I’ve been trying for a few months now to get into a walking routine, to try to develop healthy eating habits, to try to write down every single thing that goes in my mouth, to try like mad to stay within a certain number of calories each and every day. Let me tell you now, this is exhausting, to say the least. To make it even more frustrating, for all of this effort, I’ve only lost a whopping five pounds. Now, I probably could’ve walked more, and that number would probably be higher as a result. But, could’ve should’ve would’ve doesn’t help me now.
I’ve been using My Fitness Pal for months, consistently for 25 days now. It’s a very useful tool for tracking what you eat, and the calories you burn from exercise, and the people are very supportive and friendly. But I’ve still struggled. I’ve spent so much time tracking everything that I eat, I’ve spent hours searching for the correct match of what I actually ate, calculating and balancing calories, bugging my sister about what she plans to make for dinner so that I can stay within my calorie goal. Like I said, it’s exhausting.
The issue at the front of my mind lately is, how many calories should I be eating? I had set my limit at 1500 a day, and I felt like this was perfectly reasonable. But then I started trying to research how many calories a person trying to lose weight should be eating; what a headache. One method said based on my height and weight, if I’m trying to lose, 1500 would be about right. Another method (BMR) said that I have to eat at least 1900 a day for my body to even function, and that’s if I’m at total rest for 24 hours. That left me very confused, because I hadn’t eaten more than 1500 calories in weeks, and I hadn’t fainted or dropped dead yet.
When I reached out to friends for help, and I had one friend tell me she just thought that I wasn’t eating balanced enough meals. That I needed to focus more on whole grains, veggies, fruits, fueling my body with good for you things. Then I thought, “well duh…why haven’t I been focusing more on that!”
There’s this blog that stumbled upon earlier in the year, it’s canyoustayfordinner.com. This woman, her name is Andie, has lost 135 pounds! More importantly (in my opinion) she loves to cook! Yesterday I decided to revisit her blog in search of healthy dinner recipes. While I was reading through one of her recipes (which sounds delicious, I’ll let you know how it goes) I read something very profound that she wrote. She said that, and I’m paraphrasing here, if you spend so much time only eating diet this and low calorie that, you forget how to eat like a normal person. You can read the entire post here; http://www.canyoustayfordinner.com/2010/08/24/meatloaf-burgers-with-extra-sharp-cheddar/
Later that evening Charlie said to me “I’m still a little hungry, what about you?” I didn’t reply with yes, or no, but instead with “I can’t eat any more today.” He replied with, “I don’t understand how you can do that.” The fact is, I was still hungry, so hungry in fact that I woke up two hours later, padded my way through the house to the kitchen, and ate a piece of bread with peanut butter on it. I started thinking about what my friend had said about balanced meals, and about what I read in the blog yesterday, and then I realized I’ve actually been hungry for days…days I tell you. I’ve been so focused on staying within a calorie limit, that I haven’t really paid attention to my body. In the back of my mind I figured I was just hungry because I was trying to diet, and did my best to just ignore it.
Somewhere along the way I unlearned how to eat properly. I was a chubby kid, but by high school I had lost the chub, and had even started running on a daily basis. By the time I moved out of my parents house at 19 years old, I was in perfect health, at my then ideal weight of 145. Sometime shortly after that, something went wrong, and I gained a bunch of weight in a short period of time. There was no logical reason for this, really there wasn’t. No health issue, no significant change that I could think of. In hindsight I’ve realized two things: First, I started eating real food. My boyfriend is a cook, and a good one at that, so all the boxes that use to line my pantry shelves quickly disappeared. Second, when those boxes disappeared, so did my portion control. So I was eating better food, in quality and taste, and in nutrition, but I didn’t have the portion control that came with the boxed food anymore.
If I had to pinpoint it, I’d say that’s where I lost my way. Now that I know where I got lost, I can get back on the right path. I’ve decided to stop obsessing as much over the calorie content of food, and focus more on the value of food. I’ve decided that portion control, and making right choices will lead me down the path I want to find. Because I hate black coffee, but I know that I don’t have to get a whole milk Starbuck’s white chocolate mocha. Because I have pad Thai cravings, but I know that I don’t have to eat that entire huge portion in the takeout box. Because I have a love affair with pasta, but I know I can fill half my plate with veggies and eat just a hand sized portion. Because I’d rather eat half a cup of creamy delicious ice cream, than a cup of gross low calorie ice cream. Because I love cheese, and that needs no further explanation. Because I don’t want to panic when we go to family dinners, and everything on the table is far from diet friendly. Because I have to learn to eat again, to learn what a portion size is, to learn what food will fuel my body.
So that’s my new philosophy on weight loss and healthy eating. I’ll up my calorie limit by a few hundred, and vow to fill half my plate with veggies, enjoy whole grains, eat slowly until I’m full, take more walks, stress less, and slowly find my way down my path to health.