06th Nov2013

Why I Stopped Counting

by Mandy

Hard to believe it was only two and a half weeks  ago that I recommitted to counting calories by using the MyFitnessPal App. The reason it’s hard to believe is that I have gained two pounds since then and have now tipped over the 160 lb mark.

It is unbelievably difficult to keep falling off the wagon like this, but what I’ve recognized is that I am missing one extremely important factor in my work that has affected my outlook:

INFRASTRUCTURE

Which is a fancy term for the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the operation of a society or enterprise. In my case, an enterprise: an office and a home life. My landlord said “stop being so high maintenance” when I asked to fill out the form with damages when you move in. My office is a literal mess of both physical and electronic documents because we can’t get ourselves a share drive or a filing cabinet.

You see, it is IMPOSSIBLE to return to routine because I don’t have any foundation to build from. You can’t build a routine when you don’t have any predictable systems to build around! And while I am learning to thrive with what I once saw as very real challenges to my abilities as a professional, I still found counting calories to be a mental burden because there was no predictable time to count or manage my meals.

But, I believe that this realization has given me the key to how I can be successful. You see, before there can be infrastructure, there must be RULES. For example, a general rule in the US is to stop at freaking stop signs. Since that rule is generally not followed in Rhode Island, I’ve had to readjust of how I stop so as to not get rear-ended. I have changed my basic rules (file papers in a filing cabinet) to accommodate this new culture, and I also should be returning to my rules as it pertains to food.

A long time ago I wrote about my insulin resistance, or syndrome x, or metabolic syndrome, or pre-diabetes, or whatever you want to call it. My rapid weight gain since September 1 can most likely be attributed to a huge spike in the white sugar and white flour intake rather than just caloric value alone. In addition, it is so incredibly easy for me to overeat those foods.

So, I did some reading, and am now basing my intake on the Glycemic Index. In other words, no more white sugar, white flour, or white rice. Since I’ve done the South Beach Diet before, I am actually very adept at knowing whether a food’s GI is low, intermediate, or high. By focusing on WHAT I’m eating and not HOW MUCH.

It’s an unbelievable change to stop counting. I’m finally remembering what it feels like to feel hungry, full, and satisfied. I’m remembering that I have the power to say no, and that power is more useful to me than the power to count.

I am certain that I will count again. My goal is to reach 147 lbs before counting again, and while I’m not sure how long that will take me, I hope that redefining my rules will become a new foundation for my success.

23rd Oct2013

Am I Stress Eating?

by Dana

Mandy was super sweet to have written about me and my wedding! She is always so supportive. It was so great to see her and everyone again and be reunited, but oh my goodness, that wedding was such an event to plan!

2013 was the YEAR of the wedding!

IMG_2865

Photo Courtesy of Tyler Crumpton

Nathan and I got engaged in February. We spent about 3 months looking for a venue. Then, there was like 1 month where we did very little planning, I will admit. 2 months were spent recovering from surgery. Then, BAM, Hey, we’re getting married soon, so get to that. It felt like we basically planned the entire wedding for 38 people in 2 months. I couldn’t have done it without him and some really great friends.

Mandy was really sweet to say I “maintained [my] commitment to [my] health” during my time planning the wedding, and I am so glad she thought I looked gorgeous, but I will be honest, and I was going to vent this out regardless of her surprise post, but I was eating a lot during the last few weeks.

I had a bridal shower the week of the wedding held a few hours after lunch, where I knew there would be snackies and cupcakes, and yet, what did I do? I had a full lunch and then went to the shower and indulged in more goodies and ate not one, but two cupcakes. Full on. No regrets, either. Normally, I am plagued with guilt when I eat like this. But, nope, not this week.

Throughout work, about two weeks leading up to the wedding, every day at 3pm (on the dot), I would get the biggest craving for something sweet. I cleared out my own candy bowl in my office (usually filled with candy I don’t even want). Later that week, I went down the hall to a co-worker’s office to hunt for more sweets.

What was wrong with me?

I know the wedding was a lot of work and, sure, some would use the word “stressful”. But Nathan and I were organized like woah. We had to-do lists. We had the lists prioritized. We had to-do lists for our to-do lists. We were knocking items out of the park one by one. We had each other. We had amazingly supportive friends to help us.

Wedding day comes and goes (smoothly, I might add – thanks to so many people), and yet, here I am.. snacking, munching, and eating… did I build a bad habit?

