Category Archives: calories
This past week or so, I have been feeling really good about my food choices. I also feel like I have found a healthy balance again (i.e. not eating an entire loaf of French bread and box of cereal in a few days).
I feel like I’m back in control!
Therefore, I have decided to back off of calorie counting for a while. I had started doing this at the beginning of the year (January 4th) after overdoing it over the holiday break and especially when I began the Pound for Pound challenge in February.
Sure, it took a few months and a few setbacks to get here, but I’m in a good place again now and don’t feel the need to do it anymore for the time being at least. Personally, I think its okay to go back and forth with anything health-related that you do, depending on the situation.
No decision I make on here is forever. I’ve changed my mind about my diet, about running, and a lot of other things over the past three years. There are things I don’t anticipate changing that sometimes do. I remember saying on my blog that I could never be a vegetarian, ha! And I actually like to change things up from time to time, I think it goes with the seasons and keeps things exciting for me.
I shared a lot about my personal experiences with calorie counting back in February 2009.
Even though I’m taking a break from counting anything, I’m still going to use my journal red notebook to plan meals, jot down notes and thoughts about my eating and workouts but there won’t be any numbers on there for a while. I just don’t need to spend time adding them up and would rather use that time for finding new recipes to try out!
I believe the best thing for me to do is to listen to my body for hunger cues, eat only when I am hungry and fill up on nutritious, whole foods.
But for me, it’s hard to do this all of the time and there will be occasions when I get out of “harmony” with my body, which is when I usually go back to tracking but only temporarily while I get balanced again. I know there are arguments on both sides of calorie counting, but I think it is up to the individual, their situation, and what is healthy for them.
For me, it is helpful to see how much I have “let go” and to become aware and focused on healthy eating. It’s also interesting to me to see how my body needs more certain days and less on others. It’s never the same! It is also one of the tools that helped me lose 70 lbs. But I know a lot of others out there, like fellow blogger Meghann, who were successful with weight loss and did not count calories.
So if you don’t need it, then don’t bother with it. It does get old sometimes and doesn’t give you the whole picture in terms of nutrition. And while this didn’t happen to me this time, calorie counting can also become an obsession and cause you more stress than it will help you.
So I’m not giving it up completely, I’m just taking a break from it for a while. We’ll see how it goes. I’m confident that with my vegan diet, blogging regularly again, and a renewed focus on more whole and less processed foods, I can do just fine. I’ll still pay attention to the calorie counts of certain foods but I won’t keep a tally.
And by “do just fine” I mean I will be able to stay positive, energetic, balanced, and either maintain my weight or lose a few pounds. I did pledge to lose 10 pounds through the challenge!
This is just my story and my experience. I’m not trying to give anyone any advice other than search inside yourself, learn from your experiences, treat your body well and stay positive always.
I just wanted to take this moment to share something with you today. You might remember, back in July, I was experiencing a slight weight gain that startled me a bit. I was also tired, somewhat unmotivated and bored with my “routine.” The summer seems to be a time of temptation for me too, with holidays, cookouts and birthday parties galore.
Once I did some investigating (thank goodness for this blog), I found that I was eating too much and exercising too much for my body. I had lost a bit of control. I also had a sneaking suspicion that some of the sugary foods I was eating were not only NOT satisfying me, but that they could’ve been increasing my hunger.
I decided to start with reducing the sugar in my diet first (checking labels, cutting back on fruit and watching “bad” carbs like baked goods and processed snacks) and I was immediately impressed. My energy was better. Food tasted better. Workouts were more productive. It’s amazing how getting a chemical out of your body will do that 😉 I also realized how carb-dependent and heavy my diet was and I made adjustments to that as well. There is nothing wrong with carbs…I just had that “pyramid mentality” of thinking I needed at least 7 ounces a day and that’s just not the case.
Then, just 8 short weeks ago today, I got really serious. I started counting calories again, though not obsessively, and I realized that I had been eating more because I thought it was what I had to do, instead of listening to my body and paying attention to my habits. Once I started tracking, I could see what days resulted in what calorie intakes and it all started making sense again. I don’t set a range for myself, I just tally up what I have for the day. I know I’m going to have to eat more on days I work out, around my menstrual cycle, and due to some other biological factors. Somedays, especially if I’m not very active, I will eat less.
