Tuesday, August 23, 2011
I'm on week 5 of stage 2 of the SP diet. One of the things I'm supposed to do this week is write down why I'm eating, every time I eat. One of the reasons is supposed to be hunger, every time. That sounds really lame, but I'm dutifully writing something in the notes section of the nutrition tracker.
Today's entry for dinner was, "OMG it's 7 PM and I need to eat 796 calories, 55g carbs, 20g fat, and 54g protein. Maybe I should be hungry?"
That kind of explains how I lost weight in 2009 and 2010. I wasn't tracking food at all, but I was making an effort to eat only when hungry, to avoid eating for boredom or stress, and to exercise (mostly lifting weights) enough to stay fit.
Exercise helps with food consumption a couple of ways. It burns calories, and it also suppresses appetite. Probably some of those days in 2009 and 2010 I was eating below what SP says is my minimum calorie requirement. Certainly other days in 2009 and 2010 I was eating well above what SP says is my maximum allowed calories. Let's not think about the macronutrient distribution of those calories. I probably wasn't getting enough protein unless I was also getting far too many total calories.
The second lesson I draw from this is, I can't trust how I feel about how much food I'm eating. Early on with SP, the diet felt doable but restrictive. I had to work to stay in the middle of the range. Then I set a weight loss goal, and the range shifted downward. It was trickier.
But over time, I figured out how to deal with things. Get the soda out of the house. Buy low fat cottage cheese and chicken breasts so I can get enough protein without blowing fat and total calories. Learn to eat salad, even if it means finding a salad dressing that I like.
Trimming the total calories did odd things to the calculations. Some days, I'd come in needing a few more grams of fat. That got rid of the bagels in the house, as cream cheese has fat. Later, it was toast and butter. Still later, I realized that it made more sense to eat almonds to make up deficient fat. It takes time, but I do get there.
Today was day 2 of week negative 1 of my 5K running program. (Negative 1 because I need two remedial weeks to get ready for the real program.) I came home from work planning to do the run 1 minute, walk 1 minute routine 12 times then walk home from wherever I ended up. Thought about eating something, maybe some whole wheat toast, before running. Then I thought again. Yesterday I lifted weights after work and before dinner; today I can walk/run after work and before dinner. It turned out not to be a problem.
Then there's that appetite suppression from exercise. All of a sudden, it was 7 PM. I wasn't hungry but need to get the daily requirements in. Got the job done, and I'll be fine.
But I do need to watch things. While it is more likely that failure to track food would result in overeating than undereating, I can't discount the possibility of undereating if I don't track. In fact, that would explain some rather poor performances in the gym in 2009 and 2010, which contributed to gym burnout.
I'm probably not going to keep writing down the reasons I eat after this week, but it was a worthwhile exercise. It showed me a side of mindless eating I hadn't thought of, mindless non-eating.
That's one more reason why I will need to track what I eat for the rest of my life. But that's okay. With tools like SP provides, tracking what I eat forever is nowhere near as dismal as it sounded six and a half weeks ago.
Monday, August 22, 2011
The day after I started training for running, my calves are a bit tight. Fair enough. I've seen this before, only worse, when I was trying to train but not doing it right. And I've seen it much worse after running a race without even bad training.
One of the things that seems to have helped with the calves, even without training to run, is strength training. After I started lifting weights, I'd still get sore calves the day following a race; but they didn't keep me from walking. I concluded that those lowly calf raises, which were mostly rests between major lifts, helped me out.
Besides being the day after I started a running program, today was a normal weight lifting day. By the time I get out of work, I've walked enough that my calves aren't bothering me. I've talked to a runner I work with, and confirmed that the calf raises are helpful. I realize that when I climbed back on the weight lifting band wagon, I did standing calf raises, which work the gastrocnemius; but I hadn't done seated calf raises, which work the soleus. If I'm going to run, both of those muscles are important. Today I'll add seated calf raises.
Had a nice session with the weights. Got my seated calf raises in along with the more major lifts. Give up after one set of walking lunges, because I don't have enough gas left in the tank to pull them off. I remember that I used to rotate through three workouts, with walking lunges being on the workout that had neither standing calf raises nor seated calf raises.
Run through my stretches. Pick a different hamstring stretch, hunting for the elusive hamstring stretch that I won't hate. Meh. I need to keep looking for that one. When I get to the calf stretches, I can feel my soleus.
It's been a long time since I've really felt my soleus when doing the bent leg calf stretch. I guess running yesterday really did work it. Too bad I didn't get the seated calf raises into my routine before deciding to run.
