We are lucky enough to live in an age where information is literally at the tip of our fingers. I took full advantage of this, and used quite a bit of different tools to monitor my weight loss.
First off all, the most important was a website and application called My Fitness Pal. This is an amazing and free website that lets you keep a very accurate food diary thanks to their large database (full of French & American foods). This site was basically always open as a tab on my computer, and I added in any food consumed as the day went on, again always making sure to weigh what I was consuming.
The site also has the advantage of allowing yourself to easily track and graph your progress, which I did in two ways. First of all, the most obvious way by weighing myself and secondly by taking certain corporal measurements. I did this every Monday morning, and seeing the actual results allowed me to start off the week on a good note.
Part of the reason I found myself in this whole situation is because I did not have a scale, so I went out and purchased a biometric scale, ie one that measures your percentage of fat, muscle, water weight, etc. I wasn't sure how accurate it would be or if I would really use it, so I bought a used one off of Le Bon Coin for 20€. I ended up really liking it and also found it motivating to see the numbers going down each week.
I also used My Fitness Pal to estimate how many calories I was burning during my workouts, but there were days I doubted the numbers provided (since a website can't measure your muscle mass, workout intensity, etc), so about half-way through, I purchased a heart rate monitor. This was also very motivating, even during the workout because I could see how close I was to hitting my exercise goal for the day, especially towards the end where it became harder and harder to reach that goal since I weighed less. I still wear it now, as it's a great way to monitor whether I am in fat-burning mode during my workouts or weight-loss mode, as well as my maximum heart rate. I bought the Polar FT7 also off of Le Bon Coin for 35€, but I think they cost around 90€ new.
There are also a lot of great websites out there that will help you calculate your BMI (body mass index) and BMR (basal metabolic rate, or the bare minimum of calories your body needs at rest each day). Once you know your BMR, you can use other sites to factor in your activity to determine your total calorie needs for the day to maintain your current weight.
There are also other sites out there where you can put in your current weight, your goal weight, and the date you want to reach that goal, and it will tell you how many calories you should consume per day in order to make that happen.
Nowadays, I am in maintenance mode, and I still track everything on the MFP app. I still try to work out every day since it is something I really enjoy doing, and I usually try to consume around 1800 calories most days, or around 1500 calories on the days I can't get a workout in. My travel diet however has remained the same since that was what got me in trouble in the first place - high-protein breakfasts, one low-cal meal of protein bars+ fruit and one restaurant meal.
It's funny because I was talking to my doctor the other day, and she was like "In what kind of upside down world does an American get fat in France? Your country is the one with weight issues, not ours!" And in many ways, even though the US does have such an obesity problem, it was easier for me to eat healthier there because pretty much everything has the calorie and portion size listed on it now. Whereas in France, food labels are really not user friendly at all. Most of them list the calories for 100g of whatever you are eating, be it chips or pasta. Who the heck knows how much 100g of anything is?? The French however are slowly getting fatter too, so it is changing with time, and there are certain foods now that give the calorie breakdown per serving size - like cereal boxes will say that one portion size is 30g. But you still gotta keep that scale handy to know how much that 30g is!
Labels: Frenchwomen do get fat