Here’s a fun update: I’m currently clocking in at a svelte 212 lbs! While losing five pounds since the last time I posted about this may not seem like such a big deal, it becomes more impressive when you know that almost immediately after that post, I gained ten pounds and had to work my way down from there. It was an inauspicious, disheartening beginning; but I’m thankful that better things were yet to come.
Hilariously, I achieved my unusually successful weight loss by keeping rigorous track of what I ate and generally making sure that I expend more calories than I consume. :-) When I realized that I was just following really basic weight loss advice, it cracked me up. But hey, I never said I wasn’t incredibly hard-headed and terrible at listening to what other people tell me!
The key for me was finding tools that made the tracking fun and interesting instead of duty and drudgery. I got a Samsung Galaxy S6 this spring, and discovered that it came with this fitness tracker (S Health) pre-installed. I was curious and started playing around with it, and all the charts and analysis made it more like a game for me, as well as tying into my competitive mobile gaming side (wanting to beat my previous “scores”/get new achievements). I started to see that I was walking more and even getting other things like my blood pressure and blood sugar to go down a bit, but I was frustrated at not seeing more consistent weight results because I thought I was eating OK. So I decided to test my assumption about my own consumption using the app’s food tracker.
Turns out I was eating good food most of the time but really indulging in some crap at other times, and generally eating WAY too much (i.e., 3,000 calories) for my level of activity. So I set myself a goal of staying under 2,500 calories, which I seemed to be able to do most of the time, and then later tried staying under 2,000 calories, at which I was less successful. Slowly but surely, I started to see that when I kept to my steps goal and my calorie goal, the changes (albeit small ones) would show up on the scale. Those small wins, combined with the “gaming” perspective, kept me going as I tried to figure out how to move my progress along a little more quickly.
Oddly, it was the frustrations I experienced with S Health’s functionality that moved me to the next level. The food tracker database wasn’t very extensive, and I found myself constantly having to look up nutrition information on other websites for food I needed to log in S Health. That was when I discovered MyFitnessPal, the food log site I found myself turning to over and over. My other issue was with the step counter: because it was on my phone, I constantly had to be carrying my phone to count my steps; and since I don’t always wear outfits with pockets, that felt very inconvenient (not to mention upsetting my competitive side when I didn’t make a goal because all my steps weren’t being counted!). Enter the search for a wearable step counter.
It seemed a little ridiculous to buy yet another gadget after I’d just purchased a new phone and laptop; the fact that my shiny new phone wasn’t also functioning perfectly as a wearable fitness tracker is such a #firstworldproblem that it’s a little embarrassing to write about it. That said, I’m so grateful to my sister for my birthday gift of a Fitbit Charge HR, because it the difference it has made in successfully moving toward my weight and health goals is nothing short of stunning for me.
I’m counting my steps and tracking my food rigorously almost every day, managing my activity and calorie consumption goals with the benefit of the the seamless integration between Fitbit and MyFitnessPal. I’m engaging in challenges with my cadre of Fitbit buddies, which helps to push me on those days when I’d rather not get all my steps in. I’m even tracking my sleep, along with still monitoring my blood sugar and blood pressure through S Health. And I can see the results so clearly: my weight is down, my sugar is consistently in the target zone, and my blood pressure, while still high, is markedly down from where it was. My energy is up, I can move more quickly and more easily, and I generally want to eat less.
Plus, I feel more in control of my weight (rather than it having control of me) because I see very directly how my body responds to a low-activity or high-calorie day – both of which I still totally have. There’s no specific food or activity plan: no special diet (although I have to watch how much I eat food out, as the calories in those meals are generally crazy), no series of workouts beyond my daily step target. But I feel like the information I get from my trackers empowers me to make activity and food intake decisions that affect my weight and overall health in a way that is dynamic, natural, and sustainable.
And really, that’s the underlying change, which is a gift of God and not any work of my own. He slowly and patiently brought me to the place where I could look at those health metrics as tools to use in pursuing the things He is prompting me to do, rather than judgments on my worth and character. That sermon I mentioned in my previous post was a turning point, where the Lord helped me to stop using insecurity and fear of failure as excuses and crutches. He prepared my heart and then spoke the right word to me at the time when I could hear it. And He led me to ways of managing my health that are responsive to my real life instead of some imagined ideal. So this is one of my testimonies to the things the Lord has been doing in me this beautiful year – and it is only one of many!
In summary, here’s to discovering the obvious; having my weaknesses (competitiveness and technology obsession) turned into strengths; and the overwhelmingly impossible becoming completely doable. I’m still at the beginning, and there will be setbacks along with successes – but I know that I’m moving forward instead of backwards, and I am rejoicing at the transformation.