Sunday, May 18, 2014

Weight Loss Tools that Work for Me

In 2013, I lost 15 pounds and kept them off. At the most basic level, weight loss is about keeping calories in lower than calories out. Of course it is more nuanced than that - you need to eat enough calories to fuel your body, enough protein to keep you from losing muscle, enough good fats to keep you feeling full. I'm not a dietitian and I won't advise you on specific ratios of macronutrients, but I can share the tools that work well for me when it comes to weight loss.

I have the best results when I hold myself accountable for what I eat and how much I'm moving. I track my food in MyFitnessPal (MFP) and my activity with Fitbit. The two platforms connect with each other and tell me how I'm doing at keeping my net calories in balance.

I access MFP through my phone, tablet, and computer. I can enter food by scanning a food's UPC code with my camera, by looking it up in the extensive MFP food database, or by entering it manually. MFP tracks my calories, macronutrients, and other items of interest such as fiber, sodium, and sugar. More than 30 of my friends use MFP (some more regularly than others...), and we help support each other in our weight loss efforts. One of my friends is on a 500+ day streak of logging in to MFP every day! Here is a screen shot from yesterday, when I was 80 calories below my target level of calories. My target level is about 400 calories below maintenance, so that nets out to a 480 calorie deficit for the day.

Some people choose to manually enter their activity into MFP, but I prefer to track it automatically with my Fitbit One. I've had a fitbit for 2 and 1/2 years and I'm quite attached to it. It automatically tracks my steps/floors/miles for the day and translates them into a calorie burn, which it reports to MFP.  The 280 calories in the MFP screen shot above was reported by fitbit based on my activity for yesterday:

I also have a couple dozen friends who use fitbit and it ranks us based on our weekly number of steps. We can send each other messages, and cheer/taunt each other. Fitbit awards you badges for certain levels of steps and floors which I find oddly motivating. I'm about 100 floors away from 3,000 lifetime floors. And my lifetime number of steps is almost 8 million! 

Fitbit links to a variety of platforms in addition to MFP. Two of my favorites are Earndit and Everymove. Both of these sites give you rewards for working out, and I've gotten some nice awards from them. Read more about using those sites to earn prizes here. Why wouldn't you want free stuff just for being active?

There are lots of sites and software solutions out there to help keep you accountable and supported in your weight loss efforts. Experiment with some and find what works for you. What have you got to lose, besides a few pounds? Good luck!


  1. I have a few clients that use My Fitness Pal. Congrats to your friend for logging 500+ days, and to you for losing 15 pounds last year AND keeping them off!

  2. I used to use My Fitness Pal all the time-don't know why I stopped. I have never used Fitbit. I track my runs with NikePlus where I can also connect with my friends. Awesome job keeping the weight off-that's the hardest part!

    1. Thanks Deborah - it is the hardest part to keep it off! I haven't tried NikePlus but I've heard good things about it.