All I can say to myself is that at least I am aware of my eating habits and to start changing the pattern is to first recognize them. I can start bringing in different snacks to conquer the 3pm craving and watch myself on my extra desires. Change has to start somewhere…

23rd May2013

Happy Birfday Website!

by Dana

Today has been one year since the first post on the website! Happy birfday Don’t Weight For It!

It has been quite a journey to write the blog and I have enjoyed posting my thoughts with you all and sharing the site with Mandy. I thank everyone who reads for allowing me to share my experiences openly.

One of the biggest things I had not realized I would discover, and am still learning along the way, is how open to be about my life. As I know readers may vary from people I know who are near and dear to me, to those I do not know at all, it became an internal struggle for me on what to reveal online.

Today, after a year, I have decided to let go. I have decided to post what I need because it will help me, and possibly, along the way, help someone else.

So for today’s post. I am going to reveal the details of my maintenance.

This is what maintenance looks like for me after hitting my “number” (what is that – “the number” – any way, really), 7 months and 28 days ago = 125 lbs.

chart_2

 

As you can see, I am not perfect, but it is an attempt. Maintenance is hard!

The biggest hurdle was getting used to it after trying to actively lose weight, represented by the downward slope in the graph.  I was trying to keep my weight up. I was eating more than normal, and yet it kept coming off. I know this is a problem not everyone complains about, or wants to hear about.  One of the reasons, I haven’t ever written about it before.

Then my body and I came to terms. I realized I needed to eat about 1800-2050 calories a day (with the amount of new muscle I put on and the exercise I was still doing at the gym). But, this took months before I figured it out, and a lot of denial. Tons of denial.

So, I determined my new eating schedule, still the same routine: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, dessert. I still eat healthy (or try to) and I still count my calories. I even guesstimate when needed.

Lately, I have been on an upward trend. This is what maintenance is about, I tell myself, although it is hard for my mind to believe it because I am used to being a specific 3-4 numbers or so. As they started increasing, my mind started freaking out. I have to remind myself, I want to be a range of numbers. It is not healthy to be one number.

Maintenance is hard, and it keeps me humble from all the work I did to get here, but it requires a lot of work, in the end. Thank you for letting me share the truth of it and on Don’t Weight For It’s Birfday!

25th Mar2013

Science is Hard, Too

by Mandy

If I can’t trust math, perhaps I can trust science. Over the last 14 days since I returned from Las Vegas, I have gained all kinds of feedback from people I love. Most of them recommended change both the content (More animal fats! More carbs! More grains!) and amount (More calories in general!), including Dana’s recommendations she posted here.

So, I decided to conduct a little 14-day experiment.

Procedure:

I altered both content and amount of food intake.

Content

I ate significantly more of the following items than I normally would:

  • Meat
  • Bread
  • Dairy
  • Pasta
  • Sugar

Amount

These alterations resulted in an average of 1,392.5 calories per day over the course of those 14 days. This is about 300 calories more per day than I had averaged from February 1st -February 28th (when I gained .8 lbs).

Results:

This morning I weighed in at 142.2 lbs. For those counting, that’s a 5.2 lb gain in 14 days. You can put your eyeballs back in your head now, because you read that right.

Discussion:

I ate more meat, bread, and cheese because I found myself having a sandwich on four different occasions throughout this experiment. I never really eat bread or full fat cheese at all, so having a deli sandwich was a really big deal. It was yummy all four times. I also noticed how full I felt after eating a sandwich. Unfortunately, as always, the full-feeling does not erase the want-to-eat-feeling, which I’ll get to in a second.

I also ate more sugar. Some days I would have ice cream, some days I would eat chocolate from my coworker’s candy bowls. While it didn’t affect my calorie total, days with sugar intake resulted in about 50% of my calorie intake for that day made up of chocolate. It is very, very easy to eat 500 calories in chocolate.

I had pasta twice over these two weeks. Boy, did I miss pasta. Pasta is a trigger food for me, and it usually triggers a vacation mentality that I get stuck in.

The past two weeks have been extremely difficult for me because my food choices have felt like little vacations, or a release from the serious amounts of monitoring and- in some ways- deprivation that is necessary for me to see a loss on the scale.

Conclusion:

The mental challenge was more than enough for me to be ready to abandon this plan. The 5.2 lb gain while averaging a calorie intake lower than my BMR is enough to make me take another drastic measure.

