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Budgeting Calories

Saturday, April 07, 2012

I have learned an important lesson in all my years of yo-yo dieting. If I concentrate on restricting my food intake, I may enjoy short term success at the expense of meeting my long-term goals. I can only play the martyr for so long!

My focus is on what I can ADD to my lifestyle, not what I must cut out. If I add enough things (food and otherwise) that are positive, the negative habits (at least some of them) will be squeezed out of my life. An example: I'm trying to find whole grains whenever I can. Having done that, there is hardly the need to use white bread. And I have discovered some very satisfying flavors I would have never tried before.

When consuming a healthy diet, the number of calories is certainly an important consideration. The way I look at it, I have a "budget" of 1200 calories to spend. Just like a child learning to spend his or her allowance wisely, the calories are there for me to make similar choices. Will I spend 200 calories on a handful of jelly beans? Or will I choose instead to spend them on a half-sandwich made with whole grain bread, lean turkey, sprouts, cucumbers, tomato, lettuce, and a light brushing of mayonnaise or honey mustard? Which snack will leave me more satisfied? Hmmm...

My favorite tool at Sparkpeople is the nutrition planner. I do my best to plan my day BEFORE I actually eat. It's much easier to tweak the plan than it is to "un-eat" something! I shoot for six small meals each day averaging 200 calories each. But yesterday was a successful exception to the rule. I was fortunate enough to have 3 out of 4 family members sitting down for dinner at the same time. The highlight: Filet Mignon, my favorite. It's not something I have very often (maybe twice a year) because it's packed with 430 calories! But by snacking on lots of veggies throughout the day and serving steamed broccoli with the filet, I kept my calories in check for the day.

In anticipation, I made sure I spent an extra 15 minutes doing cardio. I looked forward to the filet and enjoyed it without guilt!

Now, am I perfect about using the tools? Of course not! A wise friend once told me that it's all about not progress, not perfection. And as long as I continue to use the tools (even if I overindulge or fail to plan ahead) I will continue to make progress.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Yum. I've pretty much given up red meat, but the word filet had my mouth watering - and if I'm going for gold, I'd sprinkle some precious salt on it, too!

    I'm just not finding the right mind set. I've added all the healthy foods into my diet; I'm doing enough exercising to keep my weight stable (although that means I'm carrying an extra 20). I just can't get myself past feeling deprived when I try to stay away from sweets. And I desperately need to stop eating them. What has helped you truly change your mindset from "deprived because I want to be healthy" to "I'm really not interested in that stuff anymore."?
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    2240 days ago
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