I’ve been thinking about food for a couple of months – not to say that I have never thought about food before – just that I have been thinking about it in a more focused way. I’ve been thinking about it because I have finally started losing weight. I have been overweight or at least I’ve had a weight distribution problem. Instead of the weight being in muscle it has been in the fat hanging out around my mid-section.
About ten years ago after walking past a Goodlife gym on my way to and from work for a few years I finally walked in and signed up. My goal at the time was to lose weight. I was not successful in this goal. I worked with a trainer and what I actually accomplished was that I became stronger, the general ache in my lower back disappeared, I learned about some modified exercises that I could do to address a chronic issue with my knees and I improved my cardiovascular endurance. Most importantly I learned more about my body and how it worked and I got over my fear of gyms. I was never very successful in gym class at school and I still remember the embarrassment that I felt at only being able to do three push-ups during Participaction activities. The intent of the program was to get kids involved in physical activity and I guess encourage us to strive for better year-over-year. That didn’t work for me. It just gave me a test to dread every year. No significant weight loss though.
I kept going to the gym after moving to Toronto and when Goodlife conveniently built a gym around the corner from our apartment I even started going every day or two in the morning before work. It certainly made me feel good and I continued getting incrementally stronger. No weight loss – at least not in any sort of sustained way. When we moved back to Ottawa there were no convenient gyms and we ended up cancelling our membership because neither of us were going to the gym in part due to the lack of time and partly due to the location of the gyms in relation to our apartment. Then after we bought a house and moved across town The Athletic Club conveniently opened a gym near us and we bought memberships. I went sporadically and attempted to go every couple of days, but that didn’t work well.
After a two-month gap in gym attendance I started going every day in the morning before taking my six-year old to school. This meant getting up earlier – 5:15am to be exact. Some days I get there pretty quickly, some days I drag myself there, and some days I can’t go due to work travel. I only get 30-40 minutes a day since I need to get home in time to shower and get dressed and wake up my daughter for school, not to mention feeding both of us and making lunches for school and work. Generally I now find it easier to go to the gym than not. It is now a habit.
Even though I was going every day, there was still no change in my weight or belt size. Occasionally I have dropped by a notch on my belt, but it usually comes back. The turning point came as a result of a conversation with my boss. He told me about an app he had started using called MyFitnessPal.com. It is a calorie counter and an exercise diary. You can also use it to track the nutritional value of the food you eat. I entered my weight, my target weight and how much weight I wanted to lose in a week. I haven’t quite met those targets, but I am down more than 10 lbs in two months. Sometimes I lose two pounds, sometimes I gain one, so far the trend is down.
For the first time in my life I feel like I am in control of the food I eat. I know what snacks will cost me in terms of calories. I have been astounded to learn how many calories are in bread and Macaroni & Cheese (one of my favourites). I rarely feel hungry using this app. I do spend more of my time thinking about the food I eat and trade-offs I am willing to make to have something I enjoy – for example I am drinking a beer while I write this and as a result I won’t have any ice cream after dinner. I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything because I know the benefit for me and how I feel about my body. I enjoy feeling better and I enjoy needing to wear a belt to prevent my pants from falling down. I enjoy having information about the food I eat and for the first time feeling in control of how that food impacts my body and my health.
I have also been thinking about access to food, in part as a result of rising food prices and gardening to grow some of our own food to reduce our food costs. I have a few more posts in me on that topic and will post those as I get them written.