Sunday, January 27, 2013

Going back to what has worked

I posted on 3FC about being hungry all the time and the consensus was that the myfitnesspal-recommended 1330 calories is not enough. Well, if I do nothing all day then it perhaps it is enough but if I exercise a few times a week with one of those times being a bike ride, I need to eat a lot more than that to stay happy.

Overall, I should be eating all the calories I "earn" through exercise because that will bring me up to 1500-1600 calories total, which is what I've discovered is a sustainable daily intake. At that range, I eat fulfilling meals, get some healthy snacks, and can sneak in a guilty pleasure or two. And that's what I need to be able to keep at it. 1330 just wasn't doing it for me.

Anywhos, eating all the calories I burn is good when it comes to running because right now I'm burning about 200 for each run, which bumps me up to the sustainable allowance. However, when I go for a bike ride, I "earn" 750-1000 calories a ride, which would bump my daily allowance to at least 2000 calories, if not more. And that's not a number I'm willing to consume even if it is all (or mostly) healthy. So on those days I'll stick with eating 1500-1600 (this excludes the food I eat during the ride for energy) and redistribute the rest of the earned calories for days I don't exercise at all. This way, I should still be at my goal over the course of the week.

At least that's the theory.

I believe that the last week of hunger was due to not eating properly and not at the right times. I was eating whatever was convenient instead of what I knew was filling and delicious. And I was also waiting until I was hungry to eat something, which is never a good idea. This made it seem like I was always hungry and that's not a good feeling to have when you're just starting out with weight-loss. And that feeling of "this sucks" was only exasperated by the scale not budging. All in all, not good vibes.

I've also found that I need to eat something that 1) I believe is delicious, 2) that is warm, and 3) that is a legitimate home-cooked or home-made meal for it to feel like it was fulfilling. Otherwise I won't think I've really eaten and even though I will have gotten the proper nutrients and calories, I will still feel hunger. Although I love my nut bars, bananas and smoothies, they are not sufficient meal substitutes for me for both lunch and dinner. At least one of those meals has to follow the rules stated at the beginning of this paragraph.

So today instead of microwaving a burrito or heating up potstickers, I made an old staple for lunch. It's cold because it's just a sandwich so Criteria 1 is not satisfied, but it's delicious and is a legitimate meal (my mom makes this for me all the time when I'm home). Two out of three isn't bad, especially since I know I will be stuffed (in a good way) when I finish it.

So colorful and delicious! And I even somewhat enjoyed making it.

Lastly, my faux plateau broke today when I went down to 208.5 lbs, which is FINALLY down from the 210 I've been hovering at for over a week. What a relief!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Battling hunger

I was hungry last night but since I don't mind going to bed with a little bit of hunger pains, I ignored it and told myself I'd make up for it today by eating a bit more.

But, I was dragging in the morning and then was busy all afternoon so by 5 pm all I'd eaten was a nut bar and a banana. In short, I was starving. I came home, wolfed down a burrito, a bratwurst, and some cheese curds, but still didn't feel any relief. That "lunch" was much more calorific than I would've liked (750 calories) but I was STARVING.

Several hours later, my stomach still wasn't happy so I made myself some leftover stuffed bell peppers. But while they were heating up, I warmed up a glass of milk because I need a daily dose of dairy and I didn't get a chance to eat it at breakfast. After downing that, I didn't feel very hungry at all. I still ate the bell peppers because I had started heating them up and didn't want to wake up extremely hungry again, but I felt that maybe I didn't really need them.

Perhaps my hunger pains were more due to thirst than hunger. I have read that that can happen. (Along with the milk and bell peppers, I drank two glasses of water with Nuun electrolyte tablets because I have been feeling very dehydrated lately. So all in all, there was a lot of stuff consumed for dinner.)

Now, nearly two hours after this ginormous dinner, I am still incredibly stuffed, which supports my thirst conclusion. You live and you learn.

Also, I haven't exercised in the last two days and I've been dragging ever since. Part of me wants to blame my lack of exercise for this, but I'm pretty sure it's the cloudy weather and just general lack of sleep. I'll give exercising a shot tomorrow (hopefully going on the bike ride I was supposed to go on earlier this week) to see if that helps, but it's also supposed to be sunny so my experiment won't exactly work. Either way, I'll get some calories deficits, some fresh air, and hopefully some weight-loss.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Switching around exercise to accommodate drinks

A good friend of mine is in town and she suggested getting drinks after work. I've been trying to stay under my calorie allotments more consistently so I've limited myself to drinks only on days I go for a bike ride (I "earn" at least 700 extra calories that way). But today was a scheduled run day and since I'd gotten up late, daylight hours were in short supply and the wind had begun to pick up. I just didn't want to go ride.

After much internal debate, I decided to stick with the run and go for the bike ride tomorrow, as scheduled. Because whether I run today and bike tomorrow or vice versa, the calorie totals for those two days will come out the same ultimately. And this way I get in the running that I have to force myself to do and don't have to make bike riding an unpleasant experience*.

