Sunday, November 11, 2012

Keepin' Me Honest: My Fitness Pal

At the beginning of the school year, things were NUTS.  Like, insane in the membrane.  So, when things get a little crazy, I tend to EAT.  And not have time to work out much.

(I can't the only one out there, right?)

I am one of those people that is a nervous/stressed eater, and I definitely had a TON of that the first month or so of school.  But it doesn't count if I just grab handfuls of things, right?  Standing up?  That doesn't count, of course.

Yeah.  Tell that to the scale.  Um, it counts.

So coupled with the fact that I wasn't going on 2 hour rides and swimming hard sets in the pool on a regular basis, I wasn't happy with the way things were going. I felt sluggish, and I felt like a slob. I know I'm not, of course...but I definitely felt off my A-game.

My buddy Ana told me about My Fitness Pal, which I had never heard of before.  I'm a newbie in the smartphone world and app market, so when I realized it was pretty much everything that Weight Watchers wanted, like, 30 bucks a month for, I figured I'd give it a try.

I've been logging my meals for about 6 weeks now.  I set the "one pound a week" goal with an end goal of what I like to call my "fighting weight."  At first, progress was slow and I was cranky.  And sometimes hungry.  But I did realize that keeping track of what I eat daily for me is the single-most important thing I can do to keep my weight where I like it to be.  I struggle with this sometimes: pay attention or not pay attention? Eat what I want because I love food and stuff and say it's mostly healthy so it's okay, or really keep myself in check?

Here's the thing:  I have obsessive tendencies about this stuff so I do have to be careful.  But I have never been one of those people who can't watch what they eat.  Now that I'm (gulp) 35, I hear it gets harder and harder.  I feel like I'm pretty healthy and fit now, and I'd like to keep it that way.  I would also like to drop just a few pounds that I let creep on me with my "handful of this/spoonful of that" habit that I do when I'm stressed out.

After 6 weeks, I'm down 6 pounds.  My clothes are fitting better, and I feel really, really good.  My running pace has dropped a bit with the same effort and heart rate.  Yesterday I ran 8 miles with an average pace of 8:22 and it felt slow and awesome.  I'd like to think that had something to do with the fact that I am a bit leaner.

I do kind of hate it sometimes and I call the program "My Fitness B%$@," ("she" is a girl, of course) but overall, she makes it a game and I have to beat her every day.  So it's a teensy bit fun for me.

Here's what I like:

--IT'S FREE. 'Nuff said.
--You can scan bar codes of foods and I really haven't found anything yet that it doesn't recognize.  Easy to log, easy to keep up with it.
--You can easily see your progress in calories and nutrients, too.
--There's a social aspect of it and you can be "friends" with people.  Great if you don't want to admit that you just took your 47,392nd spoonful of peanut butter for the day.  (Um, not that I would know...a friend of mine, see....SHE eats a jar of peanut butter a week...yeah, not me...)A little peer pressure/humiliation can be a good motivator.
--You can easily log your cardiovascular activity to "earn back" calories.  In fact, if I DON'T work out, it makes it darn near impossible to hit my calorie goal.
--NO crazy rules or things ruled out.  I don't know about you, but if someone tells me I can't eat something, that's all I want to eat.  Case in point: when I was preggers, all I wanted was a nice cold beer with a side of lunch meat and feta cheese.  You know, all the things that could kill you or morph your baby into a two-headed monster.  So no rules to follow.
--Calories in must be less than calories out.  Which, really, is the bottom line, no?

What I don't like:

--There's no distinction between "good" calories and "bad."  There's a LOT of "low-calorie" TRASH out there.  It would be good if it could somehow reward me for eating "good" calories instead of processed "low-calorie" garbage.  It's really up to you to do that, but I could see how it's tempting just to eat the packaged, low-cal trash just to meet your calorie goal.
--I haven't figured out a way to "count" strength work, really.  P90X doesn't "count" in the cardiovascular section.  It's just annoying, because I am competitive against this stupid thing, and I want my freaking calories withdrawn OKAY?

All in all, I think it's been helpful for me.  I'm going to keep on keepin' on here at least through the winter just to keep me honest.  If you want Weight Watchers success without paying an arm and a leg, check it out!

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