MyFitnessPal - I don't really want to be your pal
You know, I really hate feeling the need to write this post, but what I'm about to say is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God. I abhor the idea of "dieting". Who's with me?
Disclaimer: I’ve tried starting this post several times and it seems to want to go in the direction of morality and why I should be (and am) utterly ashamed that in a world where tens of thousands of children die every day from malnutrition, that I am whining about the fact that I need to use this tool because I continue to gain weight when I am not actively managing my food intake. So let me just say right up front, I am in no way qualified to discuss world hunger and how to have an impact on it. I’m aware, and that’s the end of that thread.
I’ve written more than a few posts in the past about my progress (and regression) on the journey to a healthier lifestyle and healthier weight. I bet you can guess from the title that I am here to report regression rather progression. Yeah, I’ve gained weight back. Pretty much all of it. And it was a train wreck I couldn’t stop watching. Until now. Now, the impending brick wall I’m about to crash into is looming big and I have to stop it before that happens. I have to take control of my weight before it has an affect on the myriad of health issues it inevitably will if I don’t manage it.
I’ve wrestled this whole weight loss thing in my head with so many different conversations. Most recently, I tried to use the “surrender it to God” approach, but I forgot something important. I somehow believed that if God were helping me, it would be easy. But that was never promised. Only that I would never walk the journey alone, it never meant it wouldn't be hard.
It’s a hard pill to swallow to think that for the rest of my life, I will have to be very intentional about what I eat in order to stay healthy. I’m getting older and less active, and my metabolism has slowed down, so it’s even more challenging for a girl who really likes food.
My first time ever being intentional about losing weight was with the LEARN program through our local military base (LEARN - Lifestyle, Exercise, Activity, Relationships, Nutrition). It was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I thought I knew a lot before starting the program, but I learned a whole lot more. One of the most important lessons that came out of participating in the program was that I was regularly consuming about 2 - 2 1/2 times more calories than my body needed to function, and all that excess was going into storage (on my hips and thighs mostly) for later use, or, in my case, just building up layers and layers of fat that would never be used.
The first and most important tool we were introduced to was the daily food diary. Go figure. At the time, they were just a paper tri-fold and we simply recorded calories each day. There were no forbidden foods, and it was not a fad diet. In my opinion, it was my first exposure to what we now call IIFYM a.k.a. "flexible dieting”. It was seriously eye-opening, and it did change the way I viewed how I ate. I successfully lost about thirty pounds, which brought me to a reasonable, healthy weight.
If I had continued to practice what I learned in that program, I am certain I would have maintained a healthy weight for life. But I did not, and I once again found myself gaining weight. The next time I decided to make changes was when I saw the quick impact making some simple changes had on my sister-in-law. I was inspired and it was perfect timing because my daughter had just started her journey as a personal trainer. She had labored through several years of trying different things to manage her own weight, and had landed solidly at flexible dieting I mentioned earlier. It’s also known as the macro-diet. Again, there are no forbidden foods, no fads, it’s not clean-eating, but rather smart eating.
*Note: for most (there are exceptions), weight management is simple science; energy in - energy out = maintenance. Throw that equation off balance and you have weight loss or weight gain. Pretty simple, right? Then throw nutritional factors and opinions in there and confusion reins and debates rage on.
Similar to the LEARN program, the key to flexible dieting is keeping track of what you eat in a daily food diary. Even though we find ourselves at odds with how much it has invaded our lives, advancements in technology brought us things like MyFitnessPal that makes logging your food very simple. It still requires us to do our part though (until they start implanting the brain chips that do all that for you, but that's another topic in my conspiracy theory threads LOL).
I digress... So a couple years ago, I started on this journey and I am here to tell you that I am still on the same journey, because I refuse to give up. Yes, I have lost some ground, but I still know what I need to do and I keep trying to make progress in getting my head wrapped around the reality. And the reality is this - if I'm serious about this whole weight loss and management thing, I'm going to have to approach it as a lifetime commitment. That means that I will always have to be intentional about what I eat, I will most likely always have to weigh/measure most foods, and will always need to log my intake to make sure I stay within my caloric budget. Honestly, I hate the idea of being tied to these tools, and there remains a crazy hope that at some point I will have enough experience and resolve to stay within the limits of what my body actually needs to function properly. But I'm not confident that it will happen that way. I have to ask myself, am I willing to continue to do these things to hold myself aware and accountable in order to have a long lasting affect on my health and quality of life? Well, yes, but that doesn't mean I have to love doing it.
Then I consider this - it's not unlike keeping track of my financial budget, right? How well do I stay within my limits if I am unaware of how much income there is and how much I'm spending? Would I dare allow myself to spend an unlimited amount without tracking it and not even knowing how much income to expect at the end of the month? Um, no. But just like the epidemic of obesity in our country, so too is the level our personal debt out of control. This should tell us something. Tracking makes sense, but only if we use it to practice self-control.
The struggle to maintain a healthy weight has become such a focal point for so many of us. Trying to balance the never-ending rivers of new opinions and even science about the best ways to approach it leaves most of us overwhelmed, frustrated and angry. Battling the ideas of what a healthy weight is and is not adds even more layers of difficulty.
All that being said, I hope to write here and continue to share this journey more frequently with whomever it might help. Just knowing we're not alone in any struggle is of value. I can't promise I'll even make any progress, but I'm not willing to give up the fight just yet.
Who's with me!?