Posts Tagged ‘dieting’

Hello all.  As I sit in my easy chair late on a Sunday afternoon, I am reminded I haven’t written a thing all week.  Usually, that would bring a fit of guilt and my mind going into overdrive trying to come up with a decent topic.  Well, today, I think I have one that while old, is still relevant to many big-ger athletes like me…counting calories.

When I began cycling and even when I first began running, I didn’t do anything about my diet.  I was seeing results in the weight department just by continuing my workouts and adding in more of them over time.  I started over 300 and made it down to 270 with just this method.

Yet, after a couple of years running, I realized that I was going to have to do more than just work out.  With a busy schedule and a real life outside of cycling and running, I couldn’t add in enough extra workouts to overcome my eating.  Additionally, I had been on a plateau for at least six months.  I still weighed 270.  I needed to lose more weight because I wanted my running to improve, and I still needed to be lighter in general.  I was at a crucial point and the one thing I didn’t like changing was going to have to change.

Can I say right here how much I hate dieting of any kind?  I do.  It’s horrible to me.  It’s not because I haven’t dieted.  I’ve used a few different methods and they do work.  I’ve used Weight Watchers.  It worked.  I’ve done a faith-based program that also worked.  Though, it worked mostly because I included regular weekly and monthly fasting periods.  They all work in a sense.  If you limit calories at the right levels (less calories in than you burn each day), you will lose weight.  What I dislike about dieting is that it requires actual thought about eating.  I don’t like to think about eating.  It also requires you actually being hungry sometimes.  After spending a year fasting a lot, I don’t really like being hungry that much.

So, I was going to try something that didn’t require too much thought and that didn’t require me to be hungry all the time.  I was just going to count calories.  With the new technology of the Internet, it should be pretty easy, right?  Well, sort of easy.  I started using my workout tracking site, mapmyride.com.  They had recently added a calorie tracker section and it was linked up with my workout tracker.  So, as I worked out, it would automatically update my daily calorie limit with extra calories.  And, I’m all up for extra calories.

I set up a daily allowance of 1,800 calories by plugging in the weight I wanted to be at, 200 pounds.  That’s how the site worked.  You put in your height and weight, and it figures your daily regular calorie allowance.  At six feet, and where I wanted to be, it gave me the 1,800 calories.  I elected not to use the feature of ‘how active are you’ because it added in workout calories and didn’t turn off the ones you earned doing workouts.

For example, if my daily allowance is 1,800 calories and I chose the setting for ‘moderately active’, it would set my daily allowance at something like 2,500 calories.  If I then went and did a 3 mile run, it would give me another 300 or so calories for the run.  That would skew my daily intake too high because the activity setting actually took care of that already.  In addition, you couldn’t turn off adding calories from workouts if you chose an activity level.  Therefore, I set it at ‘not active’ and stuck with just the daily allowance plus workouts.

For several months, this actually worked.  I dropped slowly and steadily from 270 down to 245-ish.  And, there I have been for probably close to a year now.  It may go up a pound or two for a bit, but I haven’t had any drops below 244.  Once again, I am back to having to think about eating again.  How much does that cost?  Can I have the extra taquito with my breakfast?  One bowl of pad thai is how many servings?  Really?

Though my chosen web site did a good job of making it easy for me, I needed to do something different.  I had noticed, through the average daily calories that were counted at the end of each week, that I did better on weight control as long as I stayed near 2,200 calories.  The difficulty with mapmyride.com was that if I did a really long run or ride, it gave me a huge extra amount of calories that I wanted to use.  But, their site didn’t let me set a daily allowance and turn off the calorie bonus from workouts.  Time for something different.

A few weeks ago, I switched to the My Calorie Counter on everydayhealth.com.  I don’t know if I’ll stay here for good, but for now it’s working, sort of.  I haven’t lost any weight yet, but it allows me to set a daily allowance with an activity level, and even adjust from there.  It said that with my current weight and moderate activity level that I should be able to have 2,500 calories per day.  I didn’t really trust that number and set it at 2,300 calories.  I got to override the settings!  Yippee!  That is really important in these things because none of us are the same.

At the end of a week, I had zero change.  That didn’t bother me too much.  It just means I need to adjust.  I am now on a week with 2,200 calories.  After a week, if I still see no change, I’ll lower it again.  Eventually, I should find the magic number.  Then I can maintain with that level until I see a drop off in weight loss again.

That is kind of the point with weight loss.  It varies.  As I lose weight, I will have to lower my calorie intake even more.  Lighter people need less calories.  In addition, I’m not perfect all the time with daily intakes.  There are some days that I have really good control and choices and I come in under the goal.  There are other days, that I can’t.  The benefit of something like an online counter is that if I can get everything entered during the day, it tells me how much is left for the day.  I know that if I have made it to dinner and still have 100 calories left, then snacks are out.  If by chance I’ve got 300 left, maybe I can have a small snack.

Losing weight is a job in itself.  It’s not easy for anyone.  Trying to balance your meals and your activity takes thought, effort, and discipline just like in your running or cycling.  I do have to remember at the end of the day that my weight loss is not the only thing I have to work on.  I’ve lost a lot already and I am healthier now than previously.  Not that I am allowed to rest upon those laurels, just to not stress over when things don’t go right.  The consistency of working on it each week is the important part of the battle with the scale.

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