Friday, September 5, 2014

Counting Calories? Sure, why not?

Too Long, Didn't Read Version:

  • Old fitness plan: No sugar, low-carb diet, eat only when hungry, daily walking, HIPE Fitness 3x/week.
  • New fitness plan: No sugar, low-carb diet, 2,000 kcal/day, eat only when hungry, 10,000 steps/day, HIPE Fitness 3x/week.

If you've followed my fitness posts (hint: you haven't) then you know that I lost a lot of weight about a year ago. I still get asked about it, and I still tell people I've lost about 100 pounds in two years. But that's not the whole story. See, I lost almost a hundred pounds in about 12-14 months, and then I've essentially held my weight steady for about a year (bouncing between 265 and 275, depending on the day.) There was a surgery last fall, followed by a fairly long recovery, and I'm just now getting to the point in time when the doctors told me to expect my abdominal wall to be back at full strength, though I've been able to work out pretty hard since January.

Although I've added some muscle, I haven't been losing fat fast enough to affect my weight much for nearly a year now, and it's time to shake things up. My basic strategy for the last couple of years has been to avoid most carbohydrates and strictly swear off sugar, starch, and alcohol--essentially, a low-carb, high-fat diet with lots of meat, cheese, butter, eggs, nuts, and dark/leafy vegetables. I've tried to get most of my carbohydrates from vegetables like broccoli, spinach, peppers, onions, tomatoes and Brussels sprouts. What I haven't done is count calories; the idea was that as long as I kept carbohydrates low, the portions would take care of themselves (some people figure some bodies simply don't stick to "a calorie is a calorie," while others figure you'll sate yourself on a low-carb diet and your portions will come down without conscious effort.)  That worked well for awhile, but I've noticed that I've been sneaking some carbohydrates back in. I noticed one day that a serving of peanut butter only had 8 net carbs, so I started having one every once in awhile. That was fine until the day I realized I'd just eaten my fifth serving of peanut butter in one day! I've also noticed lately that my snacking/grazing has become an unconscious habit again, and I'm eating when I'm not hungry. There's no way to overcome that except to stop doing it.

So, last week, I launched a new effort.  I'm keeping the low-carb diet in place, but going back to basics by cutting out some of the sugary carbs I'd been letting back in (like peanut butter) and deliberately cutting back artificial sweeteners, especially the saccharine I've been dumping into iced tea like it's going out of style. I'm also holding myself to the most basic of all: I will eat when I'm hungry and only when I'm hungry. I'm making one and only one real change to the plan, which is to count calories and hold myself to that target. I'm also trying to keep myself at 10,000 steps per day, and on days when I don't make that goal, I take a quick run around the block to complete it at the end of the night. So far, I've only needed to do that once.

This morning, I weighed 266 pounds. I'd like to weigh less than 250 before Halloween and less than 235 by New Year's Day. On February 8th, I'll run the Fight for Air Climb at the Springfield Hilton for the fourth time (32 floors, basement to rooftop restaurant, taking the stairs.) I intend to do it in less than five minutes' time this time at a bodyweight of less than 230 pounds. Right now, I weigh just about what I did last time, although I'm definitely stronger. I'm excited to see what taking 40 pounds off will do for me.

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