They say do something for 40 days for it to become a habit but I made more than just that. I did 365. Two days ago I hit the one year mark since I decided that counting calories is the way to go if I need to succeed in hitting my target weight. On August 8, 2017 I started using MyFitnessPal app.
The journey didn’t start easy. I had some doubts but I soon trusted and believed in the process of counting calories. It was a conscious effort of knowing what I should eat and how much of it I should take on a daily basis based on the app’s recommended calorie intake. It also involved lots of exercise which happened almost everyday as well. Food minus calories burned from working out was my guiding formula.
Gradually I hit 130 lbs in February or six months later. I was never this light and fit since college days. Next challenge though was to maintain it. Like every weekends I would feel anxious whenever the scale shows I gained weight. I soon learned to embrace the spike and labelled it as mere “weekend weight.” We all deserve guilty pleasures, right?
I recently posted a pic of my work drawer showing food I thought would help me lose weight. Everything looked like healthy food but I soon discovered some are culprits to my weight plateau. Since I logged my meals on MyFitnessPal I avoid anything white as these are highly processed. So lesser white bread, crackers, and even pasta. These don’t directly get one fat but because they aren’t retained longer by the body due to less fiber, the next cravings come sooner. This is why brown became my favorite color since then.
I plan to let go slowly of my dependence to Under Armor’s MyFitnessPal app. No specific program or diet yet but I’ll just likely eyeball it or just use ratio and proportion as what others do. We’ll see if this one works for me. Wish me luck.
There was once a time when losing weight was quite a struggle. There’s the gym but it requires membership. There’s your friendly liposuction clinic but obviously it’s invasive not to mention expensive. There are also self-help books on counting calories but these have limited recipes and rarely include nutritional info while some of it have ingredients that aren’t available locally. Where do you get kale, collard, cottage cheese, or quinoa? Go figure.
Fast forward to the era when almost everyone has mobile phones and almost everything starts to have its own app. Modern technology now makes losing weight interesting and fun. Weight watchers nowadays have more control, timely feedback, and could take actions fast like passing off on a slice of shortcake because calorie goal has been reached. Freeze it and tomorrow’s another day.
Seven months ago I was looking for a solution to my weight loss plateau. It’s the dreaded point of anyone trying to lose (or even gain) weight. Common knowledge dictates eat less, exercise more but it is easier said than done. Often times this hit or miss leads to under nourishment, sickness, and eventually, failure. I’ve seen people going back to square one and never attempting to cut weight ever again due to disappointment and/or lack of motivation.
This is where the apps come in. There are several apps that help count calories but I use Under Armor’s MyFitnessPal which is among the popular ones, if not the most, under its category. Since I started using it in August I have never turned back, never skipped a day without entry of my meals. The results gradually followed and goal finally reached. Thanks to data-driven weight loss.
MyFitnessPal allows its users to customize their own weight loss plan. Goal could be as aggressive as a 2-lb loss per week or just take it easy at .5 lb per week.
The app’s weight goal factors in the user’s activity level from Not Very Active to Very Active. Mine should be the former but since I have the leisure to take short breaks when my Garmin says Move! I set mine on Lightly Active. I normally achieve 10 stairs level (up) and 5,000 steps daily.
Of course, counting calories means food consumed versus daily calorie goal. This is where MyFitnessPal’s huge food database becomes an advantage. You may now start throwing away those diet self-help books you bought from the thrift shop. If you’re Filipino or Asian or anyone but American most likely those paper books do not include local dishes. So far everything I ate are on MyFitnessPal: sinigang, tulingan, sisig, tuna pasta, pizza, adobo, kamoteng kahoy, kangkong, balut, bulalo, sweet potatoes, bananas, eggs, etc. Whether it’s English or Tagalog food name, this app would have a match for it.
After all meal entries are in, the app predicts possible weight result. When I started months ago I smirked when it said I would be 145 lbs. Well, it happened, breached it even further and I never doubted the app since then.
Interestingly, sooner or later calories wouldn’t be the only thing that matters. Anyone who gets more serious about diet and nutrition would be asking about nutrient details like sodium, cholesterol, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and trans. Then there’s also the question if where the calories are coming from. Does it come mainly from carbs, fats, or protein? MyFitnessPal got these covered.
There’s a big caveat to all this. MyFitnessPal computes based on accuracy of the user’s entry so honesty is a big factor here. User details like height, initial weight, activity levels must be all correct. Needless to say, if it’s two slices of apple pie you ate it must be two apple slices that should be entered or else weight predictions would remain a number and not a reality. And your bathroom scale would surely know.
