For those of you who have been just reading along to find out my secret to epic weight loss, here it is! The moment you’ve all been waiting for! It’s not so much a secret, as I’ll tell anyone who asks me, but it is my “secret weapon” against food. While I’m trying to keep this blog as a mostly personal journal where I can share my weight loss experiences with you all, every once in a while I’ll take the time do a more informational entry. This post will be all about my secret weapon, MyFitnessPal, and how regulation and control of my eating has been a huge part of my success. Some of you have probably heard of the Under Armour app MyFitnessPal before, some of you may even have used it previously or currently. I owe probably at least 75% of my success and weight loss to this app and its ability to keep me on track.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a pretty competitive individual and any kind of reward system has an amazing effect on keeping me motivated. The MyFitnessPal app has a feature that keeps track of your “streak” or how many days you’ve actively logged calories and exercise in it. My current streak is 391 days and it’s something I’m incredibly proud of. While I might not match my godmother who has reached 1279 days, each time I get a new post telling me a milestone I’ve met I have an incredible sense of pride. I have tracked my calories every single day since I began this “epic weight loss journey”, and I intend to continue on even when I reach my goal weight and am in a state of maintenance. Some days I will slack off and not track every calorie I eat (especially at buffets because it’s incredibly difficult), but I do the best that I can and only “publish” my daily diaries when I’ve filled them out completely.
This is the basic look of your daily diary section on MyFitnessPal, on a day where I ate well.
I should probably explain how exactly MyFitnessPal works, for those who are unfamiliar with it or are interested on how it works. Basically you input your weight, height, age, and activity level when you begin and the app will give you a set amount of calories each day depending on what you want to do. I’ve been in the losing category since I began, but eventually I will reach a maintenance stage and the app will continue to give me a recommended amount of calories each day to keep myself at my current weight. You can even adjust the settings depending on how much weight you want to lose each week. Their recommendation is 1 pound a week, but I can be impatient and I enjoy a challenge so mine is set at 1.5 pounds a week and I’ve managed to average about that loss throughout the last year.
Another great feature I’ve utilized on MyFitnessPal is the exercise tracking section, especially since I started lifting weights. It’s provided me a great way to keep track of what my last lift was and then I’m able to decide if I want to increase weight or reps or continue at the same one. Plus, when you track your cardio (or if you have a fitbit connected) you get some exercise calories back to eat! So on the days I want to splurge and maybe eat a little extra, I won’t go over my calorie count if I throw in some cardio.
While on this journey, I’ve learned a lot about weight loss and the things that work for me as an individual. I cannot stress enough how important it is to find these things out for yourself, as not the same thing works for everyone. After a few months of tracking my calories, I started to pay attention to the nutrition section of the app, which gives you recommended macros for your eating. Macros or Macronutrients are molecules that our bodies use to create energy for themselves – primarily fat, protein and carbs. They are found in all foods in varying amounts, measured in grams (g) on the nutrition labels. According to the information MyFitnessPal has on me, it recommends 50% carbs, 30% fat, and 20% protein for my daily macros. I try to stick relatively close to these macros on most days, some weeks I go for higher protein and lower fat but I found that for me personally, low carb doesn’t do much in the weight loss department (BONUS!).
Here’s how the Macros section looks, I was going higher protein this week.
I remember when I was first beginning my “epic weight loss journey” I was reading often that weight loss is 70% what you do in the kitchen and 30% what you do in the gym, which seemed impossible to me. The really aren’t kidding though, there have been weeks and even month-long stretches where I have been irregular with my workouts and cardio but lost weight because I kept under my calories for the day. When I started, I was allowed 2080 calories per day which seemed like so little to me at the time and I was so hungry all the time. With patience though, I stopped being hungry a lot and my body adjusted to the calories I was consuming. I’m currently down to 1650 calories per day (though I often get 300ish back from exercising) and most of the time I have no trouble being under my calorie goal for the day.
One last thought before I leave you, in regards to eating habits and how they’ve worked for me. I was never one to stick to a “diet” for very long, especially because I hate eating rabbit food (aka salads, etc) all the time. The great thing about calorie counting is that you can still eat the things that you love, you just have to learn moderation. I’m a huge fan of pizza and I’ve learned that I can still enjoy it from time to time, especially if I get thin crust. Some days I will eat an entire thin crust pizza for dinner, because I can and still stay under my calories (though not within my macros lol). Finding healthier alternatives to the foods that you love can be fun, and can give you a way to still enjoy yourself. I also emphasize the importance of cheat days, my best friend Will is a certified personal trainer and he taught me how if you stick to a very regimented diet for too long your body can adjust to it and stop you losing, you just need a cheat day to restart your metabolism and get you back on track. So even if you are counting calories right alongside me, remember to splurge sometimes!
About a month ago I was craving meatballs, so Chris and I made spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread from scratch. So delicious, but I had to run quite a bit to work it off!