The Diminishing Vegan

Veganism and Weight Loss

Category: My Fitness Pal

My Fitness Pal | Weight Loss Apps

As part of my weight loss apps series, the first app (and website) I’m going to cover is My Fitness Pal. My Fitness Pal is a free app for android, apple and windows, all you need to provide to sign up is an email address and a password, this makes you an account with a username.

my fitness pal pic

My Fitness Pal has been around for a number of years, according to wikipedia it started in 2005, and in 2015 had 80 million users. I became a member in November 2011, so just over 6 years ago. It’s highly unusual for me to use an app for that long unless I really love it, and I really do love my fitness pal.

In it’s simplest form, my fitness pal is a food tracking application, allowing you to track calories in vs calories out. When you sign up you set a number of goals, give it your personal information, and it gives you a target calorie amount to aim for. Then, when you eat or drink, you search for the food in the database and add it to your diary. When you have finished your day, you press complete and your diary is logged. You diary, weight, everything can be set to public or private depending on what you prefer.

My fitness pal is a lot more than just a food tracking app, you can add exercise, link it with other applications and devices for more accurate tracking, it has it’s own feed, where you can see you and your friends updates, there is a busy online community of forums and groups, it has a blog facility, you track your weight over the years, it really is a special app, made even more special being that it is free. They have recently introduced a premium version, but even with my high levels of use I haven’t subscribed, and don’t think it’s necessary at the moment, however I may in the future.

For food, you can set targets for your macro’s and nutrients, it really is very customisable, I have changed my aims to 60% carbs, 20% protein, 20% fat, and I find this achievable following a vegan diet. I am also aiming to lose 2 pounds a week (when my body agrees!) and using my height/weight/age and activity level, my fitness pal suggests around 1320 calories per day. Additionally, I have my fitbit linked to my fitness pal, so it also keeps track of my steps, and estimated calories burned. If I had one criticism it is that the calories burned is always, and I mean always overestimated, but I’m used to this now. It is a hot topic of debate whether to eat back any exercise calories, as any you gain via exercise are added to your total. Due to the overestimation, most people on the forums suggest eating around 50% of your calories back, I only eat any back if I’ve had a really active day.

I love the support of my fitness pal, I have real life friends on there, people who I’ve never met who we have supported each other for years, many people who are just serious about weight loss. (You can find me here, feel free to send me a friends request!). It’s a great feeling when you log a weight loss and your friends like and comment to see congratulations. You also get streaks for logging in, as you can see from the below picture I’m currently on a 410 day streak, my longest ever. my fitness pal feed

The food database of my fitness pal is also comprehensive, initially, years ago a lot of the foods were American, but over the years more and more people have been adding food (myself included) and pretty much everything is on there, the only thing I would say is to keep an eye on the nutrients, sometimes entries don’t have iron/calcium etc, I will go for a different version that has similar calories if it has the nutrients.

my fitness pal diary

Calorie counting can become addictive, and of course focusing on it too much isn’t necessarily advisable, however, by logging everything in my fitness pal it allows for you to see exactly what you are eating, and when. You can customise meals, add recipes, it is very comprehensive and I would recommend it to anyone wishing to track their food, exercise and ultimately lose weight.

The app and the website are a little different, the app allows for you to see your full weight loss history since joining, whereas the website only allows for the previous year, here is mine, a bit of a rollercoaster!

my fitness pal weight

To end this post, if it’s not clear whether I would recommend using my fitness pal, the answer is a resounding yes. I love the app, love the food database, love the linking with other apps and devices, love the social aspect of it, I really just think it’s great. Over the years it has continue to mature, they have continued to add more features and I think it will just continue to grow. I’m looking forward to being there to see it.

Weight Loss Apps | Weight Loss Tools

I’m a big fan of technology, and when used in the right way I think technology can be a powerful tool to aid life in general, but especially weight loss, plus I’m a massive fan of tracking, so I’ve decided to do a series of posts on some of my favourite weight loss apps. Some of these apps I have used for years, some newer, but they are great for supporting weight loss efforts.

What is a weight loss app? Well, it is a mobile application usually, something that can be used every day to track behaviour mainly. They can also be used for motivation, sending push notification reminders to exercise/log food etc. Some apps also have an associated website which I like.

Why is tracking good? Tracking allows me to first of all view what my normal behaviour is. As I’m trying to lose weight, my normal behaviour needed to be modified in some way, to become a new, more healthy behaviour. I think sometimes it can be easy to not see where you are going wrong when you aren’t tracking, tracking allows me to see this. Tracking my food continually allows me to see good days and bad, I can look back to when I lost a lot of weight to see what, and how much I was eating. Tracking my weight lets me see my loss on a graph vs time. Steps, my ongoing activity levels.

What do I track? My food intake, my workouts, my step count, my sleep, my feelings in a paper journal, my to-do list and tasks. I track a lot! Which isn’t necessary for everyone, but maybe tracking food or exercise is a good place to start with weight loss.

