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The BEST Christmas present, EVER!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wow. This place is AMAZING.

With the help of the nutrition tracker, the motivational tools, and most especially THE PEOPLE, I've managed to remove 166.8 lbs since last December. (176.2 total)

What I wanted most of all for Christmas this year was a BMI under 25.

And this morning, what was waiting for me on the scale? A number that put me there!!!!!


To get there has taken a lot of perseverance and support from too many people to mention here, but it includes pretty much everyone who has ever commented on my page, or a blog, or sent me an email, or shown up to a Finger Lakes Team Spark rally... (As well as so many friends and family in my AFK life.)

I want to especially thank STEVIECAT4 for joining a contest with me after Thanksgiving to race to our goal weights by Valentine's Day. Her spirit of friendly competition has definitely helped me stay on track and make progress this month.
Here's hoping her back heals soon so she can continue to push me (and herself) toward our goals!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my (now much healthier) heart!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

P.S. I am already planning out my meals and exercise for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

I'm using "Lean Me Pro" on my iPod Touch to track exercise and nutrition.
The advantage over the SP tracker is that I can do it anywhere, any time, even when not connected to the internet. Which means I always know how many calories I have left for the day, and what proportion of them needs to be protein.

Thurs and Fri I will drop down to a -6 lbs per month diet plan which will give me a bit more flexibility in the eating. Saturday it's back to the stricter -8 lbs per month regime.

As I ramp down to goal I will experiment with -8, -6, -4, and "maintenance" diet cycles to see what works.

I WILL have a plan, and I WILL stay on track.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MOMMAROLEMODEL 1/11/2010 10:50AM

    Way to go-- I am so proud of you!

keep it up


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STEVIECAT4 1/5/2010 5:27PM

    You are so awesome!!!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DAVEOZ 1/4/2010 2:17PM

    Great job. Best of 2010 to you and your BMI!

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GEE-KNEE 12/27/2009 12:00PM

    Congratulations again! You did this so fast. That must have taken some great determination, and I am sure that same determination will keep it off this time. It's good to have a plan. I am taking the tortoise approach lately, slow and steady, but I'll get there too. Until then I am enjoying being just overweight for Christmas..., something I haven't been since high school.


Comment edited on: 12/27/2009 2:25:43 PM

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MOMFAN 12/26/2009 8:44PM

    Great Job!

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TELERIE 12/26/2009 1:27PM

    Congratulations on the best Christmas present ever! and it's a gift you can keep on enjoying for the rest of your long and healthy life! You are SUCH an inspiration! I am putting the same Christmas wish on my list for next year.

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MOM5INFL 12/24/2009 10:56AM

    Congratulations!!!! Yay!!!! Awesome!!! This is what it's about. Getting healthy. You are an inspiration!!! Birdie.

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FRECKS96 12/24/2009 8:50AM

    Congrats!! What an amazing gift to yourself!!

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DDOORN 12/24/2009 1:33AM

    What an AMAZING journey for you!

Amazing in how MUCH and how FAST you've accomplished this!

You've been such an inspiration for me to get off my duff and get going once again after a plateau of over a year...can't thank you ENOUGH!

May your holidays and the years to come bring you all that your heart desires!


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WALKWITME 12/23/2009 8:11PM

    emoticon Congratulations!

My AWESOME emoticon

emoticon Merry Christmas! emoticon

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JUST-AMY 12/23/2009 7:17PM

    What a great, hard-earned, self-given Christmas present, indeed. You are awe-inspiring!


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BUTTERFLY2819 12/23/2009 1:22PM

    congratulations!!! way to go!!! you're right, that is an amazing christmas present!!!

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BETTYAHE 12/23/2009 12:21PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

A wonderful gift to yourself! Congratulations!

Hugs, Betty emoticon

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STEVIECAT4 12/23/2009 12:20PM

    Right back at ya Goal Buddy!!! The scale just wasn't moving for me until you proposed this challenge and now we're both in the 150's!!! Merry Christmas! I KNEW you would make it. As for me, I'm sure I'll be back to my exercise by Sunday and then you'd better watch out cuz we're going to be neck and neck down to the wire. I predict a photo finish!!!!!

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WILLOW49 12/23/2009 11:54AM

    emoticon emoticon You couldn't have given yourself a better gift...leaving those pounds behind in 2009!

Enjoy your new gift...so glad it's under your tree ;)

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SPATTERS3 12/23/2009 11:09AM

    congrats ! I went to your spark page - phenomenal !

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MARZATAX 12/23/2009 10:05AM

    Way to go! Congratualtions on your early Christmas gift! emoticon

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ALYFITN 12/23/2009 9:40AM

    emoticon HI FIVE FOR A TWENTY-FIVE!!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DOLLYDAGGER64 12/23/2009 9:38AM

    Good for you. Congratulations. emoticon

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DEBMORSE1 12/23/2009 9:32AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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KARENE10 12/23/2009 9:32AM

    What a wonderful Christmas present~ Better health! I am so happy for you! Hope steviecat is on the mend too. Friendly competition helps me also. Wishing you and yours
a very Merry Christmas and a happy ,HEALTHY new year!!!!!!!!

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PEDAL-PUSHER 12/23/2009 9:30AM

    AMAZING!!!!! Congratulations!

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Voted Popular Blog Post: View All Popular Posts


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I would like to reopen the issue of expanding support for maintainers here at Spark People.

I've already lost over 100 lbs and gained it back once in my life, and this time I am playing for keeps. Twice in one lifetime is ENOUGH.

I want to stack the deck as well as I can toward success in maintenance, the way I have stacked it toward success in weight removal.

Ideally this would include tools, incentives, and reminders all timed to coincide with the stages of maintenance - continuing out to 60 months, analogous to the excellent structure provided here for phases of weight loss. And some way to find the other people who have been where I am and are where I am, for mutual support in sticking to the plan.

I have sent a message to Chris, Coach Jen, and Coach Dean, but they've probably been too busy to answer. Time is slipping by, and I would like to know from the rest of the community if I'm the only one here who is concerned about this.

The maintenance issue is deep and difficult. Statistically only 5% to 20% of people manage to keep a large weight loss off (depending on how you define "keeping the weight off"). I myself once before lost over 100 lbs and gained it back (plus 100 more). Training in maintenance mentality needs to start before someone reaches goal and needs to continue from 2-5 years afterward (according to the literature).

If Spark People can show an improvement for weight loss maintenance better than these statistics, the site will have a significant edge over other competing resources.

We need to make maintenance more supported, visible and celebrated here. More than occasional articles about regain, and a few teams about maintenance. The "Maintaining Your New Weight" Lifestyle Center page is good to have, but it is not enough.

There is a lot of scientific information available about which specific behaviors and strategies are associated with weight loss maintenance. The National Weight Control Registry has published about weight maintenance interventions they've designed.

Spark People would be an ideal place to implement such a program. The site already has many of the necessary features already in place - personal interactions for mutual support, tools for nutrition and fitness tracking, and the "stickiness" necessary to keep people coming back and staying with the program.