There are also basic tools I use to complement the app. I have a cheap digital kitchen scale my wife got online and on most days I wear a Garmin Vivoactive HR watch that records calories consumed based on my physical activities such as running, walking, intervals, stairs climbed, etc.
The Garmin smart watch pairs with MyFitnessPal app and calorie goals are adjusted accordingly. I found some discrepancies though on how MyFitnessPal adjusts so I would ignore the big numbers whenever I see them.
MyFitnessPal is free but it has a premium package if you want to be more detailed about your diet. Free works for me for now.
Revision: I won’t sleep tight if I don’t include the barcode reader screenshot and change the boring title.
The bathroom weighing scale finally shows the magic numbers: one, three, zero. Months after I started counting calories seriously I have reached my ultimate goal. It was a test of will, patience, and discipline and I did it breaking stereotypes about genes, age, and being endomorph. I have never been this light and fit. Take note: Never been in my entire life.
Measure and control play a big part in all this. Again, “whatever is measurable is controllable” proves itself true. A concept that I first read in school textbook, often heard at work, and now put to good use in achieving weight loss. It started with just wanting to shed off Christmas weight. Then getting out of the dreaded weight loss plateau. Then entertaining the thought of hitting the ideal BMI. Before I know it I was staring down at a scale that says I am already 30 lbs lighter seven months later.
It’s not really a big number but I am now following a new lifestyle–not cliche New Year’s resolution–which I would continue to embrace. Achieving a 130-lb weight is just the start. My current regimen could result to increased muscle mass so whether I maintain my new weight or not is no longer important. For now, I see lighter runs ahead and probably new PRs.
There is so much discussion about coffee. Some days a villain, some days a hero. Whatever, it’s fuel for me. But it’s expensive regardless if it’s Starbucks or home-brewed which is why I will start using a coffee press instead of a drip coffee machine that runs on electricity. I had my first brew last Friday and I like it.
Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Ah, yes coffee is diuretic. Reason I’m up for a very early morning snack and a Ghost Wars episode.)
It’s hard to measure happiness more so identify where it comes from or what really triggers it. Everyone’s stimuli just differ from the others. Happiness could also stem from unexpected sources.
Believe it or not, mine came after a bite from a burger. Well, two bites to be exact.
According to wifey the last time we had a burger was in 8 Cuts Megamall way back in November. That burger wasn’t really expensive so price was not the reason we’ve been burger sober for that long. What deters me though from buying and eating anything that would be detrimental to my daily calorie goal was my ongoing MyFitnessPal entry. That strict. I rarely had cheat days but one happened yesterday.
Spaghetti for Marcus. I usually end up eating the meatballs.
I took Marcus out to see the world outside his Minecraft and Xbox games. He said he wants to visit his kois in Nuvali so we did it after lunch. It was a quick stroll and was on our way home before 4 PM. We brought home a Burger King Whopper Jr. for his mommy.
As I secretly wished anticipated, wifey shared the small burger. What I didn’t expect that such small portion would make my day. If my expertise serves me right I barely had 50g but it was like I’ve eaten a whole Whopper burger with its flavor overwhelming my taste buds. It was almost euphoria.
This doesn’t mean I’d be driving thru that Burger King again soon. MyFitnessPal shows the junior burger is 340 calories with 510mg sodium and that is something I avoid. But maybe yes I would heed wifey’s advise to have my cheat days at least once a month. I heard lately she mentioned Japanese buffet…
I recently read an article about someone trying to avoid taking sugar for a month and I immediately thought it isn’t a feat I would succeed at. An honest assessment. It was another challenge worth checking though. With the 711 run closing in I had my mind set to cut on more sources of sweets to lose a couple weight further this week.
So far I have resisted opening the packets of Swiss Miss that’s been staring at me every time I open my workstation drawer but that’s all about it. I have a sweet tooth and can’t imagine completely letting go of sweet treats. Me regularly digging in on the Kirkland candy jar for dessert just cannot be stopped–for now. But the fat loss seems to continue. Take note, fat loss.
My weight have been stable despite my caloric deficit diet. If the fitness articles I’ve read are correct, then there’s a good explanation for my current weight plateau. Some studies show that the intake of supplements and recovery food that follow after every workout is part of the reasons that there won’t be any movement in the weighing scale. During recovery the body absorbs fluids to help heal the stressed muscles that result to muscle growth one way or another. Makes perfect sense.
