I’ve been writing about me and my family’s food transformation for a few weeks now. Our journey began simply enough with cutting out soda and other flavored beverages from our steady diet. When we began this journey I weighed 225 pounds and was in size 36 pants and extra-large shirts. My wife was a size 18. Today I am in size 30 pants, small shirts and Sarah is a size four and still shrinking. As of today my wife and I have lost a combined 120 pounds! All of that wasn’t soda weight, but it did begin there. After soda we gave up junk food, then went to a Meat-less Monday schedule. We signed up for a CSA and began to become conscious of our food decisions in ways we never were before. With every small step towards healthy living we saw dramatic improvements in our bodies and attitudes which pushed us to the next incremental step. This weeks Transformational Tuesday post is about calorie counting and the magic of smart phones.
When Sarah and I began to get really serious about loosing weight, and not just lucky that we had lost weight because of other decisions in our diet, we realized we needed help. We knew the basic math of weight loss. 3500 calories equals a pound. If you eat 3500 calories more than you need in a week you gain weight; 3500 calories less, you lose weight. Calorie counting to lose weight. Simple, just eat 500 calories less a day than your body needs and in a year you could lose 50 pounds, approximately our weight loss goal. But how could we figure out how many calories we were eating? And how many calories did we need every day? We had no idea.
There are internet sites that will allow you to calculate your BMI, your Ideal Weight, and how many calories you need to consume in a day to maintain, lose, or gain weight. There are also sites that will tell you how many calories are in certain foods. All well and good, but let’s face it, we were Americans, and that was way too much work to do. We had no desire to look up every food we ate, do math, and figure out how much more food we could eat. Thankfully we also had iPhones.
We discovered that there were apps that tracked your calories for you. Well, mostly for you. You had to tell the app what you ate, but it did all the math from there. It gave you weight loss goals. It calculated everything. We used LoseIt! but other apps, like Map My Walk also now have food calculators built-in. LoseIt! was perfect for us. Not only did it have fresh foods pre-programmed, it also had most major chain restaurants menus available, and you could add your own recipes as well. It made tracking calories easy.
LoseIt! also let us see exactly when and what we were eating. We could scroll back through days, weeks, and months of data to find patterns. We discovered things about our food consumption that we wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise. It also was the catalyst to get us to exercise. As we began to count calories, we realized that a walk would allow us to eat more. A bike ride could really let us indulge. We also started to rethink some of our food choices. Was a “snack size” bad of Doritos Chips worth the almost 400 calories? That many calories was essentially a meal in and of itself. Was it really worth it when we would be hungry half an hour later. Seeing that an apple only had 60 calories made switching off of junk food easier in the short run.
Using LoseIt! Sarah and myself began to see a real transformation. We started losing about half a pound to a pound a week! Of course there were gaffes and bad weeks, but a basic trend began. We stopped gaining weight and were at least maintaining where we were, if not getting smaller. Logging what and when we ate made us more contentious of food in general, our good and bad eating habits, and what we were fueling our bodies with. It also made us appreciate just how empty processed food really was.
Apps like LoseIt! and other calorie counters are essential to any weight loss or healthy eating strategy because they rid us of our food ignorance. They educate us about caloric intake and output, but also help us to see why we are eating and what exactly we are putting in our bodies. This is essential to any transformation.
What calorie counting strategies have you employed or hope to employ?