What do I use to track? For food I have used the free app and website My Fitness Pal for years. Their database of food is outstanding, even in the UK, I think once once have I not found what I was looking for (so I added it, as it’s very user friendly).

For exercise I use a few things, my fitbit mainly, this synchronises with my fitness pal though which is great as I can see how many steps, and how many extra calories I’m owed from a lot of exercise. My charge 2 also tracks sleep, heart rate (resting and exercise), active minutes and allows for focused breathing. I also use another couple of apps I will review for exercise, not for tracking, although they both do track progress, the first is Zombies Run. Man, I love that app! It’s a game-based running workout, with an ongoing story which you really get invested in! The second is a couch to 5k app, which I’ve only just started using. I also occasionally use an app for yoga (down dog). Additionally, I use the slimming world app to check syns, and on the website you can log exercise to receive awards, log food etc, which I do intermittently. One of my most used apps is a task tracking to-do list, wunderlist. I probably won’t cover this as it’s not specifically about weight loss, but it’s such a great app I needed to get it in there for a special mention.

Over the next couple of weeks I will do a few posts detailing the features of these apps, what I think is good about them, and what is not so good. You can follow me on instagram, facebook and twitter to see more.

New Years Resolutions/ Reflecting on 2017

Plant Based Simple Menu | Simplify for 2017

As part of my word of 2017, simplifying my food is high on the list. This has two prongs, I am now eating a mostly plant based menu, but also, I want to spend less time thinking about and making food. I do enjoy cooking, especially if it’s a special meal, but standard week day meals really need to be quicker, I would like to remove some of the decisions about dinner from my mind. As a result of this I have created a plant based simple menu which I will follow week by week. It allows for some movement in what we actually eat but every evening will have a theme.

I had heard of this technique before, but most recently I listened to the No Meat Athlete podcast who had Sid Garza Hillman on. The episode was about simple meal planning, and they were discussing using certain nights for certain foods, which is exactly what I will be doing. Breakfasts and lunches will be chosen the night before when I’m filling in my bullet journal, and will be based on what I currently have in the fridge.

Plant Based Simple Menu – Slimming World Friendly

Breakfasts

  • Porridge (refrigerator porridge or prepared in the morning) with fruit
  • New potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, baked beans
  • Hash browns/Potato Scones, tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach baked beans (weekends only)
  • Fruit (and sometimes Oat) smoothie with Oatly

Lunch

  • Veg stir fry with soy sauce
  • Huge Salad with chilli sauce
  • Baked Potato with beans and salad
  • Homemade houmous with veg
  • Homemade Soup
  • Some combination of rice/quinoa/grain with beans and whatever veg I have
  • Falafel made from homemade houmous/Tofu/Seitan with salad

Dinner

  • Monday
    • Wholewheat Pasta, usually with homemade tomato and basil sauce but I may make other plant based sauces
  • Tuesday
    • Homemade veggie burger, either with bread or lettuce, with homemade wedges/chips and salad OR rice and spicy beans in lettuce wraps with chips/wedges and salad
  • Wednesday
    • Mixed Bean Chilli with rice or chips or a baked potato, with vegetables or salad
  • Thursday
    • Green lentil sheperds pie, or vegetables and mashed potato, basically something with mashed potato night, with loads of vegetables.
  • Friday
    • Risotto, can be mushroom and onion, tomato, any type, served with a salad/vegetables
  • Saturday
  • Sunday
    • A roast dinner of some type, seitan, quorn, stuffing with potatoes, vegetables and gravy.

My plant based simple menu really isn’t that different to what I currently eat, other than I’m trying to cut out most of the processed foods, refined sugar and bread. Having structure though for each week takes away the thought required to plan. This isn’t the exact meal plan for my whole family, some aren’t vegan and some are fussy, but this can be slightly changed for them to fit in so it really should remove much of the decisions associated with food.

The meals are slimming world friendly, either no or low syn, so if I stick to this I will be set. I will also be tracking on my fitness pal again, I’ve been logging in to maintain my streak (400 days!) but I will start tracking again, it always helps.

Vegan Slimming World – Progress Update 1

I keep forgetting to post my meals, but after this week is done I will get straight back on it. So, how is slimming world going as a vegan? Mostly a very positive experience. I had a gain last week, 1.5 pounds, of which I was fairly surprised. I had eaten *mostly* to plan, although if I’m completely honest with myself I was probably eating an extra ginger nut or two here or there, I didn’t think it would be enough to get a gain though. I had also been exercising the afternoon previously, which I’m telling myself could have lead to fluid retention, but I think I need to accept that my eating was slipping a little too much.

