What I Learned While Counting Calories For A Week…

A week ago, I came to the realization that I had to get a handle on my life. Call it fate, if you’d like. I was reading Mama’s Weeds and she was giving such a persuasive argument for counting calories to lose weight that I knew the time to change was now.

My clothes were fitting tighter, and I had no energy. I knew that I had gained weight. But I didn’t know just how much weight. Some time back, I stopped weighing myself because it was affecting my mood.

Alison‘s post was so persuasive that I decided I’d count calories for a week. I can do it for a week, I told myself. And also decided to take a look at the things in my life that I’ve let slide.

That night, eager to start the task in the morning, I grabbed a small notebook and wrote down my future goals.

  • 7 1/2-9 hours sleep each night
  • walk/jog 1-2 times a week
  • yoga 3 times a week
  • less TV
  • cook more ‘good’ meals
  • make time to clean better
  • keep up with homework better
  • keep up with blog better (mine & others)
  • start a food log for a week (month?)
  • start a sleep log for a week (month?)
  • ** 28 days to make a habit **
  • The next morning…

    I woke up and weighed myself. Eep. Really?! Oh. 😦

    Um, yeah. Weight gain. Time to get serious. No more excuses.

    And so my journey began.

    September 1st, I took my measurements, and started a food log.

    It’s been a week. What did I learn?

    Getting enough quality sleep makes a difference.

    I’ve read that your sleep cycle is 90 minutes long. So when I turned out the lights I set a timer (not an alarm) to go off 7 1/2 hours later. If I felt I needed more sleep, I reset that timer for an additional 1 1/2 hours (ie. 90 mins). Of course, this works best if you go to bed early so that you can have that extra cycle.

    I started this while my taste-tester was away on business, I needed to get up early so that I could talk to him in the mornings (time zone differences). And I only had myself to blame if I didn’t go to bed early.

    Quality is key. I didn’t sleep as soundly as I would have liked on my own. So I added exercise to my day to make sure my brain would quiet down easier.

    My sleep quality improved once my taste-tester got back home, and the ‘schedule’ was already starting to be put in place, so it was easier to continue once he was home.

    Exercise is important. Do what you love.

    I’ve been down this road before. If you don’t enjoy the exercise you are doing, you are not going to keep it up. I enjoy yoga and walk/jogging. So that’s what will work for me. And it has worked for me in the past.

    Ten years ago, I decided to get serious about my weight. I was pushing and punishing myself with aerobic DVDs, I hated every second of it. Then I found a DVD with one of the aerobic instructors doing yoga. I liked this. I went and found more DVDs of yoga from ‘real’ yoginis, like Rodney Yee, Suzanne Deason, and Patricia Walden.

    Soon I found YogaToday.com, a daily yoga website. Back then it was free, now they have a free weekly class. Or you can become a member, like me, and have access to all the videos.

    I learned proper alignment through those videos, I also learned that I like certain types of yoga over others.

    Don’t be afraid to experiment with different kinds of exercise. One size does not fit all.

    I love yoga. But I don’t love all types of yoga. I have my favorites; B.K.S.Iyengar, Anusara, Kundalini, Hatha. But I wouldn’t have known that had I not tried out different types along the way.

    Don’t make excuses, be accountable for yourself.

    I’ve been bitching and moaning about how much stress we’ve been under. If I wait until life gets less stressful, I’m going to be waiting quite a while. Stress will always be there. It’s how you deal with it that makes a difference.

    Accountability. To me that means, taking charge of what I put in my body.

    Get out and do something every day

    Even on the days I was ‘taking a break’ from exercise, I went ahead and did a bit more than I would normally do.

    Need to check the mail? No problem, I’ll take the long route and make it a leisurely 1/2 mile walk.

    Keep it simple

    In the past, when I did a food log I got so overwhelmed with the process that I became rather obsessive. I was keeping track of every little thing; calories, fat grams, protein, fiber… It made me a bit crazy and not much fun to be around.

    This time, my focus was on the calories, what I consumed and what I burned. I also figured out this time around that I was probably doing it wrong before.

