Thursday, June 18, 2009

Counting Calories: FOR THE BIRDS

Time to stop complaining about this weight gain and do something about it. I think. Running just ain't cutting it (though, my super-duper bomb diggity new training schedule that I have hanging on my fridge is helping me feel both fierce AND productive) and "eating healthy," as I've called it, is not enough.

Lemme back up a sec. "Eating Healthy" is really P-speak for eating a lot of fruit and veggies and stuff, but not really monitoring the quantity of anything I put in my mouth. So, for example, I would probably still label a day "eating healthy" if I ate great all day but when E sat down next to me on the couch with the box of OREOs (or strawberry Newtons, or M&Ms, or whatever goodies he has that night) I shoved a handful into my face. Because in my pretty little pre-thirty world, that worked. In my little "I dance, so I eat what I want" world, it was enough to eat good things to balance out the bad. Didn't last forever... or, really, whatever has changed in me just isn't making that work right now--age, change in activity level/ type, medication I'm on, whatever. Who cares. It just is. It's not working anymore.

I decided a few weeks ago to start a food journal. I know, I know, how "Oprah" of me. At first I just wanted to see what I was taking in. No goals. It was kind of shocking, but in a good way. In a wow, I eat enough calories for a small horse kind of way. But the other thing that I deduced was that my diet is pretty balanced, nutrient wise. Just too many of everything. Too many calories, too many fats, too many carbs... you get it. If there was one area I could increase, it would be my intake of protein. I've been using Spark People because not only do they have a website that is pretty easy to use, there's a free iPhone app. Hello! I can track what I eat on my phone. Easy peasy.

This is a growing experience for me in so many ways. It feels like I'm making a lifestyle change, with all this running and watching what I eat and learning about running and learning about what I eat... there's a ton of good information out there on the web. As I've said before, I use MapMyRun to track each run (it too has a free iPhone app, iMapMyRun), and I've also been on the forums on Runner's World, and they have a ton of great tools for training and research. Last night in my Quest for the Holy Caloric Grail of Knowledge, I also stumbled on this Caloric Intake Calculator. Cool. And just in case you need a BMI calculator (I do, so I can watch mine continue to climb...) here's one of them lil' diddies too.

But this post isn't about running or learning about running. It's about counting every gee dee calorie. *sigh* Once I started keeping track of what I was eating, I saw patterns, like the fact that I didn't eat much in the morning, but by dinnertime (and after) I was scarfing carbs and filling my face like there was no tomorrow. I decided to try to curb the late night TV eating (Tveeting?) and try to reduce my daily total calorie intake too. Know what? It's hard. Really, really hard. Like, I had to come in on a Sunday. (Sorry, that's a reference to a Will Ferrell GWB SNL skit that E and I make to each other all the time).

Even in the act of reducing calories, I'm learning. I'm learning things like how important it is to eat enough for breakfast so I can make it through the morning. Also learning not to eat too much for breakfast so I don't go all Hungry Mungry after 8:00 at night when I'm "out" of calories for the day because I've blown it. See, I wasn't kidding about the "hard" part. I am finding that eating breakfast is helping me cut the amount I eat for the rest of the day--all those health experts must be right, huh? So, Lesson #1: Breakfast GOOD.

Lesson #2: mid-morning snack FOR THE WIN. I totally heart the 10:00 snack. It's like I'm in preschool. For the last four days, I've only eaten one thing, and it rocks my socks right off, it's so good. I bought E some almond butter (peanut allergy), and instead of serving up Gluten-free sammiches with almond butter for my dude, I've been appropriating his stash to eat half a fuji apple and a tablespoon of almond butter every morning. Is there a better snack in the world than that? Man, it's good. Salty, sweet, crunchy, yum. Blue Diamond has an almond butter that is so good. Buy it. Eat it. Love it. (Bonus for my Gluten-free peeps: Blue Diamond also just came out with Nut Crisps, rice/almond crackers that are Gluten-free and taste like REAL crackers. Check them out!)