I've written a blog summarizing the main behaviors associated with weight loss maintenance, based on a recent paper from the NWCR:
(This post also contains links to other resources like the maintenance chapter of the Hacker's Diet, a link to the Second Helping online magazine, etc.)

These specific behaviors need to be highlighted, encouraged, and celebrated. Spark Streaks and countdowns to 5 years of maintenance from initial goal weight would help a lot.

We need a maintenance program that is based on hard science. Someone from Spark People could approach the NWCR about whether they'd be interested in helping design a weight loss maintenance program for us. I have even offered to assist with this, given my background in scientific / academic research.

Am I the only one here who sees a need for something like this? Getting the weight off simply is not enough. I need help KEEPING it off!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I received an email from SparkGuy Chris.

He said they have put this down as a project to work on. He suggested building a "days at goal" tracker and then have rewards based on that. He said they also want to build out SparkAmerica/SparkEarth fitness minutes challenges since consistent fitness is such an important part of maintenance.

He asked if I had any specific additional thoughts.

Below are some specific suggestions I made. If you have any specific ideas for how to facilitate maintenance, it sounds like now is a good time to email them to him.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I'd LOVE to see Spark Streaks implemented for days at goal, weeks at goal, months at goal, etc. all the way up to 60 months (five years).

Spark Streaks would be ideal to encourage the behaviors that have been statistically associated with weight maintenance:

1) activity levels of over 200 minutes per week (at least for women in the cited study)
2) high levels of dietary restraint, such as:
- a) deliberately taking small helpings
- b) avoiding certain foods
- c) counting calories
3) having lower levels of depressive symptomology
4) controlling overeating

I'd also like to see "success gallery" icons marking the time spent at maintenance (all the way up to 5 years).

The "Maintaining Your New Weight" Lifestyle Center page is good, but it could be improved.

I'd love to see links to articles addressing these key predictors of successful long-term maintenance, highlighting them specifically:

1) longer duration of weight loss maintenance (more than 2 years)
2) dietary consistency
3) less fast food consumption
4) less TV viewing
5) more frequent breakfast consumption
6) lower levels of depressive symptoms and dis-inhibited eating

Some of the articles already there could be enhanced. For example, Nichole wrote a nice article summarizing the efficacy of daily weigh-ins. But how about including a link to resources that calculate a weighted moving average of daily weights, such as physicsdiet.com or the Hacker's Diet online log?

(Ultimately I'd like to see a Hacker's Diet-type weighted moving average option built into Spark People's weight charts, but that might not be such an easy addition. See the Hacker's Diet Spark Team for more info: teams.sparkpeople.com/hackersdiet )

Mike Kramer wrote a nice article summarizing his "unscientific" survey among maintainers, but there is actual scientific data (like that listed above) that could be referenced in this regard as well.

How about a subset of the motivational weight loss pages highlighting people who have maintained for more than 2 years? (2-5 years is the term most scientific articles mention)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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Another update:

BETHEFLAME has pointed out that there is a new Spark Poll asking about maintenance support:

If you have opinions, that might be a good place to voice them, too!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JESPAH 4/25/2011 6:11PM

    Thank you for posting this (and yeah, it's a few years later but you know why I'm here).

If SP wants us to be in the 5%, dammit, where are they?

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GEINAHG0757 1/3/2010 12:09PM

    While I have found my way to a "normal" BMI - right now - I am absolutely TERRIFIED that this will not last. It never has before. It is very admirable of you to recommend to SP that they expand their Maintenance program. If this site is to be truly successful, it is going to have to address this.
I have not found the right nutritional path as you have. I "lurk" your blogs - taking (well, borrowing) ideas that you suggest. Some of them I have incorporated into my diet and I thank you for that. Cannot.do.tofu...just.can't!
Congrats on your journey so far. You LOOK so vital, healthy and just plain HAPPY. May whatever power that guides continue to do so...

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SHEILA1505 12/23/2009 10:44AM

    Hi there - looks like SP might be listening! This morning I noticed a link to Maintenance - so maybe just maybe we'll get the support and recognition that we need.

Well done with the under 25 BMI too! Awesome

Peace and Joy
Have a good Christmas

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SHEILA1505 12/22/2009 2:45AM

    I hit my target last year - full of motivation and Yay Way to Go stuff - but maybe I got complacent and then woke up 6 months later with several miserable pounds back on board. This time I have added this community to my back-up infrastructure and am looking forward to the January BootCamp to keep the energy levels up. I can't say that the Nutrition Trackers helped in any way as they don't seem to allow for intolerances etc. but the friendships certainly help. Thanx everyone!

It probably was a head thing - but isn't everything? My head gets it - but Yes - we do still need encouragement, support, information and rewards. We all need to know we are appreciated and our efforts are worth while.

Bring it on!

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BINGHAM37 12/20/2009 12:03PM

    I really respect your amazing success and took a look at your food intake to see how you did it. Now I can see why you might be really concerned with maintenance! You must be doing what is right for your body, even though the numbers look extreme to me. Are you consulting with a reputable and modern dietitian? I hope so, I know that many Americans get that much protein but I worry about your kidneys. Yes, I worry... sorry if that irritates you at all, I just wanted to let you know that I care. Take care on your journey, I wish you all the health and happiness in the world.

Update: I'm glad to hear you've researched high-pro diets, it obviously works for you and that's like 98% of the battle isn't it?! I studied to become a dietitian but I learned that a lot of them are not up-to-date with new research. Your research and knowledge of your own body is probably a lot more accurate for your needs than most professionals in the field! All the best and I hope to hear more about your journey through next year (as I hopefully track my progress too =). Happy Holidays!

Comment edited on: 12/20/2009 2:39:41 PM

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HEALTH4LYFE 12/15/2009 10:21PM

    Thank you for sharing and for providing so much information on which others could contribute. I am 22 lbs away from my goal and have lost 64 lbs so far. I have done the weight loss thing before and gained it back plus.
It scares me to death (only figuratively) with regards to how I am going to handle it, and what I need to do to maintain.
I have already been chatting with a friend who is maintaining and I told her I plan on leaning on her A LOT!! I will try and brainstorm some ideas and send them your way. Thanks again. emoticon

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SECRETMUSIC 12/15/2009 10:03PM

    I so agree with you. At 80+ pounds down and 20+ to go, I am already feeling the lack of support that was given with the initial phases. I like your suggestions very much, and I'll try to think of anything else that might occur to me. Thanks so much for bringing this up!

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WALKWITME 12/13/2009 3:46PM

    Thanks ! I need all the help I can get

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PEPCEA 12/11/2009 12:44PM

    I totally agree with MSTUBBE and I am speaking from personal experience of having lost a great deal of weight and gained it back plus many more pounds. So I can be honest about it. The truth is the programs are telling the truth...you do need to continue with what you did to lose the weight. The problem is, most people don't do it. I totally agree that there is a psychological component that MUST be addressed for success. I know for a fact that is why I am successful this time. I have changed my lifestyle and I know I cannot go back to how I used to eat EVER! Unfortunately, it's a truth the most will not accept or cannot accept. And I'll tell you, all the support in the world won't help you if YOU are not willing to change forever. In the end, it is up to each individual person and I would really encourage anyone struggling to work on the mindset because you will never have permanent success otherwise. (well, at least, that's what I feel based on my own struggles).

