Monday, January 24, 2011
I've now been Eating Whatever I Want and Tracking It for over a week, and it's going better than I ever could have expected. I'm not sure if it's just the act of tracking what I eat, changes with my cycle, or something else, but suddenly something kicked in and my appetite isn't as big as it was before.
Here's a quick summary (rounded to the nearest hundred calories):
Sat. 1/15: 2,700 cals (Day 1)
Sun. 1/16: 3,600 cals
Mon. 1/17: 3,100 cals
Tues. 1/18: 3,000 cals
Wed. 1/19: 2,700 cals
Thurs. 1/20: 2,500 cals
Fri. 1/21: 1,800 cals (snow day! I was home by myself all day and didn't binge!)
Sat. 1/22: 2,600 cals
Sun. 1/23: 1,700 cals!
So as you can see, my daily calorie totals have been shrinking without any intervening. The only change I've made is that I'm trying to eat more freggies. Fruits and vegetables have SO MANY FEWER CALORIES than fatty and processed carby foods! It's kind of like discovering a store with significantly lower prices than other stores. You can buy (eat) so much more!
At the grocery store this weekend I didn't have my shopping list planned out exactly like I normally do - I did have the ingredients I needed for my recipes (two of Chef Meg's recipes from sparkrecipes.com) but I also had a line for "freggies." I figured I'd see what the store had to offer! Here's what I ended up with:
*a bag of fresh broccoli and cauliflower for roasting
*a bag with one yellow, one red, and one orange pepper
I think that's it, in addition to my normal apples and clementines. I didn't want to get TOO much because I don't want my fresh produce to go bad before I eat it all. There is still a learning curve here - I'll figure out how much I can buy with practice.
With all of this, plus keeping up my workouts, plus TOM, plus a little stomach issue yesterday, you'd think my weight would have dropped more but I've been stuck at 168 for the past several days. At least I'm not at 171 like I was at the beginning of this experiment.
It was negative five degrees (F) this morning as I was driving to work - holy coldness!!!
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
First, a huge thank you to those who took the time after reading my last post to write me some really thoughtful advice tailored just to me. The bulk (pun intended) of the advice seemed to be pointing me toward one direction: eating high-volume/low-calorie foods, especially vegetables.
Of course I already knew that I should be eating vegetables, but if that common-sense concept was already working for me, I wouldn't be struggling with my eating, now, would I! Here are my thoughts about this:
*If I eat high-volume/low-calorie (I'll call them HVLC) foods, I will feel full on fewer calories.
*If I eat HVLC foods, I might get hungry again sooner than I would if I ate something rich....but that's OK - I can just eat MORE HVLC foods! Eating veggies all day long likely yields a lower total daily calorie intake than having a few big processed-food snacks.
*I need to make HVLC foods more appealing so that I'll choose them over whatever processed snacks I happen to find.
How to Make High-Volume/Low Calorie Foods More Appealing so I'll Choose Them Over Whatever Processed Snacks I Happen to Find:
*First and foremost I have to realize that a healthy lifestyle involves making choices and that sometimes I am going to have to choose the less immediately gratifying but healthier item. In other words, suck it up and do it.
*Having said that, however, there definitely are things I can do to make HVLC foods more appealing. As Terri pointed out on my last post, I don't have to stick to just clementines and apples (she knows my menu so well!). I've been buying those because they're easy single-serving snacks to carry around and track, and they last pretty well in the fridge, but how appealing is your fourth apple in one day, anyway, especially in January when apples are far from their peak quality?
*I will start looking for a variety of really appealing HVLC foods at the grocery store. For example, I've recently discovered baby bell peppers, which are adorable and delicious, but so far I've only used them in recipes. I'm sure they'd make great snacks. Other suggestions are definitely welcome.
*The way vegetables are prepared makes a difference in how much I want to eat them. I'd gobble up roasted vegetables, for example, so I need to become a good vegetable roaster and start doing that more often!
*One of my big hangups in the past when it came to getting creative in eating a variety of "freggies" (to borrow a term I've seen other Sparkers use) was that it was more difficult to track than just, say, an apple. But since I'm talking about crafting a long-term healthy lifestyle that works, I need to let go of that worry because here the benefit (loving "freggies") clearly outweighs the negative (tracking imprecisely). A lot of people consider vegetables a "free food" when it comes to tracking. I could just guesstimate my veggie tracking, knowing that being a little off with something HVLC is still going to most likely be more accurate than being a little off with something processed and calorie-dense.
