For years I have battled “the bulge,” sometimes more effectively than others. For the most part, my approach was simple: exercise more and eat less. In theory it was a good approach. The problem for me was that it was all too vague. If I worked out really hard it was probably fine to make brownies "for the children", wasn't it? And yes, they were made from healthy ingredients so it wouldn't hurt for me to "sample" a small bit each time I passed the pan in the kitchen, now would it?
Long story short, I was working out hard, but I remained "stuck" at 165. I am 5'11", so that didn't technically qualify me as "overweight", but I know what I weighed when Tom and I married 25 years ago (145) plus I was pretty sure that if I was to have any hope of competing injury-free in triathlons with my low bone density issues I would have to lose some additional fat.
This past summer my father, who has struggled with his weight for years, suddenly began to steadily lose weight. And he just kept going (he has lost 55 lbs thus far). His big secret? An app (available for iphone, Droid, and on the web, all for free!) called MyFitnessPal.
Perhaps you have read the studies like I have that report how much more successful people are at losing weight when they keep track of calories. "No problem," I would think,"I can do that." I would then dutifully pull out some paper in order to log everything that I consumed... for about 36 hours before deciding that I had much better things to do with my time.... like clean toilets and turn the boys' dirty socks right-side-out (two of my most favorite activities!)
Folks, this app/web site is seriously cool. I primarily use the iPhone app and have found it to be so easy to log what I eat each day. Not only is there a huge database of foods and their calorie counts to choose from, it also gives you the option to enter your own recipes and find out the calorie count/serving. We mostly cook from scratch, so I don't use the bar code scanner very often, but that option is included in the app as well!
Not only do I enter everything that I eat, but I also can enter any exercise that I do each day, and that adds calories to my available limit, based on what I did and how long I did it. Sweet!
The app objectively tells me how many calories I have left each day and I make my food choices accordingly. This has helped me enormously since my choices are much more objective now. Either I have the calories available, or I don't.
When you first log in you will give it information like your height, weight, age and daily activity level. In addition, it will ask you what your goal weight is and whether you want to lose one or two pounds/week. Based on that information, it will give you a caloric goal for each day. For me it is 1200 calories/day, but when I work out I get additional calories to use~ yay!
I have lost 14lbs thus far and plan to lose 10-15 more. I am so excited about this! I am now wearing 6 tall jeans from Eddie Bauer! Seriously?!! I *never* thought I'd even wear 8s and now I'm in 6 talls? Wow! Seriously, I had pretty much given up on ever losing weight.
The other weight loss tool that I highly recommend is a scale that not only records weight, but also % body fat and % muscle too. Using this scale I have been able to watch not only my weight and percent fat decrease, but also my percent muscle increase! Pretty cool!