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 12/10/2009 8:07PM


It *is* confusing, isn't it?! You'd THINK keeping the weight off would be just doing the same things that helped you lose weight. And most weight loss programs tell you exactly that.

But the fact is that only about 5% of people actually manage to stay close to their goal weight in the long term, and up to 20% only manage to keep about 10% of their starting weight off, that means 80% gain it ALL back, or even add some.

So what the weight loss programs are telling us, the standard lines about "doing what you did to lose the weight" clearly isn't working. And there is research out there showing it. There are subtle differences, and they are important. Both in the psychology and in the mechanics of the process.

So, unfortunately maintenance is a whole other can of worms, and in my experience much harder than losing weight. You can see some of the collected resources and comments in my original blog on the subject...

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MSTUBBE 12/10/2009 7:55PM

    I'm confused... I get that once you reach your weight loss goal you want to maintain that weight loss but losing 100 lbs or more takes a lot of time... right? So why wouldn't you continue to live the lifestyle that got you to where you are when you reach your weight loss goal?

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CHARLIESANGEL10 12/10/2009 1:37PM

    Yes, I think Spark needs something like this. People will also need to learn how to maintain for life--& will need support because life can really get ya sometimes. I think you sound like a well educated person on the topic--maybe they should put you in charge. I know it would be helpful for people to see how people are successfully keeping their weight off & coping with life while doing it. I've often wondered why they did not have it...I had lost from 200 to 150 & kept it off 5 years before my pregnancy that left me half dead & 300 pounds & I already wanted to read & study up & learn from the examples of others, to help remind me where I used to be & I was hoping someone there had done it without exercising like crazy. This time, I am physically unable to do the amount of exercise I did before to maintain & am now challenged to gain more control over my portions--forever, it's not easy for me. I know it would help people who are maintaining when they hit personal & medical crisis moments. Ever seen anyone try to stay at their goal weight for life while taking steroids for pain management? That is not easy & would benefit all people because at one point in our lives, we are all gonna be on medications & many cause weight gain---I'd like to know the best way to do the best you can when dealing with it. Thanks.

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DAYHIKER 12/10/2009 8:03AM

    DDORN kindly sent me here, too, and I'm so glad he did! I am eager to get on board for Maintenance!


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GETTO140 12/10/2009 6:28AM

    Another spark member, DDORN, pointed me to this blog.

This is an excellent blog with some really great ideas. I need a "how to maintain" guide, because I don't want to go back where I was either! I did reach my original goal, however, I bumped it to 140 when I saw the pounds coming off on a regular basis. Staying down is not so easy, really. It's a daily, mindful process. I help other people here, but could use some of this kind of help and motivation from others who are trying to maintain.


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GOLIONS 12/9/2009 8:41AM

    I have reached 1.5 year at goal. It is so scary. Seeing that weight fluctuation of 1-2 pounds during my weekly weigh in is very scary! Did I really gain weight? What did or didn't I do this week that was so different? Am I slipping back to the old habits? It is

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RUSSLANE 12/8/2009 9:57PM

    Thanks for the mention of Second Helping!

In terms of the "keeping it off is harder thing" -- if you talk with mountain climbers, or read of the chilling (ooh! really horrible pun) account of Mt. Everest climbs, there's an ongoing theme. If you put all your energy into climbing up the mountain, how will you get down?

Life, post-weight is kind of like this, learning to climb down the mountain and settle into "the new normal." With all the emphasis on weight loss -- and rightly so -- there's comparatively less on life-after-weight loss. The methodology of it, and the reality of what it means to "catch your mind up to your body."

With all the "weight loss success story hype" so popular in the media, post-weight life can be a lot harder than it looks. It's an tremendous adjustment, and one that goes criminally unacknowledged.

As for SP teams, I definitely recommend the "Over the Hump" team -- for me, a lot of the "what am I going to do with my life now?" questions started happening toward the latter half of my weight loss. And there's the awesome team, At Goal and Maintaining.

Comment edited on: 12/8/2009 9:57:26 PM

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LACHELY 12/8/2009 4:40PM

    thank you~!!!!!

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UNSURE 12/8/2009 12:12PM

    hven't gotten there yet, but great to see it is coming. We all need this to be address

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MOOSLADY 12/8/2009 11:39AM

    I love the weighted average idea. I have been doing this on paper by hand because the chart here doesn't show enough detail. Even when you reach goal your weight varies a little bit each day due to hormones, constipation, etc so one weekly measurement is not as helpful.
I have been at my goal weight for a year and find I can't yet not record my food. How can we transition to eating intuitively? How about when the low calories we were eating to lose are causing our bodies to panic and gain weight. I recently found I had to eat more to stop a regain. When I read that most people are eating 1200-1400 calories and I am having to eat 1700 to maintain it confuses me, we definitely need more support.

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ISLANDGIRL2013 12/8/2009 8:07AM

    I'm thinking about my maintenance phase already and I've only lost one third of my goal weightloss!

I thought I'd lost you on PhysicsDiet, but then I thought "those numbers look familiar". I bet she changed her name. emoticon

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VGIMLET 12/7/2009 9:00PM

    Maintaining has always been my problem too.

When I get to goal this will be the third time I have lost a significant amount of weight to get to a goal. Losing the weight, once I make up my mind, is not usually the problem. It's keeping it off. I have better tools now, and a better mindset that I'm working on, but I agree, having a maintenance component is a great idea.

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ILOVESP 12/7/2009 8:32PM


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USHAMATT 12/7/2009 7:35PM

    I need maintenacnce more than anything. I reached my goal and decided to lose a little more. Just beacuse I am afraid of the future. Now I have no enthusiasm. I have kept within my nutrition and exercise guideleines but I just feeol deflated. I reached my goal over Thanksgiving.

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CHRISSYVB 12/7/2009 1:46PM

    Really well thought out. Thank you.

I know those who are still struggling to lose probably wouldn't agree with this but the losing was the easy part. Once I was in the losing mind-set I didn't really have a problem sticking to the program. Sure a few hiccups but no real problems. Maintenance is much harder for me.

I hope your suggestions are implemented quickly.

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HILARYMM 12/7/2009 11:35AM

    Rock on! I am six pounds from goal, and trying to work out maintenance issues. I want to keep this lovely body. Thanks for a timely blog post!

-- Hilary

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NANCYBFULLER 12/7/2009 9:25AM

    In the meantime, you could start a team. If you do let me know.

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LADY_KATHY 12/7/2009 12:15AM

    Great ideas.. glad someone (you) started something. ; )

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FRANMA76 12/6/2009 10:35PM

    I completely agree. I'm a WW member, and have already found that other than weigh ins and an empathetic leader, there are no real clear cut guidelines, or much of a "what to expect"...I'd like to see some articles addressing how you cope when the message from the scale is suddenly say the same...and the mental game of keeping on tracking, controlling portions, all of it.

I've always heard it's hard, but it's still a shock.

