I now know what I eat

My new year’s resolutions have the sticking power of a bandaid in the spray of a fire hose. But that’s fine. As I see it, the resolution tradition is only half about the aspiring—the other half being when you break that aspiration and pretend the dreaming never happened. And yet, per my new year’s resolution for 2013, I have been more or less successfully keeping a food diary since almost the beginning of the year.

Until the food diary took hold of my life, I wouldn’t admit how uncomfortable I felt about my body. I was conscious of being heavier, of being out of shape. I’ve never been a fan of shopping for clothes, and now I had the added “weight” of confronting a progressively expanding waist size. My favorite pants no longer fit, even though they were the only thing I wore the year before. And then last fall, my wife got accepted into grad school, leaving me behind in Virginia for a few months while I struggled to find work (the equivalent of slamming a second shot of Depression while the first is still burning your larynx). On top of staying at my sedentary job, I had no motivation to work out, or walk places, or do anything beyond binging on tv. Sad as it is to admit, I went so far even as to—forgive me!—watch Bad TV. Also, my cooking devolved into only things that didn’t need “ingredients.”

All of this is a long way of saying that the weight I had steadily been accumulating since grad school and then increasingly putting on since getting married—an increase that was perhaps because my newlywed life consisted mostly of time spent hanging out with my wife, talking, playing boardgames, reading, or watching tv (and eating)—that weight continued to accumulate at a faster rate while I was living the “bachelor” life. By the time I acquired a new job and rejoined my wife, I weighed fifteen pounds heavier than I had at any point in… well… ever.

The best Christmas present of last year came on December 7th, when I worked my last day at my old job and made my final saturday morning “commute” from Virginia to Connecticut. And the second best Christmas present was my iPhone. I wasn’t sure I wanted an iPhone, but was gifted one by someone much smarter than I, and so now… YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BACK! IT’S MINE! HAHAHA! I love it so much! On a whim, I downloaded a food diary app (MyFitnessPal), which, as they say, has made all the difference. Where the food diary idea of previous quickly-broken new year’s resolutions turned out to be a huge, ominous, foreboding timesuck that required lots of math and nutritional knowledge, now I simply scan barcodes and—voila!—all the data is uploaded to my phone.

Two bonus benefits come to mind, in addition to the lost weight. First, I feel closer to my food. I can look at statistics showing, say, exactly how many calories come from carbs, fat, protein. I also now actually know what a serving size is for most foods (which when staring at a bag of Cheetos, or even a bag of “healthy” wasabi almonds, is the kind of knowledge I’d like to forget). And as a corollary to the serving size thing, I’ve gained a little more restraint. I’m more likely to have leftovers when I go out to eat, and I eat a bit more slowly.

And second, I’ve felt an emotion that I’ve only heard described, something I never really understood before and, at the risk of sounding sexist, had only heard women talk about. That feeling? When I fit into my favorite pants again.