Track Your Intake → Lose Weight


I’ll start off by apologizing (again) for my lack of posting.  It still doesn’t look like this will change any time soon.  The good news is that I submitted my dissertation last week!! But I’m not out of the woods yet – two weeks from now, I’ll be defending my dissertation.  Assuming all goes well, I’ll be a DOCTOR! All very exciting, but as you might imagine, all very time consuming and requires a lot of mental preparation and stamina, which is why I haven’t been posting much.  But enough about me and my future.  Let’s talk about me and my present.

My month on Weight Watchers was fantastic.  I honestly cannot give it a better recommendation than I already have in my previous post, and I will recommend it to anyone who asks me my opinion on the best weight loss program.  However, I did run into some obstacles and challenges along the way, which is to be expected.

My Biggest Issue: Trying to do WW without access to the online tools is time-consuming… frustrating… cumbersome… I really wanted this to not be an issue because our society’s dependence on technology is frightening to me.  For example, no one knows how to read a map because everyone is used to Siri telling him/her how to get from Point A to Point B.  And then they get lost when their phone doesn’t have service because they never thought to read the actual street signs and pay attention to their surroundings.  And this is how present day horror stories are made.  I digress.  What I’m getting at is that I wanted to be different from all that and be OK with using equations and calculating the points of the food I ate because I thought it would teach me how to look at a meal and estimate its nutritional value more accurately than what I can do now.  It probably would have done just that if I lived in a world where dissertation writing, traveling, writing, commuting, writing, cooking, writing, sleeping, writing, exercising, and writing didn’t take up all of my time.  But my life doesn’t consist of skipping through meadows and picking flowers or sipping a cup of coffee whilst reading the morning paper and pondering the meaning of life (right now).  Right now my life is chaotic, which is an issue that nearly everyone reports, and I need all the help I can get.  Calculators don’t really count as help.
Because I wasn’t willing to pay for WW, my day would go like this: I would eat breakfast, google the food that I ate, record the points in a journal, and repeat these steps for lunch, with the intention of doing this throughout the day.  Then my day would get away from me, and all of a sudden it would be 10:37 pm and I’m trying to remember what I ate, guessing the serving sizes, googling the points of said food (much of which has not been calculated, so I’d end up using a poor-excuse-for-a-substitute), and calculating my points for the day.  Like most people, I am great at starting the day with good intentions and acting upon them until the day starts to get hectic and whatever is occupying my mind takes precedent over what I’m eating.  This really gets away from the purpose of WW, which is to track your points throughout the day, so that you can make adjustments accordingly.

Issue Number Two: Traveling.  I went to New Orleans for a conference, and I had such a great time, both at the conference and touring the city and surrounding areas.  But what was equally fun to all of that was all of the food in NOLA.  For example, I ate a gator poboy sandwich, gumbo, jambalaya, beignets, red beans and dirty rice, and drank sweet tea, and beer, and bourbon, and hurricanes (whatever those are), amongst other foods and spirits, which I’m surely forgetting.  Needless to say, this wasn’t a “diet” friendly adventure.  I calculated my WW points on only one day while I was there, which came out to a whopping 50 points! (Remember, my goal was 26-33/day).  I gave up after that, for a couple of reasons.  1) I didn’t want to miss out on all that unique food by freaking out about the point total, which I knew I would do if I tracked it. 2) I rarely had my not-so-handy journal with me. 3) Type in “alligator poboy, weight watchers points plus” into google and you won’t find anything useful. This food was hard to track, so I just didn’t.  I was positive that I gained weight after that trip, but as you’ll see below, that was not the case. This is likely attributable to the amount of walking I did – according to my pedometer on my phone: between 15,000 and 20,000 steps/day (10,000 is an arbitrary goal with really no scientific evidence to back it up, but you’ll see it out there.  It’s actually pretty hard to meet if you’re not a super active person).
I don’t think the fact that I went to New Orleans, specifically, makes this situation unique in any way to traveling.  I think we all are more inclined to let loose and not worry about what we’re eating when we travel, because, “Damn it! I’m on vacation!”  However, if you are trying to lose weight, it’s not smart to completely forget about your diet while you travel, because you’re likely to undo a lot of the hard work that you’ve done.  In all honesty, if I had the online tools and the WW phone app, I probably would have tracked my diet more while I was traveling, not so much for trying to curb and control my intake, but really just out of curiosity because I always learn something when I track my diet, and it’s interesting to me.

