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More than CICO

I'm not here to debate macros and micros or clean eating versus moderation.  I don't care what your stance is on any of that and I don't care what worked for you.  For many of us weight loss is actually about more than what/how much we eat and our physical activity.

I'm talking about the mental aspect.

I've discussed my issues with binge eating before  That's something I take into consideration all the time.  Making sure my food choices are filling to satisfy my stomach and fitting in tasty things to satisfy my taste buds.  Planning ahead and pausing to reflect when I start to go off plan are very important to preventing the binge eating.

Another issue I deal with is that I am afraid of being hungry.  I know to some of you that sounds ridiculous.  During Marine Corps recruit training I never got enough to eat.  I didn't have binge eating or over eating issues before then.  Three months of constant hunger (the kind where you eat anything you are given even if you hate the taste) left an impact.  

After boot camp I ate constantly.  Even if I had just eaten.  Even if I was full.  Part of me worries that my next meal won't come.  I fear feeling hungry.

I've thought about this issue a lot.  How does someone overcome the fear of being hungry?  I see two strategies that I need to apply.  The first goes hand in hand with my plan to reduce binge eating.  Planning/prepping meals in advance to make sure they are filling and reduce the worry that I won't get to eat again.  The second is more important to actually overcoming the fear entirely.  That's to just be hungry and learn to accept that being hungry isn't the end of the world.  It will be uncomfortable, but it is important to learn to control my fear of being hungry.

I know my mental issues with eating/hunger/binge eating are far less harmful than the issues that others face.  I used to think I was just addicted to food or addicted to sugar, but I know now that the real issue is personal responsibility.  I struggle with self control and I struggle with being afraid of hunger.  I've accepted responsibility for these issues and I am working to fix them.  

Helpful advice

If people gave the same advice for medical issues as they did for mental illness this is what it would look like.


22 a day

The statistics say that 22 veteran's commit suicide every day.  Psychologist and war experts have tried to identify why the current generation struggles with this when previous war generations did not.  I honestly couldn't even begin to explain it.

What I can explain is what leads them up to that point.  I never deployed.  I completed the training and worked with my team for months before I was removed from my unit and sent to patrol the base.  I couldn't pass the pre-deployment screening due to my injuries.  

The close knit group of friends I had worked with for months left without me.  Then on December 11th, 2006 there was a explosion.  Two didn't make it home.  The guy who took my spot also did not make it home.

They say it's called survivors guilt and I've learned to accept that things happened the way they did.

Losing a close friend is always tough.  Unfortunately for the others in the unit they were forced to pick up the pieces of their friends.  I've seen many bodies in a variety of conditions.  I've picked up the pieces to unknown plane crash victims.  They all leave a mark, but having to collect your friend to have something to send home is something that nobody should have to go through.

How do you recover from that?  To go from making plans for when you get home, to gathering up their body?

I've lost a few more friends since then to suicide.  Many of them struggled to adjust once they got out of the military.  They couldn't hold or find a job, started getting behind on bills, couldn't get appointments for help through the VA and started to feel hopeless.  I wonder if I had just reached out to them even one more time would it have made a difference?

Seeing that it is Veteran's Day I want to bring awareness to the high number of veteran suicides.  Reach out to your veteran friends throughout the year.  Check out for more ideas on how you can possibly help reduce the number (no monetary donations necessary, there is some good info that is being gathered on that site).  There's a section for veterans, family and community.  Read through them all.  You never know if you could be in a position to change someone's life for the better.

In memory of Havoc 2.

Happy Birthday!

Happy 239th Birthday Marines!

“Ten November 1775. I was born in a bomb crater. My mother was an M16 and my father was the devil. Each moment that I live is an additional threat upon your life. I eat concertina, piss napalm and I can shoot a round through a flea’s ass at three-hundred meters. I travel the globe festering on anti-Americans everywhere I go for the love of mom, Chevrolet, baseball, and apple pie. I’m a grunt. I’m the dirty, nasty, stinky, sweaty, filthy, beautiful little son of a bitch that’s kept the wolf away from the door for over two-hundred and thirty-nine years. I’m a United States Marine. We look like soldiers, talk like sailors, slap the shit out of both of ‘em. We stole the Eagle from the Air Force, the Rope from the Army, and the Anchor from the Navy. And on the seventh day, when God rested, we overran his perimeter, and we’ve been running the show ever since. Warrior by day, lover by night, drunkard by choice, Marine by God. Semper Fidelis.”


Are you just screwing around?

This is not intended for people who are starting out or struggling with the basics. This is basically a note to myself, but I think a few others might feel the same way.

Are you just screwing around?

You know how to count calories. You have the hang of weighing everything and being accurate. You probably know the calorie and macro content of your most frequent foods. You have a really good idea of what your maintenance calories are and what an appropriate deficit is. Yet you are getting no closer to your goals.

Why? Are you just screwing around? Your food diary isn’t accurate, you went over your calories a few times this week, you half assed your workouts and you didn’t stick to your macro goals. It’s like you don’t even care.

