Calorie Counting With The MyFitnessPal App Changed My Weight-Loss Game—And I Lost 150 Lbs.

My name is Bri Blank Alexander (@bri.healthy) and I'm 27 years old. I live in Brooklyn, New York, and I'm a television personality and host, as well as a health and wellness influencer (though I prefer to call myself an inspirer!).

Ever since I was a toddler, I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. There were no real food-related limits or rules in my household. Neither of my parents ate healthy, and neither of them really liked to cook. Large, greasy takeout meals were the norm. I ended up developing an emotional relationship and connection with food that I don't entirely understand to this day, but food was definitely a source of comfort for me.

I continued to gain weight throughout my life but I didn't let it bother me. I had a bunch of friends and a loving family. I was happy, so I didn't see a reason to change. But there were struggles: not fitting into booths at restaurants, being kicked off of an amusement park ride at Six Flags in front of my classmates on a school trip, squeezing into school desks, struggling to keep up with my friends while walking, and so much more.

One day in January 2012, as a 19-year-old college sophomore, I decided to step on a scale.

I consider this divine intervention, because I used to avoid the scale at all costs, even refusing to learn my weight at doctor appointments. When I stepped on the scale, I saw a number that I never thought I'd see: I weighed 306 pounds. At that moment, I knew that I could not keep living the way I was. I knew that I needed to make a change, for no other reason than improving my health.

I was living on campus at the University of Rhode Island (URI), so my first step was immediately researching healthier foods I could eat in URI's dining halls. I found that turkey sandwiches on whole-wheat bread with lettuce, tomato, onion, and brown mustard was a staple that I could rely on (and I ate it almost every day for lunch and dinner—and never got sick of it!). I'd usually pair it with a piece of fruit or a cup of chicken noodle soup).

I also started a private Tumblr blog to repost healthy lifestyle graphics and recipes as motivation, and to track my progress and food intake.

About a week later, I discovered MyFitnessPal, which revolutionized the food-tracking game for me.

It became fun for me to track my food intake, especially because I started to see results quickly. The numbers didn't stress me out, but rather they showed me the truth about what I was actually consuming. Calorie counting kept me accountable and gave me a written food diary, complete with all of each food's nutrients. I continued to count my calories all the way through my weight-loss journey, even after I moved off campus and taught myself how to cook healthier foods.

Now, my meals vary each day and are often different than they were during my weight-loss journey. Recently, I've been trying to eat more intuitively and to eat (pretty much) only when I'm actually hungry, which changed the way I eat, too. I try not to snack too much because I recently realized that, many of the times I was snacking, I wasn't actually hungry.

My eating style is constantly evolving. I eat differently now than I did last year, and the year before that. I believe that change is the only constant in life, so I continue to experiment with my eating style as my life gets busier as well, and I try to have fun with it, too.

Here’s an example of what I eat in a day now:

  • Breakfast: A slice of whole-wheat sourdough bread toasted and topped with a tablespoon of natural peanut butter or almond butter, as well as two eggs and berries.
  • Lunch: I usually have a big breakfast and dinner, so my lunches are usually pretty light. It's usually a salad, an oatmeal bowl, or plain Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, depending on how hungry I am.
  • Snacks: I'll eat Lesser Evil coconut oil popcorn, or From the Ground Up cauliflower crackers or their butternut squash pretzels. I also try to incorporate fruits and veggies as snacks, so hummus and carrots is a favorite of mine as well. Also, granola with non-dairy milk.
  • Dinner: Lean protein (grilled chicken or chicken sausage, usually) with roasted vegetables and/or sweet potatoes. I do a CSA now, so I roast so many different types of veggies. It's such a quick-and-easy way to prepare healthy food with my busy lifestyle.
  • Dessert: Usually granola with non-dairy milk or some sort of fruit (an apple, a handful of blueberries, etc.), or a few pieces of a Hu chocolate bar.

    Now that I'm used to calorie counting, I don't have to do it every day. When first starting out, it was important for me to develop an understanding of the foods I was eating. For example, nuts are super healthy, but it's important to portion them out, because their calorie counts can rack up really quickly. I don't believe in eliminating foods, but I believe in eating in moderation.

    So yes, I would track my slice of pizza, but I'd still enjoy the pizza and then I'd eat a bit healthier the rest of the day. After doing the research and getting the hang of calorie counting, it became second nature.

    I aim to get to the gym at least three to five times per week.

    My schedule is very busy now, so I have to make time for my workouts. I first started exercising about four months into my journey, when I had already lost about 50 pounds. I didn't want to jump into exercise without knowing if my heart could handle it. When I started, I got a gym membership in my hometown during summer break between sophomore and junior year.

    I began to teach myself how to work out using the little bit of experience I had using gym machines in high-school gym class. I would ask trainers for advice on things like proper form, but I never had a trainer myself. I also researched workouts that I could do and found ones that I liked. I also fell in love with Zumba classes, which taught me how to dance and showed me how fun working out can be.

    Nowadays, I do lots of strength training and group fitness classes. I like to try all of the different boutique fitness studios here New York City. Fitness has become much more than a weight-loss tool for me; it gives me energy, it makes me feel happier, and it makes me feel so strong and so empowered. And every time I work out, I know I'm doing something amazing for my health. The looks are just an extra bonus. (I created a hashtag called #HealthNotLooks because I feel that it's so important to start any health journey with the intention of improving your health, and not doing it simply for appearance.)

    With a ton of determination, dedication, and self-love, I lost 150 pounds in one year and 10 months.

    I went from a size 24 to a size 10. But more importantly, losing weight changed my quality of life. I'm able to walk freely, even run, without strain or immediately sweating profusely. I'm able to perform normal daily tasks with ease and energy. I can live a healthy, abundant life that is not limited by my size.


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