For the next two weeks, I will average 1,000 calories per day, and eliminate the following foods from my diet:

  • Flour/Wheat
  • Sugar
  • Seeds/barley
  • Fruit
  • High-fat dairy products
  • High-fat meat products
  • Alcohol
  • Starch* (except popcorn)

Some of you may recognize this as Phase I of the South Beach Diet. Based on my body’s reaction to my first experiment, I need to return to what I know about my body.

Wish me luck!

14th Mar2013

Frustrations Aired

by Mandy

So, it’s time for me to vent a little bit. At this point, I’m a little frustrated. But, I think it’s warranted and not just some cycle of self-pity that I’m supposed to just suck up and get over. Here are some facts that make me want to punch a wall:

February Stats:

  • Average daily calorie intake: 1,154 calories
  • Average BMR: 1,435
  • Total calorie deficit (not including workouts, of which I missed 6 days for the WHOLE MONTH): 7,868
  • Total weight change: +.8 lbs

So, obviously that doesn’t add up. I should have lost over 2 lbs with those kind of stats. I should have gone from 135.2 to 133.2. Instead I landed at 136.0. This is particularly frustrating given the fact that I am still trying to lose the weight I gained during my 10-day binge in December. I feel like getting back to 127, where I was right before Thanksgiving, is a pipe dream.

But I’m doing everything right. I make mistakes, but I make up for them.

When Dana and I were in Las Vegas last week, I felt like I was in control. I was making wise choices during meal times (thank you, 200-calorie Egg White Wrap from The Coffee Bean that served as lunch every day). I never felt like I went overboard, and allowed myself one meal that I considered a treat. Granted, I drank a lot of liquor. I also snacked way more than I normally do, but still came in around 2,000 calories per day.

When I saw that I had only gained 3 lbs after that trip, I was actually pretty excited. I know that a vacation can be much, much worse. Then I texted Dana… and found that she had LOST 2 LBS during the same trip! I am really excited that what Dana is doing is working really well for her. She is now an expert at reading the signals that her body sends her and giving it what it wants and needs. Look at how amazing she looks!

Dana and Mandy- Vegas

I’m starting to think that I need to make a drastic dietary change. The large-scale problem that I’m having right now:

Every day is still a struggle. Every day is still a battle: me against my body. The only time I ever felt like I was winning this battle was last summer when I was down to 124.5 lbs. But even then it was a fight to make choices regarding food, and those choices were daily struggles.

I know that this is a game that I will never win if I keep playing the way I am now.

21st Feb2013

Math is Hard- Part 2

by Mandy

Science Magazine recently published an interesting article titled “Have We Been Miscounting Calories?” I’m no expert, but the whole premise of the article has validated my strategy on counting calories.

Many people describe themselves as “detail-oriented” in interview settings when they want to impress their potential employers. And maybe you are the kind of person who is detail-oriented… but I’m not. I don’t really care about the details, as long as I can see the big picture.

I’ve used the same strategy with calorie counting, which is why I prefer to use the Lose It App over all of the other apps that Dana blogged about. Even though the calorie counts with Lose It are less accurate than the ones in, say, My Fitness Pal, I prefer the Lose It interface so much more, AND what I’m really trying to do is see the big picture for how many calories I’m eating that day.

I’ve known, or assumed, for a long time that nutrition labels are just guesses. How can you EVER KNOW how many calories are in a given item? Unless you burn the thing in a calorometer or whatever those furnaces are called, and then recreate the item EXACTLY, you have resigned yourself to the fact that your nutrition label is, at best, a guess. And while we’re on the subject, I have to take a moment to point out that there is NO FREAKING WAY that my teaspoon of sugar contains exactly the same amount of calories as your teaspoon of sugar, when the calorie content is so high that even a  grain will throw off the count.

Dana already pointed out this discrepancy with her food scale, and has come up with her own strategy to address it. But my take home is this:

“You can put a ton of effort into getting more accurate calorie counts, but why are you doing this? Will it make a real difference? If you want to lose weight, you still have to cut back on calories.

