Monday, April 30, 2012

Learning to Counting Calories

I have to admit counting calories is something that I've never done in my life. I have been very fortunate that I never had to diet or lose any weight. I have plenty of experience on the working out side of the equation, but I always ignored the nutrition part of keeping fit. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not eating Doritos and Twinkies. I eat as healthy as I possibly can, but I never tracked a calorie, a carbohydrate, or a gram of fat before. I decided that it's time I do, and boy was I surprised to learn what I did.

First off, the reason I decided to do this is because I'm finally to the point where I feel that I can lose a couple pounds. When I say this out loud it's usually met with rolling eyes and nasty remarks from whomever is in earshot. The truth is that I can still easily hide the extra pounds. It's easy to do when you're wearing clothes! But standing naked in front of a mirror is a different story. I've been training since the beginning of the year and I'm actually in great shape. I've slowly built nearly all my strength back. My upper body is defined, my abs are rock hard, and even my butt is much firmer (thanks to the Brazilian Butt Lift and 30 Day Yoga Sculpt). However, there is a pesky layer of fat on my thighs and tummy. Tummy fat is something I never had before and yes, it would be easy to just accept that this happens with age . . . but screw that. I'm not going down that easy. If I have to count some calories to make it go away then I'm willing to give it a shot.
It's been 5 days now that I'm tracking my food intake with a nifty smart phone app called The Daily Burn.

Every time I put something into my mouth I have to grab my phone and track it. This alone is motivation to NOT eat whatever snack I'm eying. Is it really worth the effort to track it? I can't tell you how many times I reached for "just a couple" M&Ms and realized that I have no easy way of tracking just 4 M&Ms so I go without. But the meals are pretty easy to track, especially with the purchase of the handy bar code scanner. All I need to do is scan the bar code of the product and it instantly adds all the nutrition information for me. This has proved very handy for my cocoa, bread, mayo, tuna fish, etc. Other foods may need to be manually entered (which can be cumbersome), but there is also a vast database of foods and you can always come pretty close to finding what you need.

It's been 5 days so far of food tracking and I can NOT believe how hard it is to stay within the limits. I didn't set these limits, but the app knows (based on your vital statistics and your weight goals) what they should be. So I'm supposed to stay within these daily limits:

Calories: 1491-1741
Carbs: 129-195
Fat: 31-53
Protein: 99-169

The calorie and fat limit is no problem to achieve. I normally don't eat too much and I certainly never have too much fat in my diet. But who knew that it's not the fat making us fat? It's the CARBS, which happens to be the staple of my diet. I was very foolish to think that I just needed to cut down on bread, pasta, and potatoes and all would be well. Little did I know that carbs are basically sugars and sugars are EVERYWHERE. Now I have to think twice before I reach for a piece of fruit, which still is not sitting well with me, but I'm willing to try this for a couple of weeks.

In addition to the impossible task of keeping my carbs down, I also realized that it's nearly impossible to get enough protein. I do not even want to know what my daily charts looked like before I started tracking. I'm sure I've been eating 6 times the amount of carbs I should and zero protein on a daily basis. Yesterday I ate tuna for lunch and cod for dinner and still didn't get enough protein. Today I had two eggs for breakfast, but I still have 45 grams of protein to reach my lowest limit and I only have one more meal left today. This is very challenging to say the least.

But I should add that after only 5 days of keeping somewhat within the limits listed above, my belly is much flatter and I really do feel like I made some quick progress. It sure is enough to make me want to do it again next week.

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