During the summer of 2019, Ben Snyder decided he wanted to do more of something most people hate: public speaking. As a product analyst for Under Armour, Snyder often attends technology conferences where he sees presentations from experts and thought leaders in his industry. Before long, he wanted to be the one on stage, representing his company and his years of experience.
Unfortunately, even though Snyder was confident about his industry knowledge, the Baltimore resident didn’t feel comfortable in his own skin. At 380 pounds, he knew his poor self-image would not allow him to put his best foot forward while presenting.
“I’ve been sharing the Under Armour story and the cool stuff we are doing,” he says. “I just wanted to feel better about being on stage.”
In 2015, Snyder was involved in Under Armour’s acquisition of MyFitnessPal, but had never personally used the app. With this new desire to become healthier, however, he knew MFP was just the tool to help him reach his goals.
In July 2019, Snyder, 44, began logging everything he ate and says he was amazed at how many calories he was actually taking in.
“I started out thinking that what I was eating wasn’t really that bad for me,” he admits. “Right out of the gate, I inputted the things I was eating without making changes to my diet, just to see how many calories and how much sugar I was putting into my body. It was eye-opening.”
By using the calories in, calories out (CICO) method, he realized that the amount of calories he was eating vastly outweighed what he was burning off during the day, so he started making changes as soon as possible.
He quickly became familiar with the different functionalities within the app, taking advantage of the many ways to search for and log his food. Snyder says the barcode scanner function within MFP was his go-to feature because it made logging simple and intuitive. As he began to travel and eat away from home more often, a simple scan of a food package would quickly and clearly give him insight into the nutrition details of that meal. Even if he purchased a salad or sandwich that wasn’t in the app, he was able to input the meal by ingredient, allowing him to easily track everything he ate. He also made several of the fresh and healthy recipes from the MyFitnessPal blog, which was a big change from the sugary, carb-heavy foods he relied on before weight loss.
“Sugar was my biggest challenge, so it became my biggest point of focus,” he says. “I stopped drinking soda after the first month, and I got a SodaStream machine to replace canned sodas. I also had to learn which protein bars were lowest in sugar because I usually eat one for breakfast every morning.”
Snyder even stayed committed to his journey while eating out and during holidays, where healthy food options were in short supply. “You don’t want to be that guy who stands out by ordering a salad at a restaurant when your friends or colleagues are enjoying themselves,” he admits. “But luckily, they all understood and supported me through this time.”
After a few weeks of using the app, Snyder upgraded to the Premium plan to take his analysis a step further and track his macronutrients and even more micronutrients. “I found it super helpful to be looking at potassium levels and such, as I’m thinking about daily consumption and supplementing with vitamins to help in areas where I was lacking,” he says.
He also began focusing on getting more activity into his day, starting small with short walks around his neighborhood. As those walks became easier, he progressed to longer walks and even purchased an indoor bike trainer for his home. As an avid golfer, Snyder’s weight had often limited him from playing a full 18-hole round without fatigue setting in. But as he lost weight and his fitness improved, he found each round easier to get through and every game more enjoyable.
Unfortunately, when the COVID-19 pandemic halted normal life as many of us knew it, Snyder struggled with the disruption of his new healthy routine. His unusual schedule threw off his freshly formed habits and forced him to remember why he started in the first place. While the conferences he spoke at had switched to a virtual format and his office had work-from-home policies in place, Snyder continued to log everything he ate and increased his mileage on his bike trainer at home. When golf courses reopened in his home state, he booked tee times as often as he could to get some fresh air, activity and a little normalcy back to his life — all while practicing social distancing, of course.
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Last year I started a journey of wanted to do more public speaking, and these are my conference headshots from last year and this year. Over last summer I decided I wanted to feel a little more confident representing myself, and started using MyFitnessPal to track calories. It was amazing to see the results just from doing that simple act, and quickly dropped some weight. Now 272 days in a row later I’ve logged calories and exercise in the app, and as of this morning hit the century mark of 100lbs lost!
Today, Snyder is 121 pounds lighter and just 9 pounds away from his goal of 250 pounds. When asked what advice he would give to others who are just starting their weight loss journey, he encourages people not to focus too much on the end goal.
“I recommend focusing on the simplicity of the small goals,” he says. “If you’re only thinking about the big goal at the end, it could be intimidating. It’s better to take it one day at a time. And don’t get discouraged if you have an off day or even an off week. Don’t forget to have a cheat meal and enjoy life.”