“So, tell me… what’s your trick to losing all that weight?”
“Just between you and me, how did you really lose so much weight?”
These are the types of questions I get pretty often these days [ever since I successfully dropped the many, many pounds I accumulated in my final few semesters of college and dropped 10 pant sizes].
Aside from a few close, loved ones, I’ve basically stopped trying to answer these inquiries because no one really likes what I have to say. My response to these questions usually revolves around words like “discipline”, “hard-work”, “exercise”, “clean eating”, “patience”, and “accountability”.
Needless to say, this isn’t what most of the people sliding into my DMs want to hear. A lot of people want “easy” and “glamorous” – they want one of those magical pills or mysterious fruits that you see splashed all over Twitter by popular accounts. I honestly can’t blame them; life is busy, and we all have some tedious responsibilities on our shoulders. It’s not easy to add a weight loss journey into an already saturated, tiring schedule.
But I wish there was a better way to tell people that the reason they’re not losing weight is because their fancy Starbucks drinks and alcohol consumption do, in fact, count towards their daily calorie consumption and undermine their weight loss attempts. I wish I knew how to tell them that they’re probably overeating and don’t even realize it. I wish I knew how to tell them that working out at the gym doesn’t ever leave you looking “cute”, but almost always leaves you feeling pretty sore. I wish I knew how to tell them that dropping $500+ on designer yoga pants/sports bras/water bottles and fifteen cases of non-fat yogurt before even signing up for a gym membership probably isn’t going to help them in their weight loss efforts.
Honestly, when I examine my journey so far, I couldn’t be more grateful that there were no “tricks” and “shortcuts” when I took the dive into clean eating and fitness [and that there still aren’t]. I love that it’s 95% grit and maybe 5% glamour, and I love that I care so much about what food I put into my body.
It’s not just that “tricks” and “shortcuts” aren’t effective [or healthy] – it’s that they would’ve deprived me of one of the best things to ever happen to me: a massive and honest change in lifestyle. The day I put down the hookah, dragged myself to the gym, and began taking responsibility for my food consumption was the beginning of the rest of my life.
Sure, seeing my waist-line diminish and my cheekbones resurface was, and remains, highly satisfying. But that’s not what sold me – it was feeling healthy and strong from my eating and fitness choices. Once I experienced that, I never wanted to let it go.
And I haven’t.
Kale and spinach juice became more satisfying to me than French fries and basically [anything vegetarian] from Taco Bell, which, while still being among the truest loves of my life, have become things I’m unable to love in bulk or frequently anymore. Rest days from the gym began to feel awkward because my mind and body are in a rather intense affair with exercise. Changing my lifestyle helped me become the most mentally and emotionally stable I have ever been in my life, and knowing I could do that for myself gave me new-found confidence I’d never known previously. This is also what allowed me to take the leap into fulfilling a lifelong dream by training to become a fighter.
The lifestyle change began to translate into other areas of my life as well. I stopped straightening my hair for the most part, and it’s now the longest and healthiest it’s ever been. I keep chemical-heavy hair products around for hardcore emergencies [and because I paid a pretty penny for all of that stuff back in the day], but the only hair products my hair really ever encounters these days are natural oils. I even switched to more natural, scent-free options for my skin – not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I started taking vitamins because, I mean… they’re good for you. I even cut out alcohol for the most part because I don’t like to put anything even remotely icky into my body anymore.
That’s my experience, and I understand that it’s unique to me; not everyone’s will mimic it, since everyone’s adventure differs. And while there are no “tricks” or shortcuts, I’m going to share my biggest game changer: My Fitness Pal.
For those of you who have no clue whatsoever what I’m talking about (and that’s okay!), My Fitness Pal is a super nifty, god-sent phone app that lets you record your daily food/drink intake and exercise. It lets you track your calories and nutrition (beware of inaccurate input options, though – most people who create a food entry option don’t know enough to have dead accuracy regarding calorie or nutrition content, so adjust accordingly and learn to identify when it’s a bit off). There’s even options to record water consumption and exercise for the day.
Better yet, the app adjusts to you and for you. It asks you your gender, weight, etc. and then makes you check a few boxes about your fitness and weight goals. Based on all of this information, it gives you the daily net calories and nutrients you should consume to reach your goals.
I owe everything to My Fitness Pal. Back when I was trying to slim down, I would’ve never managed if this blessed app hadn’t held me accountable for my daily consumption and activity choices, and hadn’t made me aware of what’s actually in my food (I’d tried to lose weight a few times before and failed because I was still overeating without realizing it).
Now, as I work hard every day to get into fighting shape, it’s helping me yet again, but in a different way – being able to track my food has helped me eat accordingly for my extremely high activity levels and reap the benefits from all of my strength-training and cardio. In other words, it’s successfully aiding me in my quest to get swole.
My Fitness Pal isn’t a “trick”, or even a “shortcut”. You need to take a few seconds to log all of your meals and snacks – not at the end of the day (that’ll be inaccurate logging, I promise), but right when you see what your portions are looking like at the very beginning of each meal or snack. You have to be honest with yourself, even when the search options which come up for your meal are so obviously inaccurate that you’d be giving yourself an easy pass to add it into your food diary as is. Inputting all of your food can feel like a hassle until you’re used to it, but cheating on the app only results in cheating yourself.
