slow and steady

the beginning of my intake changes

I want this change to be long lasting. I want to be a healthier Ben at 40 than I was at 30. I want my 30’s to be the best years of my life, to be better than my 20’s, and better than my teen’s. Because of this, I told myself I would not subscribe to a ‘quick fix’, a super popular diet, or anything that would force me to give up foods that I am not prepared to give up forever. I love cheese. I love to bake bread. As I racked my brain about how to be healthier and better, I realized that I take true joy in sharing a meal with friends including amazing Vermont cheeses and local bread. I like having an amazing beer or a glass of single malt. So this led me back to that damn saying that my father would always tell me, “Everything in Moderation.”

I will start a weight loss tracker in the near future but I have to be honest, I do not yet feel comfortable to admit my weight to the world via the internet. As it is something I have struggled with for 30 years, this is an emotional issue that will not go away with 2 blog posts. So please be patient with me as I work up to that. Despite that fear, I can tell you that slow and steady has been a working mantra since December 1. As of this writing I have lost 17 pounds and am averaging around 1.5 lost pounds per week. This is not fast and it makes less of a “WOW” when I step on the scale, but it has been doable and kind of enjoyable.

As I said in my first post, I started tracking my intake. I am using MyFitnessPal (no, I am not advertising for them, just happy consumer of their product). I used to find the app frustrating because I did not think it was working. The truth is, I wasn’t using it correctly. For me, the devil does not lie in breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For me, the devil is in the mid-morning latte, the post lunch snacks, and the grazing while I cook dinner. Oh, let’s not forget the delicious imperial stout in the 16 oz can. When I got religious, consistent, and dedicated to tracking it all, it blew my mind. So many calories sneak in from so many places. That latte was 300 calories. That soft taco shell during cooking was 150. I started to view food and my day differently. I wanted to maximize the use of my calories and get the most enjoyment out of them. Sugary drinks have all but disappeared. I want to eat my calories!

utility versus pleasure

Food can be many things to many people. I know many individuals who have adopted food as a utility; a tool to get them where they want to be. I know other people who view food as a cultural and social binder; a glue that brings history, family, joy, and love together. I would subscribe more to the second. As I have said before, I love food. I mean, it would be hard to get to my size if you hated food. In my attempts to get healthier and lose weight, I know that food will forever be a social binder, a joy, and something I look forward to. Understanding this is super important. If I can recognize this reality, try to adapt, and create a lifestyle that respects my love for food and the situations where food is celebrated, all while getting healthier… my God, that would be amazing! And so that is my goal.

I said above that I started to view food differently when I began tracking, but I began to view it globally, or how it interacts with my whole world. During the Christmas season, all these coworkers are bringing in the most delicious snacks. I want to partake! So how do I make partaking work? Well I had breakfast and I consumed so many calories so can I adjust my day to allow for this delightful cookie? Yes I can. I have begun to understand that I do not have to ignore things, but I must realistically account for them. I know that Christmas day is coming up and I will most likely exceed my target calorie intake for the day. So that week I tried to work out more, eat a little more disciplined, and maintain a calorie deficit that would help balance the indulgence of Christmas day. And even with that, I tried to still be responsible with my intake on Christmas.

some details –

BMR. What is my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)? For the longest time I did not know this. But your BMR is basically the number of calories your body requires to perform its most basic functions like breathing, keeping your blood moving, etc. This does not include the amount of calories you require to do things like walking, running, working out, or negotiating with your toddler. The smart health people say that figuring out your BMR is a great place to start when trying to track your calories because it allows you to create targets. I used my app to find it and based off of my activity level, my app gives me my target intake for the day. I also have it connected to my activity monitor (which measures my heart rate), so it will adjust it depending on if I had a super active day or a sedentary day.

My target intake is 2310 calories per day. If I get my walk in and a workout, this could adjust up anywhere from 500-1500 calories depending on what I did. So this number helps me plan and it is adjusted to include a small calorie deficit to help me meet my weight loss goals, slow and steady. I can now get a better sense about how I am doing. The other day a coworker brought in home-baked bread, for which I am a sucker. Because I am a work in progress and a mere mortal, I ate 3 pieces before I regained control of my sensibilities. After breakfast and lunch, and my planned snacks, I only had around 500 calories left for dinner. That is a small dinner and my wife and I already had a plan, which would exceed that number for me. After lunch I made a point to go for 20 minute walk at work. I did that and made sure that I worked out that night. Because of this awareness, I still met and exceeded my target deficit for the day.

This is the nutshell version of my start to controlling my intake. Am I a doctor? No. Am I a nutritionist? No. I am somebody who spends a lot of time doing research and who is doing their best with the information at hand. I cannot say that everything I do will or could work for others, but the effort I am putting in and the awareness I am trying to improve can be understood by all. And I think if everybody worked to improve that, it would not hurt.

-Ben

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