I’ve lost 40 pounds over the last four months. I’ve still got about 60 to go, but I’m pretty pleased with the progress. It’s exactly 40 lbs. today, which is significant to me because until today, each time I’d lost another 10 lbs., my calorie-tracking app deducted more calories from my daily budget. It appears, however that I’m as low as it goes now, ’cause it stayed the same.
I’ve had a couple of people who were interested in how I’ve been losing weight, so I thought I’d write a little something about it. The system is nothing new, certainly, but sometimes it’s good to have a real-world-face to go with a success story so that it seems more achievable .
So, what am I doing?
Well, I’m using an app called MyFitnessPal to track my caloric intake. I like it because it has a HUGE database of foods, so it’s really easy to put in what I’m eating (there’s even a barcode scanner, which is immensely useful) and because I can also track exercise, which it’ll use to credit back some calories for the day. I just put in my starting weight, goal weight, and the time frame in which I’d like to achieve it, and it calculated my recommended caloric intake based on that and on my lifestyle — sedentary.
I also drink meal replacement shakes sometimes, either when it’s just easier to do that than to figure out how to get food or when I’m low on calories but high on hunger. I use IdealShape shakes, ’cause they taste quite good, and I like the philosophy of the company. They send out a weekly article written by a real person with real challenges and real advice, not just a list of marketing buzzwords. Their whole idea is that people are happier and healthier in their “ideal shape”, which may or may not have anything to do with dieting, calories, or losing or gaining weight. Their focus is more on developing habits that lead you into a lifestyle that’s better for you.
Finally, I have one “cheat day” per week during which I don’t log calories at all. One day when the app goes unopened, and I eat and drink whatever I want. The idea (and I don’t know whether or not this is true, but it seems to be working for me) is that I don’t want my body to become accustomed to eating 1200 calories / day and to think that it’s starving and to start hoarding fat. The cheat day is designed to “shock” my metabolism back into the idea that it’s going to get the fuel it needs and so it shouldn’t worry about storage. Also, the cheat day allows me not to feel that “I’LL NEVER EAT AGAIN I HATE MY LIFE OH DEAR GOD WHYYYYYYYYYY DO DELICIOUS THINGS HAVE SO MANY CALORIEEEEEEEEEES??!?!?!”
The interesting thing I’ve been finding about the cheat day, though, is that I build it up more in my head than it’s worth. All week, I think and plan what I’m going to eat on my cheat day. I think about pizza and potato chips and cake and cookies and ice cream… Then when it arrives, I usually find I don’t want all that stuff. I don’t want to eat Little Debbie cakes… ’cause they’re gross. I don’t want to have a Venti Caramel Macchiato AND a giant chocolate chip cookie AND a breakfast sandwich. It’s too much.
So cheat days usually go one of two ways: Either I eat everything I feel I’m entitled to eat due to my recent deprivation, and I feel totally over-full and sick… Or I eat only what I actually want and not what I think I should want, and it winds up being normal, human portions of normal, human foods. And then sometimes in the latter scenario, I feel weird about not having gone on a total splurge-fest and I think I somehow cheated myself out of something I deserve. But I also feel good, physically. So then I have some cognitive dissonance about that, because I’ve never really had a healthy relationship with food for very long.
The next step is to get consistent exercise rather than just whatever comes my way in the course of my theatrical duties. I imagine I’m headed for a plateau if I don’t incorporate some movement into my daily life.