But having that sheet in front of me also showed that I sometimes eat out of stress, boredom, etc. and I believe I have remedied that now. I think I might almost be a recovering emotional eater! Tracking my meals also helps me plan for the week and be super efficient at grocery shopping. I’m spending less money now and using up lots of things that have been sitting around the house for too long.
I have a very healthy relationship with calorie tracking now. I don’t try to limit my numbers or beat myself up if they go above a certain range. I just live.
And I have noticed that since I’ve been doing that, reducing sugar, and controlling portions again, I eat much less. I don’t eat out of habit or by the clock anymore. I’m not eating a certain number of calories because so and so eats that much. I have stopped comparing myself to other people, other runners, other women my age and size. We are all so different!
I eat when I am hungry, with real foods that I want to eat (not that I think I have to) which satisfy me, with an occasional “treat” (but not every day). Sometimes I don’t need a snack after dinner. Sometimes I don’t need one mid-morning. Sometimes I have a light lunch or a heavy dinner. Sometimes I’m not hungry for breakfast first thing in the morning, so I wait until I am. Nothing wrong with any of that.
On the exercise front, I have still been working out 5-6 days a week. But I’m not killing myself anymore. I still get a good mixture of cardio, weight training and yoga when I have the time. But I went from sweaty, long and intense workouts that made me want to pass out to shorter, more moderate level workouts that still make me sweat, but don’t zap my energy for the rest of the day. That don’t leave me too tired that I can’t do anything when I get home from work. That don’t make me extraordinarly hungry for the rest of the day and so on. I don’t rely on “calories burned” to determine the quality of my workout anymore. I don’t set time limits…even small bouts of exercise are effective.
Right now, the only thing that matters to me is that I am moving. That I am having fun. That I am honoring my body by giving it what it needs and not pushing it too hard. A little pushing is okay 😉 If I need to rest, like yesterday, then darn it, I will rest. There is nothing wrong with taking a day (or two) off now and then. And naps are such a good thing too!
I also weigh myself reguarly, one time per week, always on Monday mornings before I eat breakfast. I find it is a good way for me to start off the week. Whether it is up or down, it gives me the motivation to set some weekly goals, even if that is just to keep doing the same things. But this works FOR ME and I know not everyone can see it this way. In fact, I used to let a weigh in disrupt my entire week. Now, it is just a side note. I’ve even had slightly “up” weeks since I started this new “track” but I haven’t let it affect me negatively.
Well folks, it has all paid off. In the last 8 weeks, I have lost exactly 10 lbs. I am still not back down to my “happy weight” yet, but I am very happy with where I am at right now. I feel great and I feel the healthiest I have EVER been. I love my diet, my workouts, and the way my clothes fit. I love not being stressed out about food or exercise anymore. Everything seems to be back on track.
I just want to say that if there is something you are struggling with in your life, including weight, don’t give up. Don’t succumb to the stress and the pressure. Search yourself, be intuitive and find a healthy balance for you and only you. Use others as inspirations but not guides. Listen to your body and only speak to yourself positively. If you think you might need professional help, don’t be afraid to seek it out. I think it takes more bravery to do that than anything. You are worth it.
Be kind to yourselves and each other. God bless 🙂
My stress management class has made me think a lot about my ideal life and where I would like it to someday be. And its all about the details!
As far as health/nutrition/fitness go, I would like to be in a certain place at some point because sometimes I still feel like I’m searching around, trying out new things all the time and making some habits while breaking others. It’s a constant work in a progress 😉
So, in order to break some not so good habits and begin some new ones, I thought the idea of having Weekly Challenges for myself would be motivating! Plus, if you all like them, you are free to join in as well.
This week’s challenge…DO NOT COUNT CALORIES!
This is something I do pretty much every day at least until I get home for dinner. It can be good and bad. In the good sense, it keeps you on track and you know how much you’ve eaten during the day. In other ways its distracting and even sometimes discouraging. I sometimes find if I’ve eaten 1200 calories before I go home for the day, that seems “too high” or I think “wow, what is wrong with me today?” when in reality there is nothing at all wrong with that.
