Going into pregnancy I swore up and down to myself that I would lose the baby weight quickly. I also swore to myself that I wouldn’t gain a lot of weight during pregnancy and would stay active throughout those 9 months. Well, after sitting around a lot eating pizza and cake while letting my gym membership lapse, I wasn’t terribly surprised with myself that by the time I was full term with Miss H, I had gained about 45 pounds.
I was pleasantly surprised to step on the scale 2 weeks after giving birth to see that I was down 21 pounds. By 10 weeks post partum I was down about 32 pounds total. Certainly losing the rest was going to be easy, right? Wrong. My weight at 10 weeks post partum was where my weight stayed for months. Once I stopped nursing around 9-10 months post partum, my weight went all over the place, mostly increasing.
But if I felt good in my own skin and knew I was eating well and exercising, I don’t think I would have been feeling as poorly about the number I was seeing on the scale. Feeling like my weight, diet, and activity level were all out of sorts was making me feel sluggish and not in control. I wanted to start feeling like me again.
About 1.5 months ago I decided to put some metrics in place to motivate myself and to keep me accountable. Fortunately there seems to be an app for everything, and I’ve found that a combination of apps keeps me motivated and true to myself.
My Fitness Pal
My full food diary for the day wouldn’t fit on the screen, but you can see my calorie goal, how many calories I consumed, and the calories I “earned” from my activity (synced from Run Keeper & my UP band)
I’ve been using My Fitness Pal off and on for years in order to count calories. It’s free, relatively easy to use, and has really helped me take control of what and how much I eat. I set a target daily calorie goal, and then in the morning I can map out all of my calories for the day. Since I eat/prepare most of my meals at home, it’s easy for me to track what I’m consuming. By plugging in what I think my calories will be for the day, it helps me see where I might have wiggle room for a small (extra) snack, or makes me realize that I should probably adjust my dinner plans for a lower calorie option. It’s also interesting seeing my overall nutrition – how many carbs I’m consuming, how much protein, etc.
My Fitness Pal is web-based along with a free app. You can also use to track your weight and calories burned through exercise. The site walks you through a goal setting process where you identify current weight, weight loss goals, height, and how active you are during the day (i.e. I am “sedentary” because I spend my workday at a desk).
Mr. H started using Run Keeper to track his runs, and when I started running again I decided to use it as well. It’s a free app and tracks a wide variety of cardio activities. You simply choose your activity and hit start and Run Keeper logs your activity. Even better, it announces your progress every 5 minutes which is really helpful if you’re goal setting and need to know how fast your pace is, or how long you’ve been running for. I also have this app set to sync with My Fitness Pal so my runs and burned calories are automatically logged. The two negatives to Run Keeper are that you obviously have to have your phone with you while working out, which I know some people prefer not to do. Also, if it can’t get a good signal your times will be incredibly off (as I learned the day it announced I had just run a 5 minute mile!). This probably happens 1 out of every 7 runs for me. Annoying but not a dealbreaker (I can still log the run and Run Keeper essentially becomes a time keeper for me so I know how long my run was for; I don’t save the run so it doesn’t sync the way-too-fast run with my other apps).
Activity Tracker Wristbands
Between Nike’s Fuel Band, the FitBit flex, and Jawbone’s UP band, there are a lot of options for tracking your every move. Mr. H and I have Jawbone’s UP bands. Unfortunately the first band we purchased eventually had problems with holding their charge, so the company replaced them for us. That issue aside, we really like them. The UP band tracks the steps you take in a day and also tracks your sleeping patterns at night. You set a goal of how many steps you hope to take during the day, and how much sleep you want to get at night. My goal is 10,000 steps and I can tell you that it’s tough to make that goal during the week when I’m sitting at a desk all day! I honestly rarely get to my goal, but I like that each day I strive to be more active. Everything you do with your UP band is tracked via their free app, and I also have it set to sync with My Fitness Pal so that my activity is tracked.
Combining It All
At the end of the day:
- I sync my UP band
- hop into MyFitness Pal to finalize my calories consumed for the day and to see how many extra calories I burned through my UP activity if I logged a run in Run Keeper
I don’t beat myself up if I went over my calorie goal by a couple hundred calories, or if I didn’t get the workout in that I wanted. I’m living life and life isn’t always perfect. I’m ok with that. But on the days where I had a stellar workout and stuck to the foods that I know are good for me – I feel great, I feel in control, and I feel like I am making positive changes.
In the past 1.5 months since I’ve been tracking workouts and calories (and, umm, actually working out consistently), I’ve lost about 4 pounds. I’m working my way toward that pre-baby weight (5 pounds to go!!) and I feel great!
But of course technology can only partly get you there. If you’re tracking calories, you can still eat unhealthily and there are no repercussions if you go over your calorie goal by eating 3 cupcakes (other than, you know, gaining weight)! To motivate myself I:
- Change into workout clothes immediately when coming home from work so that I am ready to work out after I put Miss H to bed. This keeps me motivated to actually work out!
- Eat the same foods during the week – it may get a little boring BUT I know exactly the calories I’m going to consume during the day and it keeps me honest with myself.
- Make my workouts a priority. If I know I want to get 3 workouts in for the week, I can proactively work with Mr. H to figure out our schedules to make sure there is time for me to workout. It’s easy to let life get away from you, but that time is so important to my physical and mental well being!
- Challenge myself to always update my calories in My Fitness Pal even if I’ve overindulged for the day. I don’t enjoy seeng myself exceed the calories, but it is motivation to keep at it and do better the next day!
I’m excited that I’m finally moving in the right direction for me, and love that I have all of my apps to assist me along the way.
Have you found that technology has helped you gain a healthier lifestyle?