Sunday, July 15, 2012

Time to Stop the Upwards Creep

I've discussed this before. I could search for the post (or two) and link to them, but I'm pretty sure that would be a depressing exercise emphasizing how long I've been postponing this particular battle so I'm going to skip that part.

I've been gaining weight. Steadily. I put on weight with the back-to-back pregnancies. That's fairly typical. Ever since I stopped breastfeeding though, I've been trending upwards rather than back down. The craziness that was life with an infant and toddler, and then two toddlers, and then a preschooler and toddler (etc.) prevented me from focusing on it overly much. Once or twice I'd try to start a regular exercising habit only to abandon it a week or so later.

It's time though. The children are older. In about a month they'll both be in preschool five mornings a week. My husband and I have been working on a new plan of attack for about a month now and so far it is working. I'm down about 6 1/2 pounds. I have many more to go, but that's a pretty decent start.

We had to get geeky about it though. We're using a calorie tracking app called Lose It on our iPhones. It is a free app. You can simply scan bar codes in and then choose your portion size. It also has a pretty decent database if you don't have a bar code handy. It's amazing how warped my sense of portion size had gotten. Logging food intake is really powerful.

We're combining that with a device called a Fitbit. It's like a fancy pedometer that talks to your computer and you can link the Fitbit data to Lose It. It'll track steps, stairs climbed, and even your sleeping patterns. It'll tell you how active (or sedentary) your lifestyle is and then estimate the number of calories you burn in your average day. As it turns out, I'm pretty darned sedentary. I spend a lot of time at a computer. I needed to adjust my dieting calorie goal down about 250 calories beyond the target Lose It gave me in order to lose a pound a week.

I'm pretty sure the Fitbit was my missing link. I had tried calorie tracking before, but always abandoned it when it didn't seem to be working. I needed to know the piece about my habitual activity level so that I could start in the right place.

At the same time, wearing the Fitbit is encouraging me to be more active. I climb up and down the stairs a few extra times so I can get a badge for doing so 10 times in the day. (I have yet to get the badge for doing 25 flights in a day. I need to try that one day next week.) I take a walk with the kids so I can get 1000 more steps in.

The Lose It / Fitbit combo and regular weigh-ins showing it is all working is pretty motivating. Pounds are dropping off. I have more energy. I am having far fewer blood sugar "crashes" and random cravings. It's all pretty nice actually.

More importantly, this is sustainable. When I reach my target weight, the Lose It / Fitbit combo will give me an accurate idea of what I can eat to maintain that new weight, but not start gaining again.

Lose It is free. If you have a smartphone, you can use the app. If not, you can use it on your computer. I highly recommend it. If you have some extra cash to commit to the project, check out the Fitbit on Amazon too. It's been a big part of the weight loss puzzle for us.

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