I also notice on days I eat less, I know I have more calories to work with so I eat them even if I’m not hungry. Um, no! That’s not good either.
So this week, starting today, there will be no counting, no little post it notes on my desk, or keeping track on the computer. I am going to strive to eat 100% intuitively. I tried it out yesterday and it did wonders for my attitude and made me feel good about my choices. I know what’s healthy, I know portions. I just need to listen to my body and honor it with my diet and exercise.
For instance, I got up and made what I wanted for breakfast (pumpkin oats). I ate a mini-Larabar during church when hunger struck. When we got home from church, I was hungry again and it was still 1+ hours away from lunch so I had a half serving of peanuts. The old me would’ve said “why did I need two snacks before lunch?” Why? Because I was really hungry that’s why!
Then at lunch, I ordered what sounded the best to me. It tasted great and left me completely satisfied. I had a snack in my purse for during the movie but I did not eat it because I was not truly hungry. In fact, I wasn’t hungry until nearly 7:00 last night and lunch had been at 1:30!!
I made what sounded good for dinner (salmon burger with hummus, mixed veggies and leftover coucous) and had a nice piece of dark chocolate. Then a couple hours later, my stomach was really growling, so I had a small cup of regular cheerios with 1% milk. The non-intuitive/emotional me would’ve said “why did I need another snack? what did I do wrong?” or make myself think I ate out of boredom or stress. But nope, it was needed!
I also did this somewhat on Saturday. Courtney and I went to Shiraz again, which is quickly becoming one of our favorite places. We both waited until we were good and hungry to go and then we ordered the falafel and hummus again (no rice this time, it was just too much). I truly savored this meal. It was so good and so satisfying, that the only other thing I needed the rest of the night was a piece of dark chocolate (ghirardelli) and a nice hot cup of tea. And this was over a 5 hour period!
I need to eat healthy and enjoy what I eat instead of worrying about calories all the time. If I eat something I really enjoy, I’m less likely to go raiding the pantry late at night. I’m less likely to “need” dessert. I also think it keeps my mind at ease, which we all know how powerful the mind can be.
So let’s see where this takes me. Anyone who obsessively counts calories want to try it with me?
Here are some guidelines I’m going to use for myself:
- Do not count calories, not even in your head (if you can help it)
- Don’t eat by the clock on your desk, eat by your body’s clock
- Don’t eat something you don’t really like just because its there
- Before I eat something ask “Am I really hungry?”
- Try to plan meals why allowing some flexibility for that day’s preferences
- Make eating the main focus, i.e. don’t do other tasks while eating (this one will be tough)
- Keep a nice variety of food in the house to avoid burnout
- Stop eating when you are satisfied or full (don’t clean your plate if you don’t have to)
- Only eat a nighttime snack if truly hungry
- Be proud that you are honoring your body
- Get plenty of rest and hydrate well
- Enjoy this challenge!
I hope to make this a permanent habit, but this challenge will end at midnight, Monday May 11th. Check back for next week’s challenge on Monday morning!
Wanted to share this article with you from one of my local news stations reporting on a study originally reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. The studies show that no particular diet (low-carb, low-fat, etc.) had a better effect on weight loss than another; just those who counted calories and stuck with their plan were successful in the long term.
Study Followed 800 Adults On Different Diets For 2 Years
While calories are the biggest number and perhaps the most important, lets not forget about those other important numbers. It is still very important to get enough fiber, healthy fat, protein, and carbohydrates (complex) in your diet and also getting the right vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat.
You can count calories by eating processed foods out of boxes all the time and you will lose weight. But the added, artificial ingredients will make it harder and could end up adversely affecting other areas of your health such as blood pressure, especially if you are sodium sensitive. Keep it all balanced!
There are calorie calculators off to the side where you can find out how many calories you need to take in to lose weight and how many to maintain your current weight, plus an activity calculator. It seems pretty accurate and I had fun trying it out.