Are you bulking? Are you cutting? To me it looks like you are maintaining on accident. Do you really want to reach your goals? Are your goals appropriate for your current intake, level of fitness, workout schedule or even your body fat percent? Do you know how to determine if your goals are appropriate for you and what your real current goal should be?

Listen. I know it’s not comfortable to stick to the plan 24/7. You’re used to eating what you want, when you want. The longer you mess around the longer you’ll have to wait to have a bit more freedom.

There is so much more satisfaction from reaching your goal and feeling good about how you look than there is from eating an entire pizza (chased with a pint of ice cream). I’m not saying you have to give up pizza or ice cream along the way, but moderation and success feel better than the binge that you went on this weekend. That horrible feeling you get when the scale is up 5 pounds and the sight in the mirror makes you want to cry. You don’t have to go through that anymore.

The time has come to get back on track and stop screwing around. More restriction isn’t the answer. Find balance and you will be successful.

You don't have to believe

You just have to not give up.

If you had asked me in 2010 where I would be with fitness and fat loss in 5 years I would have told you I would still be fat.  I had zero faith in my ability to lose fat.  I didn't think it was possible for me to have visible abs.

Some of my doubt was due to the misconceptions I had about fat loss.  I wasn't willing or able to remain in a starving state for more than a few days.  I wasn't able to eat 100% "clean" foods because it caused binge eating.  I couldn't do two hours of cardio every day because frankly I didn't have that kind of time.  The more I learned about fat loss and body composition the more I realized I was making it harder than it had to be.

Some of my doubt was simply caused by my past failed attempts to lose weight.

Between 2010 and now I have had many, many, many bad days.  I've given up on workouts, skipped cardio, had binge eating weeks, lost and gained the same pounds over and over, but above all I have kept trying.  People say they wish they could be like me and you can because the only thing I have going for me is that I simply refuse to give up.

It doesn't matter if it takes you a few months or a few years to reach your goal.  Never give up.  You don't even have to believe it is possible.  Never give up.  You will fail once or twice, but the good days add up in the long run.

Most people will quit or fail

Statistics show that in the long run 80-95% of all people will fail at their attempts to lose weight and will gain it back.  I'm sure some people are discouraged by the statistics, but it shouldn't discourage you it should make you want to fight for it.

Sure, there are hormonal factors that play into our bodies trying to keep the fat on.  There are mental factors that play into comfort eating.  There are definitely factors in society that encourage eating and events seem to revolve around food.

Sounds like the deck is stacked against us.

Beyond all those factors is simply us.  Our commitment and complacency.  I fully admit to becoming complacent since my last bodybuilding competition.  I have gained more fat during this bulk than I should have.  I've put off taking charge of that for more months than I care to admit.

Being aware of what we eat, how much we eat and how active we are needs to become a habit.  We make sure we brush our teeth daily.  We take showers daily.  We need to plan our meals and evaluate our eating daily.

You don't have to just accept that you are likely to gain the weight back.  You have to accept that once the weight is off the work is not done.  We talk constantly about how these are lifestyle changes and the things we do to lose weight need to be things we will continue forever.  It's easy to go back to our old habit (I know, I've slipped back into some over the last year).  Find a way to build healthy new habits and traditions.  

My MFP Evolution

When I came to this site in 2011 I had been trying to lose weight for a year.  I had been tracking calories on paper for a while, but I was inconsistent and really had no idea what my intake should be (I was just trying to eat as little as possible).  I admit that I was a bit lost.

Valentine's Day 2011 I joined a gym for the first time.  CARDIO!  I had been told for many years that running was how you lose weight.  A couple of months and many painful miles later I had lost no weight.  That was when I was introduced to MyFitnessPal.

Like most other women I entered my stats, said I wanted to lose two pounds a week and was awarded an allotment of 1200 calories.  The first few days of logging were TEDIOUS!  It took me weeks to finally have filled in enough of my food diary to make tracking easier and even then I felt it was a waste of time compared to tracking on paper.

I am embarrassed to say that for the first several weeks I ate under 1000 calories and convinced myself I was full.  Considering that I'm 5'9" and at the time I was just under 200 pounds burning 500 calories a day through exercise that was not nearly enough.  I started a bad cycle of eating 1000 calories during the week (not eating back exercise calories) and then binge eating on the weekends.  Of course I didn't lose any weight during this time.

I knew that the solution was to eat less and move more, but there was no way I could do less than 1000 during the week.  Then one day a friend suggested I increase my calories.  I started eating 1500 during the week, not eating back exercise calories, not binge eating on weekends and the weight starting coming off.  Shortly after that someone suggested I find a form of exercise I enjoyed.

That's when I fell in love with lifting.

