To Fat and Back: How I Lost It

I discovered a program called Fitday, and started logging my calories. I had experimented with the online version before, but I paid the $20 and downloaded the PC version and it was probably the choice that kept me on the “Fitday Train”, because the PC version is so much more versatile than the online one.

I can go on and on about the wonder that is Fitday. I got my best friend Megan hooked on it as well. But instead of talking about how wonderful it is, I’m going to try to show you. As you scroll down the following photos you can look at the charts and graphs I created using Fitday that show the results I was achieving, and what I was doing to get them.

October/November 2006

2006-10

Feel free to click on this calendar to visit the full size version on Flickr.

Below you can see my daily summaries for the month of November. I think I should have put my Thanksgiving estimates a bit higher, but other than that I know it is accurate because I hand made and measured everything myself. I worked hard to exercise (either playing DDR or running/walking on the treadmill) several times/week. Some of my daily totals were high (112 grams of fat on November 6!), but this is where the idea of “calories over time” becomes important. I started to get a handle on things by the end of November, and my totals for that week look much better.

10-6 calendar

I love the PC version of Fitday because I can generate all kinds of grafts and charts. This graph was particularly helpful for me in the beginning because I was able to export the infomration into a recognizable format. Eeep! 21 grams of sat fat. That can definitely be improved on.

10-06-nutrition stats

I weighed myself as often as I wanted, sometimes daily. Get over it. I know what they say about weighing yourself so frequently, but this was science! It was fascinating to me the amount of fluctation I could have from day to day, even when weighing myself in the same conditions at the same time. On 11/4 I weighted 190. On11/5 I weighed 185.5. “Whoohoo, I lost 4.5 lbs in a day”, I thought. But then, on 11/13 I weighed 187.5 lbs and on 11/14 lbs I weighted 191. That’s a gain of 3.5 lbs in a day! Now, I only celebrate weight loss in 5 lb increments. On the right you can see my graph of my weight loss ( I wish it wasn’t so small, but I can’t make it look any different).

10-6 weight log10-06 weight graph

In the middle of December I went under the knife and had my breasts slashed up, so calorie counting stopped for awhile. But I ended up reaching my goal of 10 lbs weight loss before the surgery! Photo below taken about a week after my surgery, December 2006.

2006-12

January 2007 came, and I hit it harder than I ever have. I was dropping weight faster than I thought possible, but I was still following the rule of whenever I felt hungry. I’ve never seen anything like it. I can say that I contribute some of the weight loss to having huge chunks of fat sawed off my chest. I’ve heard that really large breasts can weight up to 6 lbs each. Here I am at the end of January, about a month after surgery. I think you can tell I was feeling just fine. If the camera time stamp is right I would have been about 167 lbs here.

Click on the calendar to visit the larger version on my flickr site.

1-7 calendar.bmp

I lowered my fat intake, saturated fat, in particular. My daily caloric intake for this time period was about 130 calories lower in average. Isn’t it amazing what shaving off a few calories can do? (Also having surgery, I can’t deny the surgeries contribution to the weight loss).

1-7 nutrition stats.bmp

I do NOT thinking losing 7 lbs in 7 days is healthy or normal. But, again, I was eating when I was hungry, and I continued to eat when I was hungry throughout the rest of the month. Stepping on the scale each day actually became something I looked forward to.

1-7 weight log.bmp1-7 weight graph.bmp

I lost weight like crazy. Until I started spending time with That Husband, and then the weight started to creep back on. I was spending time with this cute guy, and we were going out for late night runs to Burger King and staying up all night studying, and so I started to slip into my old habits.This photo was taken at the end of Winter Semester 2007. It’s actually the same night I told That Husband I either wanted to start dating or stop hanging out. He obviously chose date (although he waited 3 weeks to give me an answer).

So sad that such a memorable photo has me looking so creepy (and don’t be all “oh you look gorgeous” in the comments. I’m a good judge of what looks good on me and what doesn’t, I’ve had the body for 23 years now).