I have noticed the past few days, since I have not been “food blogging”, that my choices have become a little off-balance. I’m still maintaining my weight, my clothes still fit and I’m staying within my comfortable range of calories on most days, but as far as choices go I could be doing better. That being said, what do you do when you start slipping? You get back in the saddle and stay on the horse! Don’t wait until you have completely fallen off — although, if you do, it’s still good to get back up 🙂
Today, I noticed that I ate a larger-calorie breakfast (this one clocked in at 500, instead of my usual 300-400) and it has held me over for quite a while — I think I may even make it to lunch without a snack. From that, I have determined that my problem a lot of times, is that I try to eat smaller meals which end up leaving me feeling unsatisfied and therefore I eat snacks to compensate. So, I think for the next few days, I may try bulking up breakfast (and maybe even lunch too) to see if that helps.
In addition to this breakfast, I had one cup of regular coffee with 1 packet of Equal and 1/8 cup 1% milk when I got to work (approx. 20 calories). I’m hoping to get my caffeine habit back down to just one cup a day and then eventually losing the artificial sweetener. The milk I can justify for calcium and Vitamin D!
I have also added a new supplement to my daily regimen — Fish Oil capsules! I have spoken with my doctor, done lots of research and consulted with my health coach here at work who all agree that my extremely low HDL (aka good cholesterol) is a cause for concern. I try to include fatty fish in my diet, while being careful of mercury content, I eat nuts and nut butters, oatmeal, I exercise…just about everything you can do to raise HDL, I have done and do regularly. So I have decided to try out the fish oil until the next time I get blood work done to see if it has made a difference (my last reading was a 35). I also want to get back into taking flaxseed, preferably by adding it (ground) to my foods that I eat in order to get the real benefits. I used to use wheat germ in my oatmeal, wonder if that would help too?
I did notice when I was training for the mini-marathon last year, my numbers got a little bit higher (up to 50). The training stopped end of April then add on top of that a summer where I ate lots of enriched or processed products, ice cream and other not-so-good-for-you foods (added saturated fats). Hmm…that may be how it went back down to 35 so quickly. But thank goodness my LDL is in the optimal range, hovering around 90. Still, the ratio is also important. Did you know that the same foods that increase HDL, lower LDL, and vice versa? Our bodies (and what we put into them) are so interesting sometimes.
Thanks again for making the move over to the new site, I can’t wait to add more to it. Have a great day! Hope everyone is staying warm, it’s 6 degrees here right now, ouch!
I can’t believe I let the entire weekend get away from me. Needless to say (but I’m gonna anyway), I’ve been busy and didn’t hardly have a free moment to sit down in front of the computer to let you guys in on what I’ve been eating these past few days!
With that said, let’s finish up Friday, shall we?
Lunch was a veggie burger with hummus on a wheat bun, a romaine salad with pumpkin seeds parmesan cheese & balsamic dressing and a nice hot tea 🙂
Dinner was a bit of a let down, but I tried to handle it appropriately so I wouldn’t freak out and go eat a whole bunch of things to make up for it. My husband and I had gone to the mall to get some ideas for Christmas (we are procrastinators!) and we ended up eating at the food court. I couldn’t make up my mind first of all and when I finally did, Chick Fil A was out of the salad I wanted so I got soup instead. I ordered the “large” remembering the days when I used to work at the mall and the bowl they gave you was HUGE, but this was it (basically just a little bigger than a cup) and it cost me $5:
But I guess at least I got to eat…I do feel bad complaining. My husband had gone to Tumbleweed so he shared some of his chips & salsa with me but I only ate a few because they were not very good 😦
That satisfied me for a while but we ended up staying up later, so I had another couple of snacks. First was a small apple with chocolate PB:
And then 1/4 cup of Quaker Oatmeal Squares cereal! I hadn’t had this cereal in forever but it was on sale for $2 at Kroger, so I could not let it go by me 😉
We played volleyball last night, which really threw me off…I came home thinking “Yeah! Tomorrow is Friday!” and then quickly realized “No wait, we play v-ball on Tuesdays now.” Bummer…haha.
Yesterday, I started things off with a simple milk + berries + ice smoothie:
When I got to work, I had some coffee with Silk creamer and then mid-morning, some honey roasted peanuts, yum…I ate my snack a little early, so before I went to Body Sculpt class, I had an apple from my lunch.
Body sculpting was great again! I’m not as sore today as I was last week, but I am still sore in the calves from step aerobics on MONDAY! Whoa…
Lunch was an interesting experience. I started off with some carrots & hummus, this is very tasty and filling and works as a snack or part of a lunch, either way.
