Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Battling "the bulge"

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!

So there you have it... my personal weight loss tools for battling the bulge here~ trust me, if this mom of a dozen can lose weight, you can too!  It really isn't that hard!


  1. Wow! congratulations! That's awesome. I lost 10 pounds using the Wii fitness last year...but have gained it back. Nice. so I am back to promising 30 minutes jogging on it a day, and adding other active things with family. And good foods. I need iron rich stuff, and lots of water...so I'm doing that for health. I am determined not to give up! I have no way to get apps..but still, thanks for the incentive.

  2. Hey there, Pam!

    Perhaps I didn't make it clear in my article, but there is a free web site as well with all of the same info on it… www.myfitnesspal.com

    I didn't mention this in my article, but it does also give a running total each day of interesting things like protein, calcium, fat consumed, etc. Super helpful! I know that some people also track how many glasses of water that they drink each day that way too.

    Anyway, please don't be too hard on yourself… your body has been through a *lot* recently~ I know that you'll lose the weight eventually!

    {{{{hugs}}}} my friend!

  3. Hi Susan,
    I have been using MyFitnessPal too but I need to be more consistent. I lost 4 pounds which is a big deal for me. I have a really hard time losing weight and I have a lot to lose. A couple years ago I worked out at the gym 4 times a week very focused and lost not one pound. I lost my confidence in that and gave up on the gym. I am trying something different, Oxycise. It feels good and gives me energy. I can do it even with my plantar fasciitis. It's a little like yoga but more...cardio-like?
    Anyway, I'm proud of you! You and your dad have inspired me to be more consistent with my fitness pal.

  4. Hey there, Karig!

    Plantar fasciitis can be *so* frustrating to deal with! Sounds like you have found an activity that works for you~ I'm *sure* that you can lose the weight once you start logging your calories again! You go!

    Thanks for the note…


  5. Wow, it's amazing what a new approach can do! I've never heard of scales that can measure body fat, but I can imagine it would be handy!


    Annie Kate

  6. Thanks Annie Kate!

    One of the advantages of the scale that measured body fat and % muscle is that sometimes when your weight isn't "budging" you can still see progress as % muscle increases and % fat decreases. That can be encouraging!

    Have a fabulous Thursday!

  7. Susan ~
    Thanks so much for passing this on! While I couldn't see myself training for a triathalon, the myfitnesspal thingy is something I can do. I got myself set up yesterday and even have a few close friends on board as well for some mutual encouragment.

  8. Carmen,
    I think having some friends logging there as well is *super* encouraging! I believe that I even read a study recently that showed how much more successful weight loss is when there is group "accountability" (the good kind of accountability, that is!). You can do it!


  9. Way to go my friend! How fun that you are nearly six foot tall...me too! :)



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