Achievement Unlocked: Lost 20 Pounds

Three months ago Nelson posted about an iPhone app that was helping him track what he was eating: Calorie counting and metabolism. The post resonated with me, so I downloaded Lose It! and started using it. The application is simple: you enter your height, current weight, desired weight, and your desired timeframe for loss. The application comes up with a daily calorie budget and provides tools for tracking/estimating calories.

On April 28th I weighed 200 pounds and I set a goal of losing 20 pounds. Lose It! set a calorie budget for me around 2,100 calories/day, and estimated I'd lose the weight by mid-September. That all sounded fine, but I figured I'd get bored with the application in a week and nothing much would come of it. Like Nelson, I thought I'd at least get a sense of how many calories I was eating each day and that alone would be worth the effort of using it.

I ended up using Lose It! religiously for exactly four weeks. I took a week off at that point and then tracked my calories for one more week. I haven't touched it since. My last entry in the application was on June 8th, and by that point I had lost 10 pounds. Here we are another six weeks or so later and I reached my goal of losing 20 pounds. Hooray!

I have never been able to lose weight. I sit in front of a computer all day and I always assumed my weight problem was due to lack of exercise. Every few months I would make a resolution to run regularly and hopefully lose weight in the process. I could stick with an exercise plan for a couple weeks, but I'd eventually twist a knee or get too busy and give up. Counting calories has been perfect for me because there is no exercise involved and I didn't need to set aside large blocks of time to do it. I do ride my bike a few miles a few times each week and that's up a bit now that it's summer, but I don't ride nearly enough to account for the weight loss.

Why did Lose It! and counting calories work for me? I think it boils down to the simple idea that if you can track something you can change it. I found that I ate similar things every day and by tweaking my routines I could stay within the budget. For example, I used to have a bagel with cream cheese every morning and that was around 400 calories or more. By switching to an english muffin with almond butter, I saved about 50 calories and didn't feel like I was missing out. I used to view them as equal options for breakfast, but tracking every single calorie for a while taught me to see differences in food.

Eating, estimating calories, and staying within my budget became a game to me those first four weeks. Staying within budget was an easier way for me to "win" at something than losing weight. So I measured my success based on staying within budget and eventually the weight followed. I measured food portions exactly, and looked up calories on restaurant websites. (I wish more restaurants published nutrition information online.) I got fairly good at estimating calories and portion sizes, and I always double-checked with the application. If I ever wanted to have a 1,000 calorie bomb in the middle of the day, I'd have to find a way to budget for it. Constantly thinking within these constraints ruled out fast food entirely because I didn't ever want to waste a whole day's worth of calories on one meal. Now I do the calorie-counting in my head, but I needed to track seriously for a while to get to this point.

Anyway, that's my story and I thought I'd post it in case it helps someone else like Nelson's post helped me. I feel better and I feel better about myself. I'm going to stick to a 2,000 calorie diet and see where it takes me. The changes I made are new habits now so why break them?


Congratulation! 20 pounds in 12 weeks is a lot.

I find I'm mostly doing the calorie counting in my head now too, but I still am religiously tracking stuff in Lose It! and a spreadsheet to keep me honest.
You know I thought you looked really trim and good when I saw you last week, and I should have said something. This is a great achievement, congratulations! And keep up the good work!

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