I'm kind of proud for requiring myself to get some exercise before going out drinking this evening. On non-booze days, it's pretty easy to stay under my calorie goal but beer and the inevitable fries and mac & cheese bites screw me over. With running or biking on the alcohol days, I feel like the damage is mitigated just a little bit.

I'm also impressed that I've kept up with my calorie counting as long as I have because it used to drive me crazy. It hasn't gotten to the annoying stage yet where I am bugged by having to log everything that goes into my mouth. Part of this is because I approximate a lot of things (much more than I used to) which means my calorie-counting is not as accurate as it needs to be. But the major reason behind the change in attitude is the HUGE database of foods that myfitnesspal carries. They seem to have practically everything in there (including the Costco food court hot dog I recently ate) and when they don't, I have the option of scanning the bar code, which is much easier than inputting all the ingredients and adding it to your food list.

Lastly, I haven't put up any progress graphs lately so here is my weight-loss for 2012 - 2013. Notice my all-time greatest weight at the end of February 2012, as well as the steady albeit bumpy decrease since then:

And here is my most recent goal to reach Onederland! by March 13th. I had planned not to lose or gain during the holidays but alas, cakes and wine got the best of me. I'm still on track to get there by March, though:

*I love to ride my bike so I try not to force myself to do it when I don't want to because that would make this fun form of exercise not so fun anymore. Usually if I don't want to do it just a little bit, I'll still go out because I love being on the open road. But with construction on my usual route, the wind factor, and the general brownness of the surroundings, I had absolutely no desire to go today. So I didn't.

On the other hand, I hate running but everything I enjoy doing requires me to have run fitness so it's a necessary evil. I've been putting off Couch to 10k for way too long so I really didn't need any more excuses to prevent me from advancing in the program.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Quick breakfasts and updates

I'm not a morning person and I'm also a creature of habit. So when my go-to done-in-2-minutes cereal was discontinued in all stores in the area, my whole day was thrown off. I can still buy it online, but the shipping is ridiculous (I refuse to pay exorbitant prices for shipping in general) so that's a no-go. Instead, I've been brainstorming ways to replicate the ease and filling nature of the cereal that is no more.

For the last two days I've had a banana and a nut/fruit/grain bar that have held me over until lunch. But I'm still feeling a little iffy after the sugar from today's breakfast so I don't think this is a long-term solution. In the warmer months I resort to yogurt and fruit, but everything is so expensive and sour right now that it's not worth buying or making.

So for the winter/non-season months I'm looking for something that...
  • Has grains and nuts (yay fiber!)
  • Uses milk as the major liquid (I get grumpy if I don't have enough dairy)
  • Can be nuked in the microwave in under 5 minutes (I hate "cooking" in the morning)
  • Won't explode during said nuking (like oatmeal tends to do)

(Now that I think about it, my summer breakfast only fits one of these four criteria, but that's different.)

From my extensive research on breakfast foods this afternoon, I think I've settled on muesli. Now to find a good recipe that keeps for a while and is not too hard to make...that's a task for another workday.

Other than that, I'm being pretty successful at staying on track and losing weight. I gained a couple of pounds over the holidays, but some of that may've just been alcohol weight because it's come off pretty quickly as soon as I cut down on drinking. I'm about a half of a pound over my mid-December weight (and 3 pounds down from last week) but have only been watching what I've been eating for about a week so it makes sense that the weight-loss is due to alcohol water weight and not real calorie cutbacks.

Although I am envious of people around me who can pound Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and chase them with beer on a nearly daily basis without gaining any weight, I know that they're able to do that because they are much more active throughout the day than I am. And they're not actively trying to lose weight either. Some day when my job doesn't involve sitting on my butt for over 8 hours a day, I will have that extra burn to cancel out with peanut butter and chocolate. But for now I'm content with exercising that willpower. It's much easier to keep at it when I see results on the scale.

So for the time being, I will continue to limit my sweet intake to one per day because I simply can't live without sugar. The beer binging has successfully been cut down to once a week as well. I say binging because I'm so heavy that it takes about 5 beers to get me tipsy/drunk, even on an empty stomach, and by modern medicine standards that's considered binging for a woman. And sometimes I just want to be drunk. Other days, I just want a beer after work, so I keep it to that and treat it as a sweet. But there is no in between.

I used to limit myself to three beers when going out but it had the same effect on my mind and body as drinking just one (that being, I was stone cold sober), with over 300 extra calories. So now I'm embracing the 5-6 beers when I just need some mind-altering substances and other times abstaining completely. This seems to work best for me because I've been able to maintain this plan for the past several months with success.

Lastly, the weather has been really nice and will continue to be so for the forecastable future, so I've been getting out on my bike more. I've also re-re-re-re-re-begun Couch to 10k and am somehow managing to force myself out the door even when I really don't want to. My roommate said I should stop being so negative about the workouts but I've made myself a deal that I can be as grumpy as I want as long as I do them. But if I don't go, then no complaining for me. And since I really like to complain and can't deal with being obese anymore, this deal has worked out well for me.

All in all, life is successful in weight-loss land.