Oh, well. I've made some mistakes, but they aren't fatal. I can get the lifting routine arranged so that it supports the running as well as general strength. It is a bit of an eye-opener about the seated calf raises, though. The last time I was doing them, I couldn't tell that they were doing any good. Now, when I'm not doing them but ran a little anyway, I can tell. They're useful.
I guess this is one of the reasons I'm supposed to take the training to run slow. It's going to take a little time to build those calf muscles up to where they need to be for running continually for a half hour.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Last Sunday, I blogged about getting some exercise and steps in spite of the rain. Today, I have the Sunday lack of routine steps again, and it looked like rain early this afternoon. But this time I'm prepared. I've bought more exercise shorts, so I can afford to use them instead of cargo shorts for walking. I've bought a new pair of running shoes, so I can afford to get my old gym shoes wet. I put on the slick running shirt I got at the Chase Corporate Challenge two years ago, because it will handle sweat (and rain) better than a cotton tee shirt.
Well, I've never really trained methodically to run. Maybe I should look at what SP recommends. There are a variety of running gear up programs. Each of them is structured in terms of walk X minutes, run Y minutes, repeat Z times. The numbers X, Y, and Z vary by program, but it looks like you hold X and Y constant for 3 sessions a week, sometimes increasing Z, then the X and Y numbers get progressively more challenging each week. That's the concept.
When you get to reality, Week 1 is either walk 4 minutes, run 1 minute or walk 1 minute, run 3 minutes. I'm not sure I like either of those choices. But let's try the walk 1, run 3 thing. Get out, walk a minute, start running, and realize I left my water bottle at home. I'm dumb, but not that dumb. I stop running, walk back, and get it.
Start again, 4 minutes later. Walk one minute, start running. I'm feeling it at 40 seconds, but keep running for 1 minute. Plan B, walk 1 and run 1. Let's try this 12 times, because I know I managed 12 segments of short running (100 to 120 paces) yesterday during my 5.2 mile mostly walk.
First mile, 9:33. Second mile, 19:06. I'm shocked at the consistency; I could swear I'm running slower by then. I manage 10 reps of walk 1, run 1, then slow to walk 2, run 1 for two more reps. I'm needing a bit more rest between runs, but more importantly the first 20 minutes got me to the strip mall and I need to avoid pedestrians. By now it is raining steadily, so the pedestrians are congregating on the covered sidewalk and there is more traffic than usual in the close lane as their rides come for them. Two minutes walking was enough to deal with this.
After 26 minutes, I've run 12 one minute segments. SP would call this the end of a workout, but I'm about 2 and a half miles from home. No, I'm not that dumb; the plan was to take my normal 5.2 mile walk route and just walk all the way when I'm done with running. I shouldn't have any problem walking the rest of this loop, as my legs are very accustomed to walking.
The rain comes down harder. My natural inclination would be to run, to reduce the time spent in the rain. I resist this inclination, because I can feel in my calves that I've already been running. Been the overdoing it route before, let's try the gradual work up route this time.
I did run across the one significant intersection, because I hit the light green and didn't want to chance it changing while I was part way across. I don't expect drivers to be looking for pedestrians in the rain.
There's thunder, and a couple of small flashes of lighting. A couple years ago, they closed the course for the Chase Corporate Challenge for weather like this. That was the race where I got the shirt I'm wearing now, LOL. But I was raised in the Great Plains. I'm not intimidated by upstate New York thunderstorms. It's not cold, and it begins to remind me of walking in the rain when I was a kid.
I get home, after walking almost 3 miles in rain of varying intensity. Hit the restroom, do my stretches, take care of the wet clothes, shower. Now there's sunshine outside. Oh, well. The time to walk/run happened to be when it rained, and it was kind of fun.
I tentatively think I'll try a shorter walk/run around the neighborhood Tuesday evening. It will be a test of whether the suburban dogs get upset at seeing someone running, and it will leave me closer to home when I get my 12 segments of running in. How I deal with a third session on Thursday or Friday depends on how Tuesday goes.
It's kind of been a comedy today, but if I can run two minutes at a time next week, perhaps the week after I'll be ready to work on the SP 5K running program. I just need some remedial work first.
We shall see. I've never been a real runner, but I've never tracked what I eat before either. Don't know that I can't do it unless I try.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
New routine, even newer than SP, is to meet my daughter at the local McDonald's for breakfast at 9 on Saturday mornings. It's a time to catch up on her life, spending an hour to 90 minutes before she has to be to work. Today was the third Saturday in a row doing this.
