One day of calorie counting down, and probably about 50 more to go. As several of you mentioned in the comments, I don’t think calorie counting is really sustainable in the long run – it’s just too strict – but I do think it’s a good way to reset your body to healthy portion sizes and intake. I plan to use it for the next 6 weeks or so, until I can get back to feeling a bit more comfortable with my body, and then I’ll try to go back to eating more by feel instead of by the numbers, as I think that’s really the mentally healthiest approach for me (at least, once I get used to correct portion sizing).
For a long time, I’ve seen many bloggers write a post series called “What I Ate Wednesday.” Frankly, it’s always confused me, and I usually skip those posts in my reader. Don’t you piss off your coworkers/friends/family by snapping pictures of everything? Does anyone really care what you eat every single Wednesday (especially when it’s often the same thing)? And finally, isn’t that what food trackers are for? (Though it is your blog, so I suppose you can do what you want with it.) With all that said, since I’m just getting back into the diet world, I thought it might be good to take a look at what I ate yesterday (which happened to be a Wednesday)… but this is not going to be a regular feature, and I don’t blame you one bit if you want to skip the rest of this post :)
Breakfast, lunch, and my afternoon snack yesterday were just fine and totally normal for me – those aren’t typically my issues. For breakfast, I had a container of Greek yogurt with a crumbled up Pure Organic bar mixed in, and then a cup of (decaf) coffee with a teaspoon of half and half. This is pretty close to my standard travel breakfast, and clocks in around 330 calories and a whopping 24g of protein. The Pure Organic Cherry Cashew bar I used was pretty good mixed into the yogurt, but I didn’t like how much sugar it had (17g, or more than 4 teaspoons!). I usually like to add fresh blueberries or raspberries (way healthier – I love fresh stuff when I can get it on the road), but the lounge was out of those. I always keep power bars in my bag for emergencies, and I did like the bit of texture mixed into the yogurt, but ultimately, I won’t be buying this brand anymore, in favor of something with more fiber and less sugar.
For lunch, I’ve been on a soup kick lately. A few years ago, my roommate lost about 20 pounds just by switching to having soup every day for lunch (not sure what she got for lunch before that, sorry). It’s actually not a bad idea – while soup can be high in sodium if you don’t make your own, it’s very filling, and as long as you choose a broth-based soup instead of a cream-based one, you can’t really go too far wrong with eating too much. My client’s cafeteria offers Au Bon Pain soups every day, which makes it easy to look up nutritionals quickly on my phone before picking one, and the medium size is plenty big to fill me up (they only offer medium and large… the large is like a trough, though!). I paired my soup with a small side salad of romaine, bell peppers, shredded carrots, and balsamic vinegar. Total lunch calories: only 250! That’s really not enough, but since I usually eat around a 200 calorie snack in the late afternoon, I’m okay with it – it just spreads out the energy a bit more. As long as my stomach isn’t growling and I’m feeling energetic/productive, I’m not going to worry.
Mid-afternoon, though I still wasn’t really very hungry – so I just had an apple and another cup of decaf, plus a tablespoon of the So Delicious Coconut Creamer I keep in the office fridge. Coconut milk is naturally sweet, and I like that it’s organic – I have to admit to sometimes being a sucker for those super sweet International Delight creamers when they’re around, but this gives similar (okay, maybe not quite as sticky sweet) flavor without any of the nasty chemicals. I can’t claim to be that conscious about clean ingredients in my diet (I am not home in my kitchen enough to make that even a remote possibility), but it’s nice to avoid the chemicals where I can.
I was in charge of ordering the meals for dinner this week, and I was really excited about that power… until the group requested barbecue from Sonny Bryan’s, which only offers one menu for catering (and has no vegetables on it whatsoever). So when the food arrived, I was just very careful about how much I took – 1/2 cup coleslaw (sorry, that does not count as a veggie), 1/2 cup baked beans, about 6 oz of turkey breast (I avoided the pulled pork and sliced brisket), and one tablespoon of barbecue sauce. When I got back to my desk to eat, I realized that the plate actually looked quite reasonable – about the same amount of food I would have eaten had I been at home and cooking, instead of the heaping portions most restaurants serve. And when the plate was done, I was done – no question about seconds (though I did have a few spoons of the sticky apple cobbler, after a coworker raved about it).
I logged it all into my calorie counter as the (hopefully comparable) Boston Market versions of the same foods, since Sonny Bryan’s didn’t have nutrition stats available. I tried to err on the side of larger portions than I probably actually ate, but was nonethless pleased to see that I was right around the number of calories I was supposed to eat for the day. But even more than that, I was pleased to see that counting calories wasn’t a big deal to me, and I wasn’t obsessing about it. Hooray!
I’m currently using two trackers (MyFitnessPal and Livestrong’s MyPlate) in order to see which one I like best, and was planning to stop that in a day or so. However, while it takes a few seconds more to log it in two places, I found that it actually made me stress less by seeing the differences. Both trackers had slightly different calculations for how much I should be eating, both trackers also had slightly different numbers for some of the foods, and I only put my exercise yesterday into one of the trackers – so the numbers were a few hundred calories apart. In many ways, that was a good thing for me. Realizing that there isn’t one perfect number to hit is what helped keep me from doing crazy things… like going home and eating a 50 calorie piece of chocolate not because I was hungry or craving it but because my numbers indicated that I needed another 50 calories to hit my daily target. In fact, while I wanted more food after that first plate of barbecue, my tracker(s) helped keep me in check by pointing out that I should be mostly satisfied with what I had – and later that night, I realized I hadn’t needed more food at all.
I felt good when I left the office, and when I got back to my hotel, I used that half hour before bed to chat with a friend on the phone instead of hustling down to the gym to sneak in a workout. Amazing!
Thank you all for the tips and encouragement yesterday – keep it coming! I am pretty excited and think going back to calorie counting may not be such a scary/bad idea after all :)