It was just ok, it tasted more like jelly than peanut butter 😦 I would use it as a pre-run or recovery snack but perhaps another flavor would be better? For the calories (220), I could’ve eaten at least half of a real PB&J sandwich!
Before leaving work, I had some herbal tea and a raspberry soy yogurt. I was craving protein for dinner, but my great husband had already started some spaghetti, so I just threw in some veggies (spinach and peppers) and some turkey sausage and that seemed to do the trick:
Then it was off to bed before I got into anything else! Haha. That seems to work for me, going upstairs, brushing my teeth and laying down keeps me from going back to the kitchen to get anything else to eat.
I ate more than normal yesterday, around 1800 calories, but that’s still not too bad considering I should’ve burned around 600-700 through exercise. I need to get a heart rate monitor, so I can more accurately calculate that.
Hope everyone had a great Tuesday!
I usually don’t like bragging, but I can’t help but be really proud of myself these past two days! I have eaten well, gotten good quality workouts in and managed to stay in a good calorie range while hitting all the food groups. My healthy lifestyle is finally balanced again!
Sorry for leaving Tuesday hanging, I got busy yesterday I guess. Here’s how the rest of the day went:
Mott’s Healthy Harvest (no sugar added) flavored applesauce – I had wanted to try one of these for a while and it was really good! Can’t wait to taste other flavors 🙂
After lunch workout – 45 minute treadmill workout (thanks Tina!)
So Delicious yogurt in Key Lime – it wasn’t green like I expected it to be but it did taste EXACTLY like Key Lime pie 😉
When I got home, I needed something else, so I had a cup of hot cocoa –
My goal for the day was to be at or under 1889 calories, I ended up at 1742! Doing it this way makes so much more sense to me.
**I am not a professional, this is just based on my own experience and research and should not be taken over the advice of your doctor or health professional.
Sunday was my husband’s birthday, so I woke up early (even after getting home late on Saturday!) to make some buckwheat waffles. They were so thick and filling, we could both only eat two (with sugar free syrup, btw)! I had mine with some chocolate soymilk…there was no fruit in the house 😦
At church, I had this vanilla soy yogurt as a snack:
For lunch, we went to Chili’s and I got the exact same thing I did last time we went there about a month ago (sorry no pic)…the chicken fajita pita with broccoli instead of french fries. I also had about 5 chips with salsa.
My husband got a nice piece of dutch apple pie, his favorite. I chose to buy a slice so we wouldn’t have leftovers and so the family could enjoy a nice, more calorie friendly treat. I got lowfat vanilla ice cream (110 cal for 1/2 cup) and some small sugar cones (20 cal each). I had two of these:
I got hungry for dinner a few hours later, so I made a veggie burger with cheese, lettuce and light mayo on 12 grain bread. Applesauce on the side…
But that night I did myself in with some Barbara’s peanut butter puffins! I had three cups I think, sheesh 😉
Started off the day with a very filling breakfast: whole wheat bagel with sun butter and preserves, 1/2 cup strawberries and a cup of chocolate soymilk (545 calories)
Around 10:30, we were having a party at work but I wasn’t really that hungry for a snack, so I just had a few of these apple slices (about 50 calories):
Lunch was a can of Healthy Life spicy vegetarian chili (yum) with 2 sourdough wasa crackers (390 cal):
About an hour after lunch, I went to the gym and did 30 minutes on the elliptical. It felt so good to exercise again, hopefully I can get back in the groove! When I returned I had three Hershey’s dark chocolate kisses (about 75 cal) and tons of water!
Later on in the afternoon, I had some baby carrots & a Laughing Cow cheese wedge (70 cal for both) and a fresh peach (60):
– One-arm dumbbell rows with balance ball (using 10 lb dumbbell; 2 x 15) *this move worked out so much more than my arm, it was great!
I definitely paid more attention to my body tonight. I waited 2 hours after dinner to have a sweet treat which was 1/2 cup of ice cream in a cone (130 calories):
Then later on, I got a little hungry and knew that a cup of fat free hot chocolate would make me feel full and also help me get my daily calcium in (it has as much as a cup of milk and only 50 calories):