just kind of a footnote. I’m focusing on the 1500 it said I could eat.
With My Fitness Pal, it’s making sure that I know that I have to earn those calories if I want to eat them. Purely psychological, but I think that’s something that will work well for me.
Daily Updates. On My Fitness Pal, there’s a little button at the bottom of your daily food journal. You’re supposed to click the button when you’re finished entering your food and exercise for the day.
When you click the button it says, “If every day were like today, you would weigh X-pounds by ABC date.”
The first day, it told me that I would have lost 2 pounds in a month. Really? Two pounds in a month? I want to be losing 1-1.5 pounds a week!
Guess what I’ve been losing? About 1-1.5 pounds a month. Know why? Because I’ve been pushing the envelope with my eating. Because I’ve been telling myself that I know about what I’m eating each day.
If you’re telling yourself that you can lose weight without knowing how many calories you consume each day, you’re lying to yourself.
That goes for all of us.
In general we all overestimate our activity level and underestimate our calorie consumption. That leads to weight gain…or “plateaus” that we can’t understand.
Log your food! For best results, follow a tip that I read in an article on Active.com yesterday and log your meal before you eat it.
I did that yesterday and discovered that the sandwich that I thought was about 400 or 500 calories was over 600 calories! Do you know what kind of difference mistakes like that can make on the scale?
I made some changes (one ounce each of turkey and ham instead of two, half a slice of Swiss cheese instead of a full slice) and shaved over 100 calories off my lunch! My sandwich tasted just as good as always and that’s 100 less calories I’ve got to worry about burning off.
Next time you see me posting that I “know about how much I’m eating” or that I’m not logging my food, you have my permission to tell me that I’m lying to myself and I’d better start writing down everything.
As far as I’m concerned, until I’m at my goal weight and purposely maintaining, the only reason I should not be logging my food is because I’m tired of successfully losing weight. And that’s not going to be the case until I’m at my goal weight.
Log your food!
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Do or do not. There is no try.