Food diaries work

At the end of 2011 I had a doctor’s appointment at which I got weighed, and was horrified to find that I was at my heaviest EVER. Ack. I was heavy in high school (when I stopped growing vertically, I started growing horizontally) and then added the freshman 15 (or 20, 0r 30) in college, but then in my 20s lost most of that and got down to a good weight for me, which I managed to maintain for almost 30 years.

Then a mix of things happened: I turned 50 and my metabolism seemed to come to a screeching halt; I was diagnosed with migraines and started taking a preventive medication, Lyrica, which has weight gain as one of its primary side effects, and I transferred in my job from one campus where I could get out and walk every day to our main campus, where I can’t.  I pretty much stopped exercising at all except for whatever workout I got in the garden and mowing the lawn.  The end result of all that was the poundage that was staring me in the face in the doctor’s office.

I have tried diets in the past, and I am hopeless at it.  It just makes me feel too deprived.  I don’t have any other vices to give up.  Plus we all know that diets don’t work long term for the vast majority of people.  But something had to give.  I was about to have to go shopping in the dreaded “women’s” department to have some clothes that fit.

So I decided on three actions: begin walking regularly again, begin weighing myself every week at the same doctor’s office (I go there for weekly allergy shots, so it’s convenient), and start keeping a food diary.

I had kept a food diary before. A coworker and I had pledged for a while, a couple of years ago, to do that. She was dieting at the same time, and I told her I would support her by keeping the food diary as well.  The one I chose to use was called The Daily Plate, which at the time was a freestanding website. (It’s since been taken over by Livestrong, Lance Armstrong’s health and wellness website.)  It was easy to use and had a huge database of most brands of foods, and would also analyze recipes for you if you sent them in.

I did that on and off for a while, but never stuck with it for very long.  They kept my account, though, so every time I signed in to start again it wasn’t like starting over. However…every time I resumed, I recorded my weight, and it kept going up.

This time, when I signed back in after months and months, the handy widget on the side of the page informed me that I had “gained 27 pounds since starting The Daily Plate!”  Oh joy.

But sign back in I did, and immediately looked to see if they had an iPad app. And they do, and it is very slick. It makes it much more convenient for me to keep track of everything, as I can carry the iPad around with me and record what I eat as soon as I eat it.

And today, when I got on the scale at the doctor’s office, I was delighted to see that in the past month I have lost three pounds.

I have been walking some, but not a huge amount, but I have been faithfully recording my food intake.  The goal I listed was to maintain my weight, as the goal of losing 1 pound a week dropped my calorie intake to an unsustainable level.  But even though I am only supposed to be maintaining my weight, I am losing.  Slowly, but surely.  Almost a pound a week so far.  And it’s only because I have become much more aware of how many calories I am eating per day, because I am recording it all.

I knew I would fail at a diet, but I could resolve to keep a food diary.  And it’s working!

Which gives me even more motivation to continue.

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