One of the greatest lessons I’ve had in this journey to lose almost 100 lbs is that you can’t guess at your progress. That simply means that there’s no way you can eyeball how many calories you’re eating or burning at any time. So, yes, this means I’ve joined the cult of Fitbit so I can keep an eye on my progress.
Years ago, if you’d ever told me that I’d ever be someone who would enjoy tracking every single thing that I put into my mouth, I would have laughed at you. I’m also going to backtrack and say that I don’t really enjoy it. Would I like to sneak past my tracking app and eat hot dogs, tater tots and pancakes covered in syrup like it never happened? Yep, you betcha. But I’ve learned that keeping track of my calories not only helps me make smart decisions on a daily basis, but it helps me measure my progress. With 80 lbs. lost and 20 to go, I can’t guess at it anymore and I can’t exclusively go by how my clothes feel. The information helps me stay on target with a weekly goal of losing 1 lb. a week. So, it’s not that I don’t have days where pancakes happen. I just know that I might have to spread the calorie burn over a couple of days to stay on target or switch dinner to a salad and soup. No big deal. I don’t beat up on myself anymore.
The other thing I’ve learned is that a calorie isn’t necessarily a “calorie,” which is to say that all fats aren’t bad and the right kinds of sugar (meaning whole fruit) are better than the processed kind. I’m like most people in that I hopped on the low-fat/whole grains claim/reduced fat packaged food train for a long time and couldn’t figure out for the life of me why my weight wasn’t going down. Come to find out after binge-ing on documentary after documentary (Fed Up on Amazon Video is a MUST, as is Forks Over Knives and Food Inc. for this) that reduced fat food would suck in flavor if they didn’t add sugar into it. Turns out my gut was made almost entirely from artificial sweetners, reduced-fat processed foods and sneaky sources of sugar, like salad dressings. The exodus of those things from my house left me with a dilemma: now what do I eat?
Which brings me to my new favorite obsession: healthy recipes. I’m on the hunt high and low for cookbooks that show ways to cook whole organic fare in exciting ways. The Thrive Energy Cookbook by Brendan Braiser (De Capo Lifelong Books, March 2014) was created by a world-class Ironman and gourmet who knows how to make whole foods taste amazing. It contains 150 plant-based recipes and are geared toward (ha, see what I did there? he’s a cyclist and, um, yeah, that was a joke) making the food taste delish and fuel performance. Since I’m working out 8 hours a week at minimum, I have to eat to fuel and refuel that energy expenditure, and these recipes are absolutely amazing. I just feel better physically than I have in years, and I think a predominately plant-based diet has a lot to do with it.
So, if you want to keep an eye on your fitness progress, I’d recommend the Fitbit and, if you get one, find me as a friend (I’m Kristin B.) and let’s be workout buddies. If you want to feel better, try adding a few more vegetable-based dishes to your menu during the week and maybe that can help move the needle with your weight plateau. As for those crazy claims about how the sugar from fruits is bad for you, I only have one thing to say: I don’t know about you, but I didn’t gain 100 lbs. eating too many apples. I’ll take my chances with the fruit, thanks.