The Final Issue: Drinking.  That makes me sound like a lush, and I only sort of am, but not to any extreme.  I enjoy imbibing on occasion, but what I like most is just having a beer or a glass of wine with dinner, especially when I’m with friends.  However, I never think of the calories in alcohol when I drink (like most people), but this can be a major downfall if you are trying to control your weight.  Honestly, I was surprised at how many points are allotted for alcohol.  And they’re not unreasonable at all.  Alcoholic beverages are empty calories, and they should be treated as such on a weight loss plan. (**As an aside, it is recommended by the American Heart Association to drink one alcoholic beverage/day, as this amount confers cardiovascular benefit.  And no, you can’t “save” all of them for the weekend and drink all 7 drinks at one time and expect to see any benefit.  In fact, binge drinking is linked to poor cardiovascular health.  Physiology doesn’t care about your weekend plans.**) Here’s a breakdown of the points:

Light Beer (gross) = 3 points
Regular beer=5 points
Beers over 200 kcals/pint (this includes a lot of porters, a lot of the Flying Dog and New Belgium beers… which of course are some of my favorites) = 7 points
Wine (4 oz glass)= 4 points
Hard liquor (1 oz)= 4 points + whatever you mix it with

As you can see, this can add up quickly, which is why people get fat when they drink all the time.  This isn’t rocket science.  And ignorance isn’t bliss unless you think of bliss as a spare tire sittin pretty around your midsection. Check out this site if you want more info about WW points allotted for beer:

Let’s move on to the stats:

Goal/Normal Baseline Data Jan-Vegan February-
Weight 121-60 127.5 127.5 128.5 124
BMI 18.5-24.9 20 20 20.1 19.5
PBF 21-32 21.4 21.2 20.6 21.3
WC <35 27.5 27.5 27.5 27.5
HC 38.5 37.5 38 38
W:H Ratio <0.8 0.71 0.73 0.72 0.72
Blood Pressure <120/80 113/77 101/69 105/72 110/70
Total kcal 2000-2200 1975 1809 1965 1900
Protein (g) 77.5 57 100 75
Protein (%) Oct-35 16 12% 20 16
CHO (%) 49-52 51 39-50 47 54
Fiber (g) at least 25 26 42 32 27
Fat (%) 20-35 29.5 44-54 47 30
Sat Fat (%) <10 7 8 8 7
Sodium (mg) 2300 2587 2138-2527 2132 2370
Potassium (mg) 4700 3479 3959-4109 3742 3628
Fruit/Veg (servings) 5-9 3-7 8-12 6-8 5-7
Cost 192.59 206.38 120.97

There isn’t anything remarkable here, though I think two things are noteworthy.

1) Weight loss:  I had mentioned in my last post that I lost two pounds when I first started WW, and I made a concerted effort to regain that, and I almost did (regained 1.5 pounds) before I left for New Orleans.  But then I didn’t maintain that weight regain, and I lost 4 total this month compared to last month.  I hope this doesn’t piss off people who are actually trying to lose weight.  I really don’t mean to sound so cavalier about the whole thing, but I am an overachiever to my core, and I tend to go all out when I try something new.  I think what this really shows is that if you track your diet (and you’re honest about it), you will change the way you eat for the better, and this will result in weight loss.  As I said in my last post, the number one behavior that is associated with weight loss and weight loss maintenance is self-monitoring. Done.
2) Look at how much money I didn’t spend this month! I even had a little bit of food left over, which wasn’t true of February.  This just goes to show that you can eat healthy without being a nutcase about health foods and breaking the bank. Done. Again.

Once again, a great learning experience and an overall enjoyable “diet” to follow.  The take home message: track your diet if you want to lose weight.  If you’re going to follow Weight Watchers, pay for it and download the mobile app.  Don’t do it my way because you won’t stick with it.  If you are looking for another way to track your diet, but don’t want to follow Weight Watchers, I recommend “Fat Secret” (free for Droid or iPhones).  It’s got the most complete database and is the most user-friendly out of all the apps I’ve seen.  Now get out there and get trackin’, kids!

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