Since March I’ve been kind of keeping track of what I eat with the MyFitnessPal app on my phone. I’ve gone from 233 pounds down to 212 pounds since then (mostly in the first couple months). I still eat crappy, drink Cokes and eat cookies, but it has shaped things where now I only have two cookies, and not the whole bag. And frequently I think, I don’t need a soda today. Every day I’d put in my breakfast (too many egg McMuffin and a large Coke days), but I’d stop eating sooner and not go off the rails as often, and it’s paying off little by little. I don’t give much mind to the sodium goals, and I laugh at the saturated fat ones, so obviously I’m not trying hard at all. But I did have to punch a new hole on my belt, and there’s very few pants I have to unbutton to take off anymore.
Just knowing that I’ve only got 400 calories left in my daily goal after a crazy lunch where I ate a whole personal pizza at the Pizza Studio helps me make better choices with dinner, and sometimes I go over, but don’t have to really worry about it. I can scan bar codes to easily put something like almonds from Costco, or string cheese into my digital cake hole monitor. It kind of makes it real when you decide to record everything as best as you can. I know I don’t get weights right, and I just had the app search for “Funeral Potatoes” and put in what looked like a mid-range caloric choice (and then added a half-cup just to make up any deficiencies (Debbie does make some sassy Funeral Potatoes). But eating at a chain restaurant is easy, as most of them have been entered by other users, only take the entries with a grain of salt if they’re not verified. The hard part comes when I’ve got to say, “Well there was about 4 asparagus, some cream of something soup… would you say that was 6 ounces of chicken?” when entering individual items from my meals, and I’ve become a little lazy about recording dinners. But I don’t sit at my desk at work and graze out of my drawer of inappropriate starches as I used to do. I consider what a snack retrieved from there will do to the rest of my day and make better choices.
And that’s a big part of what it’s all about. Debbie is a great cook, and where I’d frequently have popcorn, or a can of tuna for dinner, I now (usually) get a healthy meal. The problem was the meals were so good I’d usually end up with seconds, or thirds. I’d eat until I was cross-eyed and then go looking for dessert as soon as it settled down some. But having the numbers right in front of me, and not wanting to be the fattest Winter Soldier on Halloween has been enough to make a difference. I’m sure it’s not a change that many people see, and 20 pounds isn’t all that much when I know I’m not even halfway to where I’d like to be, but I do feel better, and I’ve not had to make any real sacrifices in my diet. I only have made an adjustment of scale.
Years ago I heard that Jerry Seinfeld has a productivity habit of marking a big yearly calendar that sits in a prominent location in his office. On the days that he writes he marks a big X over the date and as he gets a streak going he keeps doing what he’s supposed to do to not break the streak. Having the MyFitnessApp has been that sort of motivation where every 5 days it would tell me that “Erik has logged in for 135 days in a row!” and so I always made sure to do it daily, even if a couple times I found I could search for a “cheat day” and put it in with 0 calories and forget it for that day.
But today I came in from glazing in the studio for lunch and figured I needed to enter my ham and egg breakfast and whatever I was having for lunch and I noticed that it was telling me that I had logged in for 5 days in a row 2 days ago! Somehow I missed a day last week and broke the streak I was trying so hard to keep. It was a weird little mix of emotions (weird enough so that I’m actually writing something). On one hand I was kind of relieved that I’d finally made a mistake that I’d been trying to avoid, so now I could stop obsessing over it, but on the other I had to start a new streak. At least I didn’t notice for a week and already have a new streak started.