portions

Reducing My Calories – Reflections

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I really appreciate all the tips and ideas that people left on my post about reducing my calorie intake. There were a lot of good ideas that I’m taking into consideration. Lori from Finding Radiance left me this comment:

“I hear you. I can’t do the 1200 calories, either. That is what I am supposed to eat to lose 1 pound a week according to MFP – can you believe that? I just shoot for 1500 calories and only eat back some of my exercise calories on long ride days. It’s slow going, but working. It is also a point to consider about trying to maintain where you are. You may not mentally be happy with that, but your body might be. It could end up not being worth what it takes to get and *stay* at a lower weight now.”

She made a good point about how maybe my body is just where it’s going to be. I have been unhappy with where it’s at for months now. I’d gained 15 pounds and was struggling to lose it again. I’d lost about 5 of it, then gained it back. I had a lot of setbacks (several injuries, sickness, a dose of prednisone, some monkey-ing with medications that caused some weight gain) and was feeling very deflated about it.

Even though it was “only” 15 pounds, it felt significant to me. Clothes weren’t fitting properly anymore. The weather was getting nicer and I was preparing for a mini-vacation in Arizona and brought out all my shorts and tank tops and…nothing fit. Like at all. I had to go buy practically an entire new wardrobe and it depressed me. There were tears.

I went from a size 4 or 6 in shorts to a size 8. The small tank tops are now a medium. I was very unhappy about this and became determined to get it under control. Sure I wasn’t still GAINING weight but I wasn’t LOSING either.

This MIGHT be where my body is comfortable and just stuck. Perhaps. But I am willing to give it a try to see if I can change that. Even if I can only lose 5 of those 15 pounds I know it will make me a little but happier about my body than where I am currently at.

I told Michael about my plan to reduce my calories. He wasn’t very happy with the restriction and he was very sweet, saying, “I hope you know that you don’t have to lose weight for me.” It was unnecessary for him to say but it was good to hear nonetheless.

Reflections and Goals

I went into this restriction with some trepidation but I was feeling determined and wanted to do it right. Sure I was reducing my calories quite a bit, but I wanted to make what calories I ate SMART calories. The portion-controlled guacamole was a good idea on my part. Sure I wasn’t happy about it being processed but like I said, it was portion controlled and pairing it with some celery was the perfect snack that filled me up.

I experimented with changing up my breakfasts and eating foods that were higher in protein (more filling) like cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and oatmeal. I tried my best to avoid eating frozen lunches and tried to eat real food instead. Baked chicken, salads, soups, etc. It wasn’t 100% but I did okay with this goal.

I tried to limit alcohol intake to Friday/Saturday nights only and only 1 glass. I also tried to be better about the dessert I ate: not eating it every night and making better choices (like a piece of chocolate with strawberries instead of high calorie junk). I also had fruit as dessert many times (this is easy for me to do when it’s berry season!)

I’m kind of sick of salads. I love salad and eat a lot of it, but it was becoming my lunch or dinner norm and I burned out on it.

Food prep is time consuming but VERY NECESSARY. Sure it takes a long time but spending an hour prepping the veggies for the week has saved me so much time and on evenings when I’m tired and hungry having that stuff already prepped helps me make better choices.

Tilapia! I re-discovered tilapia. We used to eat it frequently (usually as fish tacos) but then stopped and I don’t know why because it’s a great fish to eat when trying to lose weight. It’s about half the calories of salmon and is a good choice for low-calorie lunches or to pair it with some rice or quinoa for dinner.

I went back to measuring my portions. I’ve written about this topic a lot because you can track your food and do everything “right” but if you aren’t REALLY measuring your food you have no idea how many calories you’re taking in. I measured portions diligently to lose weight and then periodically throughout my 6+ years of maintenance I would go back to measuring. Basically to “check in” and remind myself what a portion was. It’s easy to slip back in bad habits.

I think this was part of my problem this past year. I was eye-balling portions because I’d done it for so long and “knew” what a serving was. But in reality, things were a little off. Clearly! The biggest shocker? I made a bunch of quinoa for lunches and dinners and measured out a serving using my food scale and my eyes bugged out of my head. Wait, what? THAT’S 200 calories worth of quinoa?!? Holy cow, I was eating twice that! For a long time. It was a good wake up call and a good reminder that I had slipped back into lazy habits. Read these old posts for more insight:

What’s REALLY a Serving Size?