-Christopher Gardner, nutrition scientist at Stanford University (emphasis added)

16th Nov2012

Turkey Day Plan… and Peppermint Coffee!

by Mandy

127.6

YESSSS. Broke 128.0 in time for Turkey Day! I’ve been operating on this really weird reward system this week. See, I have three kinds of coffee for my Keurig: Hazelnut, French Vanilla, and this amazing Cinnamon Roll variety. I knew right off the bat I’d have to ration these little treasures. So, every day I weigh in with a loss, I get to have a Cinnamon Roll coffee! It’s like a little treat for a job well done.

New goal: 124.5 by Xmas. Do you think I can do it?

I’ve decided on my plan of attack for Thanksgiving Day. I’ll be making mashed cauliflower, zucchini dip, and cookies and cream pie for the day of. With 1/2 cup of stuffing and gravy, one dinner roll, and 3 oz. of turkey, I’ll be able to keep my Thanksgiving Dinner meal at about 900 calories. Seems like not a lot of food for a lot of calories, right? Welcome to… life.

The more difficult element of Thanksgiving is that I will be at home in Florida. I always struggle to stay in a reasonable calorie range when I’m home, simply because there is 1) tons of food around all the time and 2) types of foods that I would never have in my house (my mom and I have the same weakness for chocolate). My plan of attack is to spend time making low-calorie recipes that I’ve found on Pinterest, but don’t have (am unwilling to buy) the ingredients to make in Ohio. That way, I’ll be able to accurately count calories, spend my down time trying new things (cooking is a “new thing” for me), and figure out what ingredients are worth buying.

Here is me and my family at Thanksgiving last year. According to my records, I was 155.0 lbs and had already lost 2 lbs from getting back on Weight Watchers a few weeks prior. Please note: our turkey has bacon on it.

I started counting calories on November 30, 2011… How should I celebrate 1 year of successful weight loss?

Peppermint Coffee: a 0-calorie treat to handle Starbucks jealousy

  • Steep a Peppermint Tea bag in about 6 oz. of boiling water for 5 minutes
  • Add 6-8 oz. of coffee
  • Add splenda for a little sweetness
  • Nip that jealousy in the bud

 

05th Nov2012

Pumpkin Smash

by Mandy

129.8

It’s official. I’m crazy for pumpkin. How much do I love pumpkin right now? Let me count the ways…

But first, let me count the pounds. So, I did not reach my goal of 127 lbs by Halloween. In fact, this morning’s weight (above) was kind of fluke-y in the sense that I had not broken 130 and was hanging around 132 for most of October. The way I was eating at the end of October (I had one very, very, very bad day that might have ruined the whole month, thanks to my high anxiety and now-familiar spiral into self-sabotage), I should not be under 130 right now. But, I’ve had a good series of days in a row, and I feel back on track in a lot of ways.

New goal: 128 by Thanksgiving. I’m hoping that this is more attainable, and therefore I’ll be more motivated to actually achieve the goal rather than to think that I’ve blown it after eating 1,000 calories before lunch (so I might as well keep going, right?).

So, back to the pumpkin craze. I’ve never really eaten pumpkin before, even in pie. So, I was a little wary, but wanted to try cooking and baking with it since it is insanely low calorie. Check this out: 1 15-oz. can of pure pumpkin has 140 total calories. The same size can of black beans has 385 calories!

The other great thing about pumpkin is its texture. It’s smooth like mashed potatoes, and you can either water it down for creamy soups or bake with it to make a rich texture. I’m planning on making a soup sometime this week, but let me show you how the baking turned out:

I altered a little bit from the original recipe thanks to Hungry Girl, but same basic gist:

Ingredients:

  • 15-oz. can pure pumpkin
  • 12-oz. can evaporated fat-free milk
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 3/4 cup Splenda
  • dash of cinnamon

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mix thoroughly.
  • Bake mixture in a baking dish sprayed lightly with nonstick spray for 45 minutes.

Makes 9 servings, 65 calories per slice. I tried it hot and cold, and I liked it better right out of the fridge because it retained the consistency a little better when it was cold.

I sprinkled mine with cinnamon and had a steaming cup of Diet Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate for an additional 25 calories. Not a bad 90-calorie dessert for a chilly fall evening!

25th Oct2012

Calorie Apps!

by Dana

So, I have had a few people ask me lately about what apps I use on my phone, so wanted to compile thoughts on phone apps. But, I will say, everyone who has and loves a phone app, has strong reasons for why.  So, while we have opinions, know they are just our opinions!