2007-4

That Husband and I laugh and laugh whenever we see this graph. We started spending time together at the end of January and we started dating long distance at the beginning of July. Basically I gained weight the entire time, and then started to lose it once we split up. Some might say this was because I was “happy”. I say it’s because nutrition is something you have to actively commit to. If you let it slide to the bottom of your list of priorities you will gain. That happy stuff is a load of bull. I’m happier now than I ever was while we are dating, and I’m (ever so slowly) losing, not gaining.

3-7 weight graph.bmpJuly-November proved that I could stop tracking and hold steady. Yahoo! For me, this meant that I was finally making correct choices in what I was eating. I wasn’t losing, but I wasn’t gaining either. I held steady through this period at about 173 lbs. Photo below taken in August of 2007.

2007-8

From that point on it was a slow and steady weight loss. I logged my calories sporadically, to keep myself in check. October 2007 (dressed as the season Summer). Somewhere around 170 lbs.

2007-10

I started feeling more confidentabout my figure. I started recognizing my face again. Hello cheekbones, remember me? I was able to hold a steady pace of weight loss even through Christmas and finals.

end of 2007Christmas party 2007. Approximately 168 lbs.

2007-12

By April of 2008, I was feeling quite curvalicious again. Let’s do a side by side comparison, shall we? The photo on the left is in April 2006, the photo on the right is April 2008. Somewhere around 162 lbs.

2008-4

We need to look at another one of those birthday photos, because what I’m about to show you next is just mind blowing to me. The change I made in two months time is unbelievable.

So here I am in April 2008, April 15th to be exact, 162 lbs:

And here I am only 73 days later, June 28th 2008, around 153 lbs:

2008-6

“You look hot!” my husband drooled when I showed him this shot. That Husband was so stunned by the difference that he made me show him other photos from that same night to prove that it wasn’t just a good photograph. Here is the other one I found from that night:

I can’t stop scrolling between the two months. Makes me want to jump back on the fitday train right this instant!

Here is what I was doing to see such a big change (click on the calendars to enlarge):

5-08

The missing weeks in May are due to my trip to Europe (during which I lost another 5!). In these months you can see I did my best to keep my weekly caloric summary at less than 1500 calories. I believe what truly made the difference was taking my average daily fat gram intake down to somewhere around 32. I don’t advocate a low-fat diet, necessarily, but I do advocate a low sat-fat diet (and a no trans-fat diet). Fitday tells me I kept my sat fat intake to an unheard of 8 grams daily from April 27 to June 27!

6-08

This is by far the best average daily nutrition facts chart I have. I was right at my caloric goal of 1300 calories, I was was under my fat and sat fat goals, and eating a good amount of healthy fats. I tried to eliminate cholestrol as completely as possible without going vegan. I worked really hard to keep my fiber and protein intakes high, which kept me feeling full. I’m very proud of myself for what I accomplished during these two months.

6-08 nutrition stats

I hope these charts of mine will help you to not get discouraged with your minor ups and downs. When you put my entire weight loss graph together there are many ups, but lots more downs, to be found. I choose to focus on the down ones. And now, when I gain 3 lbs, I think “This can be fixed”, and it can. That is actually why I weigh myself so frequently, because I might gain 3 lbs one day, and lose 3 the next, and then I’m right back where I started from!

08 weight chart summary

08 weight log

And then, although the story doesn’t end there, my wedding day arrived. I felt beautiful, and happy, and alive. And I also think I was somewhere around 145 lbs or less (I believe I graduated high school at this weight), although scales weren’t important enough to be part of my routine around that time.

2008-10

Now I’m hovering somewhere around 150 lbs, actively looking to lose, but taking my time doing it. I’ve reached a nice stage of comfort combined with discontent. I need the discontent to keep losing, but I need the comfort to be happy.

Why do I share this with you, and why do I believe in it? Because I’ve seen it work, and throughout the process I wasn’t denied anything. I didn’t spend long nights talking with my closest friends about how I ate a brownie and hated my life. I actually lived life throughout the entire process.