To thank My Fitness Pal for all it’s done for me, and to persuade those of you who still believe I have a wild weight loss secret I’m not sharing, here’s my list of 11 reasons why My Fitness Pal is the absolute best.
1. It lets you see both your net calories and your gross calories as you move along through the day.
This means that when you input the calories you burn from physical activity, your net calories will give you that many more calories back to eat for the day, but your gross calories will tell you your total calories for the day [disregarding exercise]. Which one should you base your eating on? In my experience, the answer is net calories.
2. You can input your progress over time, and the app gives you a super cool line chart to see how far you’ve come.
Whenever I see it, I feel super cool about myself – it’s essentially a visual pep talk. MFP also adjusts accordingly when you need it to, based on your progress or setbacks.
3. If you forget to input a meal, it sends you pesky little reminders that basically make you feel bad for abandoning your food diary for the day, or even for skipping a meal.
By the way, don’t skip meals – EAT. Crash diets (all diets, really) are unhealthy – avoid them at all costs. MFP exists to help people manage their food consumption in a healthy manner, and to show people that they can reach their weight goals without turning to options which will seriously harm their bodies for results that fade quickly and easily. This app is all about helping you get healthy and long-term results.
4. The app doesn’t only have weight loss options – it’ll also help you put on weight if that’s what you want to do, or help you maintain your current weight while allowing you to be aware of what you’re putting into your body.
The app is most popular for its weight loss success stories, but MFP useful for plenty of other stuff too. It’s helpful for most things involving food/drink consumption. MFP isn’t only for people seeking to shed pounds, so consider checking it out even if weight loss goals aren’t your deal, or if you’re already on track with your goals and want to mix it up a little bit.
5. When you officially complete your food diary for the day, it gives you an estimate of what your weight will be in a little over a month if every day was like the day you just finished logging.
It’s a great way to stay on track, and even to place your day of eating and exercise choices into the larger picture of your journey. You’ll know if you’re on the road to your goals, or if you need to make a few more changes. Better yet, it’s pretty solid inspiration.
6. It calls you out on any potentially concerning eating behavior.
If you didn’t consume AT LEAST 1,000 calories for the day, it gives you a health warning about undereating and refuses to give you an estimate for what your weight will be in about 5 weeks. Like I said earlier, MFP is all about doing things the healthy way.
7. You can keep an eye on your macros. It tells you what percentage of your daily intake should be carbohydrates, fats, and protein, and then it lets you see how you’re doing on all of that throughout the day.
8. It gives you the DL on your nutritional info. I’m not just talking about carbohydrates, fats, and protein – I mean it tells you how much calcium, vitamins, iron, unsaturated fat, saturated fat, etc. you’ve consumed for the day, and how much you need to have in your diet for optimal health benefits.
9. It cleverly uses a green color when you haven’t surpassed your calorie allotment for the day, and switches your calorie intake to a judgmental red color when you have.
When you’re starting out, this is actually a blessing in disguise – most of us don’t even realize how much we overeat, and how unhealthy that can be on a daily basis. It takes some time to learn how to eat the proper amount of calories for your [specific] body, and you may overeat or find yourself hungry in the beginning, but you eventually start to be inspired by the desire not to see your daily calorie intake in an angry hue of red.
10. You learn a ton about food, nutrition, and yourself.
I wouldn’t, by any means, call myself a nutritionist, but after using My Fitness Pal almost every single day since October 2016, I can proudly say that I’ve learned a lot about food and drinks. I can look at most foods, tell you about their nutritional components, and determine a pretty accurate estimate of their calorie contents without looking anything up. You’ll be amazed by how much crap you used to consume, and how you probably didn’t eat the proper amount of food for your body size and weight… and then you’ll be relieved, because now you’re doing great things for your body. Furthermore, you’ll also start to learn what works best for your one-of-a-kind body – what food groups your body needs more of, how your body reacts to certain things, etc.
11. If you use the app committedly and honestly, you’ll start to meet your goals, feel healthier, and be crazy proud of yourself.
It’s a great feeling; 10/10 would recommend.
I never needed a “trick” or a “shortcut” to meet my goals because My Fitness Pal is that ride or die friend that got [and continues to get] me where I need to go. It was there for me when I needed to slim down, and now it’s here for me as I work hard every day to get stronger and tougher for the MMA cage someday.
It’s still all on you – My Fitness Pal holds you accountable. Lie to the app about your calorie intake and workouts, or just blow it off completely – you’ll be disappointed and probably give up. Work hard, practice discipline, and let the app guide you – you’ll be amazed by what you’re capable of doing for yourself.
What matters most is being healthy, confident, and comfortable in your skin – if that requires a weight-change journey for you, then give yourself the greatest gift of all – download My Fitness Pal.
Featured Image: Retrieved from: Engadget
Fifth Image: Retrieved from: Tech Crunch