I used myfitnesspal to track my food and exercise when I was trying to lose weight. I started Dec. 27 2011 and tracked religiously until March 29, 2012. I lost 31 pounds in that time period. So it does work! It took me about 2 weeks to get a loss on the scale, and my weightloss was not consistent over time. I had a 5 pound range that I fluctuated in from day to day, but overtime I could see the weightloss. I weighted myself naked in the morning, after using the bathroom. I logged my weight every day, even when I went up, so that I could track the overall trend of my weight over time. (You can see how your cycle affects you and stuff like that). I like charts and graphs though, and weighing myself daily didn’t drive me too crazy like it does some people.
(When my son was just about to turn 9 months old I realized that I had totally failed in losing the baby weight, and was determined to get to my pre-pregnancy weight by his 1st birthday.)
So first thing is to get the settings right on your profile. I put in that I was sedentary, since I have a long commute and do sit at a desk a lot of the time. I too had it set for a 1.5 lb weightloss each week. Once you get that set, it will give you a net calorie goal per day. (If you excersize, it adds back those calories so you can eat more.)
Your diet (net calories per day) will be the main factor in losing weight, not exercise.
Make sure you track every single thing – every drink, piece of candy, mint, etc… And do your best to measure out serving sizes. Count crackers/chips as you put them into a bowl, use a measuring cup to scoop cereal and fruit. (I bought some stuff packaged in individual servings to get started so it was not possible for me to accidentally eat too much and I got used to serving sizes. Also, I did not ever have a “cheat day” where I didn’t track. If I ate a snickers, I tracked it. I made up for it by eating lower calorie foods the rest of the day. If I did go over my calories, I didn’t throw the day away and eat more or stop tracking, but I did what I could to not eat more, and I started fresh the next day.
When you exercise or work out, do your best to find the closest activity. When I did the 30Day Shred workout, I logged 15 minutes of cardio and 5 miutes of strength. I also didn’t log basic things, like cleaning or cooking, unless I was getting my heart rate up. (and I don’t clean enough to raise my heartrate… ever… lol)
Because estimating the calories burned during an activity is tough, unless you have a fitbit or HRM, I usually only ate about 70-75% of the calories that it said I burned. If I was really starving at the end of a day and had worked out, I would eat more, but I was careful to make sure I was actually hungry and not just bored or thirsty.
I met my goal and lost a few extra pounds, but I had also started training for a half marathon, and I ended up feeling like I didn’t have the energy for any of my runs. So I stopped focusing on weightloss and focused on running. If you are exercising a lot, but constantly feel lethargic or unable to complete a workout, you might be eating too little. 1250 net calories was too few for me while I was training, so I had to chose between running and losing weight.
Also, if you are working out a lot more than is typical for you, you might see less of a weight loss initially as your body works to build muscle. I would also track your body measurements every 2-4 weeks, since you might get smaller with less of a weightloss than you would expect.