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I was recently introduced to MyFitnessPal’s Calorie Intake Report as a means for tracking progress with my weight goals. I already subscribe to the notion of CICO – Calories In, Calories Out – but have had middling success implementing it in day-to-day life. I understand how it works and everything, but my weight is fluctuating up and down constantly (which is expected, since I’ve been less than disciplined with my eating habits since Christmas/New Year’s).
Looking at my weight over a 90 day period, I’ve mostly made progress that I’m happy with. It’s the up and down business of the last month and a half that I could do better with. For a solid two months from November to December, I was hitting all of my goals every week. Since then, I’ve not had the best results.
So I looked up my own Calories Consumed report. Immediately, I can see why I was set up to fail by my own habits.
The red line isn’t the most accurate – as my goal hasn’t been the same over 90 days; it’s actually gone down quite a bit, so some of the “high” days are probably closer to their target than they appear.
Still, I can clearly see where I faltered. Yes, there are some days there that are showing way under my calorie goal, but I’ll be the first to admit that there are many days where I under-reported my calories. A common theme for those days – and I know this is true – I often overate or was too lazy to figure out how many calories I ate. I have a streak of 376 days – most are legitimate log entries, but I probably shouldn’t have such a long streak going.
In fact, I was going to let that streak die today. I was sitting eating my lunch, leftover from dinner out last night, and hadn’t yet entered anything for breakfast, or my daily weight check-in. I was mentally prepared to take a “skip” day, and let the streak die. Take the weekend off. I know MFP would probably send me a notification, gently reminding me that if I don’t login before midnight, my streak will end!
I was okay with that. Ready to start a new streak, or at the very least get into a new rhythm.
But then I read that reddit thread above in /r/loseit (which is a fantastic resource, by the way!). Consciously I know that my weight fluctuates constantly, and I’m not hung up on the day-to-day number – I just keep it because I’m tracking my numbers independently of MFP, so I don’t need to pay to extract my own data. But looking at my progress this way aligns more with what I’m trying to accomplish with my weight loss efforts.
I’m trying to keep to a weekly calorie goal; this is easy in theory, but MyFitnessPal forces you to track daily. I think keeping tabs on the calorie intake report (which I can pull for 7 days), and adding a column to my chart to include how many calories I’ve had vs my goal, will help me better manage my CICO efforts.
I’m going to wait until Monday to put this practice in full force, because I want to have 7 days’ worth of uninterrupted data to match with my tracking dates. But I’m going to modify my weight loss chart as of February 27th – as I’ve already written it out until the 26th. I don’t like scrapping perfectly usable tables.
Working toward a healthier life is a complete lifestyle change, and it’s hard. It’s well worth examining what’s working and what’s not working, and constantly changing for the better. For me, what works best is to analyze things as soon as I start to hit a plateau or steadily climb the opposite direction on the scale without fluctuating up and down.
I don’t think I will ever stop monitoring what I’m doing. I hope one day I will be a little more relaxed about it, but I know that not being careful at all was what piled on the weight in the first place. It’s all a matter of finding the right balance, in the end.