Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Saturday, April 12, 2014

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!



Blogger Erica said...

I am SO IMPRESSED!! Well done (and thanks for sharing)! I'm downloading MFP as I write this.

Your story has inspired me to get back on track ... although I think I might set a less strict goal! Even -0.5kg (1lb) per week would be acceptable for me.

April 12, 2014 at 10:26 PM  
Blogger Tim Dudek said...

Good job. Even with all the technology it still take the will and effort to stick with the plan.

April 13, 2014 at 6:39 PM  
Blogger Eileen said...

I also have gained weight in France---I don't think it's rare at all! So you can tell your doctor next time ;-)

April 13, 2014 at 7:34 PM  
Blogger The Paris Chronicles said...

I really love my FitBit. It's funny how motivating it is...but, of course, they are the ones who invented the "Must do 10,000 steps/day" notion as a way to market more effectively their product!

April 14, 2014 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Sharyn said...

I pretty much followed the same plan, looked up how many calories I should eat to lose weight, bought a basic digital scale and did a weigh in and measure only once a week. I did not add exercise because of the season here, cold and snow covered, and I really don't want to go to a gym. However my general day includes a lot of walking up and down stairs. Now that spring is coming I can easily add some jogging and bicycling.
I've lost 9.5 pounds and I aim for a few more at which point I'll decide what weight I want to maintain. I already have to stop wearing some pants which are hanging on me but other ones are now comfortable.
In the US, I found Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice frozen meals a real help to know how many calories you are getting.
It really feels great to have done this!

April 14, 2014 at 1:34 PM  
Blogger Lesley said...

I like to track things with technology and I love my Withings scales (well, when they go in the right direction I do). It's really motivating to have those nifty statistics and graphs sent automatically to my mobile.

April 15, 2014 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Ksam said...

Thanks for your comments everyone, it's so cool to see how others are using technology to monitor their healthy!

And Sharyn, I agree - I totally rely on Lean Cuisine & Healthy Choice for my meals when I am in the US for work. It makes it so much easier to keep track of portion sizes and what I'm eating. Plus they have a lot of preservative-free ones now too!

April 16, 2014 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger Blondering Girl said...

The 100g nutrition info makes me bananas! Definitely seeing more that give the portion size now, but not always all the info I want (sodium, iron, vitamins, etc). The Self Nutrition Data site is pretty useful for getting info, and you can choose different types of portions (1 cup, 1 slice) that are in grams as well.

I used Dailymile to track my workouts before, it was pretty good. It was very motivating to see how many miles I did in a week, a month, a year.

April 16, 2014 at 3:25 PM  

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