This week, I finally hit my weight goal.
This post is going to be about weight and dieting, etc. Read (or don’t!) with your own self care in mind.
I was skinny as a kid. Doctors constantly told me to gain weight. I believe I didn’t reach a healthy weight until I was in my mid-20s. (When I was finally able to maintain a regular menstruation cycle.)
I’ve always been very active. And I’ve always stayed about the same weight. Anytime I rose above it, I merely had to pay attention to what I was eating for a while and the weight would drop off.
Last year, I wanted to lose weight for my wedding. I started paying attention to what I was eating, but the weight didn’t come off.
I figured it was stress.
Earlier this year, I was making the same noises about losing weight, until something in my brain snapped. Instead of, “I would like to lose weight,” it became, “Fuck you. I’m losing weight.”
(I would make a fortune if I could bottle that attitude shift.)
I knew I was already eating healthy foods. (Dead critter, fresh veggies, very little processed food.) What I learned when I started counting calories was that I was eating far, far too much, even as active as I was.
If I hadn’t been that active, I would have been gaining a lot more weight than I had over the last few years. By the time I made the decision to lose weight, I determined I needed to lose about 10% of my body weight to get back to my healthy, ideal weight. (Most people who know me wouldn’t be able to tell the difference in my weight. But I knew and I felt it in my joints that I was too heavy. Knees and ankles kept bothering me.)
So I decided to actually diet. Make permanent changes to my lifestyle and eating habits, as well as track my food intake.
I’d never been on a diet before. I tried a couple of different calorie counting apps. Eventually, I ended up using MyFitnessPal, combined with my Fitbit for tracking activity.
I’ve had a Fitbit for years. I generally averaged 10,000 steps per day, though frequently during the winter I would have less steps. Before I added in my activity to my calorie counting, I was trying to eat the number of recommended calories based on age and what I thought my activity levels were.
OMG. I was starving all the time. How do people do this? I was completely miserable. It was awful.
Once I added in my activity from my Fitbit, my calories per day rose considerably. Almost enough for a full extra meal every day. So part of what made it initially so miserable was that I really wasn’t eating enough.
I still kept my calorie counting app with a lower calorie goal, letting the Fitbit add in more calories every day. Gamifying the system in some ways.
It horrifies me how much I’m willing to do for more calories. How motivated I am by food. It got me moving. I was no longer satisfied with 8-9000 steps per day. Had to be 10K or better.
However, once I got it all connected and dialed in, I started slowly losing weight. Between half a pound to a pound per week.
The last month or so, I’ve been preparing for this time, for when I’ve reached my goal weight. I keep wondering, how do I maintain it? How do I have a healthy relationship with food? I’ve been so focused on what I’m eating. How do I kind of push it to the background again, yet not over eat?
I really started paying attention to how I felt after I ate. The amount of fullness I had after 200 calories. 300. 400.
I would like to be able to trust my body not to eat too much.
However, food and activity is more complicated than that. At least for me.
What I’ve learned is that on a day with a LOT of activity, I may or may not be extra hungry that day. (My husband and I regularly put in days of 23,000 steps or more, at least once a month or so. Or I spend the day working outside on the farm—my Fitbit doesn’t show that many steps, but I’ve been hauling wood for hours and know I’ve burned a lot of calories.)
The next day, after so much activity, whether I’ve eaten a lot or not the day of the activity, I’m starving. What is normally satisfying, isn’t.
So it isn’t as simple as I’d like for it to be. I do have a good scale now, and I plan on using that once a week to make sure that I stay on track.
I’m going to let go of my calorie counting. Not this week, maybe in a week or two. Once I figure out how it feels to eat a regular amount of food, not 100 calories less than what I burn per day.
It’s been an interesting experience, this dieting.
I will never do it again. I will never gain weight like I did, putting myself into a position so that I have to lose it. I will stay on top of my weight. This was far too miserable an experience to want to repeat it.
And while I’d never recommend dieting to anyone, I would recommend the MyFitnessPal app. It was kind of awesome for helping me figure things out. Plus it gave me an overview of my nutrition, to see where my gaps were (for example, I really need to supplement my calcium).
I’d also recommend my Fitbit, but I’ve loved my Fitbit for years and years. I tried a Fitbit Charge for a while. It gave me more calories per day (yay!) but I hated wearing anything on my wrist, and soon went back to my Fitbit One.