Losing weight isn’t easy.
Ask me. I’ve been trying ever since I peaked as a 210-pound, 5’10” 18-year-old in 2010. It took me almost six years to crack the code on sustainable weight loss.
I’ve tried dozens of lifestyle changes, different diet plans, exercise regimes, and even desi totkas. But it was one important, technology-powered habit which — among others — led to a loss of 14 pounds in just over a month.
Let me rewind first to September 2015. After seeing no results for several weeks of regular exercise and what I thought was decent diet control, I decided to give up.
Here, I was putting myself through so much discomfort and yet, my weighing scale simply refused to budge in the right direction.
I remember sharing my frustration on Facebook. A friend of mine, and now the co-founder of my price comparison startup, suggested checking out a mobile and web app called MyFitnessPal. And so, I ventured on the journey of data-driven weight loss.
The fundamental weight loss equation
For the uninitiated, "data-driven" is a term used in business and IT circles to refer to the gathering of data, and analysis of trends that leads to more informed decisions.
To understand data-driven weight loss, it is important to understand the fundamental equation on which it is built. It is something I discovered embarrassingly late:
Calorie deficit = calories you eat - calories you use
Key takeaway: in order to lose weight, you must eat fewer calories than what you use throughout the day (calculate your TDEE here). So, the greater your calorie deficit, the faster you’ll lose weight.
Finding trends in eating habits
With MyFitnessPal, users are asked to enter their daily meals and snacks in order to count the number of calories they eat every day.
It is initially a bit of an inconvenience to add every meal, but as you analyse trends in your eating habits, you begin to find some incredibly interesting facts that make it worth it.
You already know how disastrous burgers, soft drinks, and processed foods can be to your weight loss efforts, but did you know aloo gosht, haleem, biryani, dahi phulkay and too many cups of doodh-patti with sugar are almost equally devastating?
This is what I discovered through three months of calorie counting with MyFitnessPal.
It has a database of well over five million foods, so you will find all your regular local dishes with ease. It breaks them down by calorie count, carbs, fats, proteins, sodium and sugar.
With regular calorie counting, you’ll soon find several areas in your eating habits which you can easily improve to drastically boost your weight loss efforts.
My own eating trends were fascinating. I was generally doing well at breakfast, lunch and dinner, but poor snacking was barring me from effective weight loss.
Through four cups of coffee, and seemingly innocent portions of biscuits and sweets, I was consuming an extra 500 to 700 calories everyday that would push me beyond my total daily energy expenditure.
Furthermore, even if I did stay lean for several days, I would reset my calorie deficit by indulging in fast food eatouts on the weekend.
Using the invaluable knowledge I gained from using a mobile app, I designed a simple, easy-to-follow weight loss plan that helped me lose 14 pounds in under 40 days.
I eliminated snacks, switched to black coffee, replaced fast food eat-outs with healthier but equally scrumptious dine-outs, and incorporated mild exercise into my routine. I have gradually built habits for losing weight at a sustainable pace — and it all began with calorie counting.
Sustainable weight loss begins when you understand yourself better, it ends when healthy eating becomes a habit. If you can focus on building those habits, your weight will stop being a problem.