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SF-RACHAEL 12/6/2009 8:47PM

    As I'm closing in on goal I find myself wondering about maintenance. I'm not gaining this weight back. I want to know others who are in the same boat, doing the same things, striving for the same goals.

Expanded support for maintainers...Expanded support for large weight loss (i.e. half our former selves)...tools, tricks, groups.

I'll have that please.

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ROBIE143 12/6/2009 5:55PM

  My problem is not losing but maintaining. I have lost and gained over 500lbs in my life.Very scary,.Finaly at age 54 I figured it out.Jan 1 of09 I started my plan, no carbs,sugar,or flour.It is not a diet It's a wsy of eating.Sugar makes me eat everything in site.I have no problem eating this wayand now I'm a size 6 and very happy.I know if I eat this way I will stay thin and happy.Now I need to move,I can't find a workout I want to do more than once. Help

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COLUMBINE2 12/6/2009 1:27PM

    Thanks for your research and your initiative in bringing this to our attention and to that of the SP organization. SP has provided a service we can never repay and I, for one, will be eternally grateful to them.

The facts, however, are crystal clear: most of us are in a viscious cycle of weight loss and weight gain. Truthfully, SP's assistance in helping us learn to maintain our weight would be even more life-changing than the intial (and probably temporary) weight loss.

Try to visualize the ripple effect of hundreds of thousands of fewer people suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, physical limitations, etc. Imagine the improved lives, the improved work productivity, the vastly lowered health costs -- the list is endless.

I encourage SP to offer additional tools to cement the progress achieved by those reaching weight goals. The alternative is to watch the revolving door of losing and gaining, not only of pounds, but also of good health, fitness, self-esteem and Hope.

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ALYFITN 12/6/2009 1:01PM

    You are right on with your suggestions. I am glad to hear Chris & Company agree. I started SP one month ago and my biggest concern out of the blocks is future maintenance.

I’m in the honeymoon phase of this lifestyle. My hubby commented regarded documenting that surely I won’t have to keep it up once I get “good” at this. He is usually right but this time could not be more wrong! I will continue tracking.

Self-perception is a tricky issue. We cannot depend on it—therefore, we must measure.

Thanks for all your great posts.

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LESLIETX 12/6/2009 6:46AM

    I have emailed you about this! I am on my way to goal again after a "problem" few years that I had. I think another intervention that needs to be in place is a comprehensive relapse plan. That was one thing that kept me at a normal BMI from 2003-2006. My normal BMI is 200 pounds less than my highest weight. I have lost over 100 more than twice, but have spent more than 20 years maintaining at least 100 pounds of that weight off. I don't get accolades or credit for the 100 that stayed off, because of the fact that I have only spent 3 years at goal. During that 3 year period I felt "bullet proof" with my maintenance plan. I am a member of the NWCR and a health care professional.

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L3DESIGNS 12/6/2009 1:43AM

    Great ideas. I'm not at goal yet, but maintaining after I reach my goal is very important and I will need strategies so I don't gain again

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NANCY- 12/6/2009 1:17AM

    Excellent, I'm already working with maintenance in mind.

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-WRKNG2ABTTRME- 12/6/2009 1:14AM

    This is great! emoticon

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REVSERENA 12/6/2009 12:15AM

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!

I was just corresponding with a spark buddy about how much more difficult it is to stay with it when the accolades stop coming, and it's all about staying where you are instead of getting someplace new.

I really applaud your effort to strengthen the research base, and resourcing for maintainers.

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KATELJM 12/5/2009 11:51PM

    I haven't quite reached a good weight to maintain, but when I view my weight tracking, I always regard it as a trend,and individual weigh-ins may sometimes just be blips.

I liked your recommendations. There could be 1-year, 2-year, 3-year, 4-year, 5-year and 5+years badges to appear under the member avatar.

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CRAZYGYMGIRL 12/5/2009 11:44PM

    Maintenance is really the hard part... I agree totally. Firsltly, it's not hard to loss weight when you're 200 lbs, but harder as you get smaller. And then it takes so much less to maintain the lower weight. What I found is

A) I think I'm sabatoging myself to not get to goal so that I'm always in the weight loss mode and I concentrate on losing weight. I lost 60 lbs over a year ago and I've kept most of it off... but I still have about 10 or so to go.. and I can't seem to get there.

B) I've joined WW's, as well as SP, because they do have a maintenance program and motivation to stay at goal... free membership.

I think it would be great to have some extra tools for maintenance on SP, but honestly, I don't know how much more it would help me. In the end, only we can do it or not do it.

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MEXGAL1 12/5/2009 9:25PM

    Thank you for taking such an interest in maintenance and acting on it. I too struggle to stay at my current weight. I found Sparks at the end of my weight loss journey but at the right time to help me reach goal weight. I still continue to track what I eat and my exercise as a means of not loosing control and going back to my old ways of eating. So I love some of your suggestions and would welcome them!

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NICOLEBA47 12/5/2009 8:46PM


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JAMIELOGICAL 12/5/2009 8:40PM

    I think you have some great ideas. I think special trackers and streaks for people who are maintaining would be great. The should be incentives and rewards for staying within a final target weight range and continuing to track nutrition and exercise.

Also, I think it's important to keep in mind that people who have lost weight through SparkPeople and are now maintaining are a HUGE asset to the community. They are great motivators and can help with answering questions and share their own experiences with overcoming obstacles. So, keeping maintainers interested in SparkPeople by providing additional tools and incentives for them to continue using the site is in the best interest of everyone.

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    I found that getting involved in the Community Team has really helped me with maintenance and achieving new goals. Thanks for the blog!

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LEGOS2STILETTOS 12/5/2009 6:46PM

    God/s know its definitely needed.

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BILL60 12/5/2009 6:40PM


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ELISADEL 12/5/2009 5:43PM

    You make a great point. I've heard other people say that some of the monitoring on sparkpeople becomes a bit awkward when you're trying to maintain, such as the weight loss tickers. It'd be nice to see these kinds of things updated.

I also think that you're right that efforts to keep people who are in maintenance involved in Sparkpeople should pay off. It'll give them more tools to stay healthy, and a pool of people who've been through the whole process to answer questions and offer encouragement to newer members.

Everyone who loses weight in a healthy way on this site improves their own lives and health, makes it more likely that their friends and family will seek to improve their health, and generally helps to direct more of our dollars toward companies that produce healthy food and less toward the companies that make junk foods. It's a win for everybody (except the junk food companies, but I don't feel sorry for them). Everything we can do to make the process more effective and lasting is a good thing!

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ADVENTURE-GIRL 12/5/2009 5:37PM

    Wow, great idea! I am still in the weight loss phase, but I know from experience that weight maintenance is a difficult task. Thanks for taking the initiative.

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    I agree, I reached my goal about 2 years ago now, but the work isn't over.

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TRABOLD8567 12/5/2009 2:11PM


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SNLIGHT 12/5/2009 1:47PM

    Great and informative blog! I can't wait until this becomes a REAL issue for me instead of speculative. Thanks for being proactive.

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159.4 lbs lost in exactly one year

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

On December 2, 2008 I weighed 326.2 lbs. My body fat was 54.2%. My BMI was 51.09 (super morbid obesity). I'd gained back 30 of the 40 lbs I'd lost since May 2007 and had given up.

