Maintenance is not Steady State
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Since injuring the foot, I've adjusted my calorie range 3 times. First, I moved it down a little. Then I gained 3 pounds rather quickly, so I moved the range down a chunk. I lost back the 3 pounds, plus some; so I nudged the range up.
Upon reflection, what ought to happen is that as the foot slowly, every so slowly gets better I should be burning more calories. This mostly won't be in the form of exercise identified to the SP tracker, but in the form of walking more because it hurts less. That will probably create a need to adjust my calorie range repeatedly over the course of the year.
If and when I can get back to running 4 days a week, it should go back up to where it came from. If training for a half marathon (which sounds like fantasy land right now) ends up getting me to run more than I was running, I might even have a higher calorie range than where I was.
This is not what I envisioned when I achieved my initial goal weight. I envisioned figuring out how many calories I needed to eat to maintain, then settling down to eat that many. I envisioned eventually getting a feel for how much food that is and being able to stop tracking.
That's not going to happen. Real life is that how many calories I burn will change over time as I change what I do. Even without a foot injury, it was inevitable that there would be times I'd run more or run less, by enough to affect how much I need to eat to maintain weight.
So I come back to the very first thing I learned from SparkPeople: Track. Everything. I. Eat. I need to do this, because if I don't know what I'm eating I can't tell how to make changes when the weight moves somewhere it shouldn't.
Yeah, I understand that the theory is to learn natural hunger signals, eat when you're hungry, and let your body tell you when to stop. My body isn't very good at that, or I'm not very good at listening. I am less hungry now on less food than I was when I was running; but the reduction in hunger lagged the need to reduce what I eat. So my personal answer is, I need to track everything and control calories, carbs, fat, and protein. So far, I haven't felt the need to track anything else, such as sodium or fiber; but if the day comes when I need to do that, at least it will fit into the system I use.
This may be a major reason why maintenance is so hard. It's not like parking a car in the garage; it's more like trying to keep a boat in one spot in the middle of a lake with variable currents and winds. It can be done, but it requires me to pay attention and make adjustments in response to changing circumstances.