Monday, March 17, 2014
I posted this on a message board, but it bears repeating.
If I do not track, I stop losing. If I do not exercise, I stop losing. Unfortunately, it is very easy to take a day or two off from tracking and then that day turns into a week, or longer. If I track every day and have one bad day, I can correct it the next day and those extra calories don't really matter in the long run; by the end of the week I have balanced that binge with several days of lower calorie eating. If I do not track, however, I can easily end up having 4-5 days in a row where I am over my calorie range. And then the number on the scale goes up.
A drive-thru meal, an extra slice of pizza, a Coke instead of iced tea...none of these are deal breakers, if you've planned for them, but if you haven't, they'll destroy any success you've had. A Big Mac, large fries and a large Coke will set you back about 1,300 calories at McDonald's. That's my suggested calorie allotment for the day! If I have that meal for lunch, instead of my normal 400-500 calorie lunch,I've added almost 1000 calories to my day. And it certainly doesn't need to be fast food--it can be a nice lunch out with friends, or a lunch you perceive as healthy, like soup and salad from Panera. Do that just once a week, and that's a pound a month worth of extra calories.
Now consider that since I have stopped tracking and am not being as conscious of my choices, I will probably make other bad decisions besides my McDonald's meal. A movie date sharing a tub of popcorn will set you back 400-600 calories, (that's for half the large tub, not the whole thing) plus whatever you have to drink and any junior mints or gummy bears you buy. Let's say you just have the popcorn, and we'll average and call it 500 calories. One movie date a month is 6000 extra calories a year, or almost two pounds. How about birthdays and other events at work? A slice of birthday cake from a mix with icing averages about 300 calories. One birthday or special event a month? That's another pound a year.
So between our one fast food meal, our movies nights, and birthday cake at work, we've gained about 15 pounds. Now add to that the fact that the average Brit gains 5 pounds at Christmas (I assume similar is true for Americans) That's 20 pounds a year of weight gain, just from a few thoughtless choices, assuming that the rest of the time you're eating at your maintenance level of calories.
Obviously, we cannot go through life never having a treat, or giving into temptation, with without thinking consciously about what we are eating, it is very very very easy for those calories to add up. If I've tracked my McDonald's meal, I can eat 200 less calories a day for 5 days and the extra calories from the meal are accounted for. If I want popcorn at the movies, I can either save calories from breakfast and lunch, or eat a smaller size, or both. I can choose to eat the birthday cake, or not. I can remind myself that really Christmas is one day, and that even if I have big splurges on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years, that's just three days, not an entire month of indulgences. I don't need to have the store-bought cookies, and other mediocre "treats" that people bring in to work. I'd rather save my splurge for my mother's special cookies.
It's so easy to forget how little it takes to start the bad choice ball rolling. I see people on Spark say that they can hardly wait until they can stop tracking, but I feel like I will be tracking my whole life. I know myself and I know that I need to be accountable to be successful.