You’re not my pal: Or how I learned to stop worrying and listen to my body again.

This post is actually a repost of a note I wrote when I stopped using the website My Fitness Pal.  While the timing is off I still believe everything I said here.  In the time since I stopped using the service I have managed to hit my goal weight, drop another pants size, and continue to lose around the waist.  I firmly believe in the idea that one calorie is not the same as another and that the breakdown of what you eat matters far more than just limiting your overall intake.  With that said I’ll let my words speak for themselves and I welcome all comments about the following post.

This week I stopped using the website and mobile app MyFitnessPal, there are a variety of reasons for this which I’ll outline here. But first let me say that for many people I am sure that this is a great tool, and for some the principles behind the calculations have led them to lose weight and be more fit. I however am not one of those people. In using the software I have lost weight, about 10 pounds in five or six weeks actually, but on the whole my experience of tracking was miserable. Some say if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, well I had already lost over 100 pounds in six months before signing up for the website. And my thought was that if I had gotten this far on my own imagine how much more I would lose if I just tracked my calories and my burn and it would help me know how I’m doing in all areas of my eating. Well I was wrong for a few reasons.

It turned me into a freak about every little thing that went into my body:

Those fish oil pills you take in the morning, yup they have calories, and yup the count, every other thing that you take in has calories. And you better find a way to burn all that off, cause it will add up quick. I began to worry about everything, weighing food, not eating even though my body was saying I was hungry, and looking at that magic figure that the program had given me after only a couple questions and taking that as gospel for what I could have. Didn’t matter what my day was like, do two crossfit workouts, and work an 8 hour shift, do some housework. Doesn’t matter you still only get the same amount of calories. Eating calories burned in exercise is cheating don’t you know. I also started to change my diet from that I had been eating quite regularly and just replacing it with drinking more water to feel full. That number became my end all be all, no matter what my body was saying and it was often crying out for more protein and fats, I didn’t listen to it.

I became obsessed with the scale:

As you could imagine tracking intake and burn also means weighing yourself in from time to time. And while I have generally allowed myself to weigh in once on Sunday mornings just to see where I am tracking everything through the software meant that I was finding an excuse just to “check my weight” and it got to the point where I’d weigh in multiple times a day. I’m not wrestling anymore, so I don’t have to worry about not being able to compete because of my weight. Getting upset that I had only lost one pound that week, or wondering why I was carrying an extra 0.1 pounds one day over the last began to take over my thoughts about how I was doing on my diet.

I was ignoring my body

This is the big one, I no longer listened to what my body was trying to tell me. And this is a huge part of being Paleo is listening to your body and giving it what it needs. For the first 100 pounds that I had lost I generally didn’t use a scale with foods. Sure I’d measure some things, and even sometimes weigh out portions when packaging things as leftovers for the week. But it was more about making sure that each day was about even more than it was about making sure that I didn’t get too big of a meal. At the beginning of the week I had been pretty hungry all the time for about a week straight but I only ate the number of calories that I was allowed and so I just kept going. My workouts suffered, my life suffered, and in general my health was not as good because I was living to a number not what my body was saying. It was telling me that I was working out six days a week sometimes twice a week and working 40+ hours at a job that I spent the entire time on my feet. I needed more calories and so I came to the conclusion that me and the program had to go.

What comes next:

Pure and simply I go back to life before I started all this craziness. I have been doing this since Tuesday and it’s been great. I eat meals that fill me up, and I no longer worry that Green Peppers have more sugar in them than the red variety or that I shouldn’t have a little orange juice from time to time. I mix up my meals, eat lots of veggies, and make sure to include plenty of protein. But I don’t weigh anything out, I eat when my body tells me to, and I don’t eat when it doesn’t. I make sure to avoid processed foods, sugars, and of course those grains and legumes. I’ve even let myself have a little cheese this week. In all I feel much better than I did before and my workouts seem better because my body is well fed and can call upon that nutrition to rebuild and get ready for the next day. It’s a good thing to because I’m competing in the CrossFit Open and will need all the help that I can get. All in all I’ve returned to the Paleo model of intake control, and I feel great because of it.

Wonder if it worked?

Well I weighed in today and lost 3 pounds since I stopped tracking, biggest loss since suing the program.

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One thought on “You’re not my pal: Or how I learned to stop worrying and listen to my body again.

  1. I completely agree with not using MyFitnessPal (or similar tools) to ONLY count calories with no other considerations. Personally, I love it. I do not eat the same amount of food every single day. I adjust it based on how hungry I am and what my workouts are like. I also use it to track my protein, fat, and carb intake. I have a hard time getting in enough protein if I don’t watch it.

    While I’ve considered going Paleo (or something similar), I just don’t think I could give up some of my favorite foods :/

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