Tag Archives: Calorie

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A few things have changed from my last super-positive and optimistic post about my new 'counting calories' diet regime.

First, and most importantly, I gained weight.

Well, at first anyway.  I did in fact get down to 160 from 163, but then promptly went back up to 164.  I won't deny it, I was greatly upset.  I felt like a hack, and a failure.  Even worse, a hack and a failure who had to post about how she was a hack and a failure on the internet.  Oh the humanity.

The shame

The shame

Let's ignore how when I looked in the mirror I swore I looked leaner.  Or that when I tried to demonstrate how a pair of shorts didn't fit me anymore, magically they fit me.  Or that I knew I was in a caloric deficit and, seriously, you can't gain fat in a caloric deficit.

Let's also ignore that, aside from my neurosis over the scale, I was pretty happy.  I was enjoying food.  All kinds of food.  I was eating a substantial amount of carbohydrates and protein consistently for the first time in...I dunno.  I hit a couple PR's in the gym.  Forget all that.

THE SCALE WENT UP - REMEMBER WHAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT HERE.

(just so no one is confused, the above sentence is sarcastic) And, actually, I did go back down to 162ish after a few days.  But even typing out how much I weighed just sounds vapid to me now.

Anyway, thankfully I took some pictures.  For full disclosure, for 5 days prior to this I was testing out a program my gym will be offering.  The diet part included a super-duper low carb meal plan.  I was eating around 1800 calories per day, which was about the same as I was doing before.  However, I did lose about 4 pounds.  Don't worry I've gained all but one of those pounds back since.

8-24-13

Taken this past weekend

 

Before (After 'Clean Eating' Phase)

Before (After 'Clean Eating' Phase)

So, not a ton of progress, as we can see.  But, definitely got a little leaner around my stomach.  Progress?

Should I Trust the Process?

It's hard to say whether or not I've made any positive impact on my body composition when the pictures are so small in difference and the main metric I used last year - the scale - isn't changing like it did.  I always say that the scale is useless and yet when it comes to applying that knowledge to myself, I am struggling.  Partly because part of my goal was to compete in the sub-148's, but also partly because I don't want to fool myself.

It really is rather absurd, however, that a little number carries so many of our emotions with it.  How petty.

Cutting it Short

Unfortunately, whether I wanted to trust the process or not, I'm cutting this little experiment short, for a few reasons:

1) I have a Powerlifting competition coming up in November and potentially December and I don't want to suck.

2) I'm feeling a little burnt out of thinking about food and dieting so damn much.  Seriously, it's exhausting sometimes.

So, in all likelihood I won't be picking this back up again until January or so.  (DID SOMEONE SAY NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION???)  (No, because I think that's silly)

In a way, this makes me feel like a failure.  A failure on the internet.  But I think it's best for me right now.  The little bit of shame I get from the proclamation is outweighed by the relief I feel.

I will be continuing to count calories, but not as stringently as I was, and I probably will keep it around 2,200 rather than 1,800 - 2,000 depending on if I get morbidly obese or not.  I'll still take pictures intermittently, but I probably won't be posting them.  Speaking of counting calories, here's my overall impression:

Pros

  • No 'rules' on what you can and can't eat
  • Can reasonably eat out at restaurants
  • Always knowing you're getting adequate protein

Cons

  • Counting calories can be really annoying sometimes
  • Counting calories is basically never 100% accurate
  • Many of the better local restaurants don't have nutrition information.

Well that's the end of my little post on insecurity.  On the plus side think of how much more intellectual focus I'll have now that I can divert to more useful projects, like MSPainting all over Pinterest posts and bashing critiquing Bob Harper!

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So it's been a while since there's been an update on my second diet experiment.  There's a few good reasons for that, but mostly because -

I fell off the wagon.

Big time.

I participated in eating 'clean' for about a month.  Everyday was a struggle to determine whether this particular food item was clean, or what about that food item??  Mentally, it was extremely frustrating for me.  Did you know it's impossible to purchase a chilled tea like anywhere?  Just cold tea.  That's all I wanted.

I was finding more and more excuses to go out to eat (sweet potato fries are clean right...?) and then just say 'fuck it' once I got there.  Then go out for ice cream afterwards.

