Winning My Way to Weight Loss

You won’t change what you don’t track.

I’ve heard this phrase before but never put a lot of stock in it. After all most people won’t change what they do track, also. I think this is going to join my lexicon of great phrases. [1]

When I was a teenager I weighed 155 pounds sopping wet. I never had to work at it. I just had a very high metabolism and was athletic. In college I put on a few pounds but was generally pretty lean for my height, staying around 165-170. After I graduated, though, and when I started sitting on my butt for a living, I ballooned. At my heaviest I was 220.

For the past decade I have fluctuated between 205 and 220, occasionally getting down as low of 200 but rarely dropping below it. I’d like to be about 190. What has made this worse is my on-again, off-again fascination with physical exercise. I’ve always been athletic and played sports when I was younger but never could stand the idea of running on a tread mill.

A couple of years ago I started riding a bike more seriously in the summer and finally forced myself to join a gym for the off-days and winter wet. 4-5 days per week I’m there with some combination of weight training, elliptical and swimming. [2] My weight has stayed pretty steady at 205 but I never seem to drop below that.

See, I like to snack in the evenings. I have this sense that I eat fine all day and then in the evening, after the kids are in bed and watching a little tv, I snack. Mostly it is healthy stuff but I do like a cookie and a glass of milk. Anyway, if I could just stop snacking, I figured, I’d lose the weight. No amount of will power  seemed to work. I always gave in.

This weekend my wife introduced me to My Fitness Pal, an app and service that tracks exercise and diet. What works is that they have a massive trove of foods already in there so the pains of entering aren’t so bad. Saturday I started tracking and I can tell you that the reaction was instantaneous.

Suddenly I had no desire to snack in the evenings and even my meal choices were changing. [3] My desire to exercise improved, too, so I can eat what I want. It turns out my competitive streak took over. There’s a little number at the top of each day that tells you how many calories ahead (green!) or behind (red!) you are for the day. I’ll be damned if my numbers gonna be red!

I couldn’t believe how fast the change happened for me. Literally within hours I was thinking about my intake and looking for exercise opportunities. It will be interesting to see if I can keep this up but if so I bet I shed those extra 15 pounds in no time.

Once I master this game, I’ll have to raise the stakes. I’ll need that cholesterol counter to show me green and red.

[1] Two of my favorites are “Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance”, the 7-Ps, and “Cash is King.”

[2] In the winter. In the summer it is a couple of days per week to supplement by three-time per week bike rides.

[3] I was right. The evening snacking was killing me.

2 thoughts on “Winning My Way to Weight Loss

  1. Tracking is king.

    I had a love-hate relationship with running until I started using Nike +.

    It’s all love now – it’s an amazing motivator to watch my progress.

    Thanks for the tip on My Fitness Pal.

    On Wed, Nov 20, 2013 at 7:01 AM, Elia Insider

    • I also use RunKeeper for tracking more detailed exercise data but am not in love with it. It over-emphasizes using the GPS and most of what I do is manually entered.

      Never could run. I have asthma and running exacerbates it horribly.

      On Wed, Nov 20, 2013 at 8:53 AM, Elia Insider

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