In January, I started calorie counting. I went through a few programs, before I settled on MyFitnessPal, a tracker that Anna found and was enjoying. It has a great database, and it’s easy to add new items in, or create meals, like your favourite Chipotle salad bowl. The main draw of this app over anything else for me, was it syncs to my Misfit tracker, and I can add in exercises or runs, and it readjusts your calorie allotment for the day. If you’re considering calorie counting, or already do, consider MyFitnessPal for this feature alone. For my current goals, my recomended daily calorie intake is 1200, but if I have an intense workout, or go for a hike, that number obviously changes. Your calorie counter needs to work for you. If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re only going to hurt yourself by eating 1200 calories, when you really should have had 1900 because of that hike you took.
Preaching aside, I started using MyFitnessPal around the end of January. Another feature it has, is when you ‘end’ your day, it’ll tell you “If you ate like this every day, in five weeks you’ll be ‘x’lbs!” For the next month, I became obsessed with this feature. I imported all my data from my previously used app to make sure I was on track, losing what was estimated by my eating habits. There was an expected swing between the days, usually between three and five pounds, but the number was always a little lower. I plugged all the numbers in my calendar, what my anticipated weight was, and then what I actually weighed on those days so I could compare. In fact, I stopped tracking exactly five weeks ago today, and here is the last thing the app told me;
My ‘goal’ is 120lbs, but I understand I’m not 21 anymore, and my realistic goal is to just be under 130lbs, and feeling strong and confident. Today, I should have hit my goal of ‘being under 130lb before 30’.
This morning, I weighed 138.6 lbs.
Mid February, my relatively rapid weight loss came to a screeching halt. I went from losing approximately two pounds a week, to bouncing back and forth, unable to break below 140. I plateaued, and it hit my psyche hard. I stopped eating carbs after two in the afternoon. No change. I stopped drinking, nothing. Drank an extra two litres of water, not even a point under what I wanted. I just kept bobbing back and forth between 140 and 144. I’d weigh myself at all hours of the day and night, to monitor the changes, to see if I could find a trend to eliminate the ‘gain’. By now, I should have been seeing numbers like 135 or even as low as 133. I was exercising the same amount, and changing up routines. My food habits were only getting better.
My obsession was getting out of hand, and I decided for the month of March, I wasn’t going to track a thing. If I weighed myself, it would be once a day, and no more. I stepped back, and told myself I needed to just trust that the habits I had built would come through, and I would see changes happen gradually. When I started this journey, I had started with the idea that I’m not young. My body is older now, and needs more time, and more love. It will give me what I want, but I need to be patient, and work with it. Losing the first eight pounds was easy, because it was water and bloat and physical carryings of bad habits that are gone. This is where the real work is now.
On February 28th, my recorded weight was 139.6lbs. I remember weighing myself at least ten times, and at that point, I was only recording my lowest weight of the day, not my first weight. I remember my weight that morning was 142.4, and then immediately making and drinking a laxative tea, despite drinking one the night before, just to be sure that I could record a weight on my last tracking day that I was proud of. A month later, and I’m not proud of that recorded weight at all. I liquidifed my insides, and ate nothing all day to get that number, which really highlights why I stopped tracking.
This morning, I weighed 138.6lbs, as I already mentioned. I can be proud of that. That’s a number not shrouded by laxative teas, or denying myself a second helping, or a cookie at the end of a long day. That’s a number I achieved even though I drank beer and played video games for three days straight because I had a long weekend. In my obsessive weight trend tracking, I did find that I do sit a little heavier in the mornings. When I get home from work, I’ll probably be 137, maybe even 136. For the past week, instead of floating between 140 and 144, I float between 136-140. I even saw a 135 last week, which was pretty exciting for me.
I understand why calorie counting works for some people. Anna finds a lot of benefits from it, and it’s really helped her balance out her macros, and keep her accountable to her habits. She’s been tracking for over two months now, and while she’s become a little more lax about it, she still logs in every day to keep an eye on what she’s eating, and how. Unfortunately, my personality doesn’t let me do that. I can’t relax, and my brain just naturally wants to analyze the data, and I’m just too disappointed if I can’t create the results I should be, based on said data.
However, I can’t undervalue the things I learned in the two months I tracked. I drank too much, both coffee and alcohol, and have curbed both things. I now try to hold strong at five Nespresso pods a day (when I used to be over ten on the regular!). I still drink a beer, or have a glass of wine with my evening yoga, but I’ve become better at stretching it out over the evening, or even making better choices with what I’m drinking. Did you know a Rickard’s Radler has you daily recommended dose of vitamin C?
I’ve really strengthened my regular habits as well. I’m strict about not eating after 9pm, no matter how hungry I get before bed. I’m specific about the kind of carbs and starches I eat after 3pm as well, and try to keep them low, or out of my dinner meal completely when I can. I try really hard to eat breakfast, so I get three meals a day, because I found that on days I eat breakfast, I snack less between lunch and dinner.
At the end of the day, I don’t think I can personally attribute any of my weight loss to counting calories. It was also terrible for my mental state, which in turn, I know it was starting to affect me physically in a negative way. While I do think counting is a great tool for managing weight and developing habits, it just isn’t for me, and the proof of that is that a month later, I’m still gradually making progress towards my goal.
Losing weight and getting fit can be tricky, but it’s about finding the things that work for you. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to get to your goal, it’s about finding balance and happiness in that journey.
What are some of the tools that you have used in your journey? What works and what has totally failed for you? I’d love to know! Maybe I’ll find something new that works for me to!