Sooo...I guess my mission needs to be finding High-Volume/Low-Calorie foods and preparation methods that really appeal to me, and to combine those with a touch of self-control (because let's face it, there are still going to be times when I really would rather eat the processed junk - there's that tough love thing) and a balanced approach, using my Spark nutrition tracker as a guide to make sure my balance is pretty good. And it's progress, not perfection.
A few other random comments:
Anyone else use "Spark" as a verb? I've even got my husband doing it, as in, "Are you going to Spark that ice cream you're eating?" (He means, of course, entering a food into my nutrition tracker.)
Yesterday after school I drove through the slippery slush to the eye doctor's office. My eyes are fine and my prescription hasn't changed, but I really wanted new frames just to update my style. I ended up choosing a pair of tortoise shell Calvin Kleins and I can't wait 'til they're ready! :) Imagine WANTING to wear your glasses!
After Body Pump last night I figured I'd do an easy elliptical workout. I ended up doing 6.4 miles in 65 minutes, and was super proud of myself for getting to the point where THAT is an easy workout. Yay.
Just as I'd suspected, my daily nutrition goals (especially sodium, calcium, and fiber) seem easier met on weekdays than weekends, mostly because I prepare most 0f my own food during the week. But I'm still coming in at the high 2,000s to low 3,000s for daily calorie totals.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Hi, I'm into Day 4 now of my experimental Eating Whatever I Want And Tracking It. Here's what I've found so far:
*Just as I'd suspected, I'm having to guess at amounts so I could be really off in my tracking.
*So far my daily totals have ranged from the high 2,000s to the mid 3,000s. This is lower than I'd guessed, especially given that most of these days have been non-work days. However, I could have majorly underestimated - who knows.
*My macronutrient percentages have been showing too much fat and not enough carbs or protein.
*Compared to where Spark says I should be, I've been above range for calories, fat, carbs, and sodium. Yesterday, when I had an omelette for lunch and stuffed shells for dinner I was also majorly above for cholesterol.
*I've been within range for fiber, but this is an area in which I'm normally off the charts when I'm controling my eating.
*I've been feeling really good physically - plenty of energy for high-powered workouts and mostly good moods.
*I get a little bit hungry sometimes, though of course not as often or as urgently as when I'm controling my calories. I get a little bit stuffed after some meals, though sometimes I feel like I could eat again very soon after a meal. Other times I don't want to eat after a meal.
*I haven't wanted to get on the scale much. I don't want to see my weight going up and up and I'm suspecting that's what's happening.
*I'm glad I finally bought myself pants that fit me at my current size so I'm not constantly squeezing myself into something uncomfortable and unflattering.
*I haven't lost my desire to look thinner.
Areas in which I could improve:
*Stuffed shells for dinner last night? NOT a smart choice. I'm usually good about picking something relatively healthy off a menu, though I'm not always good at having some wrapped for later after I've eaten enough!
*I could drink more water.
*I could eat fewer junk food snacks and commit more to fruits and vegetables.
*I need to be extra cautious when it comes to situations in which I usually overdo it: eating at my parents' house, eating at home (often in bed/in front of the computer!) when my husband isn't home, and eating at restaurants.
More to come!
In other news, yesterday my mom and I took a yoga class! There is a new studio that specializes in yoga for seniors/people with mobility limitations near my parents' house, so I offered to keep my mom company while she tried it out. I was hopeful that this would become a "thing" for her. Unfortunately she gave up after the first few poses though, and chose to just watch. She said that her limitations with her new knee (she had a knee replacement in August '10) and her arthritis were bothering her. I wish I knew how much of it was just her not being used to pushing herself. I think both my mom and the instructor could have done a better job at modifying the moves so my mom could have participated more.
Now I'm off to my eye appointment. I hate eye appointments! I can never sit still when they get up close with that big scary machine.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
So I guesstimated my calories for yesterday to be around 2,700. That's lower than I had guessed a day of eating whatever I want would be, but it was still enough to put me up at 170.6lbs today after being 167 a few days ago.
I told my husband my plan and he didn't like it. He thinks I'll gain a bunch of weight eating whatever I want, and he doesn't see the point in establishing a baseline. It made me wonder if I'm just putting off the inevitable...dieting misery... but I really don't think so. I think I will learn something from this experiment. I'm just not sure what.
I told hubs about my 2,700 calories yesterday and he was like, "That's unacceptable!" but then I was like, "Oh yeah, let me do YOUR calories...I bet you're not much less." So I went into an empty day in my SP tracker and entered everything he told me he ate yesterday and he came in at 2,600. So...I was right! And he was corrected. :)
This morning my only exercise was Body Pump - NO additional cardio, but I was sweating and giving it my all in Body Pump so I don't feel bad. I think I had the heaviest squat weight in the class, hehe. Funny how I can go so much heavier than everyone else with squats but with other muscle groups I use a wimpy weight. I definitely looked fat in my tight new workout pants. Oh well.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
I think we're taught to believe that any lifestyle change that makes us look good will also make us feel good, and I think there are some lucky people for whom this is true. Some people feel great eating a calorie level that has them maintaining a healthy weight, and they don't even need to count these calories - their bodies naturally make the right decisions for them.
