The Truth Behind the Camera

When this blog first started, I followed the path of what other bloggers were doing: online food diary posts. “This is what I ate for breakfast” lunch, dinner, snacks, etc. Eventually I got bored with that format because I really do eat boring foods. My diet is pretty much the rotation of about 5 dishes for each meal. My breakfast is even more normal: scrambled eggs with beans, a piece of bacon or turkey sausage and (most recently) sometimes half an avocado sliced on top. Somedays I might have a bowl of cereal with an English muffin. Sometimes I have oatmeal when I’m bored with eggs.

The same goes with lunch and dinner. Michael and I eat a standard dinner of a protein + veggies. Like I said, we rotate between pork chops, salmon, shrimp, chicken, steak, and turkey burgers. With our blooming veggie garden, we’re eating tons of salads and kale from the garden!

I’m sure some of my readers sometimes wonder “She ate THAT?! How does she keep the weight off eating THAT?”

Most of my dinners look more like this:

Cheese Ravioli, Steamed Veggies

And this:

Chicken, potatoes, steamed broccoli

And less like this:

Fried Everything!

So what is my answer? It’s twofold. The first part of the equation is exercise. If I burn over 600 calories, I feel less guilty about eating a burger that is 900 calories. And I skip the fries and get a salad. The second part of the equation is the food. Michael and I share a lot of things. 99% of the time we split an order of dessert at a restaurant. It’s rare that I get my own and eat it all by myself. I also practice portion control. I tend to take half (or 3/8ths when my self-control is struggling a little) of my entree home for lunch the next day. Eating half of my entree is just as satisfying and I feel less guilty afterward.

Michael and I get pizza probably twice a month. My secret? I eat one or two slices. I’m not eating half of that pizza like I used to in the old days! Sure, I may not take pictures of the two slices I ate, instead taking a photo of the entire thing.

I bring this up now because I’m not really in the “I’m trying to lose weight” zone anymore and that can be weird for some readers who read my blog because they want to START their weight loss journey. I lost 110 pounds and I’ve kept it off for 4 years now. I do this through a consistent exercise schedule and counting my calories. I indulge. I eat treats. I drink wine. I eat pizza. I eat sushi. I love chocolate.ย But I consistently stay within my calorie goals each day — even with indulgences.ย 

To give you an example of a few days worth of calorie counting (my base number is 1600 calories each day):

Day One -Food 1572 calories, burned 150 = 184 calorie deficit

Day Two – Food 2030 calories, burned 350 = over my goal by 80 calories

Day Three – Food 1913 calories, burned 701 = 388 calorie deficit

Day Four – Food 2292 calories, burned 1048 = 350 calorie deficit

Day Five – Food 2107 calories, burned 918 = 411 calorie deficit

Day Six – Food 2250 calories, burned 653 = 3 calorie deficit

I do have bad days, days when I go over my calories by several hundred, days when I struggle to avoid the Candy Room at work. I try not to do that on a regular basis. I’m not perfect but what I’m doing is working for me.

QUESTION: Do you prefer the “food journal” type blog posts? If you’re a blogger, do you take photos of every meal?

22 Responses

  1. I attempted to blog about my meals, but I’m a boring eater. I eat pretty much the same things all week. If I have something new and particularly spectacular I will share it, but most of the time I don’t bother talking about my food. I try to always stay in my calorie range for the day and budget for treats beforehand. I’ve kept 95 pounds off for 4 years, and though I have a little more to go, I’m happy with the way I eat. I just don’t think it’s good reading. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Em recently posted..Training With A Goal

  2. I tried to believe that a calorie wasn’t just a calorie but I’m beginning to go back to the mindset that it really is. Fortunately, I’ve gotten to the point where I know the “difference” between an avocado calorie and a chocolate cake calorie.

    I don’t know if I told you that I got a Fitbit for my birthday and even with its rudimentary way of determining my daily calorie burn (it can’t factor in my wonky thyroid) sometimes it tells me I’ve only burned 1300 in a day. It’s suddenly very obvious why it’s hard for me to lose weight without adding a decent amount of exercise. Then the burn can easily go past 2000 which I can easily eat under, but it’s not so easy to eat under 1300 calories/ day nor would I want to.

    I know the Weight Loss Register reveals that most successful losers keep their meals about the same. It surely works. Did you finally sign up for that?

    1. I did sign up for the national Weight Loss Registry. Every once in awhile I get an email questionnaire from them.

      Yes, an avocado calorie is way different than a cake calorie! I am very aware of that now, too.

      That’s cool that you got a Fitbit. I haven’t tried it but my friend has one and likes it a lot. She’s on twitter and was looking for other people with one. You might check my RT’s.