First, I have an Android smartphone, which are the apps I will be referring to, but there may be an iPhone equivalent apps.

Secondly, these are all combined into one post to give you the best comparisons together instead of splitting them up over multiple posts.

Calorie Tracker App

The Most Basic App:

Calorie Tracker: Stay On Track allows you to input your own starting calories per day, along with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack calories.

Benefits: 

  • Simple tracker for those who like counting their own items
  • Super easy to use! Seriously.
    • Open a log each day and it saves all of your old ones. Enter your calories.
  • Keep a record of how many calories you have been eating over a period of time, as it saves each log
  • See % goal consumed through day and how many calories left

Limitations:

  • The snack category is just one category – breakfast snack, lunch, and dessert are all in one
  • Built for those who understand how to count calories already
  • No space to input your weight per day or track anything but calories
  • No fancy interface, pretty basic

 

Calorie Counter – My Fitness Pal App

A More Fancy App:

Calorie Counter – My Fitness Pal allows you to input or choose from a list of foods to track your calories.

Benefits: 

  • Allows tracking of weight, calories burned, water intake
  • Keeps track of fat, protein, carbs, sugar, fiber, and sodium levels if you choose from the foods on the list
  • Has ability to store “frequent foods”, create your own foods, & scan barcodes
  • Charts/graphs to show progress over time
  • Can add foods to the database
  • Great list of restaurant calorie options

Limitations:

  • Plugging in every food item can feel time consuming
  • Not all food items can be found in the list (even though they boast over 2,000,000)
  • More often than not, the foods don’t represent what you might have actually consumed. For example:
    • I tried plugging in what I had for part of my breakfast this morning: 1/4 cup of Egg Beater, 1 slice of Whole Wheat Bread, and a spread of Greek Yogurt on my bread.  (This makes for a great egg sandwich, by the way!)
      • Egg Beater – So many Egg Beaters – all with different calorie options and serving sizes. The app doesn’t change needing to know how many calories are in the products you own.
      • Whole Wheat Bread – Lots to choose from! I couldn’t find my specific brand, but found one with the same calories.
      • Yogurt – I didn’t use an entire serving, so I have to either create my a custom food or change the serving size.
  • Suggested caloric intake may be slightly inaccurate to personal goals, just self-adjust
  • Using the exercise portion of the app to record calories burned may be inaccurate based on body type, current lean muscle mass, intensity, etc.
    • Does not allow you to choose all gym classes
    • Adds burned cals into “extra” into the overall remaining calories, which can be confusing

 

LoseIt! App

Another Fancy App:

LoseIt! allows you to input or choose from a list of foods to track your calories similarly to My Fitness Pal, but with a more streamlined and easier to use interface.

Benefits: 

  • Allows the tracking of weight, calories burned
  • Easier interface allows for finding of foods quicker (really does!)
  • Automatically stores any food you’ve ever used to “my foods” and ability to create your “custom” foods, which you can adjust any time
  • When you have to adjust the portions to fit your calories correctly, there are more portion sizes to choose from.
    • The previous app really only allows 1 oz or 1 g as an option, but this app allows 1 tsp, tbsp, lb, etc.
  • Type in an entire recipe, save it, use it as your food item in your calorie portions
  • Works with or without network connection
  • Can add entire previous meals and adjust each part of the meal independently
  • Charts and graphs to show progress over time
  • Social networking function so you can share your calorie intake or progress with “friends”

Limitations:

  • Not as many restaurants or food options
  • More often than not, the foods don’t represent what you might have actually consumed. Have to adjust. (Same as above!)
  • Suggested caloric intake may be inaccurate with personal goals, just self-adjust
    • For example, this app suggested 300 more calories for my measurements
  • Using the exercise portion of the app to record calories burned may be inaccurate
    • Does not allow you to choose all gym classes
    • Adds burned cals into “extra” into the overall remaining calories, which can be confusing

Restaurant Nutrition App

Restaurant Calorie Tracking App:

Restaurant Nutrition gives viewers nutritional information for over 100 restaurants.