This all culminated in about a 4-day eating extravaganza: Help Luke's parents move on Thursday and then go eat a bunch of fried seafood, see my brother for the first time in forever and go out to eat, Saturday have a family reunion with roughly 12 kinds of desserts of which I tried them ALL, Sunday eat with my parents for lunch then go out to eat again at night.

Woke up the next day at 163.  Yeeeeeahhhhh.

So that day I decided it's about time to start Phase II, because this 'clean eating' shit just left me frustrated and EXTREMELY annoyed.

Clean Eating Review

Pros:

  • No calorie counting
  • Forces you to eat more fresh foods which allows you to go by satiety signals.
  • Drastically decreased my diet soda intake - even today I'm drinking much less than I was.

Cons:

  • Clean DOESN'T MEAN ANYTHING
  • If you are going out to eat, you either have to be that really annoying person who orders very specialized meals or just concede yourself to 'cheating.'
  • A lot of not 'clean' foods have no good reason to not be eaten
  • In my opinion, promotes an unhealthy relationship with food

Onto Calorie Counting

Started counting my calories and tracking food in earnest last Monday the 22nd.  In general my nutrition goals for right now are:

  • ~2000 calories per day
  • 160g protein at least
  • ~65g fat
  • ~200g carbohydrates (whatever remains after protein / fat)

This is actually a ton of food when I am counting it all up.  If you had asked me if I could lose weight during my experiment last year at 2000 calories I would have laughed.  I was only eating 1200 - 1600 then.  That was only something I could achieve with intermittent fasting.  Surprisingly, so far I have been steadily dropping weight.  I'm already back down to 160 as of this morning.

The best part is how my relationship with food has changed.  Nothing is off-limits.  In fact, even though in my head I say "I could really have a cookie if I wanted to right now and it would be okay," I often don't.

Except for today.  Today I ate a cookie.  WITH NO GUILT AT THAT!

Except for today. Today I ate a cookie. Ain't even guilty about it.

Seriously, a couple of times I've been at the end of the day and still needing to eat 200 - 300 calories, and have thought to myself "ugh...I really don't want to make or eat anything else."  I forced my way through a greek yogurt / protein powder combo yesterday.  IT WAS AWESOME.  Going from feeling constantly deprived to feeling like the last thing I want to do is eat more is so mind-boggling to me - it's incredibly exciting.

So seriously, if you feel like your relationship with food is not a positive or fun one, I encourage you to give counting calories and macros a try for just a little while.  It can be a little annoying to look up the information on everything - especially when you're making recipes - but just remember it doesn't have to be 100% perfect.  Experimenting is a wonderful thing.

P.S.  You can follow EXACTLY what I am eating everyday on myfitnesspal!

P.P.S. Once I've been doing calorie counting for a month I'll have some pictures.  I looked absolutely no different when I took pictures for the end of Phase I so I didn't bother posting.  No one needs that many pictures of me. 

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This post was mainly inspired by an article I read in the latest issue of Health magazine - but it's also from the million of articles I've seen around the internet about how to burn calories in your daily activities.

Hiking - Cover

Taken from Health Magazine (July-August 2013), pg. 40

Want to buff up?  Slim down!  ...Wait what?

During your hike why not do some lunges up the mountain top to get that metabolism running?  While spending time with family and friends at the pool, why not get in a great calorie burn?  Take dancing lessons with your partner - you'll get fit together!  Getting some serious work or studying done?  Why focus on actually accomplishing something when you could be doing these sneaky ab exercises?

Maybe this sounds like great motivation for getting more activity and healthy movement into your life.  But tell me what you think about this proposition:

Alternatively, why not go for a hike because you want to enjoy the great fucking outdoors?  Why not actually enjoy time with family and friends at the pool instead of anxiously trying to get a calorie burn to assuage the guilt of that lemonade?  Why not take dance lessons with your partner so that you have something to relate about and bond over?  WHY DOES EVERYTHING HAVE TO BE ABOUT BURNING CALORIES?!

Taken from Health Magazine (July-August 2013), Pg. 43

Taken from Health Magazine (July-August 2013), Pg. 43

I'm trying to think of a caption to appropriately encapsulate how ridiculous this is, but I'm finding myself at a loss.

