Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The ‘D’ Word

Diet and weight loss is something I have rarely talked about on this blog. In the almost four years (wow, how did that happen?) that I’ve been writing at Early Morning Run, my life has been focused on a few specific things when it comes to health and fitness -

  • Training for a marathon while recovering from major surgery
  • Dealing with the lingering affects of Cushing’s Disease
  • Learning how to cook healthy meals, and cooking often
  • Training for races
  • Staying injury free

As you can see, weight loss and dieting have not been on my mind.

Well, a few weeks ago losing weight moved up a few notches on my importance ladder. I’m not going to get into it too deeply here, I won’t chronicle my weight loss journey (no offense at all to bloggers who do) but this blog is about living a healthy life and part of that is living life at a healthy weight – both for body and soul – so I hope you’ll bare with me for this post!

Truth is, I’ve gained weight over the last several years and while some of extra pounds are likely due to Cushing’s, as it’s part of the disease, I haven’t been happy for a while now with how I feel and look and I know there must be something I can do about it. I don’t feel my best and that affects more than just how my clothes are fitting. So I decided it was time to take action.

One of the first tips you’ll come across when looking to lose weight is to keep a food diary, tracking everything you eat so you see how much you’re actually putting in your mouth. We tend to drastically underestimate the amount of calories we consume each day and this helps us focus and take accountability. I’ve kept a food diary in the past but it usually only lasted a couple weeks at longest for various reasons including the fact that I got bored with it and just didn’t want to take the time. When talking with my friend Gracekelle about my goal to lose a few pounds she told me about a food diary app that she claimed was easy and fast to use. “Yeah right” I said. But she said she had been using it for a while and knew of some great success stories. I was curious and had to check it out.

my fitness pal

Meet my new friend MyFitnessPal. More than 20 days later I’m still logging in daily to track my food and exercise and I don’t see myself quitting anytime soon. I have definitely altered my eating habits and realized that even though I’ve been eating healthfully, I’ve been eating more calories than I should. So far I’ve only lost a few pounds but I’m seeing progress which is great and pushes me to keep going!

A few of my favorite things about MyFitnessPal:

  • Easy to use web-based platform and app so I can track at home, at the office or on the go. And the Windows Phone app is even pretty good, which is amazing
  • Once food is entered into the diary it’s stored in the user’s profile so it can easily be found and added again; it’s even possible to copy full meals from one day to another which I LOVE since I often eat the same breakfast and lunch
  • The food database is large and it’s easy for users to add to it. Bonus: users can verify nutrition values so you know the stats are right when you add a food item to your log
  • You can track your exercise to see how many calories you’re burning and how that affects your calorie allotment for the day in terms of food intake
  • There is a social component so you can friend other users, offer encouragement and support, but you don’t have to participate if you are already on enough social media platforms for your liking and you just want to keep things simple
  • There are message boards where users can ask questions, learn new tips and celebrate success
  • Nutrition, exercise and progress reports let users track how they’re doing from a lot of angles – especially great if you love numbers and data – which a lot of runners do!
  • It’s free
  • It’s EASY TO USE

my fitness pal tools

Overall I’m a big fan, but nothing is ever perfect and so to give you the full scoop here are a few things that could use some work in my opinion:

  • While it’s possible to enter strength training into your daily diary the program doesn’t show how that helps you reach your weight loss goal even though building muscle is a really important part of the process, essentially putting all the emphasis on cardio
  • The program isn’t transparent about how it calculates the calories burned during various forms of exercise
  • I’ve come across a few cardio and strength exercises that aren’t included in the database yet

All in all I highly recommend this program if you’re looking to lose a few pounds or just keep track of what you’re eating – which can never hurt if you ask me!

If you are interested in trying it out but have questions, feel free to leave a comment or email me!

  • Do you keep a food and/or exercise diary?
  • If you’ve worked to lose a few pounds in the past, what worked best for you to reach your goal?


Today’s workout (extra long, I had the day off!) -

  • 4 mile run
  • 65 min elliptical
  • 3x12 lat pulldown
  • 3x10 tricep pushdown
  • 3x10 upright row
  • 3x10 lateral arm raises
  • ab exercises


Beth said...

I used MyFitnessPal to make sure that I was getting the right ratios of macronutrients during my marathon training. I agree that it's really easy to use. I love that you can just scan in common foods, which saves a ton of time. Good luck with your weight loss--I hope you get everything out of it you want! :)

Creative Kitchen said...

I also use and LOVE My Fitness Pal!! It's so easy to use and is mindblowing to me how much food we actually do get for the calories. Over the past year it's helped me to really kind of compartmentalize how many calories I use for each meal, and if I'm going out to eat I usually only have one bigger meal or eat breakfast later in the day so I have more calories for eating out. Helps since restaurant foods are a lot higher in calories.

Denise @ Creative Kitchen

J (Morning Runner) said...

I use myfitnesspal and I love it! Its so easy and nice that it stores your most common used foods. The only time I don't use it is when we go out to dinner. I just try to depend on listening to my body and feeling full rather than counting the calories.