In Part 1 of this post series I reviewed my experience with the While 30 and Keto. As I tried to emphasize previously, a health journey is an extremely personal thing. It should be. It should not be based off of others, but our individual drive to better ourselves for whatever reasons we have found. Different things work for different people. I will never judge somebody for their choice, but I would caution everyone, especially if it is weight loss, to make sure what they do is considered healthy by their doctor.
I distinctly remember being in grade school health class. Our teacher was telling us about the danger of ‘quick fixes’ and how you need to trust what you use and do. She recounted a story of her Aunt taking a diet pill years back. It became clear that this pill was not tested or regulated, but a branded ‘quick and effective’ weight loss supplement. Well it worked. She lost tons of weight but became quite ill. It turns out the pill contained tape worms. So she lost weight because they were effectively stealing the needed nutrition from her body. SHe then required intensive medical attention. This story horrified me and to this day, ‘supplements’ scare me.
This post will be talking about two weight loss management programs I have done and/or am currently doing: Weight watchers and Calories In/Calories Out (CICO). I call these more lifestyle methods because they are ones that you can do as long as you want. They do not call for serious food elimination, or upending how you eat. They more look to take your lifestyle and shape it into a bit more of a healthy approach.
3) Weight Watchers
Weight Watchers has a number of options for its users. I chose to use the app and omitted in person meetings. This plan assigns points to common food items based off of their nutritional value. Depending on your size, activity level, and goals, you are assigned a point target per day.
There is a reason Weight Watchers has been around forever, it works for people. As diets and fads come and go, this has been a staple for years. This is the type of plan you can adopt a lifestyle around. It allows you to choose how you eat your food. If you have cravings, you can indulge, but you just have to understand where they fit into your points for the day. For me, I liked that freedom, but also the responsibility that it was up to me. There were not gimmicks or magical metabolic mystery. Did you hit your points or not? I like control and I like knowing. Weight watchers offers this.
I don’t have a lot of cons about this. I did not find a lot of success when doing this, but I think it is less due to Weight Watchers and more because of me. I used this during a time where I did not track my intake as closely as I should and I also struggled with the fitness adjustment from my former tracker. Many of these apps will adjust your target intake due to measured movement by a track (apple watch or fitbit). I found that the adjustments in my Weight Watchers app always seemed high and more than I needed. I do wonder how successful I would be today, with my tighter discipline on tracking.
4) Calories in/Calories out (CICO)
CICO is less of a plan and more of a concept. There is no app or book, but it simply means track your calories in versus your calories out. It is very similar to Weight Watchers, but instead of having points assigned to foods, you simply track what it is you eat and look at the caloric count.
There is no myth or imagination to this method. I am not trying to move my body into a different state of burning energy, I am not eliminating foods to change the inflammation level in my body, and I am not leaving the details up to somebody else. This method puts the ball in my hands for me to do with it what I will. You can use an app or a notebook to track what you eat. You can research the nutrition of what you eat. Many apps will do this for you. I use MyFitnessPal.
The biggest cons to this approach is that it takes effort. It takes effort and an attention to detail. If you are not honest with yourself, it will not work. You cannot hide behind a plan or a theory on weight loss. If you eat more than you burn, you will gain weight.
I currently am using the CICO in my wellness journey. I have found it to be awesome to have the power in my hands. With so many other ways to come at weight management, you can blame the program if it doesn’t work. “Keto is a joke”, or “the whole 30 must not fit my body.” I like CICO because I know that it falls to me, and I am okay with that. I need to hold myself accountable and take control of my life.
I use MyFitnessPal to track my food. I also have it connected to my smart watch, which records my workouts. MyFitnessPal has my target calories per day, which is designed for a low and slow weight loss. It will adjust that target based off of exercise and movement, but it seems to be fairly conservative (which I like). If I have a day with a big food intake I need to be honest. I enter it in and if I eat more than I burned, I know that for the rest of the week I need to try to combat that if I am to lose weight.
Having a calorie budget has helped me with the foods I eat as well. Calorie dense foods with little nutritional value do not help. I use less cooking oil and less grains (but I still use them!) and I have more fruits, veggies, and lean proteins. Let’s face it, I like to eat. I would rather eat more food to get 2300 calories than less food to get there. This allows me the freedom to own my decisions and live the life I want to live. I can have the beer. I can have the hot dog. I am now acutely aware of what they do and how they fit into my goals.