My current diet has one obvious effect, however. My wedding ring has loosened further. I’ve been wearing mine on my middle finger for years and even that can no longer hold it in place. If I don’t pay extra attention it’ll fall off down the washroom drain. Placing the ring on my thumb is an option but would look weird. So I’m letting go of it until I either have it adjusted or replaced. Today I will be using my wife’s ring with my name on it as she stays at home most of the time anyway. Nineteen years later, a wedding ring will be on the right finger.
On rare occasions our son steps out of the house at night. Tonight is one of those as we keep watch of the transition from blue to blood moon. Dear clouds, please don’t fail Marcus.
Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Survived mood swings. Must be the blue blood moon.)
Email message: I was about to ask you last Sunday na pumayat po kayo (you have lose weight)…Do you need prayers?
My reply: Yes, I need prayers…and burgers…
I don’t know how my other friends and immediate family will think once they see me because other than losing weight I am starting to sport a longer hair with the goal to get that ponytail back (I will try if I can find a pic) which I had when I got married and maintained until around 2004. Let’s see this Christmas vacation once I am home and and which is also when I’ll know if I can fend off food that will be abundant this time of the year. Few more days, time’s fast.
Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Dear God, Thanks for good health.)
The long thanksgiving weekend in the US gave me another time to spend with Marcus. With my wife out of town to have her scheduled check-up–-also a disguised parenting day off–and with Marcus still needing to attend school, it was just me and him from Thursday until the weekends. During this whole time I assumed the entire alpha role at home including cooking – rice and anything fried.
If I am not mistaken this must be the longest time I ate the most fried food in just a matter of few days, not by choice but by the lack of it. And so today, Sunday, after just taking for breakfast the leftover we had last night–-fried meatloaf AND fried rice, I am looking forward to Batangas where I imagine myself having something green and leafy.
Our recent father-and-son time made me discover something. Firstly, I can live unplugged. To focus on Marcus’ exam review as well as to spend more time playing with him after, I denied myself access to Wi-Fi and bedroom TV. Other than having more quality time (some usual quibbling in between), I have also proven that without these electronics inside our room, our son is able to be in bed earlier than before. This time he didn’t breach the 12 midnight period. But if I can continue this, is now a big question.
Secondly, I realized that with the absence of wifey at home, Marcus and I would be 24X7 fast food customers. At first the thought of meatloaf and hotdogs seem exciting but just after two meals I began to accept that I am way past that enjoyment kids (and to mention that my birthday is approaching and I’ll be a lot older by then) get when they hear that sizzling sound the frying pan makes. In fact, if by some stroke of luck, wifey will be away for another day, I’ll likely grab one of those recipe books in the shelf and force myself to cook one that doesn’t have oil.
Oatmeal breakfast: both a confession and a penance.
Have had sinful diet in the recent days, from wifey’s baking (like her Christmas cookies and one that’s ongoing which involves cream cheese) and the dine outs at work (with female colleagues who seem to have a different idea when they say that they’re on a diet). And with the holidays fast approaching, the trend is likely to continue thus the challenge in appeasing the palate while keeping my waistline in check could be a tough one. Thankfully, there’s always the reliable oatmeal to the rescue though honestly, I really think that it is one boring meal just like any vegetable.
Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Wifey’s been making me help manually mix her batters. It’s tough. She needs a mixer.)
”Peopleareso worried about what they eat between Christmas and New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.” – unknown.
It’s been three days already since I’ve been eating the chocolate roll that we had for Noche Buena. My diet since then has been on leftovers and thankfully, it looks like this day will be the last unless our refrigerator reveals another Tupperware with foods waiting to be consumed.
Leftovers, however, need not be boring. Thankfully wifey is good at cooking that leftovers get some twist during every other meal. Like yesterday, the embutido met up with the excess spaghetti sauce, and presto, instant spicy recipe that went well with rice for lunch. The dessert is the seemingly immaculate chocolate cake but paired with a couple peach-sago salad transformed into something better.
I’m not sure yet, if what’s happening right now inside my body as the last time I had an intense activity was when I joined a badminton dual-meet two weeks ago. After that whole day of flexing, jumping and smashing, I was on calorie collection as if some polar bear stacking body fats for hibernation. Now, I’m trying to avoid stepping on the weighing scale. What you don’t know won’t hurt you, right?
I don’t know if I could fit some real cardiovascular activities among some other plans I have during this vacation period. The nearest I can get some sweat out are cleaning up, detailing the car (which I already did from 7-12 noon yesterday), and fixing stuffs inside the house.
Fitness gurus say that what matters most with each person’s well-being is looking good and feeling good about his own self. Well, I think I’d prefer for now that ‘feeling good’ part. Let’s worry about the looking good aspect next year while I compete with those running the treadmill in the gym.