And now, I have the skills I need to maintain the weight. Except that one time when I was spending so much time with That Husband, I’ve stopped tracking in Fitday multiple times in the past 2 1/2 years and been successful at maintaing. Out of about 750 days I have only spent 250 days logging what I eat. That means I was able to eat without tracking, without gaining weight, twice as often as I tracked. Do you realize how wonderful that is? I’ve been on so many diets that had me wondering “If I stop, avoiding _____, will I gain it all back?”

I’ve learned something more than how to count points, or to focus on fish, or any of those other things ridiculous diets do. I can tell you how many fat grams I’m aiming for each day, where I want my sat fat to be, and I’m getting pretty darn good at estimating how many calories are in the dishes I eat without weighing and measuring them.

Best of all, I only have one rule. Stay as close to 1400 calories as possible, however I want to make it happen. So some days I eat breakfast, and I’m not hungry again until dinner, and I eat a big bowl of popcorn. Then the next day I have tuna for lunch to make up for the protein I was lacking. And then I have apple and peanut butter as a snack after dinner. I eat for nutrition, not for the scale.

I remember this one day, where I calculated that I could reach my daily nutrition goal exactly if I ate 11 almonds, and so I did. And that feeling? It was amazing. My body felt healthy, and strong, and nourished. And I have the knowledge to make that feeling happen again and again.

Today I walked outside with no makeup, wet hair from the shower, wearing sweats, and some guy whistled at me twice (to make sure I got the message, I think). I got the message, and it was a good one. It was something like “Good for you.”

39 thoughts on “To Fat and Back: How I Lost It

  1. you’re one hot mama. i always knew diets didn’t work (plus, i’ve always hated them). i’m definitely going to try and integrate this into my eating… moving to europe has caused me to lose weight…but i have no idea why. so this kind of tracking will be perfect for me to figure out how to keep it. thanks for the incredible description.

    this is crazy cool.

  2. Fabulous information. One question … since we are all obsessed with numbers … how tall are you?

    HumarockBride Reply:

    Yes, I was wondering the same thing, please share.

    Jenna Reply:

    I’m 5’2″. At 150 lbs I’m only 2.52 away from a healthy BMI of 25. I’m not a huge advocate of the BMI scale, but it’s been so rewarding to watch my number fall closer and closer to the “healthy” range.

    HumarockBride Reply:

    Thanks for sharing.

    kaitlyn Reply:

    These posts are making me seriously question my own attitudes towards weight. Jenna, you look fantastic. I see so many photos and think “She is just gorgeous!”. I mean that in regards to your body (weight) as well. You truly look great.

    I’m 5’8″ and weigh 135 and have been feeling a bit overweight– as of November 2007 I was 117-120. I’m thinking I have some serious perception issues over here. Not sure you had that intended affect when writing these, but nonetheless that one way it’s impacting me.

    I can see why you’re an English major– these have been so wonderful to read!

    Bean Reply:

    I think one thing that the BMI index doesn’t take into account is your body type. Someone who is really muscle-y (like my brother, who is 6’2″ and 195-200 pounds of muscle is a BMI index of 25 – 25.7) is considered overweight. But that doesn’t make sense because he’s all muscle. I think what a healthy weight is for you also depend on things like your bone structure, how wide your shoulders/hips are, etc. It also depends on what kind of lifestyle you live – if you exercise all the time and have a healthy diet (like my brother) and have slightly higher BMI index, it’s okay. I’ve also read studies that how healthy you are depends on how big you waist is. There’s more information here: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/lose_wt/risk.htm#limitations

  3. Congratulations to you! :)

    I agree with eating for nutrition instead of numbers. I admit that I successfully lost almost 30 pounds using weight watchers, but I haven’t counted points since. I eat a pretty healthy diet (lots of fruits and veggies, lean meats and whole grains. And cheese, which really isn’t that great for me, but I like it anyways.) and I can tell when I haven’t been eating properly. I’m usually fairly good at doing exercise daily (even if it is just walking) and I have to remember to stay away from granola bars, baking and sweets if I want weight to stay off.

