Bicycling and Weight Loss Part III – Gaining Control
continued from Bicycling and Weight Loss Part II – Understanding
I knew I had a problem with eating but didn’t know what to do. Diets didn’t seem to help. I just felt out of control and helpless. I seemed to eat just like everyone else I know.
My Doctor suggested a Food Diary. “Just write down everything you eat and all will become obvious” he said. I did and everything didn’t seem obvious because I still had no easy way to covert what I ate to calories and compare that to what I should be eating. My food diary was a chore not a tool and quickly fell into disuse.
Discovery #2 iPhone/iPod Touch Food Diaries.
One day I ran across an iPod Touch (iPhone) application called “Lose It“. What an awful name. This App changed my life. It gave me an easy way to record everything I ate using a tool that I was already carrying all of the time. It wasn’t just easy to log the food I ate; it also totaled the calories and nutrients in the food I was eating. It maintained a running total of my calories consumed against a daily calorie target I selected (I chose lose 1 pound per week). It also let me log my exercise (biking time primarily) and calculated calories consumed by that exercise. I now had a continuously updated log of what was happening as I went through the day and it was fun! The log showed kept me up on my calories consumed, calories used, and how may calories I had left for the day. What made this work was how easy the App made doing it. Keeping a log wasn’t a chore it was fun.
This sounds simple but this simple tool gave me control of my life. Change was almost immediate. I could see what things I ate that had lots of calories but didn’t really have much flavor and left me unstatisfied. Things I just seemed to eat out of habit. I could also look at what I was going to eat and judge it’s impact on my day. I now controlled the intake into my body in a way that made sense for me.
Knowing what I was eating and how I was doing during the day made me feel in control of my eating for the first time. It wasn’t like when I was on a diet or counting weight watcher points. I could eat anything I wanted to eat. I just didn’t seem to want to eat more than my target for that day. I almost automatically started changing my diet, dropping fatty foods and replacing them with healthier options. I felt better. I was losing weight, then feeling even better. My clothes became too big and I had to buy smaller sizes, this made me feel even better. I was in a feedback loop with lots of positive reinforcement for the changes I was making positive changes to my life almost without thinking about them.
The other great thing is that this system rewarded me when I rode my bike. When I came home after a ride I had earned the bar or beer I used to chase hunger away. It just seemed right, I was using the Laws of Thermodynamics and getting healthier.
This was the single most important change I made; I was now in control and could understand the impact of my decisions. I didn’t need to diet, I just knew what and how much to eat. I know this may not make sense, but being in control was the secret for me to losing weight. My Doctor was right “Just write down everything you eat and all will become obvious”. I just had to find a way to do it that worked for me.
The next post will cover some things that helped but now you know my secret.