It has taken a few years to really understand calories, macronutrients, micronutrients, hormones and all the other parts of fitness/fat loss.  I have made tons of mistakes and I knew nothing when I started out.  If I were to give just a few small pieces of advice to beginners it would be:


  1. Try to be accurate when logging food.  Even if you are over your goal you could still be under what you would maintain at.
  2. Try to eat as many calories as possible while still losing.  This doesn't have to be painful and it isn't a race.
  3. Find an activity you love and you'll stick with it.
  4. You can do it!  If it isn't working don't be afraid to ask questions, but remember to keep an open mind about the answers.
As always, I am more than happy to answer questions by PM as are many of the long term successful members on this site.


Personal Responsibility

It leaves a sour taste in my mouth when members with 75+ pounds of weight loss are suddenly wagging their fingers at others for not jumping on the personal responsibility train and dismissing the idea of government and the food industry should have culpability in this.

This was a message posted on a discussion board the other day. The discussion was revolving around government regulation for foods and display of candy. It sort of blew me away and I wanted to talk about it for a minute

As you can see the person who posted this is disgusted that people who have successfully lost fat are telling others to accept personal responsibility for what they eat. I can’t be the only one who is in disbelief over that. I used to be obese and someone thinks it is wrong that I am telling others that the way to lose weight is to control what they eat.

How does this person think we lost weight? Did we spend a bunch of time picketing the government, Hershey or Coca-Cola? No. Did we sit around blaming the government and food companies for forcing cheeseburgers down our throats? No. We accepted personal responsibility, it worked, we are passing it on to others.

Companies put food labels on packages (although they aren’t always as straight forward as they seem). Restaurants and fast food chains often have nutritional information online. There are TONS of resources to learn about nutrition. You have to accept responsibility to do the research. I don’t think very many people are completely clueless that they shouldn’t eat fast food for every meal or half of a pizza for dinner.

I don’t want the government telling companies they have to reduce fat or sugar because it means they have to replace those with a bunch of extra chemicals to keep the taste decent. I don’t want the government taking away my choices. I am responsible for what I buy and what I eat. If I want chicken and broccoli for dinner with a pop-tart ice cream sandwich it is up to me to make sure that’s an appropriate calorie and macronutrient intake for me. It’s up to me to make sure that I fill my micronutrient needs as well. That’s personal responsibility. You are not forced to buy a Snickers just because it is there.

My final words on this is something a friend told me long ago.

When you point the finger and blame someone/something else you give up control. When you take the blame you take back control and you can do something about it.

I KNOW that eating a box of Swiss Cake Rolls is not appropriate for my goals and health. I’m not going to blame McKee Foods for making them tasty, that’s the point, they’re a tasty treat. I’m going to accept the fact that one (not a box) is an appropriate amount in combination with a day full of nutrient dense foods. It is not the company’s fault if I eat the entire box because I could not exercise self control.  It is not the company's fault if I have never attempted to learn about nutrition.  Personal responsibility.

Why I hate salesmen on MFP

If I could instantly ban anyone from the forums it would be people who come to MyFitnessPal and try to sell things (this is why I am not a moderator).  I get irrationally upset over people who try to sell weight loss/fitness products and services.  Why is that?

I think the main reason for this is that I remember my first attempts at weight loss.  A friend started taking these pills that she swore killed her appetite.  I HAD to have those.  How much I lost is irrelevant because I gained it back plus more.  Then I heard about these other pills that burned fat and toned your muscles (I laugh at my stupidity now).  Once again any weight that I lost was temporary.  To be completely honest, even though the various pills I took helped slightly they made me feel horrible and one of them landed me in the hospital.

I couldn't even begin to put an ultimate price tag on all the weight loss products I tried.  Pills, creams, belts, wraps, shakes and detoxes.  You name it and I've probably tried it.  I'm not going to sit here and say that they didn't work because some of them did.  The problem is that the few that did work didn't teach me how to live without them.


Coming back to my point now.


I hate salemen on MFP because they prey on people looking for an easy way to lose weight.  Yes, that is a bit dramatic.  Some of the people who come here are vulnerable and others are on the verge of deciding that they absolutely cannot achieve weight loss.  When a saleman posts that they have this shake/pill/wrap that is guaranteed to help someone lose weight that is the golden ticket they are looking for.

Instead of worrying about what they can or can't eat they now have an easy to make shake that just does it for them.  No need to learn about calories or macronutrients or wonder if they are allowed to have a piece of candy.  This wonderful shake will take all the work out of the calories in part of the equation.  

Sometimes they actually do work!

The problem comes when the shakes become boring or the taste becomes unbearable or they just want to start eating real food again.  If they haven't learned about calories during this time they're going to struggle.  It could come to the point where they think the only way to keep the weight off is to continue using the shakes forever, when in reality they could have been learning all along healthy habits they can maintain forever.  


TL;DR?  Why do I care?

1.  Someone is making money off another person who is in a vulnerable state.

2.  The products are entirely unneccessary. You can lose weight without the weight loss industry.

3.  I personally think that if it is something you can't see yourself doing forever it is a waste of money/time.

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