Benefits:

  • Not all restaurants report calories anyway, so this gives a good run-down of those that do
  • List within each restaurant is organized by entree, etc, as opposed to just a random list of the menu
  • Even includes the kids menu in some cases!
  • Displays nutrients within each item (soduem, cholesterol, fat, sugar, protein, fiber, etc)
  • If you’d like, you can “add to jounal”, which saves an item you chose so you can add up calories at the end of your selections
  • Links to google maps

Limitations:

  • Doesn’t have tons of restaurants or all restaurants in local area
  • App interface is pretty basic, nothing fancy to it
  • May need to double check calories with online sources, if feel compelled (I have checked a lot of it already!)
  • Just does restaurants, no other calories counting specialties

 

Image of My Google Doc

Make Your Own “App”:

Google Drive allows you to create your own “app”, so to speak, but creating an excel document that you can then access online or on your phone.

Benefits:

  • Highly customizable features, just the way you like it
    • Want to count calories, weight, % consumed? % of chocolate consumed? This can all be done!
  • Accessible on computer and phone
  • Can input graphs and charts to monitor progress
  • Can color code items to measure if a category is getting too far above (for example, if you only wanted to consume 600 calories for dinner, you might make it turn red after 580 as a warning)
  • Can be shared by others (if you would like)
Limitations:
  • Need network to access
  • No food lists to choose from
  • Cannot monitor nutrients easily
  • Mobile interface is clunky, but still usable

Dana’s Opinion:

I used to count all my calories in my head. No app! I can’t believe I ever used to do that!

I have tried all of these apps (and more) for lengths of time and, personally, did not like trying to find food items in long lists, or changing what I ate in the list of items to find the right calories.  I ended up creating a custom food almost every time or changing the food portions so much, I just decided to add up the totals myself, which is when I decided I just wanted an app to record my total meals (hence, the first app above).  That worked for a while, until I wanted to start comparing my caloric intake with my weight more closely.

I then moved toward creating my own “app”, where I could better compare the two side by side, even using charts and graphs.  This is when, with Nathan’s initiative, I started using Google Docs to create an Excel spreadsheet, which I can access from any computer and my phone.

My Google doc has some of the following columns: my weight, weight lost or gained, weight difference from maintenance goal, total calories for each breakfast, breakfast snack, lunch, lunch snack, dinner, dessert, total, calories remaining, and % consumed.  I also have a chart for total calories consumed daily and daily weight.

I absolutely love the Google doc because its so customed. My screen looks totally different than Nathans and we share each other’s docs with one another to help support one another. I love being able to see everything in one place and pre-estimate what I “could” have in each column (could I have 200 for dessert? Yes!).

On my phone, I use my Google doc daily to enter in my calories and the Restaurant Nutrition App in case I end up eating out somewhere.  I may switch to something else in the future, but for now, this is the system that works for me.

Mandy’s Opinion:

When I started counting calories, I literally emailed everything I ate (with portions) to someone who generated my calorie total for that day. There were benefits: I never cheated because I didn’t know my calorie total for the day, and usually didn’t have an accurate count of my consumption until the next day. Since I didn’t know where I was, I typically undershot my calorie goals. But, I didn’t feel like I had ownership over the process, so I started using the LoseIt app after doing some research. I’ve also tried MyFitnessPal. Both of these options appealed to me because I have an iPod Touch, not a smartphone, so I needed an app to function regardless of network access.

Like Dana, though, I primarily use a Google Doc for official tracking purposes. The LoseIt app is great to add up calorie totals for both food and exercise, because every morning I update my Google Doc with my weight, calorie intake from the previous day, and exercise calories burned from the previous day. The app is really just to give me the numbers, which is particularly important since LoseIt automatically deducts your exercise calories from your food calories to give you your remaining calories for the day.

I like LoseIt because I eat the same things all the time. Since I eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day, I simply use the “previous meals” function on the app to add both of those things each morning. Then, I can modify each piece (which you can’t do on MyFitnessPal!). So, for example, some days I will leave the cheese out of my omelette, or add vinegar to my salad. I can modify those pieces independently even though I added them through the “previous meals” function.

I dislike that many of the foods I eat are not in the LoseIt database. They have a barcode scanner, which is also a feature of MyFitnessPal, but I have never had success with the scanner.  The other thing I dislike about this app: you can’t enter food for the following day. So I can’t really plan ahead in the sense that I can’t pre-enter my foods for tomorrow.

