I am on day 11 of my new fitness program, whereby I log my food intake and exercise using My Fitness Pal. To determine the precise number of calories burned on my workouts (running and cycling) I am using the Map My Ride cellphone app. I am pleased to announce that I have already lost almost 5 lbs (4.5 lbs as of this morning, to be precise)!
I’m really happy with this program, because it allows me to eat whatever foods I want. No more guilt over bagels or hitting the drive-through on those days where I just don’t feel like cooking. I just track my calories throughout the day – made very easy with the websites’s huge database – and make choices based on that. I can eat cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and even indulge in dessert. It all depends on what else I’ve eaten that day and I make choices based on that. Want a high-calorie dinner (homemade guacamole and tortilla chips, one of my fave comfort meals)? Make sure I have a light lunch that day. Went out for lunch and ate a lot? Choose a light dinner option (I would like to emphasize that I am not doing “low fat” either; if the Paleo diet taught me anything it’s the value of good, healthy fats).
According to the website, my daily caloric requirement for maintenance is 1800 calories. To attain my goal of losing 2 lbs a week I am supposed to eat 1200 calories per day. I really thought that I would have to go hungry to achieve that, but surprisingly that isn’t so. I have not once felt hungry.
Another benefit, which I did not envision before, was the way it allows me to bring “forbidden foods” into the house. Yesterday I bought a case of ginger ale for the first time in years. On days when I have the room in my caloric intake, I enjoy a cold one. But I have not felt tempted to have one every day, and especially on days when I want the extra room to eat something more nutritious or satisfying. There has been ice cream in the house as well and I only indulged once, at the end of a day when I had some calories to spare. It’s nice to think I might even be able to get back into baking, something I enjoy but had to give up because I would eat all the goodies.
I’m also surprised at the rate of weight loss. Now, mind you, I have greatly increased the frequency of regular exercise, and that is bound to have an immediate effect. If I was needing to lose a lot of weight I would not expect that rate to continue. I may even see a slowdown as I approach my goal (I want to lose 15 lbs). But in the ten days for which I have complete food logs I have exceeded 1200 calories only five times. Mind you, four of those times I was still under 1500 calories, and the other time I was at 1800.
Right now my main sources of exercise are cycling and running. I have just started the Learn to Run 10K program. I did this program back in 2008, and in 2009 I ran the 10 km Sun Run in Vancouver. So I know it works and I’m excited to be doing it again.
It remains to be seen how easy it will be to continue this program into winter, when one tends to eat more and eat heavier, heartier foods to compensate for the cold. It is also not as easy to stick with regular exercise when it is cold and wet outside (unless you go to a gym, which I have no interest in doing). However, while I’m not sure whether I will want to ride my bike through the winter, I know I can continue running because I have done so in the past and I don’t mind it. Hopefully, by the time the weather changes for the worse, I will have reached my goal weight and can indulge in “maintenance eating”, which will allow me to eat more calories with less exercise, which will hopefully compensate for the challenges of winter.
I feel like I have finally found a system that is sustainable. When I indulge through the holidays, I will know how to compensate for that on other days. There are no “banned foods”. And going over your caloric intake can be compensated for by simply going out for a brisk walk or run, or by reducing intake the next day. Eventually I will possibly get a good feel for caloric intake and not need to log food every day. But honestly it takes such a short amount of time to do so I don’t see that becoming an issue.