Over the last several weeks I have focused a lot on my state of mind and how that has helped me lose weight. This week I thought I would take some time to give you some specifics on the practicalities of how I make it work.
The most valuable tool I have is My Fitness Pal. My Fitness Pal is an online calorie tracker. There is a corresponding iPad and iPhone app and they all sync together so if you put something on one, it will show up on all three. I love My Fitness Pal app for a number of reasons.
- It is a very attractive and user friendly design.
- It stores “recently used” and “frequently used” food and meal choices
- It has a barcode scanner so you can just scan a picture of the barcode and if it is in the database (which it usually is) the info will pop up and you can add it with one click!
- I love the “remember meal” feature. If you have a meal very often (such as a turkey sandwich with
chipscarrots and chocolate milkspinach/kale juice on the side) you can click “remember meal”, name the meal and next time you don’t have to add everything separately
- It automatically adjusts your calories when you loose weight
I have used My Fitness Pal for several years but this time I am doing things a little bit differently. In the past I have struggled to loose weight even as I tracked my calories. I think the reason I wasn’t as successful as I wanted to be is because I tried to squeeze every calorie I could out of it. I counted every chore, every grocery shopping trip and every leisurely stroll as exercise. I think I also overestimated how much I worked out and underestimated how much I ate. This time I approached it the opposite way.
- While I really am on my feet a lot of the day, I entered my lifestyle as “sedentary”.
- I no longer count chores and other things like that as “exercise”
- I am trying to loose one pound a week instead of two
- I don’t measure my food exactly because I don’t want to take the time, so I OVER estimate how much food I have on my plate
As you know, I have a new baby and I AM breastfeeding. It’s perfectly fine to loose weight while you breastfeed but since I have a history of loosing my milk earlier than i would like I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to do anything stupid. Before I started I called up my sister who is a La Leche League guru and told her my plan. She assured me that DRINKING ENOUGH WATER and getting enough rest (aka sitting down to nurse and getting enough sleep) were the most important things I could do to keep up my milk supply. I obviously shouldn’t starve myself and I should eat enough, but more than anything (as long as I’m not starving myself) it’s water and rest that will help my milk supply for an exclusively breastfed baby. With that information on hand I added “breastfeeding” as an exercise in my database that burns 300 calories and I enter it in every day. I also pump for good measure (it’s always handy to have a freezer full of milk).
Speaking of drinking enough water, how do I do it? I don’t always. I LOVE water and it has been my beverage of choice since before it was cool but I tend to not drink a lot regardless. My goal is to drink a gallon of water every day so I have a gallon of water sitting on my counter at all times. It’s a gallon jug I bought from Walmart when we lived in New Mexico and had to buy our drinking water. It looks just like a milk gallon but is blue and made of much thicker plastic because it’s meant to be reused. I took two of the seven jugs we have and wrote “MOM” on them. No one is allowed to drink out of that but me so that I can accurately measure how much I drink. I keep a large glass (I use a pint size mason jar so I know it’s exactly 2 cups) next to the jug. Every morning I fill up my jug with water and set the timer. Every two hours I go into the kitchen, pour myself a glass and chug it down. I find that I drink far more water this way than sipping out of a water bottle all day (I do take my water bottle to the gym but I fill it from my gallon jug). I do prefer cold water to room temperature water, but I can’t drink as much at a time so I stick to room temp. It’s not a perfect system, I often forget to reset the timer and I have yet to finish the whole jug in one day, but I’m drinking far more than I would have been otherwise. I’d love to hear your suggestions!
Lastly there is exercise. I know a lot of people have a hard time with this one but I don’t. I have always loved running. Last summer I joined a local gym because for the first time in our marriage the area we live in is not conducive to me running with three bikes and a double stroller (though it’s perfectly fine for going on my own or just one kid.) I do have several workout DVD’s but again, five kids climbing on me (not to mention the hard wood floors in EVERY room in the house) doesn’t make for a very enjoyable workout experience. Waking up before the kids isn’t an option (I already wake up at 5:30 these days) because they have a sixth sense about them. As soon as my feet hit the floor their eyes spring open. So until my children are all old enough to be left home without me, I can either NOT exercise (not an option) or go to the gym. I have never been a “gym rat” and much prefer running out of doors but I enjoy my gym experience very much. I started going back this week.
On Monday I started running for the first time in nearly a year (for some reason I can’t run when I’m pregnant ) Now I have been a runner for nearly 20 years (sheesh I’m old) and while I know I can’t pick up right where I left off I am also not about to follow a strict “run one minute, walk one minute” routine so I can slowly build up my endurance. Those programs are fabulous for most people but I’m way to impatient for that (though if I did follow that it would probably be less likely that I would injure myself. I was able to get a solid 16 minutes in before my IT started acting up and I had to stretch. For the next 45 minutes I ran until my IT hurt, would walk for a few minutes then I would run again. The next day I was pleasantly sore. I missed running.
Tuesday I went to playgroup at the church and while my kiddos ran around and played with the other kids I joined my fellow moms for Jillian’s 30 Day Shred.
Today I am not pleasantly sore, I’m just SORE! Jillian kicks my butt EVERY time! Sore or not though, we headed out the door and drove to the gym. Why, you may ask, did I not take the day off? Why, since you are so sore and worked out two days in a row, did you not skip Wednesday’s workout? Because it’s easier. I’m all for taking days off but I firmly believe that when you start exercising you should NOT take a day off if you are still sore. Why? Because in my experience you will not be AS sore and you will get over the soreness faster if you keep moving. Once the soreness dissipates, feel free to take a day off! I’m going to power through and be done with the hurt. Anyway, today I hit the treadmill again and (making sure to warm up and stretch this time) my IT band didn’t bug me as much.
While exercise is very important, portion control is still going to be my biggest focus. Mostly because this is my weakness. This time last year I could (and did) run a half-marathon with little or no warning. Lack of exercise is not why I am fat.
I will mention one more thing before I let you go on to more important things. Scales. I kid you not, there is an eight pound discrepancy between the scale in my bathroom and the scale at the gym. So when you track your weight, I suggest you use the same scale every time. Frankly when all is said and done I don’t care whether I weigh 120 or 130 as long as I can fit into my skinny jeans.