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I’d like an app for preventing diet sabotage

February 27, 2014 - Andy Flynn
This week: 434 lbs.

Last week: 432 lbs.

Start weight: 470 lbs.

Total lost: 36 lbs.

I sabotaged myself this past week ... on purpose. On the surface I can explain why, but only psychoanalysts can dig deeper and find the root source of my self-destruction. Perhaps it was something from my childhood.

In any case, as I write this at 6:30 a.m. Monday, Feb. 24 in a quiet room munching on raw sunflower seeds and sipping on water, I’m back on track and have a couple of good days behind me. I even walked 3 miles on Sunday at the Olympic Center. Clothes are becoming loose. I’m feeling better, have less pain and more energy, and I can move muscles that have been dormant for years.

You see, that’s the problem. I’m not used to feeling so good. I’m elated and scared at the same time. That’s the point where I’ve lost enough weight, and I feel like I’m floating away uncontrollably. It’s the energy kicking in. I’m not light headed, just more energized. It’s like I’m living in a different body, and it feels so weird that my mind says, “Enough!” Then the rejection begins.

This energized state may be my goal, but for some reason I automatically reject that good feeling. And in order to stop the floating-away sensation, I drop anchor and pull myself back to the earth.

Last Wednesday, when I traveled to Schenectady to give a lecture about Lake Placid’s Olympic legacy at Union College, I was feeling really good. I had just weighed in that morning at 331 pounds, just 1 pound shy of my 40-pound weight-loss milestone on the Lake Placid Diet. I was giddy about getting to the 40-pound mark. I had prepared for the trip, packing a lunch and dinner, and I didn’t overeat when I returned home after 10 p.m. I just went to bed, feeling really good.

The next morning — a day off — I decided to drop anchor. I started by making a pot of pasta with stew beef and continued cooking and eating throughout the day. My goal was to ground myself by overeating, and I succeeded. I stopped floating away. I stopped that really good feeling.

I can’t say I’m proud of myself. I’m just saying what I did, and I’m telling you why.

Perhaps I should have worked that day or at least shut off the Olympics and left the house, but that wouldn’t have stopped me. I would have just been delaying the inevitable. Instead of grounding myself on Thursday, it would have been Thursday night, Friday night or Saturday.

I’ve lived for decades in this oversized body, essentially in a self-destructive mode, making myself feel bad for many years because of overeating and lack of exercise. That’s what I know how to do, and I do it well. It’s sickening, but it’s a crazy kind of comfort zone. Losing weight gets me out of that comfort zone, and while I feel better, I don’t feel right.

To understand this, you must go through it. There must be others losing big chunks of weight who are experiencing the same feelings. Does anybody understand what I’m saying, or am I just a crazy person eating sunflower seeds, sipping on water?

This isn’t the first time I’ve hit an emotional wall and grounded myself. The only difference is that when I spiraled out of control and crashed to the ground in the past, it was months before I fully recovered. By then, it was too late. All that taking-care-of-myself stuff was gone, and I had to start from scratch.

This time, I was able to gain control by Saturday. In the meantime, a lack of preparation for breakfast and lunch on Friday caused me to shop hungry for dinner. The result: chicken wings, nachos and beer. I can never misbehave one day and gain control by the next.

Now that I’ve recovered from my latest bout of self-destruction, I’m trying to prepare myself mentally for the next urge to drop anchor, for that time will come. Last week, I honestly wasn’t expecting to feel so bad about feeling so good. In fact, I never realized until now that I’ve been doing this for years.

As I was cooking the pasta and stew beef, I knew I was about to sabotage my diet, at least for a couple of days. I wasn’t in a trance. I was in control of the bridge, steering the ship to the sandbar on purpose. I was determined to gain control of my emotions, and the only way I knew how was to overeat. It worked, but it left me wondering if there’s a better way — minus drugs.

My guess is that as long as I keep losing weight, it will get better. Like anything in life, it takes time to get used to things, like dipping my feet in the lake water before taking a summer swim. Sometimes, you have to just take the plunge and immerse your whole body in that chilly water before it starts to feel comfortable.

Maybe then I’ll start feeling good about feeling good.

Weight-loss challenge preparation

I’ve been preparing myself for the second round of Fitness Revolution’s 13-week weight-loss challenge, which begins on March 11, by counting calories on the MyFitnessPal app on my smartphone. I’ve found that I have better weight-loss results when I remain faithful to logging in my exercise and food intake. I guess that’s why counting calories is mandatory in Fitness Revolution’s program.

Once the MyFitnessPal account is set up online, you can download the app to your phone and input a profile, which includes your current weight, goal weight and daily net calorie goal. I’ve set my net goal to 1,500 calories a day.

This is a diary for food and exercise. The first window pane for each day shows the daily calorie goal, calories consumed (gross), calories burned during exercise, and calories consumed (net). It also shows the food consumed for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

Swipe the phone to the left, and another window pane lets you add food and exercise to your day (“add to diary”) and offers a button to show you detailed nutrients of the food consumed.

When you add food to the diary, choose the meal, then type in a food. If you are eating from a package, you can press the bar code button and scan in the bar code. Most of the time, the product is listed in the MyFitnessPal memory banks. Once the food is chosen, tally the number of servings and hit the save button. You’ve just put a food in your daily diary.

I love this app, even though I was skeptical at first. “Who has time for this?” I said. Once I started using it, though, the app became a fun way to track my progress. It’s almost addictive. And when I haven’t used MyFitnessPal for a couple of days, I miss it, so I try to use it as often as possible.

I figured I would start using the app now and get used to it before the weight-loss challenge. This way, it wouldn’t be such a big shock to my schedule. You know how I hate to get out of my comfort zone.

Next week: Lake Placid woman sets up program for people wanting to lose up to 100 pounds.

Contact Andy Flynn at


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Blog Photos

Andy Flynn’s finger works with his MyFitnessPal calorie-counting smartphone app. (News Photo — Andy Flynn)