I'm going to take this a step further.  Why not sprint because running fast feels like you're fucking flying?  Why not pick up ultimate frisbee because it's amazingly fun?  Why not lift weights because you'd like to play airplane with your kid without throwing out your back?

If you've reduced the activities in your life into ways that you can justify eating food or try to cancel out something you feel guilty about, you're destroying the point.  Try to enjoy what you're doing for the sake of doing it - not because you feel like you need to look better in a bikini or you feel like you need to earn some birthday cake you're going to eat later that week.  Is that living?  Is that mentally healthy?

I'm a personal trainer and oftentimes I work to try and help people lose weight.  We also exercise together - so maybe it's a bit odd to hear from me that I would really like to get people to get away from associating exercise with burning calories and losing weight.  Exercise because you want your body to perform better, not just because you want to lose fat.  If the only reason you're working out is for the latter reason, you'll end up sorely disappointed - not to mention missing out on some INCREDIBLE benefits of working out that don't involve fitting into skinny jeans.

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With no powerlifting meets on the horizon, a host of bodyweight exercises I want to master and feeling a general lull in my training, I figured it's about that time of year again:  I'm gonna lose some weight.  (I'd be lying if I said it wasn't for some aesthetic reasons as well.)  Last year I went through this journey experimenting with intermittent fasting, carb cycling and performing zero cardio to achieve my goals.  Unfortunately, I think I made a mistake in getting down to a mere 1,200 calories on rest days and 1,500 on workout days.  This time around, I want to ask; can I drop to an even lower weight without dropping the calories so low?

I've been spending the last few months trying to hash out what I want to test on this new round of fat loss.  After a bit of deliberation, I've set out a rough plan for what I'm going to do for the next few months:

Phase 1: Eating 'clean'

The first phase will probably be 2-3 months in duration.  Eating 'clean' seems to be a really popular idea among people trying to optimize their health and weight.  It's appealing for a number of reasons, most important for a lot of people being the idea that as long as you're 'eating clean' you don't need to count your calories.  Whether it's because when eating minimally processed 'clean' foods you'll feel full when you're meant to, or because you subscribe to the idea that 'a calorie is not just a calorie,' it's presumed that there is no need to weigh and measure your food.

Well, that suits me just fine because the few times in my life I've tried to keep an online food log and be super precise with my eating, I've gotten rather agitated and annoyed - which will make Phase 2 and 3 particularly tough.

Phase 2: Meticulous Weighing 

I'm really not a type-A personality.  I don't feel the need to know exactly what I'm putting in my mouth at all times - I'm okay with a little ambiguity.  Unfortunately for this phase though, I'm going to need to weigh, measure, and calculate the nutritional profile of everything I put in my mouth.  This phase will last until I reach a few pounds below the top end of the weight class I want to compete in.  (132.5 lb. up to 148.5 lb, so I'll stop around 145lbs)

Phase 3: How much can I eat?

I recently watched a video about the kind of metabolic damage that figure athletes / bodybuilder / average dieters (particularly women) go through when trying to cut down their weight.

While I don't think I'm suffering from a particularly low metabolism, it sure does sound fun to see just how far I push my calories without gaining back more than 3-5 pounds.  This will be a ridiculously slow process, so I'm not sure how long this phase will last.

Where I'm Starting

When last we left, I was weighing in at 154.  Nowadays I've gone up to ~160, which is a weight that's been holding relatively steady regardless of what I've been eating (within reason of course).  I did sort of push the calories the past few months in anticipation of this upcoming experiment, so hopefully I'll have a little more room to work with!  The past 2 weeks I've tracked my weight daily to see what the natural fluctuations are:

WG (4-29, 5-13)

Safe to say I'm starting at 160!  I'll end this post with some starting pictures.  Here's to hoping for some more flattering ones in the future!

Taken 5/12/13:

photo 1Side (5-13)Back (5-13)BackF (5-13)

People often seem surprised when I tell them how much I weigh.  They ask me where I keep it all.  I'll leave that for you to figure out!

Oh yeah and I made a new site.