    Last time I only focused on the consumption of calories. Which remained the same regardless of whether or not I had exercised that day. I don’t think that is the way to do it.

    This time around, I payed attention to both consumption and burn. Which brings me to…

    Math is where it’s at.

    I went to several sites online until I felt I had researched enough to not hurt myself by consuming too few calories. I found this site to be quite helpful. There seems to be a calculator for anything you might need health-wise. I personally checked out these calculators…

  • Daily Energy Expenditure – Calculate how many calories your body needs to burn to function properly. Also known as the basal metabolic rate ( BMR ) calculator.
  • Calories to Lose Weight – Use this calculator to determine how many calories you should eat each day to responsibly lose weight and minimize risk.
  • Calories Burned – Find out how many calories you burn doing your favorite activities.
  • Weight Change Target Date – Wondering how long it will take you to lose weight? or gain weight? Use this calculator to find out when you can expect the scales to hit the number you are looking for based on various healthy levels of calorie intake.
  • Eat smaller meals, more often.

    I also realized that when I ate smaller meals more often I felt better during the day. By eating smaller meals, I didn’t feel overfull and uncomfortable. And by eating smaller meals, when I felt hungry again, I didn’t have to feel guilty, I could eat again.

    Serving sizes are smaller than you realize. But they are more than enough.

    I relied heavily on the packaging of the food to tell me how many calories I had been consuming. When the packaging wasn’t available I went to this site.

    At first, I was a bit skeptical that this was really going to be enough food. But what I found was that when I ate about 300-400 calories in a meal and waited about 15-20 minutes, I was satiated. Even if I had started out ravenous, I was satisfied when I let my food settle. I didn’t go back for seconds at all this week.

    When you exercise, you can eat more.

    When you exercise, you are going to feel hungrier. You’ve burned some calories and your body will want to replenish them. I found that by doing exercise, I was able to eat when I was hungry because I knew that my net calories would still be within my calorie allowance.

    Stagger your daily calorie intake.

    Something I found interesting this time around was the concept of staggering your calorie intake. In my mind that equated to ‘roll-over calories’. So that is exactly what I set up. If I ate less calories yesterday than my ‘allowance’ then today I could consume the calories I didn’t have yesterday, if I was hungry for them.

    For example…
    On Monday I consumed 1453 calories, I did yoga for an hour (190 calories burned) and I walked about 3 miles (261 calories consumed). My net calories for the day was 1002. I just wasn’t that hungry. In fact, I made a cup of tea just before bed so that I would have over 1000 calories for the day. (1453 – 190 – 261 = 1002)

    When I awoke on Tuesday, I was hungry! According to my calculations, I had 362 roll-over calories in addition to the 1364 calorie allowance for the day.

    I’m going to continue keeping a food log for a month.

    I’m only just learning what a serving size looks like. I believe that by continuing to measure and weigh out my food I will learn over time what my plate should look like. I’m tired of eating until I’m stuffed. It’s time to learn what my body really needs.

    I lost 1.5 lbs.

    I weighed myself on Tuesday (day 6) and I had lost 1.5 lbs. Officially, I plan to weigh and measure myself weekly, but I was curious if I had made any progress. Luckily, I had. 😀

    I plan to weigh and measure myself tomorrow morning, and then weekly thereafter. I’ve been keeping track of my calories, sleep, and exercise on my exercise log if you are interested.

    Until next time…


    3 thoughts on “What I Learned While Counting Calories For A Week…

    1. YAHOO! I loved this entire post – you’ve touched on SO MANY important things! Having “higher calories days” and “lower calories days” is definitely something I learned along the way and can make things easier. Plus some days I find that I’m just not as hungry, but I know I will be tomorrow! And you absolutely have to do what you love when it comes to exercise, so important.

      1.5 pounds is PERFECT too! Not too fast, but not so little that it’s discouraging. Way to go Nic, this post made my morning! Thanks for the shout out too.

    2. Pingback: It has been a strange couple of weeks… « The Auspicious Squirrel

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