I’m lighter. Literally.

Since March 9, I’ve lost five pounds.

I know, it’s not a lot—right at a pound a week, average. But considering I’ve tried no fewer than three times in the last three years to lose some of this weight, this is big news. And considering I’m only trying to lose 12 pounds total, it’s even bigger news.

I’m not doing Weight Watchers or Slim Fast or Jenny or any of the other “systems.” I’m not doing anything more dramatic than tracking my calories and activity on Spark People. I’ve used other online tracking sites before and haven’t had the same success, and I think there are a couple of reasons for that. First, a lot of online trackers show you a “net negative”—how many calories you’re down for the day. So, if I eat 1500 calories and work out for a burn of 250, and my base metabolic rate is 1800 (which seems high, but is theoretically what the websites say it should be for someone of my size and activity level), I show a “net negative” of 550. Seeing that kind of net negative just encourages me to make sure I have a negative every day, but doesn’t really encourage me to keep my consumption under a certain amount every day. I can see my net negative on Spark People, but I have to dig for it. Instead of making a net negative the primary goal, Spark People sets a daily consumption range—calories and fat, carbs, protein—as the primary goal. Maintaining a consistent pattern in how much and what I eat is so much better for me. Second, Spark People has some really nice tracking tools and reports—at least better than any other site I’ve seen (though I haven’t looked very hard). So that’s what I’ve gone with.

I haven’t used any of the community features and I haven’t really bothered with most of their articles or other offerings—the first, for reasons I explain below; the second, because I don’t need advice on what to eat.  I already eat well—I cook dinner almost every night, I never eat fast food, and I avoid sweets.  It’s sort of discouraging, in fact, to have eating habits like mine and still need to lose 12 pounds.  I do everything right! Healthy, lean meats, fresh vegetables, whole grain pasta, lowfat milk and cheese! Hell, I even make my own bread. But I eat too much of all of it.  The biggest lesson for me so far has been portion control.

As to the community features, well, I haven’t really been broadcasting my attempt to lose this weight because I didn’t want to fail publicly—or worse, succeed but have people tell me I really just look the same. But I think I’ve finally lost enough that I don’t look the same—I can see the difference in my waist and tummy and I even think my thighs and legs are a touch slimmer.  So this is my official coming out—I am actively trying to lose weight, and tracking myself as I go.

It feels good to finally drop some of these pounds. A lot of them are summer associate pounds, and I’m quite happy to shed those, three years later. I’m not quite back to what I weighed when I started law school, but I’m not all that far away, either.  And with each pound I lose, I feel like I lose some of the bad traits I picked up in law school: the overall negative outlook, the insecurity and lack of self-confidence, the tendency to self-comfort in unhealthy ways.

Here’s to the last seven pounds—and, heck, if I can do it, five more after that. I’d love to get back to the weight I was when I got married!