I will eat about 1500 calories a day, and track them, to lose some excess weight.
“Life itself is the proper binge.” ~Julia Child
What it was about
This month was really hard for me, I sincerely like to eat. And I don’t usually/often keep track of how and what I am eating. A vegetarian for over 25 years, I have a generally healthy diet and work out regularly, but I do feel like I could afford to lose a bit of the muffin top (and muffin bottom) that has accumulated over the past several years. I want to be even healthier and be able to perform better in my workouts and races. It is no fun carrying around that extra ten or so, jiggling all the way…I almost decided to make this month’s challenge just “Lose 10 Pounds” but that was actually daunting and I couldn’t seem to commit, so I stuck with the daily 1500 calorie goal instead, hopeful that I would end up losing about 10 pounds or so anyway.
How it went
So I tried, and tracked pretty much every calorie on caloriecount.com (highly recommended for tracking, and weight loss motivation), but I had a tough time keep it to under or at 1500 most days, especially when I worked out. The harder I worked out the more difficult it was to refrain from going over. Most days I averaged around 1600-1700 calories, but there were 3 days that I totally busted out and binged – probably over 2500 calories, it was too depressing to count them all exactly so I just estimated. One of the binge days was the day I ran the Kauai Half-Marathon, which was in the first week of this month. That day I felt it was pretty excusable to go over - I honestly don’t think it would have been wise or healthy to eat only 1500 calories of energy on a day of 2+ hours of intense running – I think I probably burned more than that during it. The other two days I binged, I really didn’t have a good reason, and I simply fell short of the discipline I was trying to maintain – did I mention, I like to eat? My workouts were not as often or intense as in July when it was every day, but I was still doing about 4 days a week at least of running, biking or cardio/strength combo – which always made me extra hungry soon after, and which was the toughest time to not go overboard on calories.
What I was very conscious of this month was trying (most of the time) to eat the healthiest, most fulfilling calories possible, and how just a few cookies or a few glasses of wine can REALLY bite into a strict calorie budget - and they are basically most of the time simply not worth the indulgence. Note: at 240 calories a bag, Skittles are definitely not an effective lunch or snack – yikes!
The keeping track part was a big part of the discipline as well – every time something went in my mouth I had to remember to go online and log it, and if I couldn’t do this right away, I had to write it down and keep track somehow. It was especially challenging out on a dive boat all day in Kauai, with no pen and paper handy – it was all I could do to remember the cookie and granola bar calorie counts from the packages as they added up. So this was a good focus exercise, and made me realize that sometimes I could catch myself and stop from grabbing a snack, simply because I was lazy and didn’t feel like thinking to hard about figuring out the calories and logging it – it just wasn’t worth it.
Also, this month the international news was filled with stories of hundreds of thousands of Somalis suffering from famine due to severe drought. This news put my “gee I really want that extra slice of muenster or another sourdough roll but it isn’t worth the calories” self-talk into perspective: How do I really deserve to have such choice, luxury, and abundance available when so many in the world don’t - and probably never will? The news certainly made me think about this a lot, in relation to what I was trying to do I don’t profess to knowing how to help the Somalis, but certainly I could try and exercise a bit of self control regarding food while keeping this in mind, couldn’t I?
I consciously decided not to weigh myself until the end of the month so I didn’t know how it was going or what to expect. I did know my pants were looser, and there was definitely a bit less jiggling when I ran. Overall, I lost 6 pounds and felt somewhat lighter. The 10K run I did on November 1st felt better than and was faster than I had done in quite a while, not quite my goal of 50 minutes, but close enough that I know it is within reach. The continued challenge with this is KEEPING IT OFF and going for that other 4 pounds that is still hanging around – it really isn’t serving me any purpose, except slowing down my runs - not helpful. So I will keep working on this.