C is for Calories

M is for Measuring Mistakes

How to Count Calories

Counting Calories and Serving Sizes

So I’m back to measuring almost everything. I use the food scale primarily because sometimes you can’t trust the label. Remember this post I wrote about misleading labels? If not, read it now. You will be shocked and want to immediately buy a food scale.

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Progress

I was making progress that first week and that boosted my motivation. Seeing immediately changes like losing 1 pound after a week of the new diet made me feel better about what I was doing. Before I felt like I was denying myself things I wanted, restricting, but not seeing ANY CHANGE on the scale. That SUCKS.

Week 1 of the diet: lost 1 pound

Week 2 of the diet: lost .6 pounds

Week 3: lost .4 pounds

I’m going to continue what I am currently doing for a little while longer and see if it keeps working. I don’t know that I can reduce my calories any lower, so this is it. Stay tuned!

Weight Loss Pet Peeves

I have a few pet peeves, don’t we all? Like when you’re trying to get off the bus or train and people getting on crowd the door so you can’t get off? Or how about people who clip their finger nails in public (oh my god I might vomit, do it in the bathroom!)? When it comes to dieting and fitness, I have a few pet peeves I want to share here. I’m pretty sure you can relate, or at least contribute a few of your own pet peeves!

The first annoyance is with cereal. I stopped eating cereal years ago and only eat it once in awhile. I quit because the ones I like are usually the sugary cereals (and not healthy) and more importantly–I wasn’t satisfied after eating cereal for breakfast. I’d be famished within the hour. So I switched my breakfast to a healthier, high protein meal and that has worked well for years.

Recently I had a craving for cereal so I bought some at the store and have been having it with a piece of gluten free toast with breakfast. What’s my pet peeve? Cereal servings. Have you ever really looked at the label on a box of cereal? It’s very discouraging. For a week I was measuring out a serving –which was 3/4 cup– and I used a measuring cup. I thought it was okay.

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Then I noticed on the side of the box that there were 17 SERVINGS in the box. 17?!?! I thought, that can’t be right…

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I felt so mad! I hate that they do that. It’s deceptive. A serving size according to them is ACTUALLY measured by weight, so why do they put the 3/4 cup on there at all? It’s trickery. So I got out the food scale and weighed it. What I’d been measuring out with a cup (3/4 cup) all week was REALLY TWO SERVINGS.

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60 grams was a little over 3/4 of a cup. So if I was measuring out 1 cup of cereal, I was really eating two servings. What a scam. I started taking out some of the cereal to get it down to the 30 grams and then it was just ridiculous. It was like 3 bites of cereal in 30 grams!

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I added a little bit more because seriously, 30 grams wasn’t enough food. I ended up eating 41 grams of the cereal and I adjusted my calories on my app. I was so annoyed and felt cheated and vowed to stop buying cereal!

Another pet peeve is when frozen meals have two servings in them. That is just plain ridiculous. Recently I was buying some frozen Indian food at Trader Joe’s and did a double-take when I saw the label. It was one frozen meal but it had two servings in it–each 400 calories. So in reality, that one meal was 800 calories! I mean really, who eats HALF of a frozen meal?

Here are a few other posts discussing this:

Nutritional Facts and Fauxs

Nutrition: Who to Trust?

It’s deceptive advertising and if you’re not paying close enough attention it’s easy to miss this and that can totally derail your efforts. If the scale isn’t moving and you’re doing everything “right” double check those labels! I’m going to be more mindful. Sure, this was information I knew before, but I wasn’t being diligent.

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As for fitness pet peeves, I have a few. Mostly they are pet peeves about gym etiquette–talking loudly on their cellphones, sitting on machines playing with their phones instead of working out,

Gym Pet Peeves

There Are No Place-Backs At The Gym

Lap Swimming Etiquette

One of the biggest annoyances for me is the people who never wipe down the machines or mats after they use them. It’s just gross. Long ago I started keeping antibacterial handi-wipes in my gym bag and got into the habit of just wiping things down before I use them.

The other pet peeve is the people that go to my yoga class. There is this one woman that is ALWAYS late. At least 10 minutes or sometimes more. Every time she makes a big production, thumping around, putting her mat down, etc. Then she spends the entire class futzing with her phone. Serious. Why are you even here? There have been a few times where other people in the class actually told her to get off the phone because it was distracting. Every time I see her in my class I just groan to myself.

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So what about you? I know you’ve got some annoyances to share!