Saturday, December 29, 2012


I, along with many other people, will resolve to lose weight in 2013.  There's always a mad dash to find the latest diet and exercise fads that will transform us in the new year.

Actually, back in September I decided that I had to quit making excuses and there was no reason to wait for the new year.  Christmas day I was so excited to see that I made it to my 30 pounds lost goal.  Woo hoo! When I was first getting started, I wanted to read all about what has worked for everyone else, so I thought I'd share what's been working for me for those who may be curious.

MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

I will say that one thing I have learned is that you have to find what works for you.  We all have different tastes in food, lifestyles, and schedules, so specific things that work for one person may not be right for others.  Also, I am by no means an expert.  This is the first time I have successfully lost a decent amount of weight on purpose, and I still have a long way to go.  This post is just as much to encourage me in the new year as it is to help anyone who may want tips.

I will also say that, unless you have an underlying medical condition, everyone can lose weight the same way.   Wait for the secret!

Burn more than you eat.

 It's that simple.  All the tips and tricks I will share are just ways to help you do that, stay happy, and keep your sanity.

I often joke and say that my iPhone has been the biggest key in my weight loss.

That is actually pretty true.  It would have been so hard for me to keep track of everything before.  It's made the tools that I've been using super accessible.  Today I will share some of the web sites and apps that I've been using on a regular basis and what they do for me.

My Fitness Pal
My Fitness Pal is a site that will help you to track your food on a daily basis and to set goals.  You can sign up on their web site, and you can use the site from your computer.  The best thing I have found about MFP is that it contains a huge database of foods.  If something isn't in the database, then you can add it in yourself.  You can also add and save your own recipes which makes it very simple to add your home-cooked meals to your diary.  You can even just add calories straight to your diary.

Like I said, you can do all of this from your computer, but the mobile app makes life on the go so much easier.  If I'm caught out and can't avoid a fast food meal, then I can look up menu items to make a better choice and I don't have an excuse to go off track for the day.  You can even scan the labels of foods with your phone to immediately bring them up in the database.  Want some of that Friendly Farms Pumpkin Spice cream cheese from Aldi?  Just scan the tub, and add it to your diary.

When you add food, it subtracts the calories from your predetermined daily amount and gives you an updated number.  Did you do some exercise?  Add that to your log, and it will give you more calories to eat.  That's super motivating!

You can even have friends on My Fitness Pal for encouragement and motivation, and they just made it possible to find friends through Facebook if you have your accounts linked.

I love my Fitbit!  This little device has been invaluable to me in my quest not just to lose weight but to be more active, fit, and healthy. It's basically a glorified pedometer, and that may not be impressive to some of you.  I have a Fitbit One, so it tracks steps and flights of stairs.  After using it for a couple of months, I really think the Fitbit Zip would be adequate for what I want it to track.  Both devices allow you to sync to your iPhone via bluetooth. I can't remember if it works with other smart phones.  The Fitbit One will also track your sleep for you, but I usually just put it in sleep mode without actually wearing it at night.

The thing I love about my Fitbit is that it's a little reminder of how active I'm being throughout the day.  When I've exercised in the past, I've seen it as sort of a chore, and I might make it an excuse to be a little lazy during the rest of the day.  With the Fitbit, my goal is set, and I'm always working toward it.  I'm not done just because I exercised in the morning.

Also, it means any walking counts.  Did you park a bit farther from the store today?  That adds up.  Did you have to walk around Target 3 times to find something on your list? That counts, too.  I love that you can see how the little things add up.  I may or may not have walked in place while watching a TV show in order to meet my daily goals on more than one occasion.  But I would never have done that a few months ago, and I wouldn't be as aware without my Fitbit.

The Fitbit syncs to your computer automatically whenever you're within 20 feet of it.  You can access your dashboard from the computer to see how you're doing for the day.  The thing that makes the Fitbit so much better than a regular pedometer (besides the accuracy and automatic logging of your stats) is that it uses your height, weight, etc. to estimate the number of calories you've burned according to the walking you've done for the day.  It uses the rate of your steps to do this.  You can look at your dashboard and see how active you were during any 5 minute increment.  I can usually tell exactly when I was doing specific activities when I look at my graph.

All of this is cool information to know, but what makes it awesome in my mind is that my Fitbit stats will sync with My Fitness Pal.  That means that the more I walk, the more calories I get added to my daily food log on MFP automatically.  This is so motivating!  You can see a direct (and automatic) correlation between calories burned and the calories you can eat to be within your goals.  It doesn't work quite as well if you're not able to sync throughout the day.  That's why I love the iPhone apps.  You can log your food on the Fitbit site, but the database at MFP makes it worth using two different sites.  The food you enter at MFP will sync to your Fitbit account, so you can see how many calories you can eat there as well.

Ease into 5K
In order to work on the "calories burned" part of my plan, I've had to figure out what works for my schedule and my goals.  It really helps me to follow a prescribed plan because I am much less likely to wimp out.  I'm motivated by goals, and I like the idea of doing things that I wasn't previously able to do.  I like to see progress.  The Ease into 5K app has been really helpful in giving me goals to work toward.  It makes easing into running very easy.  It's basically like the couch to 5K plan, but I think some of the times are a bit different.  I think there are also some free C25K apps, but I don't know about their features.

I like that the Ease into 5K app lets you choose a playlist that's already set up on your phone, and it will play music from that playlist as you do the workout.  A voice will come on and tell you when to walk, when to run, and when you're doing the cool down.  All you have to do is follow the instructions.  It will keep your pace and some stats, but I haven't looked at all of that a whole lot, and you have to get an in app upgrade to activate the GPS.

This is probably the app that I could live without, but it's handy for when I'm walking or running and not using the Ease into 5K app, although I use them together in order to log everything on Endomondo and because I like to hear the voice tell me when I've gone 1 mile or 2 miles and what my pace was.  It uses GPS to track your route, distance, and speed.  It keeps track of your workouts, and you can see your stats on the web site.  You can also keep up with your friends, and they can send you pep talks while you're working out!  I use this one mostly for fun.

In general my goal has been to make little changes in how we eat as a family that we will be able to sustain in the long term as well as finding ways for us to be more active.  We're exploring new hobbies and activities and just making time for things we often pushed to the side before.  I'd sum up my exercise strategy by saying,

"Set goals.  Do hard things. Move more."

In the coming days, I hope to share some of the changes and tools that have made the eating part of all of this possible.

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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:57 AM

    Thanks for sharing the information on FitBit-It sounds cool!! I am going to look into it!!!


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