I’m back at MyFitnessPal. I’ve said for years that when I track, I lose. But I have just never made myself keep up with tracking. Usually it’s because of an off day. How does one even log 6 beers and a bag of Ruffles without feeling like a total loser? But I’ve been doing some things over the last few months that really made me ready to get back at the weight loss game. For example, I gave up beer for Lent. Which, as you may notice, happens during March, and if you’ve been reading here for any length of time at all means you are astounded that I gave up my favorite beverage during my favorite month to drink it while watching my favorite team play my favorite sport.
Yeah. I’m as surprised as you. But what can I say? If, when giving something up for Lent, you’re supposed to pick something that causes you some discomfort, well, no beer during March Madness was the way to go for me.
It hasn’t been truly horrible. But it’s been a challenge. And in the bigger picture of some of the things I’m getting in order in my life, it made sense to do it.
In the last five days I’ve tracked everything. Four of the five days I was at or below the calorie goal generated by the app. One of the five days I tracked a basketball Saturday, complete with a couple vodka and sodas and an unfortunate incident with a bag of Hint of Lime chips. And this morning, like I do every Monday morning, I stepped on the scale, ready to see an improvement. However, I was up. A lot. SIX POUNDS.
Okay, so before you all reach for your keyboards to write your loving messages of muscle gain, water retention, and get rid of your scale, I thank you, but please don’t. Because I have not gained muscle in 5 days and I am not going to get rid of my scale. It’s just not going to happen. And while I know there are many of you out there who have struggled with disordered eating, and I certainly don’t mean any disrespect, my opinion based on my own experience is that my scale has only as much power as I give it. A scale is a tool just like a measuring cup or My Fitness Pal. One tool of many that can help a person lose weight.
One of the reasons I’ve slowed down writing about my actual weight loss journey here is that I have grown very tired of the sort of PC, everyone-gets-a-trophy attitude in the weight loss world. I’m tired of hearing people apologize (or worse yet, hide) for drinking the occasional Diet Coke. I’m tired of food politics. I’m tired of people saying they can’t seem to lose weight even though they have fancy pedometers or apps or HRMs or scales or other gadgets, and I’m tired of people saying they can’t lose weight because they don’t have them. I’m tired of defending my use of words like Fat, Diet, Deprive or Scale and I’m tired of people expecting to be able to eat burritos and chili cheese fries and pints of Ben and Jerry’s and still wonder why they feel like shit and aren’t losing weight, even when they are staying within some calorie guideline.
I’m tired of hearing the same excuses over and over again, of people doing the same exact things and expecting a different result, of trying to give people an honest answer about how to lose weight/get healthier/be stronger, only to see their eyes glaze over because the answer isn’t easy. It’s not a gimmick or a trick or a potion. It’s not a fiber pill that expands in your stomach to leave less room for actual food.
Losing weight does mean denying yourself certain things. It is saying no to second helpings. It’s preparing a healthy meal even when you’re tired or not in the mood to cook. It’s getting up early to work out in your living room or walking through your neighborhood even though it’s cold outside and your bed is warm and your family is still sound asleep. Sometimes it’s just about putting the damn fork down and stepping away from the table.
It would be so easy if we only ate when we were hungry. If we only ate to fuel our bodies. If there weren’t all of these other urges and emotions attached to the process of eating. I’m not so naiive to think that is reality. Food is comfort and entertainment and stress relief and celebration and all kinds of things that have nothing to do with actual physical hunger. I get that.
And during the process of weight loss, these other issues surface. Sometimes our actual goal might not even be weight loss. Maybe, as we peel the onion, we find out that what we really want to do is to fix these underlying problems.
And sometimes we use these underlying problems as justification for stopping when it gets hard.
And part of the reason why I’ve laid off of writing about my own weight loss journey is because there is always someone who will help me justify my stops. Somebody will understand my plight and just encourage me to get back on the horse tomorrow. Somebody will always blame my unreliable scale, my time of the month, or the ever popular “it’s muscle gain” over saying “well, if you want to lose weight, then why did you eat that plate of fried chicken?”
Once in a while we NEED that. Once in a while we NEED our people to be our soft place to fall. But sometimes reaching out to support somebody else who has failed gives us our own permission to let go of the reins when it feels too hard.
This June I am honored to be a speaker at Fitbloggin’ 14 in Savannah alongside Steve, and together we are going to talk about FitBlogger Tough Love. As a blogger for the past 5 years who is still trying to take off the same weight today that I set out to lose when I wrote my first word, I have a lot of experience in the fits and starts of healthy living. I’m excited to partner with Steve and facilitate some serious, raw, and honest discussion about the support of the fitness community, when it is instrumental to change, and when it actually just enables us to stay the same.
And in the meantime, if you’re a food logger too, come be my friend on MyFitnessPal!