06 February 2012

Gut-Spilling Monday

I recently started tracking all the food I eat again. I used to be on Weight Watchers and lost a whole lot of weight on the program--and, most of the time, I tracked. I went through a period where I was almost a raw-foodist (no real cooked foods, very simple meals of raw vegetables, perhaps some hummus or the occasional bread product), so I didn't track for a few months. Once I hit lifetime (I reached my goal weight of 187 [where I had a body fat percentage in the "athletic" range {it was about 11-13%} despite my BMI saying I was still overweight--any less and I would have started to look gaunt] and maintained it for 6 weeks), I struggled to keep up the good behaviour for various reasons--my personal situation changed drastically, several times; I moved internationally, several times; and my professional life has been on a massive rollercoaster for more than a year.

But, the one thing that really helped me stay motivated and going in my previous weight-loss program was tracking. Monitoring everything that goes in your mouth makes you really wake up and realize how much you stick in there--and how much of it you don't really need. Beyond that basic revelation, developing a sense of compromise is integral--for example, is eating Item A worth riding a stationary bike for 1.5 hours to "earn" the calories needed to "pay" for it? Usually, the answer is "no." I'm still working to getting back to considering the effort required to earn each food item--which used to be second nature to me.

On Mondays, I am now going to post a summary of my caloric intake for the week and "earned" calories through various exercise. This is an added level of accountability--full disclosure of all my naughty, sneaked foods and guilty pleasures.

I am tracking my intake with Lose It!, a website and iPhone app that has a lot of food items, so even when I can't find exactly what I'm eating, at least I can choose something to record so the item isn't lost in the ether--although that has its own problems, as posited below.

With a goal of losing 2 pounds per week (which is the maximum suggested for sustainable, healthy weight loss), I have a caloric budget of 1,944 per day. Some things that I wasn't used to tracking on Weight Watchers, such as pears or a handful of carrots, are now included in my budget (small fish though they are, calorie-wise), but sometimes I do forget them. In the same vein, I often forget to log random walks--in Weight Watchers, you pick something along the lines of "Sedentary," "Moderately Active," and "Active" to determine your Points values when you sign up--so if you are a kick-boxing instructor, for example, your usual classroom activities are built into your plan, but if you do additional exercise on the side, you'd log that. With Lose It!, nothing is taken into account when you start the program--even walking to the refrigerator could net you a few extra calories to chew on! But when I'm walking around the grocery store or to a friend's house, I don't always remember to log that, even though it could easily add up to a few hundred calories per day (on days I actually wander around, that is).

With all that potential forgetting in mind, I was still over my caloric budget by 3,283 calories this week.

Daily Record
DayBudgetFoodExerciseNet+/-
Monday 30 January1,9443,2758212,454510
Tuesday 31 January1,9442,8414202,421477
Wednesday 1 February1,9443,28703,2871,343
Thursday 2 February1,9442,5052482,256312
Friday 3 February1,9443,6209332,687743
Saturday 4 February1,9443,0531,2781,775-169
Sunday 5 February1,8962,2152521,96367
Weekly Total13,56020,7963,95216,8433,283

I have been using Lose It! on and off for the past year and a half. During that time, I have found that the caloric intake it suggests for me is always a bit low--I end up losing weight even when I consistently eat several hundred calories over what I should, even after eating my earned exercise calories. That happened for the first few weeks in Weight Watchers, too--I consistently overate, sometimes the equivalent of 2.5 extra days worth of food, and lost weight. At the beginning. So although I was about a day and a half worth of calories over my budget this week and still lost several pounds (I can't actually be sure--I weighed myself fully clothed on Friday 27 January and clocked in at 230, way more than I've been in the past two years. Yesterday, I weighed in in the morning at 222.6--without clothes--and that's why Sunday's calorie budget is lower than the other days.), but that buffer won't last. In a few weeks, I'll have to be within my budget in order to see the benefit. Luckily, I have a bit more time to get settled into the habit of tracking!

National guidelines suggest macronutrient proportions of 20-35% for fat, 45-65% for carbohydrates, and 10-35% for protein. Although I fall in those healthy ranges in terms of what I ate during this past week, I'd still like to decrease the fat and carbohydrate portion and up the protein. Those guidelines also say to keep sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams daily (16,100 milligrams per week)--I doubled that. And cholesterol is suggested at 200 milligrams or less each day--I ended up with about 865 milligrams per day. I don't necessarily completely trust this breakdown, but I can't completely discount it either--I search for food items, and often, the closest match in the Lose It! system is an item from a frozen-foods section or restaurant, both of which likely contain a ton of sodium and cholesterol. Even though almost everything I ate was made by my own hands with ingredients I totally know all the nutritional information for (and I'm notorious for not including "enough" salt in my dishes), I searched and tracked items from the app rather than spending the time to add individual recipes and calculating it out. Doing so, however, would give me a much better picture of my actual intake than what is shown below--because now I'm very concerned! No wonder my cholesterol hasn't changed despite having dropped a ton of weight and gone vegetarian years ago--although the overall number is in a healthy range, my HDL ("good" cholesterol) levels have consistently been lower than the doctors seem to like and my LDL ("bad" cholesterol) levels are always a bit high.

Weekly Nutrient Summary
Fat727.4 grams31.3%
Saturated Fat283.8 grams
Cholesterol6,060.4 milligrams
Sodium31,923.5 milligrams
Carbohydrates2,914.2 grams55.8%
Fiber254.7 grams
Sugars916.8 grams
Protein673.9 grams12.9%

As you can see from my nutrient breakdown, my carbohydrate and fat intake is a bit high--I eat a lot of baked goodies that I create (the first several days, I survived almost entirely off of leftover biscotti from the DC Grey Market) and coffee with cream and Splenda.

Noticing that, toward the end of the week I started making more bean-focused dishes: Maangchi's kongjang (teriyaki-like soybean side dish); home-made Thai panang tofu; and miser wat, Ethiopian spicy red lentil stew. I'll start adding recipes that help keep me satisfied and losing weight to The House Husband and linking them on my Monday Disclosure posts--I think the miser wat will be the first one! Injera bread is (perhaps not quite) surprisingly uncaloric!

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