Weight loss with the Apple Watch

Wake up, wake up fat man.

I was 211 pounds when I woke up this morning.

This is obese. Fat and dangerously so. So much so that when I entered my height and weight into one website it suggested that I contact my doctor immediately. It was all I could do to convince the site not to call 911 and have an ambulance sent to pull my fat ass from my home.

At my worst I reached 250 pounds.

I was working between ten and eleven hours a day, eating my lunch at my desk and only getting up from behind my work computer to walk to meetings. On the weekends I'd be on my personal computer either working freelance assignments or more likely doing more work for the studio. Forums needed to be read, comments needed to be responded to. The world of video games waits for no man, not even a fat one.

In October, one of the last times I blogged, I posted that I was starting to lose weight. This weight loss was promoted by work stress which essentially caused me to stop eating. It was not healthy and once I quit my job at Relic having had enough of the hours I gained the weight back.

As I noted back in October:

No legitimate diet recommends simply not eating to kickstart a weight-loss regime, but as I came out the other side and began to be able to think about things other than work I decided to take advantage of the lost pounds and keep it going.

Sadly I didn't manage that. I was more active, sure, but I dove right into being a full time student. Classes and studying meant that my hours in front of the computer were replaced with hours in lecture theatres and in the library. I threw myself into being a student, but didn't take advantage of the options to remain healthy and active while studying.

Enter the Apple Watch and mindfulness

Mindfulness is a word I hate. Like guru or maven it's thrown around a lot by people who like to ensure the world knows how important they are.

Yes, you're a social media maven who's a Google Analytics Guru. Fancy words to describe posting cute cat pictures on Pinterest.

But with my previous attempts at weight loss there has been a distinct lack of 'mindfulness' or 'intentionality' (another awful word) about how things happened. I got stressed out and lost weight. I wanted to save money on gas and parking so I started walking to work and lost some weight.

Weight loss as a happy coincidence, like finding a twenty dollar bill in a public washroom, is not a recipe for continued success. To be able to actually lose weight and keep it off I needed to do something more than just stumble into losing ten pounds here and five pounds there.

The Apple Watch was not the first fitness tracker that I tried. Previously I've used a Fitbit to track my steps, but having a 10,000 steps a day goal was not proving to be enough. Perhaps it was helping me maintain a weight, keeping me from moving up towards 300 pounds, but it was not helping me lose any.

The Fitbit, or at least the versions that I had, counted steps and that was it. If I hit my 10,000 steps it was happy and I could spend the rest of the day laying on a couch eating ice cream for all it cared. It was the personal trainer that showed up at my house for an hour a day to yell at me to do some jogging then left only to return the next day and be puzzled how I managed to gain another four pounds.

By contrast the Apple Watch is a nagging presence thought the day.

Did you hit your step goal? Big deal you still need to get up off the couch to get your blue ring for standing a minute an hour for twelve hours.

Did you casually stroll around the mall for 10,000 steps? Well fuck you because your watch wants you to do 30 minutes of actual exercise and strolling from KFC to the New York Fries in the food court doesn't count. 

Tracking my weight with MyFitnessPal helps to keep me on track.

Tracking my weight with MyFitnessPal helps to keep me on track.

In the three months since the Apple Watch arrived and began to nag me I've lost 38 pounds. Better yet the weight loss is intentional, a result of increased activity and a mindfulness of what I'm eating thanks to also using MyFitnessPal to track calories.

And I'm not the only one who's had these sorts of results. Apple blogger Jim Dalrymple at the Loop has lost over 40 pounds using much the same methods as I have.

I’m not religious about what I eat, but I’m aware. I still grab a burger if I’m out with friends and I thoroughly enjoy it—every single bite. The difference is that I understand what it does.
There is no sense in tracking what you eat if you skip writing down the bad things. Track everything. You will have bad days, and that’s okay. I have all kinds of bad eating days, and while I don’t feel guilty, I do feel good about knowing how to change it tomorrow.
Knowledge and understanding has allowed me to break through the barrier of not seeing a way out of my situation. I am in control.

Yesterday I ate a McDonald's cheeseburger for lunch. I will happily eat a medium popcorn when I go see a movie. The difference is that I know if I do that I need to cut down elsewhere, or walk more and be more active. Somedays the weight loss stalls, some days it goes backwards a bit.

These are external tools that replace what some other people have developed naturally. Most people can be at a party and only eat a handful of potato chips and maybe one chicken wing if they're feeling naughty. Left to my own without devices I treat the food table like the prettiest girl at the party, spending my time trying to judge how gluttonous I'll appear if I had just two more wings and another bag of those Old Dutch ketchup chips.

I'm not skinny.

Today I woke up obese. I'll wake up obese tomorrow. I have a long way to go, but thanks to the Apple Watch at least I know what direction I should be going — away from the New York Fries in the food court.