Thursday, September 13, 2007

Don't Be A Hero

This is the big thing I want to get out there in terms of undertaking a weight loss effort... I did not do it all at once.
I did not start out calorie counting and working out.
I did not give up desserts or soda or even Mc Donalds when I first started.
I started with one thing... a food diary.

I know when I have tried to "diet" I would get all excited and geared up and buy all my "new" foods and boom within the first week or two I had fallen off the wagon. I would be starving on too low a calorie limit or eating foods that I didn't really like and before you knew it I was eating pizza feeling terrible about myself and no longer motivated to keep going. This is why calorie counting is your friend. If you are accounting for your calories you can ... really!... eat whatever you want and steadily lose weight.
I started by trying to figure out how much I was eating while not losing to establish a starting point. A very easy way to do this is to keep an open email on your desktop and just add to it through out the day (if you are work send it home when you leave and then add on from there). When you get a chance at the end of the day figure out your calories and send this email to yourself. Do this for one whole week and average out your calorie intake. If you are like me you eat a lot of the same stuff over and over and the looking up part quickly becomes faster and faster. I have always used this site to look calories up. It is also very easy to find the nutritional info for most chain restaurants online. (FYI do not ever eat at Macaroni Grill!) If you have the time to read this you have the time to do this :)
As soon as you know your average calorie intake deduct 500 calories from that and that should be your goal. This is key! You might be able to eat 2000 calories and still lose a pound a week... maybe even two. So why not eat 1500 and lose 2-3 pounds a week? you ask.... because you will be so hungry that you will end up sabotaging yourself and you won't lose as much in the long run that is why! Baby steps really do add up... believe me! It is absolutely worth taking the time to figure out how much you can eat and still lose.
When you have been doing this and consistently losing weight at a healthy rate for a month or two then add in a new habit. Or wait until you plateau, and sadly you will, then think about lowering your calories by just 50 or 100 calories or start working out or pick up the pace if you already were.

I know that many of you are resistant to keep a daily food diary. There are shortcuts out there... nutrisystem and jenny craig give you the food in the predetermined (and too low!) calorie allotments, Weight Watchers lets you use points instead of calories (I don't get why that is easier)... but when you are done "dieting" you have to eat real food and it is hard to know how many calories are in real food or even how many you can eat to maintain a healthy weight if you never had to figure this out. That spells disaster and a lot of money for these dieting companies as their clients will ultimately need continued help. I am not on a "diet". By taking things one step at a time I have been able to slowly and painlessly adjust my lifestyle. I believe that keeping a food diary is the most important thing you can do in trying to reach and maintain a *healthy* weight. It gives you the awareness you need to actually be mindful of what you are eating and that is the difference between gaining and losing! Good luck!


Chris Howard said...

Good stuff. It doesn't matter if you have to lose 20 or 80 pounds, you're right, you have to make a lifestyle change, rather than going on a diet.

We did start with a sort of food diary a couple of times, but didn't follow through. I think additional support is very helpful.

Anyway, congratulations on reaching your initial goal, I know you've worked hard. I can't imagine how buff you'll be when Baby Furious is old enough to fend for herself for a while and you can work out for hours at a time :).

We've done Weight Watchers and I think it can be very good. I think the only reason for the points is so they can sell more books. If you just count calories, fat and fiber you don't need to buy their expensive guidebooks. But even so, they are cheaper than Jenny Craig etc...

Mrs. Furious said...

The number one reason I have been able to stick with the food diary long enough that it actually became a regular part of my day is that I started with emailing it to my mom and friends. Support is huge. Feeling like you are part of a community effort is important and I do give WW props on that front. There are several free websites out there that set up this feeling of community now.
Also if I hadn't had the accountability factor of organizing and running the email group I absolutely would have stopped doing it on more than one occassion in the first few months. Now posting it on my blog along with my weekly goals really motivates me to meet my objectives. At the same time, I've had around 12 other people involved in either the food diary email format or the food diary blog... and I am the only one it has worked for. I really don't know what to make of that. Well obviously I thought it up so it was likely to work for me... but the accountability just wasn't a motivator for most of the others. I guess I'm driven not to disappoint, so my public weight loss efforts plays to my own craziness.
I think with the food diary... keeping it everyday... even on a day you blow it might be the key thing. A lot of the people I emialed with or blog with now don't keep track if they go out of town or to a wedding. If I went to a wedding I would eat everything I wanted to and write it down... just not bother with the calorie counting.. but I still wrote it down. That way there was no break in my diary keeping I could keep doing it again the next day. I think when you stop doing something even for a day it is so easy for your internal sabotage mechanism to kick on and then you are back to square one with."I'll start tomorrow.. or next Monday". As much as I love the exercise if I have more than one day off in a row I can start feeling lazy and see how easy it would be for me to just throw in the towel!

Mr Furious said...

Perhaps an "open enrollment" on the Food Diary Blog is in order? Anybody who wants in can join up.

I am going over now to do mine, and will stick with it. This time.

In theory.

Seriously, it's beneficial because you can make better decisions through the day if you know where you're at. Plus, I have a much better understanding of how good (or bad) most things are before I put them in my mouth.

I haven't maintained the exercise half of my regimen, and I am not always making the best possible food choice—but I'm improving.

I have made serious headway on resisting temptation and total junk food. Buying a brownie at Boston Market for Ruby and not one for me (even to split), and letting hers sit on the counter for a day and a half without touching it is a goddamn coup for me.

angie said...

excuse me, i'd say that the food diary thing worked for me. :-) I lost 9 lbs in 4 months--2 or 3 from my goal weight. so the food diary works very well everyone. it is shocking once you figure out how much calories things has. and it's a real motivator. say you want ice cream and brownies--you can have it, you just know you have to run longer. i loved it.

and as someone who occassionally posts there, i'd argue for opening up. i don't care who sees it.

Mrs. Furious said...

excuse me, i'd say that the food diary thing worked for me. :-)

I didn't forget about you! I meant more it hasn't worked for anyone else on consistent basis a lifestyle tool. But I do appreciate the back up that it was a good weight loss tool for you as well!

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