    I think the most important thing in weight loss is the change of lifestyle and diet. I know that “the faster you lose weight, the faster it’s going to come back.”

    Jenna Reply:

    I need to write a post on why I am so anti weight watchers I think :) I do know lots of people have had success with them, and I’m very proud of those in my life who have. My cynicism toward the program shouldn’t take away from what a great accomplishment that is!

    Meg Reply:

    I’d love to read that. I’m currently on Weight Watchers, and have done it in the past. I know it works for me, but I think that’s the key- finding what works for you.

    Bean Reply:

    I’d be interesting to know about that, too! It worked for me because I had crazy out of control eating habits and I needed the group support one gets from going to meetings. But I do recognize that it doesn’t work for everyone and some people might not like it. I agree with Meg – it’s important to find out what works for you and to be healthy. (ie. some people might claim that having eating disorders “works” for them because it keeps them thin, but it’s not very healthy.)

  4. Amazing! Congratulations! I’m so impressed by you and your hard work. Your journey was a long and hard one but worthwhile – you look fabulous.

  5. thanks for sharing all this! I can definitely vouch for the fact that recording what you eat/keeping track of calories is a great way to keep yourself on pace! it definitely keeps you accountable when you honestly write it all down and see it for yourself. congrats on all your success and in feeling good about you!

  6. Jenna! This comment has nothing to do with this post (although I loved it. I love your honesty and willingness to share things you’ve learned. we need more of that in the blogging world!)
    Anywho, I just wanted to say that I found your blog and I love it and I look forward to more blog stalking.
    Also, we should play! We’ve been meaning to have all the co-workers over – we’ll do it soon-ish.
    Okay, off to bed with me. I promise next time my comment will actually have to do with your post.

  7. This is a really good post, and very timely for me. After being on seventy million diets, then having a baby and being stuck at a certain weight, I’m just starting to understand intuitive eating and it feels empowering.

    Thanks for sharing.

  8. Thanks for sharing this Jenna. Don’t hate me but I have never dieted and have always eaten much in the way you describe. Really interesting therefore to read your accounts. Very motivating.

  9. Ah, what an ending. Kinda felt like a beginning, which the best endings often do.

    So, how does fitday work? Do you have to calculate the calories, fat etc. of everything you eat, or do you just enter what you ate and it calculates it all for you?

    Jenna Reply:

    What I love most about Fitday is its versatility!

    It has a huge database of foods already plugged in. So I don’t have to be on the internet looking up the nutrition stats for a tomato.

    There is also a section where you can enter in custom foods. I do this for everything I eat, and I only have to do it once and then every time I eat that thing I just weigh it and plug it in. It’s really fast.

    The coolest part about Fitday is that you can plug in recipes. So I put in all the ingredients, say what the total yield was (this is actually quite hard), and then I measure my portion and done! I cook a lot and so this is a great way for me to figure out the stats for my own recipes.

    Beth Reply:

    I just laughed out loud … because I did have to look up a tomato today! I found this site – http://www.nutritiondata.com – and it was really helpful!

  10. I have been reading your blog for quite a while now, but have never commented. But after reading your posts about gaining and losing weight, I decided it’s time :) I have gone through pretty much the same thing, I’m 5′ 3″ and my top weight was the same as yours. And I am looking to get to 140-150. I was hoping to get to that by my wedding in November but was unsuccessful, but I am working on it now and it’s going much better since I don’t feel so much pressure. I have just started weight watchers again. It always worked for me in the past, my problem is that I have to stay on it and continue to watch what I eat, and it seems I always fall off the wagon at some point. Also I wanted to say that you look great! And I honestly thought you weighed less then what you say you weigh now, and that really gives me hope because I want to get to the same weight range and now I know I will look smokin just like you!

