How a free App helped me lose weight

image source: myfitnesspal
All I've ever done since the age of 11 is gain weight. Never lose it, just very steadily gain it. That is until I had a spur of the moment browse of an app store one day and discovered a very simple to use and free App and the website behind it. Of course, there's a little more to it than just simply using an app, for example to lose weight you need to to have the motivation to really change your lifestyle, there may also be the need for basic cooking skills to be quickly acquired and/or put to use to avoid filling your body with junk food. Nevertheless, downloading one free app changed my health and waistline for the better.

First, a bit of background. I remember my very very first attempt at weight loss. It was during high school in about year 7. In hind sight, I wasn't fat, or overweight, I'd just developed boobs at an early age and it was really puberty that made me feel bigger than the other girls my age. So for one or two weeks I stopped taking my bag of Cadbury buttons for break time, and instead I'd eat a 'fruit winder', 3 plain digestive biscuits and a 'Mr Man' cheese. I thought this would be really healthy as it’s my calcium, fibre and fruit in one snack. Kind of true... but it was more calories in total than the bag of buttons to be fair. I hadn't known that at the time. Anyway, I gave up on this 'diet' when after two weeks I hadn't lost anything (again, there was nothing to lose really).
My next attempt at a diet was during my GCSE's. I gave up chocolate. It lasted one day. Again, I wasn't overweight at this age either, in fact I remember in my Health and Social Care class I had to weigh myself for a project and discovered I had a BMI of 22! Right in the middle of healthy, despite my curvy hips and DD breasts by this point. This is not to say this BMI was a result of a healthy diet (I've never had that during my teen years), it was more down to P.E lessons, going to the park after school every day on my bike and skateboarding! I miss the way I looked at this age (14-16). It's my ideal body shape and what I'm aiming towards now.
When I was 15 I remember going to my local youth club after coming back from holiday one summer with a tan, a henna tattoo on my wrist and upper arm, a streak of shocking blue hair dye in my long blonde hair, eyeliner applied thickly and my nails painted alternate red and black. I wore Vans skateboarding trainers, baggy skater jeans with a chain (It was the fashion back then, OK) and a tight black vest top with the words "dressed to kill". OK, so my fashion left a lot to be desired back then, but I'd mastered the art of balancing my wide hips out with baggy jeans and 'showing off' my (ahem).. 'assets' in a fitted top. I felt confident and carefree! I must have been a UK size 12/14 back then. My happy size.
During my A Levels however, it started to change. This is also the same time that P.E  is no longer compulsory, my 16 year old self went "Yay! No more P.E lessons!" The workload also meant less time to go out to a park and by then I felt too 'mature' to hang around on parks, my group would instead be spotted sitting around on the school field surrounded by our textbooks and revision notes. The weight shifted to overweight, and somewhere in them two years, to obese. I just never knew when that happened. I'm thinking around the time of my very first job in a supermarket. I was stressed working every Friday night, all of Saturday and all of Sunday so no time for social time, this on top of 6 A Levels worn me down. I'd snack.. a lot. Lunch at college would be a trip to Tesco for chocolate or to the chip shop for a cone of greasy chips. Dinner would be meat pie, gravy, mash and some peas and carrots.. not many peas and carrots though as I'd prefer to fill up on half of a family pie. I never drank water, it was always blackcurrant or coke.  By now I was a size 16-18. 
I didn't eat healthy foods at all during my first year or the first part of my second year at University. Unlike sixth form and school, I didn’t walk to it every day either, it's four miles away from my house so I catch the bus with my student ticket. I never exercised additionally to make up for not walking. I still ate poor meals. No weight would have ever come off because I hadn't tried to lose it. I never thought I could so my attitude was 'why should I try?'.
So this brings us to today, the 9th of April 2012, I started using the site  My Fitness Pal and the accompanying App for both iPod Touch and BlackBerry (all free), on the 13th of May, 2011. Since then I've lost 48lbs, dropped back down to a size 12, and saved myself from Diabetes type 2, aside from a myriad of other fitness and health related achievements (which I'll delve into in a future blog post!).
The App and website are fundamentally an online food and exercise diary that allows you to track calories in (food and drink) and calories out (burned through exercise). This, as many of you will know, is the essential formula for healthy weight loss. After telling the site your vitals, it gives you a daily allowance of calories to eat, if this isn't enough to keep your tummy from rumbling, you can 'earn' more calories by simply moving more! Simple, obvious, but at the same time, total genius! 
You can also 'check-in' your weight as often as you like (though once a week is the general consensus) and your weight loss progress is then displayed on a 'Ticker' at the side of the page. Watching these numbers jump in a matter of months from 0lbs to the 20s, 30's and in some cases 90's and 100's, is incredibly motivational. 
The other element of the site, which is possibly the most important part of it for guaranteeing your success, is the community aspect. There's a diverse and information packed forum, and the option to add friends from all over the world to join you in your quest to lose weight (and believe me, it can feel like a quest or a mission sometimes!). These friends don't have to be people you already know that are using the site (though they can be if you like), instead they can be the other users of the site (of which there are thousands!), complete strangers that in some inexplicable way, very quickly become a network of the most supportive people you'll ever come across. They'll cheer you on every step of the way by commenting on your status updates for weight loss, workouts or a day of healthy eating. Exactly what you need when confronted with a big bag of chocolates and have to muster up the strength to step away.

Your turn: What do you owe your weight loss success too? Was it a particular support group or app? Would you consider using an app like this one to manage your weight loss?

4 comments

  1. Thank you for this HUUUGE information:D Thank you thank you! I didn't even suspect of something like this! Total genious!
    I subscribed too in My Fitness Pal, and I'm alredy soooo in love with it!
    :D

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    1. That's great news! I'm glad to have been of help :D

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  2. I joined on 15th March this year. I've just gone past my 100th day logging in and I have lost 48lbs.

    It works, and by my next weigh in I will be under 20 stone for the first time since I was 25 (I am 37 now)

    Keep up the good work!

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    Replies
    1. Wow!! That's brilliant progress! Truly amazing, thanks for sharing :)

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