Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Weigh to Go Wednesday: Food Logging Edition

Power of One Challenge

This week, I say goodbye to the Power of One Challenge hosted by The Sisterhood.  I am going to miss it.  It was my first online challenge that I saw through all the way to the end, not giving up.  The challenge also gave me the push I needed to really get my priorities, in regards to my weight loss and fitness, into focus... and for that I am truly thankful.

Before I get to my Smack in the Face portion of the post - food logging - I need to give my final weigh in results.  I have decided to keep weighing in on Wednesdays - so this is just the last one for this challenge.

Challenge Starting Weight:  227lbs
Weight Last Week:   217.2lbs
Weight This Week:    215lbs
Total percentage of weight loss:  5.3%

I did it!! 2.2lbs gone in one week!!! I met my 2lb weight loss goal, and then some.  I've lost 12lbs in a month and a half...and I couldn't be more happy!!

I can say that there really is one thing that has given me the results that I received this week:  Food Logging.

When I started this challenge and each week up until 2 weeks ago, I was losing measly amounts of weight...not even a pound a week.  I was getting frustrated - I didn't feel like I was doing well enough.  I had to change something, but didn't know what.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I was an anti food logger and calorie counter.  I didn't see the point.  I made a food plan each week, I didn't binge, I stuck to my plan - for the most part - so why waste the time reentering my food into yet another log?  That question can be answered by the results that I set before you today in my weigh in.

Food logging happened to my by accident.  I starting seeing people posting comments on Twitter about something called My Fitness Pal.  I was curious.  I wanted to see what it was.  I checked it out.  I groaned when I realized it was a food and exercise logger.  Just because I was bored, I decided to see what all the hype was about - so I went about setting up a profile, answering all the questions, and logging a day's worth of food into the program.

I was surprised that it only took me about 5 minutes to do all of that - but the information that was laid out for me after I logged everything was quite interesting.  Which brings me to the Q&A of why a person should food log:

What's the difference between food logging and meal planning?  Well, when I would make my meal plan, I didn't look at calories.  I built meals that I believed to be good for me, used portion control as my guide, and basically hoped for the best.  Food logging makes me thing about anything I eat that isn't on the meal plan (cups of coffee, changes to meals or snacks, etc.).  I get to see the amount of calories that my plan is giving me - and can determine if it's too much or not enough.

Why is it so important to count calories?  I am a newcomer to this.  I used to think it didn't matter to count calories.  As long as I was eating healthy foods and working out, I shouldn't have to count calories right?  WRONG!  After I started counting calories, and logging my exercise, I was able to see how much I was eating compared to how much I was burning.  If I was eating more than I was burning - then, of course, I wouldn't lose weight.  In my case I was dealing with the OPPOSITE.  I wasn't eating enough to fuel my body for the exercising I was doing.  I was basically putting my body into starvation mode - and it was causing the slow weight loss.

Isn't it a lot of work to do all of the math?  Not at all - or at least it doesn't have to be.  If you use a program such as My Fitness Pal, the work is done for you.  All you have to do is input your food into the food logger.  That's even easier than you think, because their food database is the biggest I've ever seen on a web based food logger.  I use a BodyBugg, now, but I still refer to My Fitness Pal for my food logging - because they have more foods in their database than BodyBugg.  Another benefit of My Fitness Pal is that it will give you an estimate of how many calories you burn each day during your normal activity level.  Then it will calculate how many times you work out each week, and provide you with a calorie goal that you should be trying to meet each day.

What is a calorie deficit and why is it so important?  Your calorie deficit is the math.  Your calories burned minus the calories consumed gives you a calorie deficit (or surplus if you've eaten too much).  The important thing to remember with a deficit is that it should be healthy enough to keep fueling your body.  Almost every medical professional out there will tell you that you should NEVER consume less than 1200 calories a day.  I agree with that.  In order to get a healthy deficit, you need to calculate the amount of calories you need in order to lose weight.  If your "weight loss" amount (calories you should be consuming in order to lose weight) is 1200 and you want to lose 1 pound a week then you would need to eat 1700 calories and burn 500 calories per day to get you to the 1200 calorie weight loss amount.  That would give you a deficit of 500 calories per day - but not leave your body needing more nutrition.  For me, I have to eat 1700 calories per day and burn off 2700 calories per day to give me a 1000 calorie deficit EACH day to burn off the 2lbs per week that I'm shooting for.  Yes, it's complicated - that's why it's better to use a program.

What if I don't have time or don't want to count calories forever?  Don't talk to me about time...that's a fight that I've struggled with for many years.  Hello!! 3 kids, full time job, full time student - right here.  It's taken me 29 years to figure out time management - and I'm still learning.  I can't pull out my phone every time I eat something - but that doesn't mean I don't log it.  I write everything down that I'm eating...yes EVERYTHING.. even that tiny bite of cookie or small scoop of ice-cream.  At the end of the day, I bring home all of my little sticky notes that I've used and plug everything in.  Before I go to bed each and every night, I plug in my food log - or I do it while I'm sitting on the couch watching my 30 minutes of TV each evening.  It doesn't take long...and it's so worth it.  The "I don't want to count calories forever" comment was my own 1 year ago.  I was preaching that I was converting to a healthy lifestyle - and counting calories every day for the rest of my life was unrealistic.  That is still the case today.  Except, now, I realize that while I still have work to do - the counting calories is worth it.  Will I be so inclined to count calories so much when I'm down to my goal weight? Probably not.  I should have a pretty good handle on my calorie consumption by then to know what to eat.  For people trying to lose weight,'s, again, worth it.

OK, that's it from me today. 

Please let me know if there's something you're struggling with - I'm still trying to decide on topics for the remainder of the week and I need YOUR HELP!!

Till next time. ;)
Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter


  1. Congrats on seeing the challenge through, awesome. So true on the tracking, I go back and forth, but facts are facts, I lose when I track, period.

  2. Wooo you go Joanna! I find myself rooting for you every Wednesday when I see your Power of One challenge has been posted! So glad it's all coming together :)

  3. I totally agree. I was working out and eating healthily and wasn't losing anything. Then, just recently, I found out about MFP and started logging in all of my foods and have lost 7 lbs. It's so fantastic I LOVE it. Thanks for the great, informative post about MFP!

  4. Congrats on finishing the challenge. I've been wavering myself lately about continuing to count my calories. I've decided to stick with it for now because I know it works when I do it. I also love My Fitness Pal. It does make it so easy to see what you are eating.

  5. Wow!! You did great on this challenge! Loved your reasons for logging into My Fitness Pal. Very true!!!


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