Friday, January 20, 2012

Resolution #2 FITNESS… myfitnesspal app: Tested, Tried & True

Dear Diary,
Unlike the first resolution, my resolution to fitness is one I can speak confidently about.  I’ve been working on this one for years now.  The exciting part is that I finally have some answers that I think everyone, especially busy moms can appreciate.  I officially started a resolution to lose 15 pounds on October 16th 2011, three months ago… that’s 12 weeks so I can tell you what I’ve learned so far and what I plan to do moving forward.

My History:

Before 12 weeks ago, I never counted calories and I seldom got on a scale.  I usually tried to get into better shape by exercising more and eating healthy.  I was up and down in weight and size with having 2 kids under 5.  I wasn’t grossly overweight but I just wasn’t happy with the little “muffin top”, I was a little uncomfortable bending in half and my jeans were too tight.  When I shopped for clothes, it was mostly to find something that hid the right parts of my body.  I was settling into a “momitude” about my body… that it was pretty darn good for having two kids.  Truly, “darn good” wasn’t what I wanted to be… not for the amount of time and conscious effort I made to be healthy and fit.  When I tried to regularly exercise and eat right, I fidgeted with many different combinations of diet and exercise.  It was fun and a passion of mine to explore this arena.  But time and time again, I would vow to “be more healthy” and I'd usually do good for a while and inevitably, fall off track.  Often the reasons for falling off track were  out my control… like when the kids got sick or I couldn’t fit in a workout for a really busy week and I it was too cold to run outside.  Despite the obstacles, I would often get on a good roll with healthy living but I still didn’t see fast physical results.

Before 12 weeks ago, my goal was usually vague… “be healthier”.  It was not a specific goal and consequently my plan to achieve it was also vague.  I never wanted to be “that girl”… the one obsessed with being skinny and a certain weight and size.  I believe in eating, being strong and fit.  I had an internal struggle with wanting to change my body and wanting to appreciate my personal unique size and shape.

Finally, I decided to change my mind-  to change my body.  I allowed myself to become aware of the numbers associated with my body: weight & measurement.  I decided that I wanted to lose 15 pounds.  That was a clear goal and I needed a clear plan for how to achieve it (in a healthy controlled way).

My Goal:

Lose Weight! (15 pounds)

My Method:

The only way to achieve weight loss is: Calories IN has to be less than Calories OUT!   That’s it.  It’s a simple equation where you can decide to alter one side, the other or both.

Calories IN… anything you put into your mouth- food and drink.

Calories OUT… your body burns a number of calories in your normal activity (this can be estimated based on your age, weight, and average daily activity) plus any extra calories that you might burn during a workout.

The best part is that we found a tool to help us keep track of it all: (free website or free app for your smart phone!)  This is a great tool! It works! (The company should hire me to market for them!) Get it now! Create an account, set up your goals and the app will give you your calorie goal- this is the number of calories you can consume in a day.  If you enter an additional cardio activity you will earn more calories.  There is a little bit of a learning curve.
  1. It will take a couple days to figure out how to work the app… learn how to enter your calories and cardiovascular activity.  Use the barcode scanner when you can and learn to find foods and adjust the portions etc.
  2. Make a habit of entering every calorie you intake.  As a mom, I realized that I usually finished the last 2 bites of my kids’ food- that stopped because it was too hard to enter and was just a bad habit of mine.
  3. Connect to friends! I teamed up with a couple of friends of mine who also wanted to lose weight.  We decided to make a game of it.   We got silly... called ourselves the “muffin top club” and to meet up every Tuesday where we would weigh-in, take measurements, photos… exchange recipes, epiphanies and encourage eachother.  We workout together sometimes and through the app (myfitnesspal) we are able to stay connected all week long.   Soon after I got connected, we found out a few of our family members and friends who had just started using it too.  After a few weeks, I started to get others to do it!... my mom and a few other friends.  Once people saw results, even more joined... my husband, my brother in law etc.  SHOUT OUT to my pals!  Its as addictive as words with friends and contagious as a smile.
  4. I'd say it takes a 2 week commitment to start to understand your eating habits and start to adjust them.  You will learn what portions your should be eating at each meal and snack.  You will find some things that you always crave or induldge in.  You will learn to plan ahead. You will feel hungry and have to find ways to resist snacking or trick yourself so you can stay under your calorie goal.
  5. If you get stuck at a weight or just can't stay under the calorie goal, you need to analyze your data and see how you can make adjustments.  Have your friends take a look at your diaries- it can tough when they see "oreo cookies! whaaa?".  Figure out what situations, times of day and food types are your weak areas.  BE proactive about them.  Just like my first resolution, this one involves budgeting.  How to change your habits? …plan, shop, cook, workout and eat to be more satisfied and stay under your calorie goal.

me-and-the-girlsShed the winter weight before winter is over! Everyone, EVERYONE, that I know who is using myfitnesspal has lost weight! A few people already reached their goal. I lost 12 pounds and I feel great!  If anyone has not lost what they want yet… or gained a few pounds back, they know exactly why. If I NEVER hear someone say, “I have been trying to lose weight and I just can’t.” again, I would be ecstatic.  The bottom line is that if you really, truly, honestly want to lose weight, you can.

