Saturday, April 30, 2011

Calories Do Count

Having finished a six-week challenge with an online friend, I'm embarking on a 10-week personal challenge much like the one just finished.  I have proven I can be successful in adhering to a program over a shorter period of time, and now want to see if I can have the same discipline for an extended period.

A couple of items reinforced my approach this week.  I caught a bit of Oprah one day as she presented 50 or so women who had been on a trainer's program in which they did 300 minutes of exercise per week and limited calories to 1700 per day.  They also had a skin care routine and sleep advice in their simple program, much like my own except that my calorie intake has been even more limited than that.  Individuals lost between 6 and 27 pounds over a period of 60 days.  Much depended on their adherence to the program.

On the same day I saw a news item about a man (a college professor perhaps, I'm not positive) who wanted to prove that you could lose weight regardless of what you ate as long as you paid attention to the total calories consumed.  To prove his point he lost weight while eating Twinkies and other junk food.

Well yes, I completely agree a calorie is a calorie is a calorie, and to lose weight you just need to burn more calories than you consume.  During my program I had at various times spaghetti and meatballs, mac n cheese, creme brulee.  But not every day.  And always compensated for with other calories during the day.  But I have found that I'm much better off to get my calories from foods that provide the most possible nutrition and also satisfy my hunger over longer periods of time.  For this reason I include breads and pastas in my daily calories and lots of veggies.  I've eliminated butter and nearly all added fats and have greatly reduced the sodium I consume simply because I eat so little pre-prepared food.  I do take a vitamin/mineral supplement too as I'm not confident I'm getting everything my body needs.  The bottom line is that I've found you can consume a pretty low number of calories and not feel hungry depending on what you choose to eat.

Yesterday at work a co-worker brought in a big plate of homemade cupcakes for our meeting.  I estimated in my head the calories and decided I could have a cupcake or lunch but not both.  I opted for lunch.

These are decisions I make every day.  I don't have chips, cookies, ice cream in the house unless grandchildren are coming.  If I want a sweet snack like chocolate, I buy a single portion, to allow no leftovers to tempt me later.

And I don't cheat.  If I cheat, the person I sabotage is myself.

I have such a sense of my life changing right now with so many transitions taking place, and I feel this is so right to get myself as physically healthy and fit as possible for last decades of my life.  That has been motivation enough to keep me on track and committed.

I appreciate the many words of encouragement from those who check in here from time to time.  If you are facing similar issues in your life, I urge you to try a simple program like this.  It is so rewarding when you see the results.  If you do, would you let me know?  I'd be very interested.


Bee's Blog said...

Congratulations. You are doing well.

Alex said...

I did count calories at one point, but eventually the focus on numbers (both on the scale and in food) started to take a mental toll on me. Still, I relate to your journey--several years ago I was at my heaviest and most lethargic, and it was affecting nearly every aspect of my life. My husband and began educating ourselves about nutrition, and started by eliminating HFCS from our diet. That in itself eliminated a vast majority of hyper-processed and unhealthy foods, and our quest just grew from there--cutting out hydrogenated oils, GMO's, and eventually becoming lacto-vegetarians. The more we learned, the more our diets shifted towards natural, whole foods. And without the chemical additive that stimulate hunger, we discovered that our appetites naturally decreased, and with them, our portion sizes.

Beyond that it just became a question of walking on a near daily basis, which we already enjoyed. And as we became more fit and better nourished, our activity levels naturally increased (longer walks, hikes, biking, running, etc). At this point we're the healthiest, lightest, and fittest we've ever been, and it feels amazing. Prioritizing my health and taking care of my body, my vehicle through life, is one of the best things I've ever done, and has transformed my life in more ways than I can possibly describe.

Best of luck to you on this journey. As far as I'm concerned, it's one of the most empowering paths you can take.

Bekkieann said...

Thanks, Bee, for your encouragement.

And Alex, thank you for sharing your own experience. Just eliminating HFCS would be a huge step for anyone. At this time, I don't see myself becoming strict vegetarian, but the meat in my diet is practically non-existent these days, though I still enjoy seafood. I am more concerned than ever about all the chemicals and additives in our food. And you are so right, healthier foods and weight loss lead to increased energy and decreased hunger and cravings.