This morning I weighed 166.8 lbs. My body fat was 34.8%. My BMI is 26.12 (overweight). I'm never, ever, EVER giving up again.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NANCERELLA 1/3/2010 11:42AM

Congratulations on your wieght loss.

I too would like to add you as a friend so I can learn from you.
I am currently at 382 lbs. It is great to know that this is possible. emoticon

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LIBECCIO 12/17/2009 11:44AM

    Congatulations! Great job emoticon

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MOMFAN 12/11/2009 1:17PM

    How exciting for you! I too am never going back!

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STOP-IT-KNOW 12/9/2009 5:34PM

    how did you lose that much weight in a year?

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FLUTTER-BY)L( 12/8/2009 11:43PM

    I am glad I saw this. It makes me realize that my journey is possible. Wow great job. I am so happy to see success. emoticon

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OVERHAULING-ME 12/8/2009 10:04PM

    WOW, CONGRATS!!! I hope you don't mind I'm going to add you as a friend. My starting weight was 320, five weeks ago. Four years ago I lost 70lbs then gained it all back plus 10. This time is the last time and I really need great examples like you to get me through it. I'm amazed at the amount of weight you lost in one year...AMAZING!!! THANKS for the inspiration!

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SJCAN1977 12/6/2009 3:30PM

    You are such an inspiration!

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ELISADEL 12/5/2009 6:23PM

    That's a fantastic accomplishment. emoticon

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DRUSILLA56 12/5/2009 9:21AM


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JUST-AMY 12/4/2009 12:38PM

    My body fat on our new scale says 42% *sigh*. It used to be 48% though. *sigh, sigh*. Right direction, but a way to go! Teach me, oh master!

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    Wow! Congratulations emoticon i was thinking as I read your post that I weigh 326.4 right now and how it feels so hard to get going on this journey and then I read someone who has done it...thank you so much for blogging your success.
I hope you don't mind if I soak up wisdom from you...I am going to go through and read your blog posts and see what i can learn and apply to my own journey.
Thank you again :)


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SHYEKIERA 12/2/2009 10:26PM

    Wow!!! I need to take tips from you!!!!

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    True inspiration! Way to go


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KGPOSSIBLE 12/2/2009 9:09PM

    Wow~~~congratulations on your journey! I know it never ends, but it is a great time to look back and reflect.

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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FRECKS96 12/2/2009 7:36PM

    Amazing! Congrats and thanks for sharing!

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LAB-LOVER 12/2/2009 7:07PM

    OHMIGOSH! Congratulations! Simply amazing!

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TELERIE 12/2/2009 6:28PM

    You are just amazing! What a fabulous thing you have done for yourself and what an inspiration you are to me who follow in your footsteps. Thanks!

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JUDYK17 12/2/2009 2:29PM

    Way to go!


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S318830 12/2/2009 1:44PM

    Awesome, awesome, awesome!!!! Nice job!

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4MYBOYSANDSELF 12/2/2009 1:19PM

    Wow. That just gave me chills. Because my goal is to lose 160 lb.! I just started Oct. 14th, but so far it's going well - 25 lb down! So incredible to hear you did it in a year. I am SO inspired! THANK YOU!!

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MOM5INFL 12/2/2009 12:06PM

    Sweet! You are on the homestretch of the first leg of this journey!! Bring on maintenance! emoticon

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ZIRCADIA 12/2/2009 10:42AM

    WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW!!!!!!!!!!!

NS on taking charge and transforming your life!!!! :)

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THEBOOKBINDER 12/2/2009 10:40AM

    That is so awesome, so encouraging. You are doing great!

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NEWLOU2010 12/2/2009 10:33AM

    ROCK ON!!!!!!!!! I am SO PROUD of you!!!!! Girl, I lost 78 in one year and have been at a plateau for over a year and even gained back 22 pounds. I recently restarted and coming across your blog today was just the inspiration I needed. I would love to talk about how you did it. I lost my weight by diet and exercise, but noticed that I had to change things up every so often. I got to the place where I have changed everything I can think of and am at a loss! But I am moving forward!!! Thank you so much for sharing!!!

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MARIASPARKLE 12/2/2009 10:24AM

    WOO HOO HOO!!!

Well done, congratulations, nice work, good for you, etc!!!


emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PATTILYNN224 12/2/2009 10:16AM

    Hokey Smokes. WOW is all I can say. You must be so pleased. I am a little envious of your determination and your success. Can't wait until I can get there myself.

Comment edited on: 12/2/2009 10:40:10 PM

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BZYBOYSMOM 12/2/2009 10:07AM

    Wow, you have done amazing!! Way to go!! emoticon

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NIELSENSLADY 12/2/2009 10:03AM

    OMG! That is awesome!

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HAPPYSOUL91 12/2/2009 9:46AM

    Great job on getting your motivation back. You are successful and will continue on your path.

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LOVEX3 12/2/2009 9:43AM

    Awesome keep up the good work. emoticon

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JLGGLASS 12/2/2009 9:40AM

    you have done soooooooo well. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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KNITTERGAL73 12/2/2009 9:40AM

    That's something to be really proud of. Enjoy your accomplishment! emoticon

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SHANAHAN00 12/2/2009 9:33AM

    You are such an inspiration! Congratulations!

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DIAMONDFOOLER 12/2/2009 9:27AM

What an awesome year! You are an inspiration to keep going!

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DAVEOZ 12/2/2009 9:15AM

    You got it!

Don't look back

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 12/2/2009 9:16:11 AM

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HAASESH 12/2/2009 9:12AM


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SDTALLY 12/2/2009 9:09AM

    Your story is so wonderful. I went to your page and looked at all of your pictures. Wow! I especially liked the one where two of you were in your old jeans.



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NANAOF3LUVSJC 12/2/2009 9:07AM

    emoticon I am so proud of you accomplishment. You are a inspiration to others. Keep on moving and you can do anything you set your mind too. emoticon on your emoticon

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SATURDAY63 12/2/2009 9:07AM

    That is absolutely incredible!!! Congratulations!! How did you lose 160 lbs in a year? You are such an inspiration and encouragement.....it give me hope, drive and determination when I hear of others accomplishing what I want to accomplish.

Thank you for sharing your success, it truly is inspiring!

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MYUTMOST4HIM 12/2/2009 9:04AM

    WOW - you are AMAZING!!!

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Use a food scale for accurate nutrition tracking

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I rely heavily on the nutrition tracker for this weight management project. Logging my food is the only method that has EVER worked for me in losing and maintaining weight.

But the tracker is only as accurate as your measuring is; if you're estimating everything you run the risk of over or under estimating your calories. I dunno about you, but every time I've tried comparing my "eyeball" estimates to measured amounts, I'm almost always off, usually under.

In the tracker foods are commonly listed by either weight or volume, or both. Volumes are usually in Imperial (English) units, while weights are often in both Imperial (oz) and Metric (g). Measuring by volume is the most common method in the US for both dry and wet ingredients, while in Europe most recipes list dry ingredients by weight. Weight is generally more accurate, especially with items that can fluff up, like flour and cereal.

