My Experience with the MyFitnessPal App
If you know me at all, you know that for several years when it came to weight management, I liked the low-carbohydrate lifestyle...grain-free, certainly gluten-free, paleo, etc. I didn't measure anything at all except perhaps carbohydrates. I abhorred the phrase, "Calories in, calories out." The last real experiment I did before the one I'm about to tell you about was with a ketogenic program. I tried "dirty keto" and then a fairly clean ketogenic program. You can read more about that experience here.
About a month or so after writing that blog post, I began to experience hot flashes twice and sometimes more each day. I started to feel old and chronically thirsty even though I was drinking a fair amount of water. Workouts were okay, but certainly not great.
Then one day, a business coach I like turned me onto a book called, BARE by Susan Hyatt. It was all about how we need to reject diet culture and practice mindful eating. The author also taught that no food is bad food. It's just pleasure food or power food, and that we just need to GET OUT THERE and live life. It truly inspired me.
I had a lot to learn about mindful eating. Eating slowly and intentionally without overeating seemed easier said than done. My feeling was that if I was going to go to the trouble to prepare something and put it on my plate, I wasn't going to waste it. Somewhere along the line, I became a member of the "happy plate" club, and as a mother of three going to the grocery store multiple times each week, I wasn't about to waste food like an intuitive toddler.
It was this realization that led me to download the MyFitnessPal application and begin tracking what I was eating. I had tried it out several years before, but now it seemed much better and more user friendly. I was surprised at how easy it was. I was measuring everything I was eating and enjoyed knowing exactly how much of each macro-nutrient I was getting along with calories, vitamins, and minerals. I also enjoyed knowing how many calories I could add as a result of my running, walking, Pilates, and yoga workouts. Probably the most surprising lesson that I learned was this:
Carbs are not the enemy!
Perhaps one of my favorite foods that I could have was grapefruit. My workouts started to improve dramatically and there hasn't been a single hot flash. Another big surprise was that tracking things like vitamins and minerals became helpful. I started to care about things like Vitamin C and Calcium.
The things I was eating that had the most detrimental effect on my overall calorie goal included cheese and ground beef. I was shocked at how quickly those things could add up. One particular weekend, I participated in a chili-cook off. I was eating samples of my own chili while making it, tried all of the chilies at the cook off, and ate lots of leftovers throughout the weekend. My calories were WAY off the radar and I had gained a few pounds after the weekend. I wasn't drinking alcohol throughout this experiment, so I couldn't blame the weekend calories on wine or spirits. Cheese had been what I call a "crack-like" food all along and most definitely had been an issue during the ketogenic experiment. Now, it was confirmed.
On day thirty-two of recording my food intake on MyFitnessPal, I was done. It had started to become irritating and interfered with my productivity in other areas. A few days into not tracking on the app, I realized that I was still losing weight! I had lost three pounds during the month that I was using MyFitnessPal, and continued to lose another two pounds the next couple of weeks of not using it.
The long and short of the story is that you can't unlearn a skill once you've practiced it for an adequate length of time. I had become pretty good at eye-balling my portions after realizing that I could still eat some junkier foods that I loved. One thing that really helped was to have several of these tiny little bowls for things like gluten free cookies, cheese, chips and crackers, and ice cream.
Even if I have two little bowls full, I can still lose weight. The key is to have a rough understanding of what you are eating and avoid going crazy with a whole package of something. That said, even if you DO in fact eat a whole box of crackers, you can get back on track without too much damage. What you want to avoid is a whole weekend of this behavior. I may have to go back to using the app at some point in the distant future, but for now, I'm loving my freedom. This experiment was definitely worth the effort...for me. Please consult your doctor about starting any kind of diet or nutritional program. Then, give me a call so that I can coach you through it!