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The new year is here, and I for one hope it plays out more smoothly than these last two. 🙂 With a new year, many of us make resolutions or plans to do some things differently. Weight management is almost always on that list.
I actually got a head start on this one thanks to a nasty stomach virus that decided to visit me this summer. My daughter and I both got it, at first thinking it was food poisoning since we both had the same salad at a restaurant one Sunday in July.
But I’ve had food poisoning before and it’s usually more “imminent” than this was. This took a few days to hit and we both lost six pounds in a week, so you can use your imagination as to how aggressive this was. 🙂
We decided to run with it since we both got a jumpstart on some weight loss. I had been deluding myself for a good while thinking I was really watching my carb intake just because I wasn’t eating very much pasta, bread, or rice.
I know that carbs are an issue for me, so I decided to go with the O.G. of low-carb eating plans–Atkins. I downloaded the Atkins app and chose the Atkins 40 plan, which limits carb intake to 40g per day.
And trust me, that isn’t nearly as many grams of carbs as you might think. 🙂
Everything was going GREAT for a while, and my daughter and I were both steadily losing weight. Then Atkins decided to jack with their app and threw it offline for over two weeks and we bailed on it. I did check back on occasion and it still didn’t seem like it was working right, so I haven’t been back in months.
I hope they finally got their act together because when it was working, the app was great for keeping track of carb intake.
I moved on to an app called Carb Genius. I LOVE this app. It starts out asking about your goals and your relationship with food. It asks what type of eating plan you want to follow. It then suggests a date by which you can reach your goal weight and sets your daily caloric intake based on that information.
You then log everything you eat, and it keeps track of all the macros for you. It has a very extensive database of foods already in place, but if you can’t find a food you are going to eat, you can scan the bar code and it will usually find it. If not, you can enter the nutritional information manually and save it. You can also enter the nutritional information from recipes you make yourself.
It keeps track of your progress and lets you know if you need to adjust your caloric intake or your target date for your goal weight. You can also keep track of physical activity and water intake.
The thing I really like about using one of these apps is that you can enter a food even before you eat it to see if it is an appropriate choice. You may find the carbs involved are not worth it and decide to forgo them.
The key to using an app to track weight management is to track every single thing you eat and to do it honestly. These types of tools work best when we use them consistently, keeping track of every single thing we eat, and making good choices based on what the data is telling you.
It really is all about following the information the app gives you. To lose weight, you absolutely must have a certain caloric deficit every day until you reach your goal weight.
In the six months since our stomach virus jumpstart, I have lost 23 pounds, and my daughter has lost 26. We have hit plateaus along the way, but that is normal and to be expected, and our weight loss has been consistent.
I will not lie. Restricting carbs is not easy. Well, at least not for me, because I love carby stuff. 🙂 I love really good bread and a delicious pasta.
But here is what I found out. While those types of things are problematic for me, that isn’t where the trouble was coming from. It is SUGAR. When checking the carb count on foods, I was astonished to learn that most of the carb count in foods comes from sugar, and it is in EVERYTHING.
Even stuff we think of as “good” foods. Like milk. 12g of carbs in milk. From sugar. Why? Why does milk need to have sugar in it? That is part of the reason I also found out my favorite Starbucks drink has 31g of carbs. I am not willing to drink 3/4 of my daily intake of carbs first thing on a Monday morning. So that had to go.
I thought I was doing fine ordering six little chicken nuggets at Chick-fil-A, but guess what? That little packet of honey mustard I love to dip them in has 17g of carbs. Another thing that had to go.
Fruit. Most fruit has a LOT of carbs. Now, these are better choices than processed food that has added sugar, but still. A banana has 27g of carbs! At some point, we can choose to consider adding these types of foods back into our food selections, but it really makes you think when you start really being intentional about this stuff.
Maybe you all already knew all of this about sugar and carbs, but it has been quite an education for me.
As I get closer to where I want to be with my weight, I have been looking at ways to gradually expand my food choices. At some point, I will want to set a daily caloric goal and try to expand the foods that I eat while still staying within that calorie count.
I recently added another app called Lose It! This one asks you lots of questions up front to determine your goals and relationship with food. It helps you determine a goal weight and reasonable time frame to accomplish it in a healthy and consistent way.
It works similarly to the Carb Genius app in that you can type in foods or scan barcodes to enter food stats. It sets daily caloric goals for you and divides them between your meals and snacks. When you enter foods you have eaten, it does the math for you and lets you know how many calories you have left for your remaining meals.
It also tracks all of your macros for the day and lets you know what percentages of your food intake come from fat, carbs, and protein.
The thing I like about this app is that once you get to a point where you want to maintain your weight, technically a calorie is a calorie, and while we should always strive to make healthy food choices, when using an app that keeps track of your calories it allows you to figure out how you can work in an indulgence or two every now and then and still stay on track.
That is where I ultimately want to get to because I do love carbs and am trying to figure out which ones I can have and which ones I just have to release into the wild. 🙂
I’m really happy with how well our weight loss has progressed and though it seems slow at times, it has been steady and at a healthy sustainable rate. I want to reach a point where I have just altered my lifestyle to the point that this is just how I live from now on.
That really is the key to weight management. That is why diets, per se, don’t work. Especially ones where you eat prepared selections or do something weird like only drink leek soup for a month. 🙂 Once that external component is removed, the weight will of course return.
We have to change our behaviors, and those changes have to be permanent, as in lifestyle changes, in order to be successful with weight management. I have learned that carbs in the form of sugar are a problem for me and I have to be very intentional with them to lose and eventually maintain my weight.
Using these apps has been so helpful for me to keep track of what I am eating and making decisions about how badly I really want something. Do I want it badly enough to let it derail my progress? The more I stick with it, the less I am willing to give in to something that isn’t the best choice for me.
I ultimately want to get to the point where I really feel that “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” 🙂 I know it’s not all about being skinny. That’s a whole other discussion. But the spirit of that saying is that we really want to think long and hard before we eat something that isn’t right for us.
It’s really about deciding what kind of life we want, then saying no to everything that isn’t that. And we won’t always be motivated, which is where discipline comes in.
And these apps have really helped me become much more disciplined with my food choices and I have seen very positive results. I hope they can help you too!
If you have other apps that are helping you with your weight management, I’d love for you to share. Please let me know what is working for you!
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