Living a Goal: My road to being fit and healthy

I love food, a fact that has been evident all my life. In middle school I suffered a knee injury in gym class that knocked me out of being as athletic and active as I had been. I was verging on obese in grade 10. In grade 11 I cut out most bread products from my life and started dropping pounds. After graduation I had knee surgery and eventually returned to being active. I played tennis and one-on-one street hockey on roller blades with my best friend. I would run laps at the track at my old high school, and played co-ed softball in a community league.

By the time I met my partner 21 years ago, I was between 35-40 pounds lighter than my highest weight in high school. I had cut out most meat from my diet by this point and wasn’t being smart about what I was eating overall, and I didn’t have a regular exercise or activity plan. While I was lean, I wasn’t fit.

I fell into the very bad habit that many people do when they get into a long-term relationship, I got casual about what I ate and how active I was. By the time I got pregnant with our daughter almost 10 years ago, I had put back on that 35-40 pounds. After she was born, I took off my pregnancy weight and an additional 12 pounds thanks to a diagnosis of gall stones (I cut almost all fat out of my diet). After having my gallbladder out, however, I put the 12 back on.

A few years ago I took 10 off over an extended period of time, but sure enough I started putting it back on. This is a pattern that I’m sure at least some of you are familiar with. Every time I’ve lost weight, I’ve failed to keep it off. This summer, that changed, and yes, I believe it really has changed.

During a routine physical I mentioned to my doctor that I was always hungry. I exercised almost every day, we’d put a gym in our basement, I had Fitbit that I’d recently replaced with an Apple Watch. I couldn’t lose the weight unless I got the eating under control. She suggested that I increase my protein during the day and leave high carb foods like pasta for supper. She further recommended that I look into using a macro nutrient app. I asked a few friends for suggestions and settle on MyFitnessPal by Under Armour.

The day I started using it I was only about 4 pounds away from my high weight and I was so sad about it that I made a commitment to give using this thing a real chance. Today, is almost 15 weeks since I started using it and I’ve dropped 21 pounds without feeling like I’m depriving myself. The app easily lets me track what I eat, including the nutritional value of what I consume. It helps me keep my protein during the day high, my carbohydrates lower, while ensuring that I’m getting enough calcium, iron, vitamin C, etc. It syncs nicely with my Apple Watch so I earn calories throughout the day. This has encouraged me to be strategic with my workouts, get up more often from my desk at work, and find more ways of being active throughout my day. I drink 2-3 litres of water per day because it keeps me hydrated through all of the activity I’m doing and helps with feelings of hunger (many times people eat when they’re actually thirsty).

I’ve recently changed the settings from losing a pound a week, to losing 1/2 per week, and in the past few days to a maintenance mode because now I just want to continue to tone up what I’ve got left. The other day my daughter commented, “wow, you’ve got abs”, but that’s not the point. I have energy to do things with her. I have energy and a clear head to act on my goals.

This is a permanent change. I have the plan (daily workouts that I plan for the week every Sunday), the tools to help me keep to that plan, and the motivation to use both. This is what worked for me. I do recommend the MyFitnessPal app. It’s easy to use and the free version has met my needs. If you want to do this, don’t give up even if other ways haven’t worked before. If you want it, get clear on your reasons why and find what will work for you.

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