I usually modify serving sizes of similar foods to get to the accurate calorie count. But, usually I allow for a +5 calorie error. For example, my brand of fat-free hot dogs is 40 calories per dog. The brand in LoseIt has 45 calories per dog. Even if I eat two, I don’t modify the serving size to get to 80 total calories rather than 90 total calories. Because for me, calorie counting is always going to be an estimation rather than a precise science. This is where Dana and I differ! I eyeball most of my vegetable consumption… I doubt I’ll ever feel the need to measure 2 cups of lettuce into my salads. But I also don’t measure my ketchup, and eyeballing two tablespoons of ketchup for 40 calories is more likely to result in me eating 10 extra calories that I didn’t plan for. My philosophy is it will even out in the end!

The easy solution with LoseIt is to add foods to your database. It is really easy to do (I have a food called “Bullion Soup“) and they only require a calorie total in order to add a new food to your personal database. The only problem is you won’t get the nutrient content for that food if you want to see your nutrient breakdown.

11th Sep2012

Lessons from Hunstville

by Mandy

Last weekend, I drove to Huntsville, AL to visit Dana and Nathan. Not only did I have a great time with some awesome friends, but I also learned some pretty significant lessons when I was there. Here are a few of the really salient takeaways from my trip to ‘Bama:

1) Thinking in MEALS

One of the first questions Dana asked me was “How many calories do you want for breakfast tomorrow?” Surprisingly, I had no idea. I’ve never really thought about how many calories I eat in a given meal. My one job every day is to stay between 800 and 1200 calories and to monitor my weekly average to make sure it is under 1300. I was shocked to find that a really effective way to do that might be to set goals for a meal rather than to eat until I get to about 1000.  Dana and Nathan have goals for each meal, and by staying in their goal range, they stay in their calorie range for the day.

2) Listening to your BODY

Another common question from Dana: “What do you feel like eating?” That’s another question that I didn’t really know the answer to. See, I usually just try to minimize calories per meal so that I can snack at night, rather than to truly ask myself what I feel like eating. Dana’s philosophy is that if she feels like eating pizza, she’ll make one of her low-cal versions. Or if she feels like pancakes, she’ll make these. If she wants waffles, she’ll have some. Of course, this requires that she have all kinds of ingredients around all the time so that she can make these delicious concoctions. I know that this strategy wouldn’t work for me, because I like to munch on whatever is around. If I had to keep pita bread around to have the ability to make pizza, at any moment that would be a pita in my tummy.

3) Eating “bad” doesn’t have to be BAD

On Sunday night we partook in their weekend tradition of going to Panda Express for dinner. I had beef with broccoli, white rice, and two spring rolls. Dana and Nathan had orange chicken and chow mien. You know what? All three of us stayed within our calorie range that day. I told Dana that I never really thought that I could fit in my “bad” foods, including my all-time favorite fast food: Taco Bell Burritos.

4) Maintenance is HARD

Both Dana and I struggle to transition into a maintenance plan. I think for both of us, it feels just as rigorous as weight loss. There is nothing wrong with maintenance being as hard as weight loss, but both of us expressed that it’s pretty scary knowing that the rest of our lives will be lived in this mode.

5) Tornados are SCARY

We got caught in a potential tornado on the way to Panda Express. I had delicious food on the brain, the elements were trying to prevent me from getting to it. It was scary.

6) Chicken salad is AMAZING

Chicken salad might be the only food that I would describe as “comfort food.” In fact, when I made the last-second decision to drive to Maine when my flight was cancelled, the first food I got to both 1) celebrate my week-long vacay from counting calories, and 2) console myself in the fact that I had to drive 14.5 hours rather than be there 4 hours later, was a Chicken Salad Sandwich from Arby’s. So, when Dana asked if I wanted to try her low-cal Chicken Salad, I was all like… YES. I liked it so much, I made it at home myself!

It was so easy that even I could do it. Here’s what you need:

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. chicken chunks (Dana used canned, I used a frozen breast that I shredded myself)
  • 2 oz. Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt (I used Oikos brand, which is 80 calories for 5.3 oz.)
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 4 grapes

Calories:

  • 4 oz. chicken- 110 calories
  • 2 oz. Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt (I used Oikos brand, which is 80 calories for 5.3 oz.)- 30 calories
  • 1 celery stalk- 5 calories
  • 3 grapes- about 5 calories

Total: 150 calories. As you can see, I put it over a bed of zucchini and tomato, and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Definitely going to repeat this recipe! The hardest part for me is the fact that I have 3+ oz. of Greek Yogurt left over, which definitely disappeared before my next meal.

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