Lunch ain't bad... I guess I wasn't eating that many calories at lunch before anyway--but I say this with a caveat--at home. It's way easier to eat well because I'm off work for the summer and not eating out. Lesson #3: I need to make it my goal in life to PACK a sack lunch and love it. That is going to mean planning meals (not just dinners) and shopping with that in mind. I am finding that staying away from Taco Bell is saving us a lot of money, and in the end it will probably prove better for my waistline. It's just not easy. I love you, Food, and I love you, Cheesy Gordita Crunch. Today I tried something new and wonderful, the La Tortilla Factory Softwrap. Just like a tortilla (I had the rye kind), but 9 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber in one wrap. Whoa. They're soft because they have Olive Oil in them too. Geez, I sound like a commercial. But they're good. Trust me. *wink*

Dinner goes pretty much the same, calorie-wise, as lunch--cutting pasta from our diet almost entirely, save the occasional slimy rice pasta for E, has meant we eat way less than we used to in the carbohydrate department. Eating at home isn't bad. Tonight we ate out at Red Robin though, and I'm not gonna lie, I was so weak... but I didn't stumble.

I ordered the Ensenada chicken platter (with only one breast, no ranch/lime dip)... it was good. I don't do well in those situations. I felt exactly like I did when I was prego and gave up soda. I was salivating, just seeing Ad's chicken strips and E's burger. I sat there and drooled a little because I wanted it so bad I could taste it. And I was jealous. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's A-1 Peppercorn burger--I know--but I think maybe God's giving special dispensations for people in their first week of calorie reduction. Agree? Anyway, I made it out alive and hamburger-free. Which brings me to my next point. Lesson #4: Salsa as salad dressing is totally good, AND it's totally healthy. I really like it. Surprise!!!--something that doesn't suck about eating healthy.

I suppose that's an awful lot to say about counting calories, but you know me... doesn't really take an interesting topic to get me going. Just wanted to share with the world that I am really frustrated, and really trying hard. This weight gain thing has me bamboozled. I hope you don't think I'm being retarded or vain, but I don't want to wait for my health to spiral out of control before I get a handle on it (enough cliches for you there?); unfortunately, it already feels beyond my control. I've been in tears twice in the last two days about how much I'm gaining in spite of how hard I'm exercising. I know it will all even out. Just trying to be as educated and as focused about it as I can be. Thanks for listening.

P.S. Counting calories sucks. Am I right?
image of how I feel found here


  1. Typically, I try to avoid responding to these types of posts because 1)You're smaller/skinnier than I am, 2)because of #1, it makes me look like a complete ass when I act as if I know what I'm talking about and 3)if I was really that great with the advice, WHY do I still look the way I do, right? Ok, well with #1, 2 and 3 out the window, I'm going to just tell you this: I have decided to give myself rules. That's right, rules because of the structured teacher side of me, that's what works best. Each week I have added a new rule and so far I've been good with obeying them.
    So, here are my rules...
    1) NO MORE FAST FOOD! That's right, I said it...and let me tell you IT. IS. HARD!!!!!
    2)No more soda...only water, milk, tea and small doses of coffee.
    3)Nothing to eat past 7pm.
    4)Only one normal serving of food per meal.
    That's all my rules so far...I have only been doing this for four weeks. I still don't know what next week will be, probably exercising. wink, wink! Keep up the good work, H! BTW...I read your post about Sheri from the View. As a plus size female, I don't think of her as plus size because, if you take away her enormous breasts, she's pretty petite! And... So. Are. You. Have a great day and good luck! ;-)

  2. LOL... comment away. Nobody is perfect. 'specially me. I know I'm still relatively healthy, but I just don't feel good in my own body lately, and that's the reason for all the recent whining.

    I like your "rules"... I'm kind of working from a similar framework. I totally can't do the not eating after 7 PM thing though... that's prime eating time for me! (have to have at least a little sugar free jello or some popcorn.) I'm better about not eating at night when I'm crocheting--hands are occupied... but still not great.

    Keep reading. I'll try not to be too big a butthead. If that's possible. :) Glad you commented.

  3. Hey Heather. Good luck on the weight loss thing. I have the lose it app for my iPhone and that does a pretty good breakdown of how many calories you need to eat in order to lose weight. I haven't been using it much though since I figured out about how many calories I take in. Also, I have been walking at least 10,000 steps a day which seems to help with the weight loss. Bringing my lunch to work helps. So does that 10 am snack. It is all about the portions for me too.

  4. Kayda, I use the lose it app, too. I'll just add this, calories aren't the enemy really, it's more about what you eat. I am working with a trainer and he has me rearranging the types of food I eat: lots more fish, less on the carbs, nothing packaged. AND I have incorporated weights after my run. In one week, I feel good and I see a difference. Just sharing! Another app I use is, which is pretty cool. Gotta change things up, otherwise I would completely bore myself to death running on the treadmill, lol.