I stepped on the scale this morning as I have done nearly every morning to gauge how my hard work has paid off. I was shocked. I have hit a major milestone in my weight loss. I have moved in a slow and steady downward trajectory for months now. Today I passed below 350 pounds. Yes, I used to weigh more than 350 pounds, at my heaviest quite a bit more. 1
Today, I stepped on the scale expecting a small change from my previous 353 pounds where I was last week. However, I looked down past my ever-shrinking tummy to see 349 staring back at me.
I was elated. I have hit and passed a major milestone on my path to a more healthy me. I don’t mind sharing that I weigh 349 pounds today because it shows movement in the right direction and sustained movement. This is not just a sudden dip balanced by an equally large gain. I am losing the weight and it is staying off.
I am not doing anything fancy. I am using two tools, Fitbit and Lose It. Fitbit ($99 Amazon) is a small pedometer on steroids that tracks my steps for the day and I have a daily goal to take 10,000 steps. It also measures the approximate distance I walk, based on my stride length and approximate calories I burn based on gender, height and weight.
It also keeps tracks of the number of floors I climb based on a 1 floor being 10 feet in height. It’s a simple little tool that has a screen read out that I can cycle through. It lists all the information above as well as a clock, a little random motivational message and a flower which grows taller the more active I am. It’s surprisingly motivating to have something keeping tabs on you day in and day out and a way to measure how much you’ve moved or exercised in a given day.
Fitbit wirelessly syncs to a base station which double as a charger which is needed about every 7-10 days. The syncing allows you to view your progress, history and more in lovely graphs on the Fitbit website. The device also tracks sleep by tracking your movement in the night, which is not 100% accurate but provides a good picture of your overall sleep.
About a month after I got mine, my wife also got one so she could measure her progress and to keep her motivated as well. I have just surpassed 2 months of Fitbit ownership and I love it just as much today as I did the day I got it.
Lose It! is even easier. It is a website that syncs to an iPhone or Android app that counts calories by default, and other nutrients if you enable it. The beauty of this app is it’s free and allows you to use your phone’s camera to scan the bar codes on most packages and get the nutritional information from there.
It makes preparing recipes super simple, and since you’re tracking calories, not a convoluted points system, there’s no more math to do. I tried Weight Watchers and I disliked their app because I had to enter 4 or 5 different items from the label then convert them into their Points System. It made tracking food overly complicated. And if I am going to track my food and keep doing it, there needs to be as little friction as possible.
Lose It is simple and it works. I can scan my food, search their huge database of foods from grocery stores, restaurants, and other manufacturers or add food in manually in the rare occasion I can’t find it. It also allows the making and sharing of recipes so when I prepare dinner, I can scan and add ingredients then share it with my wife so she can add it into her food for the day. It has made calorie counting as painless as possible.
The best part about these two tools is they work together. You can sync your Fitbit to your Lose It account and have it track your steps and actually award you extra calories for the days you exercise enough to burn more calories than normal. If you run or take a long walk and get 15,000 steps in a day, you will see the extra calories in Lose It to help keep you under your caloric goal for the day and lose weight.
These two tools have made it easy for me to lose weight and continue losing weight without hitting a treadmill or killing myself at the gym. I am not dieting. I am not changing my food other than to make smarter choices. I am still eating ice cream, just Skinny Cow or Weight Watchers brands at 150 calories a pop instead of a 500 calorie bowl of ice cream.
I am still eating pizza and burgers and everything I love. But when I do decide to splurge, I either need to calorically plan for it in my day, or I need to exercise enough to account for it. There are some times where I take the hit and go over my calories for the day. But those days are few and far between and at the end of each week, Lose-It shows me how many calories I’m under or over and I am still well under where I need to be and I am still losing weight.
I know my hard work has paid off. I went to the grocery store tonight. I went to pick up a few items for a couple different recipes my wife and I intended to make before the next pay check came in. For dinner, we decided to pick up something cheap and simple since we were tired and didn’t have the ingredients we needed for the meal we had planned last week.
I went to the frozen food section and relished the thought of some delicious meal I used to live on nearly exclusively. I wanted to visit my old friend Marie Calendar. We had so many good times in the past. I was curious what the Hungry Man was up to chilling in the freezer section. I was even curious what the good people of Stouffer’s might have cooked up for me. They all do such good work and I had enjoyed many of their meals in the past.
But when I got there, my old friends had changed. No longer did their meals look irresistible and delicious as they had. No longer was I salivating at the thought of opening that package, popping it into the microwave, waiting a few minutes and having a hot, cooked meal ready to eat. I thought my old friends had abandoned me now that I had come back to them, even if it was just for a one-night stand.
Then I realized, it was not they who had changed, but it was me. I had changed. I have changed. I am no longer a slave to the microwave and to the plastic-wrapped delicacies. I am a changed man. I looked upon those glossy covers not with anticipation but with disdain.
How did I once salivate over these pictures? How did these foods once seem to appealing to me? They looked processed and bland. They were dull. It took me forever to make a choice. I eventually decided on pasta of some sort. I don’t even remember what it was. It was ok. Nothing like the memories I had of such cuisine. It was a meal but there was no joy in it.
It was at that point I realized what a changed man I had become. I look forward to making dinner or at least helping out at night. I love the smell of fresh herbs and cooking with real ingredients. I like to know where my food comes from and what it looks like before it turns into dinner.
Last night, I made a Chicken Tamale Casserole with help from my wife, including her finding of the recipe which she stashed in an ever-growing Evernote notebook which is up to 242 recipes.
Often times when I am in the middle of a long road it is hard to see changes until they smack you in the face. Tonight was one of those times. I thought it would be easy to select something quick for dinner but it turned out to be much harder than I suspected.