If you measure solely by volume you also have a problem with some foods that don't want to come out of the measuring cup or spoon. NOTABOUTHEFACE recently wrote a blog about her new favorite volume-measuring gadget. It works on a plunger principle:

This problem with measuring sticky and messy things is one reason I've gone to weighing everything rather than measuring by volume. In this post I will explain why I like weight rather than volume and give examples of how I actually accomplish the weighing. Last night when I read the comments about NOTABOUTHEFACE's blog it suddenly occurred to me that not everyone is trained in laboratory science, LOL (It's been part of my life for so long I just take these things for granted), and maybe some of the tips I use for weighing might be helpful for others. So here they are.

Advantages for measuring foods by weight rather than volume
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* Measuring sticky things.

Doing this by volume is tricky because there's always some left in the measuring cup or spoon, unless you use a plunger like the kind NOTABOUTHEFACE found.

With a scale the problem is solved very neatly. Sticky yogurt won't come off the spoon when I'm putting it in my cereal? No problem. I weigh the bowl with the cereal first, add the spoon, zero it, and then add my yogurt and weigh it WITH the spoon in there.

* Measuring awkward things that you would otherwise have to estimate.

Here's a common problem I have: How much of this apple do I list? (Apples come in all different sizes and shapes. I really hate estimating by diameter.)

Simple. Weigh the entire apple before you start eating it. Weigh the core when you're done. Subtract. Voila. An exact amount of "fresh apple" you just ate.

* There is less to wash

When I weigh out my yogurt for my cereal I use the same spoon I'm going to eat with. The bowl is the weighing boat. So no food actually contacts anything that I'm not already eating with or out of.

* Weighing is more accurate than measuring by volume with products that settle

Here's a YouTube video showing how easy it is to miscalculate portions using volume rather than weight: www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVjWPclrWVY

Cereal packages sometimes mention that the product settles during shipping. This means that the big pieces float to the top, while the small pieces end up at the bottom. No problem in terms of eating it; it all tastes the same; but the weight per half-cup listed on the box is usually for the unbroken full-size pieces, and will better match the actual calories listed in the label. By the time you get down to the bottom of the box, the pieces are smaller and pack more compactly in a measuring cup with fewer and smaller air spaces. The result is that you're actually eating more cereal than you think you are, if you use a measuring cup.

If you weigh out your 30g (or whatever) the "serving size" listed is always accurate.

* You can have as much or as little as you want, and let the tracker do the math for you, no estimating!

What do you do when the nutrition tracker says a "serving" is 1/2 cup, but you've only got about 1/3 of a cup left in the container? Or you only WANT 1/3 of a cup of whatever it is? Ugh. You have to do math. Fractions, even. What fraction of 0.5 is 0.33333? Bleh. And anyway, unless you actually USE a 1/3 cup measure, how do you really KNOW it's 1/3 of a cup?

Scales take care of this neatly. Just weigh the amount you're going to have, and enter it in the tracker. Which will do the math for you and adjust the calories and other nutrients automatically.

Another way to take advantage of this is if you only want PART of something for your meal. Take the apple example from earlier. Yesterday I was faced with a 400g Honeycrisp apple. That I wanted with my cereal and yogurt. But this apple was HUGE. It was bigger than a softball. I kid you not. There was no way I was eating the whole thing in one sitting.

So I sliced off pieces into my cereal bowl until the weight of apple slices added up to about 100 g and logged it. Then I sprinkled True Lime on the cut surface of the rest of the apple to prevent browning, and put it in a container in the fridge. I ate the rest at lunch. I calculated the amount I ate at lunch using the core trick mentioned above.

* Armed with a small portable scale and a notebook you can track your foods with a SINGLE DEVICE, even when eating out or at someone else's house

I have almost 200 lbs to lose. (Perhaps ACTUALLY 200, depending on whether I buy that I have a "small frame.") This is a Big Project. My friends and family are on board. But as much as I LOOOOOVE my Escali Primo scales, I'm not going to carry one of them around with me 24/7.

Enter the pocket scale I found at Amazon:

Which is a little bigger than a deck of cards. The weighing tray doubles as a cover. And the whole thing fits into my purse. And it can weigh up to 1000g. Now I KNOW exactly what I'm having at a picnic or BBQ or while traveling. I love using it when I'm stuck eating airport food and have to deconstruct my salad to figure out what I'm getting.

Two weekends ago I was in the airport in ATL and chose a chicken caesar salad (with FF dressing). I was able to take the chicken off and weigh it, then the parmesan and weigh it, then I weighed the box with the lettuce in it, then I reassembled my salad, ate it, and weighed the empty box after I was finished. This allowed me to log almost exactly how much chicken, cheese, and lettuce I got. (The dressing nutrients were listed on the packet.)

* The nutrition tracker is set up to measure lots of liquids by weight

Here's something I recently discovered. Look up "milk, nonfat" in the tracker. At the bottom of the pulldown measures there are "grams." Same for lime juice. Same for a bunch of other common liquids.

What about liquids that don't have nutrients listed in grams, but rather in ml? Well, they're probably mostly water. And water is by definition 1 gram per ml. So I just estimate 1g=1ml.

So you can ALSO get away with measuring many LIQUIDS by weight, too. Even FEWER dirty dishes! No measuring cup to clean! I love it.

What kind of scale is the best to get?
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According to a lot of sources, digital scales are far more accurate than the spring-loaded ones. Most weigh in both Imperial and Metric.

I'm pretty happy with my the tiny portable scale I mentioned earlier:

And with my Escali Primo scales that I have at work and at home.

They come in lots of fun colors.

You can buy a stainless steel platform cover directly from the Escali site for $10:

How do I know if my scale is accurate?
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Maybe you already have a scale and you want to find out if it's accurate. Here's where the Metric system really shines. Because 1 ml of water is DEFINED as 1g of weight (at sea level, standard temperatures, etc. etc. etc. yep, I'm a geeky scientist.)

The whole reason I switched to digital scales is because one day I became curious about the accuracy of my cheap spring-loaded scale and when I tested it was shocked by its inaccuracy.

Here's what you need:
A measuring cup that you trust and has metric volume markings (I like my OXO),
and your scale.

1. Put the empty measuring cup on the scale.
2. Zero the scale. Now whatever you add to the cup will be the only thing measured.
3. Add 10 ml of water (if your cup is that small - the OXO 1/4c shot-glass sized ones are good).
4. Does the scale say "10 g"? If so, it's accurate at that amount.
5. Add water up to 50 ml (you probably want to switch to a bigger cup)
6. Does the scale say "50 g"? If so, you're also good at that range.
7. Add water up to 100 ml. check it.
8. Add water up to 500 ml. check it.

If your scale is accurate at all these ranges, then the number of grams will always equal the number of ml (plus or minus a small percentage). My spring loaded scale under-weighs at the low ranges and over-weighs at high ranges. My Escali and Polder scales perform accurately at every level.

