Thursday, May 30, 2013

How Technology Helped me Lose 20 Pounds

I've lost 20 pounds since December (thanks for noticing) and technology played a major part in my weight loss along with good old fashion self-motivation/discipline. Most of my life I've been in pretty good shape but always slightly above the weight I'd like to be. I always said I wouldn't let myself pass 200 pounds. Then my twins were born...

About 180 pounds May 1991
Being a father of 4 doesn't give you a lot of time to work out.  And then there is all the beer consumed as any good parent of young children does...

Being a bit heavy is in my "Denham" genes. I weighed about 185 pounds in 9th grade and was about 5' 8" at the time.  Not horrible, but my future wife still wouldn't talk to me (perhaps it was the braces I had for 6 years or the high water pants, who knows).  Once I dropped 15 pounds and grew a semi-mullet (and had a car and she didn't), she started talking to me. I put on a few pounds after marriage and stayed 185-190 pounds most of my life until the kids were born.

November 2012
Just ran 13.1 miles
Weighed about 212 pounds
In November, I bought my fat pants and shorts with a 38 inch waist so that I didn't feel as guilty about the weight.  In December of 2012, I weighed in at 215 pounds when I went to the doctor.  215!  15 pounds over the weight I promised I would stay under.   That was it for me.

Today I weigh 192 pounds and am still losing about 1/2 pound a week.  How did I do it and how does technology play into it?

First, I made up my mind to lose weight and switched to lite beer (yes, I still drink beer, I did mention I have 4 kids, right?) and began to cut back.  But most importantly, I set a goal of 190 pounds. And this is the first of the 2 technology secrets.

I changed my windows login password to 190Pounds.  (Don't worry, I've changed it).  Every day, I was reminded of my goal.  Multiple times.  This made me think about what was important to me.

Second, I got on MyFitnessPal.  Using MyFitnessPal as a tool, some people on my team have lost as much as 70 pounds while many have lost between 10 and 40.  I got on in the middle of last year at 207 before I jumped to 215 but I did not stick with it.  This time, I have stuck with it.

MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter
MyFitnessPal is a website and an app (android and IOS) that makes it very simple to track what you eat.  When I started putting in everything I was eating, I realized how much some of the foods I was eating were causing me to gain weight and stopped eating some things that were very high in calories and started exercising more to earn more calories on the days I knew I would eat more.  

The really great thing about MyFitnessPal  is that your friends (if you allow them) can encourage you when you are doing well or when you are slipping.  I have about 7 friends on MyFitnessPal and at least one of them tends to comment on my activity every other day or two. This keeps me motivated to exercise because I know they are watching.  And, because I choose to share my food publicly with my friends (you don't have to), I am careful what I eat.  Basically, I have several people watching my every food move!

April 2013 Tampa airport 5k run time 24:54
(I weigh about 195 here)
My exercise of choice is also a reason I'm dropping the weight quickly. I run.  I love to run and often run 3-5 miles pushing forty pound twins.  Three miles burns about 500 calories for me and that is usually about 27 minutes of running.  That gives me a lot of room to meet my daily calorie goals.  As they say, you have to limit your calorie intake and exercise to see the best results.  and it is working for me and MyFitnessPal helps me focus on both but allows me to eat junk if I want and see the trade off. 

As usual, technology is an enabler, not the goal. The goal is to lose weight and my original goal was 190 pounds. Now I am shooting for 180 pounds by the end of the year now.  I use technology to help me reach my goal but it is my personal motivation and dedication that are the key to success.   

And as I have covered in many blogs before, technology is making life better and changing things so you should embrace what technology can do for you along with interacting with your friends both in person and via technology. 

Thanks to my friends on MyFitnessPal  for encouraging me: David K, Mike SG, Jen S, Syndee D, Mike D, Shawn W, and new guy Alex who lost over 10 pounds already!

Want to lose weight, here is the summary of what I did to drop 20 pounds in just a few months.
  1. Decide your weight goal (something reasonable, you can always beat it and adjust lower like I am doing)
  2. Change your password to that goal
  3. Get on MyFitnessPal
  4. Get friends to join and encourage you.
  5. Exercise and eat less
Good luck!

PS If you need some size 38 pants and shorts, I have a few, barely worn!

Geiger CIO Dale Denham, MAS+ provides practical insights on how you can benefit from technology in no nonsense terms. Follow him on Twitter: @GeigerCIO