Thursday, April 23, 2015

Getting Fit(Bit)

I've mentioned in the past that I've struggled with my self image. Like so many other women, I've looked in the mirror and stood on the scale and been incredibly dissatisfied with what I saw.

I started running a couple years ago, and fell in love with it (which is something I definitely thought I would never say.) I started with Couch to 5K followed by Couch to 10K. Last fall, I ran my first 10K. Physically, it was one of the harder things I've ever done. Mentally, it was amazing! (Although based on how hard it was for me, it made me seriously rethink my life goals of running a half or full marathon.)

As much as I loved running, I always did feel a little discouraged that I didn't lose any weight.  Not a single pound. I felt like I was putting in all those miles to just barely maintain where I was. I told myself that the number on the scale and the size of my jeans didn't matter (because it honestly doesn't). I told myself that I was in better shape than I had been in years. My resting heart rate was lower. My stamina and energy were better.  I could keep up with my boys (and sometimes even out do them). Those were the things that really mattered.

But still, never seeing the number on the scale change was discouraging. Before having children, I was extremely thin, sometimes bordering on underweight. Pregnancy changed my body in ways I never anticipated. My metabolism ground to a screeching halt. I never regained my pre-pregnancy size, hanging on to 20 plus pounds with each pregnancy. My BMI went from normal to overweight. The last couple years, my BMI hovered just under obese. I was trying to eat healthy and exercise regularly, and just felt that I wasn't getting the results I had hoped.

My family has always been very supportive of my attempts to be healthy (and I always try to keep the conversations about being healthier, not about being skinnier and losing weight or feeling fat.) For my birthday this year, Hubster bought me a FitBit Charge HR. 

I'm sure most of you know about FitBit. It's a super fancy pedometer. The Charge HR also counts stairs, calories, and continuously measures heart rate. It also keeps track of sleep.  After a few days, I realized that in between my runs, I wasn't being nearly as active as I thought I was. So I started walking into work each day, instead of riding the shuttle from the parking lot. I started taking the stairs everywhere. I haven't been in an elevator since I started wearing the FitBit. It's motivated me to take more walks, run around the back yard with my boys, take extra laps around the operating rooms at work, and do whatever it takes to get my 10,000 steps and 10 flights of stairs each day.   It also has really helped motivate me to not skip my runs. I love those days when I get my steps in by 10 am, and everything else is bonus!

Also, being able to connect with other FitBit wearers and add that competitive edge has helped as well.

My resting heart rate, which was already fairly good, has gotten better, going from 65-68 to 60-62.

After talking to some friends, I also decided to try the app MyFitnessPal, to do some calorie counting. It was enlightening. And by enlightening, I mean a shock, slap in the face type of enlightening.

I felt like I was eating pretty healthy. And I was. I was just eating about double what I should. I remember the first two days of counting calories, and I was shocked by how much I was eating. I never felt like I was over eating, I never felt stuffed after meals, and I was eating fewer servings than the rest of my family. But for me, it was still over eating. Once I realized that, it was very easy to cut back. I still have pizza and ice cream and candy and bacon. But I just eat one slice of pizza and just one actually serving size of ice cream. I reach towards healthy, more protein based snacks. I'm not eating a specialized diet, I'm eating what the rest of my family is. I'm just eating a more appropriate amount.

The calorie counting was hard at first, but it's gotten so easy now (especially since I've added our favorite recipes to MyFitnessPal.) There are days when I go over, but most days I have a good feel for how much I can eat. By deciding to not eat off the plate of cookies at work, it means I can have a cocktail with Hubster that evening while we watch Outlander.

Between these two things, I'm not just feeling great, I'm losing weight. For the first time in years, I'm actually seeing the number on the scale drop. There is no more jumping up and down to get my jeans on.

So far, I'm down 10 pounds. My BMI has dropped two points, headed back towards a normal, healthy BMI.

I know it's not just about the numbers. There are so many reasons to take care of ourselves, to eat healthy and exercise regularly. But it's so nice to get that reward for taking care of myself.

Now, I just have to figure out what to do about my sleep. I've always known that I haven't slept well, and now I have the FitBit to prove it.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing what's been working for you! And congratulations on your progress!

    So many parts of your post have been my exact same story. Normal/thin before pregnancy, then steadily gaining weight, etc. etc. Finally a few months ago something just clicked and I knew I had to lose weight. I have been exercising regularly for nearly a year, but not losing weight. So I started using My Fitness Pal too, and oh my goodness I had NO CLUE how much I was eating! Prior to counting calories, I just ate what I wanted, and until I had children (which also coincided with turning 30) it was never a problem. But now that I SEE how much I'm eating, I'm finally losing weight! It's the first time in my life that I've ever actually lost weight and it's been so empowering. At the beginning it was hard because I felt like I was starving. At my height and to lose the weight I wanted to lose, I was eating only 1200 calories a day. I think prior to this I was easily eating 3,000 to 4,000 calories a day. So even though I wasn't starving, it sure felt like I was. I still have about 10-15 more pounds to lose, but I'm trying to lose in increments of five pounds since it seems much less overwhelming than thinking in bigger numbers.

    CONGRATULATIONS on your journey to better health!

    1. Mel, I was right there with you. The first day I counted calories, I took in 3500! (Granted, it was my birthday, but still!) I realized how much of my little mindless snacking and grazing was adding up. By forcing myself to be accountable, it's make a huge difference.

  2. I think this is the best endorsement I've come across for getting a FitBit. I obviously know about them, but nothing has made me want to get one like reading this. They should seriously pay you for this post!

    1. No kidding! I should get another FitBit. Although, seriously, I'm trying to get Hubster to get one so that I can compete with him. It's no longer fun smoking him in Words with Friends; it's time to up the ante. I'm totally obsessed with mine.

  3. I loved this post! I have used my fitness pal off and on but this makes me want to really use it. Also now I will look into getting a fitbit... Great job on your 10 lb. loss!

    1. I hadn't even heard about MyFitnessPal, but it has made a huge difference! I'm very excited about the 10 pounds (even though there is still quite a bit to go.)

  4. I loved this post! I have used my fitness pal off and on but this makes me want to really use it. Also now I will look into getting a fitbit... Great job on your 10 lb. loss!