This has been a learning experience. Before the first breakfast, I went online and found the McDonald's nutrition information, if you can call it nutrition. It looked like the workable breakfast sandwiches were the sausage burrito or the egg McMuffin, each at 300 calories.
Week one, I ordered off the dollar menu. Got the sausage burrito, a hash brown, and a small decaf. Noticed that this seemed to stimulate my appetite, but I dealt with that. I can work with this level of calories for breakfast. Then late in the day, I saw that I needed an awful lot of grams of carbs to hit minimum, and wasn't that far below minimum calories. Oops. Made my ranges by going higher in the calorie range than I liked.
Week two, I ordered the egg McMuffin meal and substituted hot tea for the coffee. This is more protein, less fat, and didn't stimulate my appetite like week one did. Ran into a similar carb problem late in the day, but this time I knew it was coming. Had oatmeal for dinner to make my ranges with the calories kind of in mid-range.
This week, I was up early. The plan was to get my 5 mile walk in before breakfast. Five miles on an empty stomach didn't seem like a bright idea, so I had a slice of whole wheat toast with a pat of butter and honey before the walk. Hmm. That's about the same calories as the hash brown, but more fiber, more carbs, more protein, less fat. Okay. Skipped the hash brown at breakfast, just had the egg McMuffin and tea. It was enough, and appetite wasn't a problem before normal lunch time. Had oatmeal at lunch, and went into the afternoon about the same place in the ranges as I do on a typical work day.
This is doable. Breakfast at McDonalds can be just an egg McMuffin and tea, and it won't be very hard to work it into the daily nutrition. I just had to get past the legacy thinking about breakfast at McD that included hash browns. The point of the exercise is conversation with my daughter, and I don't need to eat the hash brown to have that.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
I've read the complaint that diets are boring. Usually this is cited in an article about why they don't have to be boring, and followed by details that motivate me to stop reading the article before I get to the end.
On SP, I've seen evidence that some people go to a bit of effort to avoid culinary boredom. There are the ubiquitous, intimidating recipes. There are blogs that discuss devising this, that or the other treat that fits into the nutritional goals. My sister has posted status about what she has for breakfast indicating more variation in the past 4 weeks than I've had for breakfast in the past year, excluding breakfast eaten away from home.
I suppose diet boredom must be a real phenomenon, because people put so much effort into avoiding it. I haven't hit it yet, five weeks into SP. Part of that may be because I'm still figuring out what I can fix that fits into the nutrient ranges, but I suspect most of it is because I have a high tolerance for boredom.
My most common breakfast is oatmeal with raisins, a very simple recipe: 1/3 cup quick oats, sprinkle of salt, 1/3 cup raisins, 2/3 cup milk, alternate stirring and short segments of microwave till done. Serve with a glass of milk, no sugar other than the natural sugar in the raisins. I'm content to eat this five days a week. I know, because I have for years. My concession to dieting has been to replace the 1% milk with skim milk.
You may ask, what do I do the other two days? About one day a week, I'll eat grits with cheese and spices, usually the same spices, and drink orange juice. On Saturdays, I'm going to McDonald's for breakfast with my daughter and being creative with food the rest of the day to make the nutrients work. Before breakfasts and McD, I might have skipped breakfast on Saturday, or made myself a breakfast burrito (usually a dinner item now), or had oatmeal with raisins.
Similarly, I pack the same lunch to take to work most work days. Pre-diet, I'd make some burritos to take about one week in 4 or 5; I haven't yet figured out how to make burritos that fit the system well. If I were worried about boredom, figuring out diet-friendly burritos would be a higher priority.
I do have more variety in my evening meal, but I tend to eat the same stuff two or three days in a row. Sometimes this is because I fix something that is two meals' worth, but more often it's because I found something I liked that worked with the nutrients, and I'm going to do it again.
Eventually, I'm going to get tired of what I'm eating now. But I'll figure something out when that happens. When I do, I'll probably end up eating a lot of the same thing, only it will be something different than I'm eating a lot of now.
So . . . maybe diets are boring, and ability to tolerate boredom helps success? Or maybe that's not universally true. In my case, it's more likely that making food *routine* will allow me to define what I eat and spend my non-eating time thinking about other things than food.
Based on my weight history, I think that would be a Good Thing.
Get An Email Alert Each Time MOBYCARP Posts