Tips for measuring foods by weight
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First let's start with a step-by step example of how I measure my morning cereal so you can get an idea of how it goes:

1. I put the bowl on the scale and zero it.
2. I add 20 g of Kashi Go Lean cereal. If it's 21 g by accident I just log it as 21 g.
3. I zero the scale.
4. I add 20 g of Nutlettes cereal. Ditto on the 21 or 22 g by accident.
5. I zero the scale.
6. I add my plastic spoon. Yep, it's still 3 g. lol (compulsive? ME?! hahaha)
7. I zero the scale.
8. I scoop out my FAGE 0% Greek yogurt and dump it (including the spoon) into the bowl. If I'm really hungry I put a lot in there. Not so much, less.
9. And weigh it. And log it.
10. I zero the scale (spoon still in there)
11. I dump approximately 100 g of blackberries on top.
12. I log the weight of the blackberries.
13. I Eat, while catching up on Spark comments and mail, LOL.

These past few months I've discovered some subtle tips that seem to help make measuring by weight go even more easily.

* Pick a system and stick with it.

I really started relying on grams while visiting my friend LAFAGG in the UK. After a week of that I was done with Imperial and switched over to measuring everything in grams. If it's not already in the food tracker in that form, I add it.

To do this, just put in the nutrition information as usual, but use the grams listed in parenthesis after the volume on the nutrition label. The tracker will do all the math for you. Here's where the European labeling system is convenient, because they standardize everything to 100g.

* Know when to measure: before or after cooking

This can be tricky because sometimes you don't even know, based on what's in the nutrition tracker, whether they're referring to a food cooked, or not. If it says "raw," or "fresh," that usually means uncooked. But if you cook it, the nutrition may change due to chemical changes in the food.

So if you can, pick the listing that most closely matches the way you're preparing the food. If it's steamed, braised, or boiled, those are fairly equivalent "wet" cooking methods. If it's grilled, baked, or roasted, those are equivalent "dry" cooking methods. Weigh the food AFTER cooking if you find a listing that mentions a cooking method. My understanding is that meats are listed as cooked, even when the cooking method is not mentioned.

Sometimes if I can't find what I need in the tracker I go off-site somewhere like nutritiondata.com and try to find what I need. Or I just use the "raw" version and weigh the food before cooking.

The best option of all is to use the actual label on the product. I've used my cell phone camera to take photographs of nutrition labels at ice cream shops, etc. I've copied labels down in my notebook. You can get creative here - anything that helps you capture the information so you can put it in the tracker later.

* If you're weighing something frozen, log it quickly

Especially when it's humid, water vapor will condense on frozen foods and add to the weight. I often put frozen blackberries on my cereal. If I weigh them on the cereal and then check again a minute later, often a gram or two of water vapor has already condensed on them and increased the weight!

* Use the Nutrition Tracker to figure out how much you want of a particular food

Sometimes I'm planning out my day's food on the nutrition tracker and want to tweak the macronutrient profile. I can go in and adjust the grams of various foods up or down in the tracker until I've got the proportion of macronutrients I want in the number of calories I want.

For example, today I decided that I wanted more protein in fewer calories for lunch.

By adjusting the values in the nutrition tracker I figured out that I wanted to eat approximately 150g of carrots, 200 g of tomatoes, and 250 g of lite firm tofu.

I ended up getting exactly 200 g of grape tomatoes, finding a carrot that was 155 g, and slicing tofu and adding it up to 248 g. I did my apple core trick with the end of the carrot, and discovered that I'd left 3 g uneaten, so adjusted the carrot value down to 152. Then I just logged those values as is.

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That's pretty much it, as far as my use of a scale goes. I love the accuracy. I love being able to run this personal weight loss science experiment on myself with as few uncontrolled variables as possible, because the more I know the better I understand what's going on.

Feel free to ask questions. I spent years at a lab bench weighing and measuring things, and take jargon and techniques for granted, so if I glossed over something important or left out something, please let me know it's not clear...


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BOPPY_ 3/22/2014 6:53PM

    I'm on my second digital scale. The first one went to the digital scale in the sky heaven (Sharper Image). The second one is bigger, easier to use, and more flexible (OXXO).

I too found volumes to be error-prone, a messy bother and too much work (cleanup).

Weight measurement works well with everything but large prepared food batches, like casseroles, soups, stews, and meat-loafs. Most of these things my wife cooks, and to get her to measure everything going in (which changes every time she makes even the same recipe), and then measuring the total result out, so that weight measurements, at selection and eating time, make sense, is more trouble than it's worth.

Everything I cook, or eat raw, or eat out of a package (ever fewer), I measure.

Despite this tension about food and weighing, both of the digital scales were gifts from my wife. emoticon

weightfulLee, yours emoticon

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    I weigh everything in grams for more accuracy.

OMG! Weighing a spoonful of peanut butter?! That is ALMOST enough to curb my desire - almost, not quite, lol.


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GRACEFULIFE 3/12/2010 11:28PM

    Since you just referenced this, I'm going to add a quick note. The scale I have is the one Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen rated best - it comes with a stainless platform and has some other nice features like a (cool blue) backlight, bigger weighing platform, and detachable control panel. It's available for $40 if you use a 20% off coupon at Bed Bath and Beyond so it is fairly cost-competitive with the Escali one if you are buying the stainless steel platform for it. http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/pro

As for pocket scales, I have the Escali Liberta pocket scale which is nice because it came with a calibration weight, and it is very small. But like the Polder it has buttons that could catch food or whatever. The one I like now is from Harbor Freight: http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ct
3543 and though it's normally $20 it can be had for $10-13 if you wait for a coupon. The coupons can be found by monitoring this thread: http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/hot
-deals/772012/ It's great to have a Harbor Freight store convenient these days - I score so much great stuff there. It's a great place to shop for Christmas gifts for my dad.

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CJ1954 3/6/2010 2:22PM

  You explain things very well and you gave lots of useful infornmation. Thanks!

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TLB1630 3/1/2010 7:53PM

    OK so it's a little after you wrote this but...I found this blog just the same and emoticon IT!! You are so right on with weight vs volume. I too think in the same way and sure beats dealing with the sticky things too!! Thanks for another persons perspective on this!! emoticon

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JODISPARKS 1/26/2010 12:24PM

    Very helpful blog - and I'm getting both of your recommended scales!

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LIBECCIO 12/17/2009 2:08PM

    I am european so I found the english way of weighing food just crazy. A digital scale was one of the first thing I bought for myself. I don't use it as much I should, though. Great blog,

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NANCYKAREEM 12/9/2009 8:55PM

    thank you great blog it was realy helpfull

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NICOLEBA47 12/5/2009 8:48PM

    emoticon blog

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GRACEISENUF 11/28/2009 12:15AM

    love my new digital scale

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TELERIE 11/25/2009 6:09PM

    I'm so glad you like metric! I'm a metric girl and you have just described my mornings so accurately - just how I make my daily oatmeal! Bowl on scale, zero it, add oatmeal, track weight, add milk, track weight, microwave it, zero bowl with spoon, add & track peanut butter, 1/2 banana & cold milk to taste. Catch up on Spark messages! Yup, I weight my spoon every day too! Still 50 grams!

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SHANAHAN00 11/25/2009 3:41PM

    Thanks for the great information!