For me, however, getting to a "normal" (BMI-wise) weight involves a lot of FIGHTING my body's natural decisions. I naturally gravitate toward a high level of calories - not sure how many, but embarrassingly high - maybe on a typical non-tracking day I might eat 3,000-5,000 calories. In fact, maybe I should try counting my calories on days like that just to find out what my natural range is. (However, I see two issues here: 1. Simply knowing I'm tracking may have an emotional impact on the amount I eat; and 2. On a typical day when I eat food prepared by other people I'd be guesstimating my calories SO much that my results might not even be valid.) Despite these drawbacks I am realizing that tracking without restricting might be a good idea. I hadn't started writing this blog entry with this idea in mind...it came to me as I was writing. It's not an idea I can claim credit for - don't lots of diet/nutrition programs, including SP's, suggest you start by doing exactly this to get a baseline? Anyway, once I know how many calories I eat on a typical day when I'm not trying to restrict myself, I can try baby steps. Maybe just shave off a few hundred calories and see how that feels and what impact that has on my weight as well.
I think there should be no need for misery when attempting to live a healthy lifestyle. Wouldn't that be counterintuitive and counterproductive? Would it even actually BE healthy, if I weren't feeling good?
I think everyone wants to look good, and improving how I look is admittedly one of the main motivating factors for me when it comes to diet and exercise. But I've come to the conclusion that, like it or not, feeling good HAS to trump looking good, if the two don't naturally come hand-in-hand. The reason is that you can only voluntarily do something that makes you feel physically uncomfortable for so long before you're going to snap and go back to behaviors that make you feel good. You're just going to. So, if the choice HAS to be feeling good, I might as well embrace that. Jen's (SWEATONCEADAY) comment on my last post really resonated with me. She reminded me that I am doing many things RIGHT, and that I should celebrate these things. Why should I feel ashamed by my body's natural tendency to seek food/energy? A few of my Spark friends have commented on my high metabolism and my body's need to fuel itself for the large amount of exercise I do. I'm going to try to stop feeling shame about my eating habits. Rather, I want to just tweak things and control things just enough so that I can be the best me I can be, all the while AVOIDING the battle with my natural instincts. I think I can do that.
Wow, I started this blog entry not thinking I'd come up with a plan, but there I go...I've come up with something I feel really good about! I'll try my best to track to get my baseline over the next, I don't know, week or so, maybe longer, maybe shorter - I am guessing this experiment will lead to some insights I can't even imagine right now that will influence where I go from here.
I'm going to end this post with a little story that kind of shows what I mean about feeling good, and about how I think I may have been making healthy choices lately even without sticking within a certain calorie limit:
As I mentioned in my last blog, after just a day and a half of limiting my calories to 2,000 per day, I already felt a major energy lag at the gym. On Thursday I ate a controlled 2,500 calories and that went well, and then on Friday I didn't count calories at all because it was a different sort of day than normal (teacher professional day, lunch was provided, I had a Greek salad with grilled chicken, but lots of sugary stuff too, then went out for dinner with hubby to celebrate our 11-monthiversary and I had red wine, bread, half a Caprese salad, and schrod in maranara sauce with olives and capers - brought the side of pasta home to eat for lunch today). Anyway, I'm getting long-winded but my point is that I have been letting my body decide how much/what I was going to eat the past couple of days for the most part, which always seems to give me the best energy (as long as I don't stuff myself). On top of that, I got a nice long night's sleep last night and had coffee this morning, and then we were off to the gym. If the gym were still right next door I would have had time to get there in time for Body Combat, but with the new farther-away gym I arrived late, so I used the elliptical instead. And for the first time EVER, I was able to maintain a sub-nine-minute mile pace at level eight for a full hour, and for the first time ever once I was done with my cooldown (65 minutes in all on the machine) my total distance was OVER seven miles. I think the total calorie burn was somewhere around 985 (though I am pretty wary of calorie burn measurements on machines). My point is that, even though my weight has been firmly in the overweight range for the past several months, I have continued to make cardiovascular progress and I felt really good and really sweaty and really proud of myself when I was done. And in Body Pump I know I'm making progress too because I've been slowly but steadily increasing my weights. So...I have a lot to be proud of, despite my overweight status.
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