      1. I will look for her. I’m not wearing it today, and I’m so sad!

        (PS I got my kettlebells yesterday after listening that great interview on Half Size Me. I’m still reading Swing but will let you know how it goes)

  3. I definitely do not take pictures of everything I eat! I could never do that–way too much work! I like to blog about meals I make that I feel others might be inspired by. I’ve often found inspiration on other blogs–whether it be something super simple that just struck me as “that’s a great reminder/idea”, or something I haven’t tried before but sounds interesting. I hope to be that same sort of resource for other people. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Michelle @ Eat Move Balance recently posted..Baked Creole Cape Capensis (Hake)

  4. I love the balanced life you lead Lisa. That to me, is complete inspiration. Moderation and awareness…it certainly works for you, and you’ve got this maintenance thing down. I take pics of my food, but am considering shaking things up a bit. However, the “quick clicks” before we eat is a habit I’m not sure I’ll be able to break.
    Roz@weightingfor50 recently posted..Ramblinโ€™ Monday

    1. I’m so glad the balance comes across on the blog! Sometimes I wonder. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Haha, yeah getting in the habit of taking photos of food before eating is hard to break. Sometimes I don’t take my camera to a restaurant and I feel naked. LOL

  5. You know I take a lot of pictures of what I eat. Some of that stems from all the emails I get about what I eat. When I blog more of that stuff, I get less emails – which saves me time!

    I also get flack for my weekend eating. When we take our long rides and I eat cupcakes or something more caloric, some people feel the need to ‘lecture’ me. Pfffft.
    Lori recently posted..So why the running?

    1. We’ve chatted about that before and I am still baffled as to how someone could possibly complain about what you eat. You have the most self-control I’ve seen. You are spot-on with portion sizes and I am always impressed. I think some people just don’t understand how it works…if you bike all day and burn 1200 calories, a 400 calorie cupcake is not a big deal.

  6. When I first started my blog, I hardly ever talked about my food. And at the time, I didn’t even know that people did the whole “here’s what I ate today!” in picture posts because I didn’t read many other blogs. Honestly, I’ve always thought the whole concept of taking a picture of everything you eat is a little ridiculous, even though I can understand that it’s just another way of tracking.

    The fact that you don’t do it was one of the things that drew me to your blog. You are totally level headed about food and exercise. It’s refreshing!
    Sarah recently posted..Peanut Butter Cookies

    1. Thank you for the compliment, Sarah! It’s much appreciated. I’ve often felt like maybe I should be more like some of the other blogs that are more popular…but it doesn’t last long. It’s just not me. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. 4 years! That’s very impressive. I think you’re reaching the end of the “danger zone” if you know what I mean. As for food photos, no, that’s not really me. Also I often eat exactly the same every day, with no rotation unlike you.

    Oh by the way, the next time you’re doing the website upgrade, could you consider having a easier way to get to your first post? I always love reading first posts of successful losers/maintainers for some reason.
    John recently posted..Lowest weight in over 15 years

    I think food journaling on the whole is weird and dysfunctional. It’s one thing if you are legit trying to lose weight and YOU are keeping track of your meals and calories for nutritional purposes, but people who photograph and blog every single thing they eat down to the 1/8 mug of cereal, apple slices and Adora disks…yeah no. And I don’t buy the “I’m a healthy role model!!” BS they are pedaling. I’m sure we all know the ones to whom I’m referring. Plus it bores me to tears.
    I think it’s clear you are active and eating well without having to over-explain “this is where I’m at with this” every single time you post that pizza and beer.

    1. THANK YOU MARIE! Yes. I agree and I know who you’re referring to. I feel the same way. A lot of those blogs that post every meal, every bite, etc felt compulsive to me when I was reading them. I realized pretty quickly that I didn’t want my blog to be that way. Or at least, not all the time. Balance is good.

      It’s weird, I haven’t felt like I needed to “defend” myself in the entire process of losing weight and keeping it off until recently. Someone made a back-handed comment about what I eat and I thought…really??? I ate a burger for dinner on a day that I went swimming and then Michael and I went on an impromptu hike? I had to idea how to respond to the criticize other than “I burned 1300 calories that day.” Nuff said.

  9. The foods that I eat are pretty boring, too. I like to take photos when something was especially delicious or attractive, or if I tried a new recipe.

    Honestly, paying attention to what I eat is a very slippery slope for me and can sometimes lead to disordered behaviors. While I generally track my caloric intake, I think that photographing everything might take it a little too far.
    Alex @ Brain, Body, Because recently posted..Week 2

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