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CALLIEFLOWER 11/25/2009 3:14PM

    Thanks for all the info! I definitely prefer to measure my food by weight, which might come from all my time in labs as well LOL! I love how accurate it is, and how it makes it a little less regimented when you're homecooking a meal because you don't have to worry about cutting your meat of veggies down to a certain size, you just eyeball how much you want, weigh it as you add it, and you have a nice meal all ready :)

emoticon emoticon

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MDICROCE 11/25/2009 2:37PM

  Wow, what a lot of information! And so many things I hadn't thought of. I love the way you explained everything and made it so simple and VERY, VERY ACCURATE. Thank you for the information....I have to go buy a scale now.

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DAVEOZ 11/25/2009 2:22PM

    Good blog and timely. I bought a scale 1 month ago and just began using it a week or so ago. It was out of fear of how small the portions are...Duh...How am I going to lose.

A few days ago, I learned how to use and look forward to making sure that I am on track for my nutrition inputting. I would NEVER have imagined I'd be doing this, but it is what it is...

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ENOUGHALREADY10 11/25/2009 1:31PM

    I"ve started using a food scale this time around too! I LOVE IT! I am seeing how off my quesses were etc. LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!

I figured if I am going to do this once and for all I might as well do it as perfectly as possible!

Great information! Thanks!

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More Enabling (food) Technologies (Part II)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

1) Herb Tea

Last week I mentioned hot chocolate. That’s a treat. But my everyday mainstay to keep me drinking water in the chilly seasons is herb tea. To facilitate this I went to the grocery store a few weeks ago and got selected flavors that I either already knew I liked or thought I’d like. (I lean toward strong, tangy citrus and hibiscus-type flavors.) I also bought a nice Lock & Lock box to put them in.

So now I have a transparent air-tight box on my desk containing delicious zero-calorie beverage treats that when I open it fills the air with lovely smells and encourages me to drink my water hot.

Here are some of my personal favorites:

• Tazo Wild Sweet Orange
• Good Earth Original Herbal*
• Bigelow I Love Lemon
• Numi Dry Desert Lime*
• Celestial Seasonings True Blueberry
• Tazo Refresh (mint)

*I have to order these at Amazon.com because I can’t find it them in local stores


I have a special "tea squeezer" to get all the flavor out when I remove the bag (no I don't leave it in the cup. Steeping too long brings out "off" flavors I don't like.) Also useful for fishing out stringless Celestial Seasonings bags.

2) TrueLemon, TrueLime, TrueOrange

I really like citrus, in case you haven’t figured that out already, LOL. But I’m not going to carry limes around in my purse. And the plastic squeezy lime and lemon juice bottles available in the produce department are great – if you’re near a fridge. While on Amazon looking at reviews for Numi lime tea, I found a recommendation for these products. Which are basically dehydrated citrus juice with a few additives. Each tiny envelope is equivalent to a wedge of citrus.

Curious, I ordered a 32-count box of each of the three flavors. That was two weeks ago. I’ve been sprinkling them on apple halves, drinking them in water, adding them to my tea, adding them to my fruit-flavored whey shakes, sharing samples with friends, etc. etc.

DELPHYNE has listed lots of good suggestions for things to do with these, in her blog:

The boxes are already half gone, so I’m going to re-order soon, and get the 500-count box of each of the lime and lemon, and the 150-count box of orange (it doesn’t come in a 500-count box). A co-worker and I will split the order, she likes them so much! LOL

I just order them direct from the truelemon website.

You can also request free samples:

3) Concentrated liquid flavorings

As you may have gathered if you’ve spent much time on my page, I try to eat a lot of protein. And that means a lot of whey shakes. I’ve been experimenting with a bunch of different flavors. And what I’ve noticed is that most of them tend to be variations on a theme:

• rocky road = chocolate + almond
• chocolate mint = (duh) chocolate + mint
• mocha = chocolate + coffee
• root beer float = vanilla + root beer (primarily wintergreen)
• banana crème = vanilla + banana

I didn’t really *like* most of those special flavors and they were often higher in sodium and not available in bulk prices like my standard chocolate and vanilla. In some cases I could barely taste the additional flavor, for example in the mint chocolate. In other cases it was too strong (almond in rocky road).

Which gave me an idea:

Why not just buy those liquid flavorings in the tiny bottles in the baking aisle and add a couple of drops to my whey shakes?

Why not, indeed?! So yesterday, my birthday present to myself was a trip to the local Mennonite store that has gazillions of these flavors, and license to go wild. I picked up everything from maple, walnut, and pecan to butter rum, root beer, and butterscotch.

And this morning for my mid-morning shake I tried it. My normal Optimum Nutrition Double Rich Chocolate (bought in a 10-lb bag) with a couple drops of caramel. Yep, that was pretty good. But I could make it BETTER… So I added a couple drops of raspberry. Oh yeah, now we’re talking! Because now I had a whey shake that tasted like a raspberry chocolate truffle. Heh, Heh, Heh.

I am so totally going to just get my standard chocolate and vanilla flavors in bulk and mix and match from now on…

By the way, the only additional flavors I think will be worth buying are fruit ones, most likely Syntrax Nectar, because they can be mixed with water for a convenient recovery shake in the car on the way home from my workout.

4) Jelly Belly sugar free jelly beans

Wow. Unlike most sugar free candies, these taste just exactly like the real thing! 40g of beans contains 80% of the calories of the traditional sugary ones, and 8g of fiber. They can be pretty addictive and should be used in moderation, since the maltitol gives them the same, er, powers as REAL beans. LOL

They are actually cheaper, even with tax, at the local Mennonite store, than they are in bulk from the Jelly Belly website. But the Mennonites don't seem to carry the "sours." www.jellybelly.com/Shop

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EBRETTRUBIN 11/25/2009 3:32AM

    I'm checking out the sugar free jelly bellys as we speak! Thanks for the advice

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DDOORN 11/24/2009 7:51PM

    Yep, Jelly Belly sugar free DO taste like the real McCoy...we indulge in them around Easter...could easily overdo it though, so I don't do them outside of that. I've tried samples of the True Citrus and they are pretty good...however I'm just a straight water kinda guy...other than my black coffee in the morning.

Great tips to pass along!


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DAVEOZ 11/24/2009 4:34PM

    I love Jelly Bellies! Sugar Free...uh oh!!


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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 11/24/2009 2:00PM

    Wow, I hadn't thought of putting the truecitrus (or any of the liquid flavorings) in my yoghurt... mmmm that is a great idea!

Comment edited on: 11/24/2009 2:00:58 PM

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MDICROCE 11/24/2009 1:53PM

  Great ideas! I am going to check out the Truelemonstore now!

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S318830 11/24/2009 1:40PM

    Great blog. I have some little packets of the real lime and lemon (got them as free samples) but I haven't tried them yet. I really need to do that. I jazz up my plain yogurt with various flavored extracts. I add honey, coconut extract, and cinnamon. Or sometimes honey and rum. I love your idea for saving money on your flavored shakes while controlling the amounts of flavors. They're probably better quality (and thus better tasting) flavorings too. Cool!

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