I lost 12 pounds so far, dropped 2 sizes in my pants and I can see muscle that I've been building for year hiding was under that other layer! The best part is that I know EXACTLY how I did it!

Are you still reading?! You must be interested!  Are you still having doubts?! Allow me to squash them.  All the other “stuff they say” about losing weight is going to circle back to this same idea about calories in and calories out.  Blast out the myths, the excuses and the “nay-sayers”!
“I don’t have time.”

You don't have time? It doesn’t take any time to NOT put that in your mouth… just willpower.  It doesn’t take you any longer to scarf down a handful of carrots than a bag of potato chips.  CHOICES!  It is becoming aware of calories- one meal, one snack at a time... about what foods you are eating.  Now, if you don’t have “time” to workout, I have a softer heart for that one.  I can understand being defeated by that excuse.  I am a mom and I know the exhausted feeling at the end of a long day once the kids are in bed. I know what it feels like to be woken up all night long with a sick kid and I know what it is like when morning comes way too soon!  That is the glory of the simplicity of this calorie equation.  If you don’t have time to increase calories out, you still have the power to decrease your calories in.  Sleepless days and weeks, when you don’t have time or energy for extra exercise, these are the ones where it is extra important for you to be diligent about calorie intake.   All that being said, when you can, make body movement a priority!  It’s true what “they say”… a workout can happen at home,  in the yard, in front of the TV, doing jumping jacks, squat thrusts and crazy dancing with soup cans, in as little as 20 minutes.  Set the clock and turn up the radio and don’t stop moving!
"I like to eat.  I don't want to eat like a bird."

Yes. I  like to eat too. I was just eating too much of it.  This calories counting helped me see what foods made me feel more satisfied and which ones just made me crave more.  Initially, you will feel restricted but I suggest eating the portion you know you should and then waiting some time to let it settle.  Plan when the next snack and don't give in until then.  Drink water.  I realized that I have strong willpower early in the day but the evening hours were really hard... so I cut all the early portions in half so that later I had room for some snacks.  I also found that I have 3 vices... a fancy coffee (nonfat milk & half the chocolate), a snackbar (granola, protein or fiber bar)  and wine.  I realized that to stay under 1300 calories, I couldn't have all of these in one day.  BUT if I worked out, I could have 2 of them.  I also cut the coffee from medium to small and half the chocolate and eat 1/2 granola bar.  At my new weight 5 oz of wine in the evening suits me perfect!
"Muscle weighs more than fat”

Yes, and it is also more compact, fits in your jeans better, is it prettier to look at naked and it burns more calories at rest than fat. Get some.  Besides, if muscle weighing more than fat is your best excuse, you better be ripped!
“She just has a faster metabolism than me.”

The ol' metabolism... I bet she does have a faster one than yours. (especially if she younger than you.) So, learn to feed your own metabolism while you work on increasing it.  I know that as I get into my mid 30's... I can seriously tell when I ate a bowl of ice cream and see where it went.  Also, I bet if you could track her calories you would find out her calories intake is less than you think.
“I am big boned, curvy, voluptuous.”

I have seen plenty, plenty of people lose a good amount of weight and I am always amazed how their body composition changed.  When you have a big butt, it seems like that butt fits to your hips.  When you have giant breasts, you make the best of them but if you lose weight, they will decrease in size along with the rest of you... sometimes first- like in my case.  You might have broad shoulders and they will look amazing in that low-back dress when you are fit and trim.
“I am probably going to get pregnant again, so why lose weight now.”

Now is a better time than ever to lose those extra pounds and get the confidence to know that you have the tools and power to do it.   The less you weigh now, the less you will have to work off after the next baby.
“I hold a lot of water weight.”

Water weight, smaterweight. While I am consistently 10+ pounds lighter than I was 12 weeks ago, the week of my period, the scale is tipped some and I feel a little pudgier around the beltline. Be aware of your cycle and cravings and see how to get out in front of them!
“I don’t know anything about exercise or nutrition.”

Personally, I love to exercise and I am really interested in nutrition.  I am sure this isn’t the case for everyone but the good news is, you don’t need to love it and know everything  to lose weight.  Just  learn how to count calories and then ask friends for advice on what to shop for- try new things. As far as exercise goes, the options of cardiovascular activities are endless... there has to be something you enjoy.
“It’s not healthy to lose weight too fast and I’ll gain it back anyway”

Wouldn’t that  be a great problem to have. You can decide how big that deficit is and the bigger it is, the faster you will take off the weight.  There is a healthy limit to how fast you should lose weight.  1-3 pounds a week is very healthy and doable.  At this rate, you can make changes in a deliberate and informed way, whereby you will adopt new habits.  This will make it way more likely to maintain your new healthy weight once you reach your goal.

If you decide to join me on myfitnesspal… request me as a friend:username: mamameaandeva. Hope to see your soon-to-be skinny butt there!

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