I almost left the group before the meeting, I just felt thoroughly disheartened, but then Jean, my consultant spotted me sitting alone and came up to speak. She was completely supportive, offering advice, she had looked through my food diaries and gave me some feedback there, and she suggested I use the S.A.S log. For anyone who doesn’t know what they are, they are a daily tool that you use to identify areas of weakness and self sabotage. They go beyond the standard food diary, you log everything that enters your mouth, syns, speed/protein/free etc, and some further information. I love cataloging things so I was up for that!

I also had been reading about SP days. I could be completely wrong, but I feel that I have been going overboard on the free food, rice, pasta and potatoes mainly. I know these things can be eaten freely, as long as you have a lot of speed food, but I think sometimes my portion sizes can’t be right! So Jean explained SP to me. The aim is to fill your plate with half speed food, and half food marked as protein. Now, for me, as a vegan, that is actually quite difficult. Foods that are marked with a P that are sfv follow:

  • Quorn Mince
  • Textured Vegetable Protein
  • Tofu
  • Aduki Beans
  • Baked Beans
  • Black Eye Beans
  • Borlotti Beans
  • Broad Beans
  • Butter Beans
  • Cannellini Beans
  • Flageolet Beans
  • Haricot Beans
  • Lentils
  • Mung Beans
  • Peas
  • Pinto Beans
  • Red Kidney Beans
  • Soya Beans
  • Split Peas

There you have it, not a lot of choice really I guess. I’m hoping quorn vegan fillets are included in this as I’ve recently discovered that they are quite tasty. My main P additions have been baked beans (I think I’m a little obsessed with them!), Kidney Beans, Quorn fillets, Lentils and I currently have a block of tofu in the fridge for next week.

S Fruit and Veg is easier, it includes mostly all veg, other than parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, sweetcorn and a couple of other things. Fruit mainly includes everything but bananas, blueberries, grapes, kiwi, mango, pineapple and a few other ones.

You can eat limited free food, but they do say this will affect the SP plan, so aim to stick to S, or P. You also get your standard one Healthy Extra A but you get two Healthy Extra B’s! I’m enjoying the flexibility to have porridge/more bread. Additionally you have your standard 5 – 15 syns. This picture below illustrates how your plate should be looking, image source.

SP Plate

So far this week I have followed SP Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, however I have a big weekend this weekend, I’m volunteering for The Vegan Society at Vegfest Scotland, and I’m afraid to say that I’m going to eating off plan. However, I have saved up some syns, I have 26.5 saved from the last 3 days, plus today and tomorrows, but realistically I expect to be off plan. Today I will only be there in the afternoon, I’m getting a takeaway tonight which I will try to keep to noodles and veg, but tomorrow myself, my daughter and niece are heading up for the entire day, and being surrounded by pre-prepared food that I can actually eat is just too much for me to ignore. So I will eat, mindfully, but not too mindfully, and hopefully the last few days, and next Monday and Tuesday will have staved off a gain. Fingers crossed!

For anyone who has had a gain on slimming world, if I could offer some advice, it would be to stay at group regardless. After Jean had spoken to me I decided to stay, my friend then appeared after weighing and she had also had a gain, in fact much of the group had. Being in that group situation of mutual frustration but supportive has really kept me going this week. That is the reason I go to slimming world. The food plan is great, the stuff they give you is handy, but the support you get from the group leader, and those who attend the group, that is what is invaluable. Two people also reached target, and seeing them achieve that makes me believe it will be me one day in the not too distant future.

200 days on MyFitnessPal

Yesterday I reached my biggest ever streak on my fitness pal, 200 days! This was great, I was really pleased as previously the highest I reached was 99, how annoying when I forgot to log in that one day for 100 and went straight back to zero. I actually stopped using it for a while then.

Even though I have reached 200 days, I have a confession to make. The last 50 or so have been distinctly average. I have been unintentionally eating at maintenance levels, not completing my food diaries for the day knowing I have eaten a little more than I would really like. I have lost just under 50 pounds, obviously this is an achievement I am proud of, however, in all honesty, I am still really fat. I still have a long way to. 80 pounds of a long way to go. I will never get to a weight which is healthy while I am having distinctly average days.

I don’t beat myself up too badly for straying a little, I have just finished university and began work experience, these changes have upset the cart a little, but it is time to get this show on the road again.

So today, day 201, I am recommitting to this journey. I will not let this slip away, it is too damn important and I have came too far. Today, I eat at my set calorie amount, or if I am at my step goal, or have done yoga, 200 or so above. My calorie goal is 1340. I know calorie counting doesn’t work for all, some find it too rigid, restrictive, but for me, without those mental barriers, I just allow myself to eat, and eat, and eat some more. I think I may need to calorie count forever, or maybe I just can’t imagine me ever actually being a healthy weight! Either way, for the moment calorie counting is what works for me.

Also, I am back on the smoothies, I will post one of these in a separate post but I find they fill me up, are full of nutrients, and I toy with the idea of more raw food so these help me out with that!

Here is the link to my myfitnesspal page, feel free to add me, I am always looking for more friends on there.

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