  11. Congratulations and thanks for sharing your story- I laughed out loud at one of the last posts when you described someone’s reaction when you tell them “I counted calories”. It reminds me of a sarcastic comment my friend made to someone who asked her what diet she was on to lose 25 pounds- she said “the eat less calories and exercise diet”. The person asking said “really? is there a book I can get?” totally not seeing the joke.

    You should be really proud of all your hard work. The best part about losing weight is getting to enjoy it every day living in a fit healthy body :)

  12. Great piece Jenna – you are an awesome example of how GREAT ten pounds off can look on a person. It is so refreshing that you were able to lose this through a nutritious meal plan and exercise.

    I took nutrition this fall and my professor wrote this book (http://www.amazon.com/Portion-Teller-Plan-Cheating-Permanently/dp/0767920791). I have never looked at food this way before, but it sounds similar to what you have done. By filling up with protein and fiber, there’s less room on our plates for white pasta and sweets. Her book talks about how portion sizes have grown and teaches us to use common items (fist, computer mouse, baseball, etc) to measure our portions. A muffin today isn’t the same as a muffin a few years ago!

    One example about growing portions that I love is about a Betty Crocker cookbook. In the fifties, the SAME recipe made 50 brownies. The latest cookbook with the SAME recipe is for 24 brownies. Portion sizes are out of control and the best way to realize your own intake is through the stomach hunger!

    Again – thanks for your continued honestly and humility. Always enjoy starting my day with your blog!

    Jenna Reply:

    Oh, you gave me a great idea for a series of posts!

    I agree, once I started counting calories and realizing how many calories were in product X, I started eating 1/2 or 1/3 of what I used to. Otherwise I was always going over my totals!

  13. Jenna bear – Yout KNOW my feelings on fit day. Changed my life. Seriously. It’s help me shed 15 unwanted lbs, and is still helping me get to where I want to go. It works because it makes you accountable. I love that. I’m so proud of you! You look awesome, and you’ve worked SO hard. Thanks for showing me fit day…back in the day…and for being as obsessed as I am. It makes my obsession with it so much more fun! xoxoxo

  14. Jenna, what a great great post. It put into perspective for me all the hard work that goes into weight loss. I am currently doing weight watchers (since Sept 08) and it is working really well for me. I’ve lost 28 lbs so far and continue to lose each

    It did make me a bit sad though, because I realized that i have barely any pictures of myself from the last three years or so. The only pictures i have are my engagement photos from the end of October 08 and 10 lbs down. I really really dislike them because i look so big still…

    You look good…

  15. Your weightloss story has been so fun to read! It’s so awesome and inspiring, and mindful of all the hard work that goes in to weightloss! I’ve fallen off the fitday train but I really am inspired to get back on it now. (If you’re wondering who I am, I found you thru Weddingbee – i post on the boards as marquisemiss).

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  17. I absolutely understand the crazy daily weight fluctuation, despite the fact that I’m not seeking to lose weight. I weigh myself pretty regularly, largely just out of curiosity, and also because I’ve been losing weight lately due to my gastrointestinal problems which have given me a decreased appetite. It certainly varies throughout a given menstrual cycle, but even within a single day, I’ll see my weight go from 106 to 112. I rejoice for the upper end of that scale and fret about the lower, but either way, a 6 lb change in a single day just seems bizarre.

    If I was attempting to lose weight (which I obviously am not, at 5’6″ and very underweight – I like how I look, but would like to get back to an average weight of 115 or 120), this would drive me nuts, especially if I was following the “rule” to only weigh myself once at weekly, biweekly, or monthly intervals! What might seem like progress could simply be an empty bladder, or what seems like a step backward can just be a heavier part of your menstrual cycle!

    The tracking of progress via charts and graphs on FitDay seems like a very effective impetus for change, even just to eat more healthily rather than for losing weight. I know I could certainly stand to put more protein and certain vitamins into my diet. I may recommend this product to my mom. She’s been in and out of weight watchers for years without any real success from the program. She’s a nurse and I think she’d really benefit from seeing the nutritional break-down of her diet, rather than just counting “points”.

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