Saturday, August 21, 2010

A representative day

One thing I should have done a long time ago, but never got around to doing since the nature of this blog isn't really to talk about the precise details of what I do, is cover a "typical" day of what I do. Of course, part of the reason for that is that this has been in a slow state of change. However, since one of my kind commenters expressed concern for what I might be doing, I thought it might be a good idea to finally get around to providing a "representative day" of my eating at present to make the situation clearer. I really do appreciate the concern, but I think this will illustrate that I have room to safely cut calories more in the future.

The fastest way to show the food I eat is to take a screen shot of a FitDay calculation for one day. It'll show up here as a reduced size version, but if you click on the small picture below, the full size will load and the details can be seen. Here was today's food distribution:

While this tells you what I ate, it doesn't quite offer a rough schedule of the day so I'll offer that here:

  • 8:00 am: coffee, homemade whole grain peanut butter muffin ("baked item" on FitDay)*
  • 9:30 am: 25 minute walk
  • 10:00 am: 1/2 navel orange
  • 10:15 am: stomach holding exercises (35 reps), 2 kg. weight lifting (45 reps)
  • 1:15 pm: homemade veggie burger**, mayo, raw tomato and carrot, chocolate plus a Calcium supplement
  • 4:00 pm: pretzels ("salted snack" on FitDay) and cheese
  • 5:00 pm: 50 minute walk
  • 6:00 pm: fruit frappe with raspberries, banana, skim milk, ice
  • 6:30 pm: leg lifts (30 for each leg)
  • 8:00 pm: chicken breast, cabbage salad with Asian dressing, broccoli plus a multi-vitamin

*primary components are whole wheat flour, egg, peanut butter, applesauce, and skim milk
**primary components are kidney beans, egg, onion, walnuts, and oat flour

Note that the pretzels, chocolate and muffin's nutrients (only calories) are not in the FitDay listing so the nutrition numbers are incomplete. I'm too lazy to enter all of the data manually for every baked good or chocolate piece I consume. Mainly, I use FitDay for calorie tracking, but this is still pretty representative. There are more carbs, and a bit more protein than shown here.

I mentioned in the previous post that if my loss rate drops too slowly, I plan on dropping the calories a bit. It would be very, very easy for me to chop down the size of the afternoon snacks. In particular, I'd have half a serving of pretzels and half an ounce of cheese and that'd reduce calories by a little over 100 right there. I could also reduce chocolate consumption to 50 calories (or less). None of this would have much of an impact on nutrition for the day. These are areas which are more about pleasure than nutrition which can be let go of. Of course, I will continue to scale activity and hope that is sufficient because I'm pretty satisfied with what I eat now in terms of portion and content.

I'm sure this is imperfect, but I don't think it's lacking greatly. I'm sure a nutritionist would tell me to ditch the pretzels and chocolate and eat something with more nutrients, but this is what I can live with and, so far, it works well for me. Note that there is an
intentional pattern to how I eat carbohydrates. I start the day with a lot and end with a little. Part of the reason I've decided to start weighing myself once a month is that I want to be aware of whether or not it does stop working. I expect though, that it will continue to work just fine, although I expect a dramatic slow-down in loss rate after I reach 200 lbs.

In terms of the exercise, this is a bit more than "usual" because it's the weekend and a second walk isn't always possible on weekdays. I always walk for at least 20 minutes, usually walk for 40 and do the other exercises at least 6 days a week. I can get in this much walking at least twice a week, and try to do it more.

I'm sure this will change as time goes by, but only in small ways. I hope this was helpful in understanding what I do more clearly.


Sarah said...

It's all about what you can live with. I'd keep the chocolate and the pretzels!

NewMe said...

Sounds great! And I say to keep the chocolate. Deprivation forever just doesn't last...forever.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you should be too worried about dropping to 1200 calories, if that becomes necessary, because there are some good studies that show lower calories may be required for continued weight loss. The following post from the "Refuse to Regain" blog explains the concept quite well. The body doesn't inevitably go into *starvation mode* at 1200 calories. On the contrary, when calories drop low enough, for a long enough time, it signals the body to start using fat stores. Of course, I still believe that bodies are different from each other, and that the same body reacts differently under different conditions. My own body becomes more efficient with calories when I am under extreme stress...thus I gain weight easier, or I tend to plateau if I'm restricting calories. I don't know if my metabolism actually changes, or if hormones like cortisol cause changes in insulin resistance (which I suspect), and thus more calories are stored rather than burned, I only know it is a real phenomenon I have observed over decades of closely monitored eating.

Here's the aforementioned website:

It is more challenging, in my perspective, to get a well balanced diet on 1200 calories as compared to 1500 or 1600. But like anything else, you can condition yourself to tolerate discomfort when you know that it is a temporary condition. The biggest issue for me has been getting past the changes in my body related to aging. Study after study shows that older women who have never been overweight must exercise 1 hour a day to prevent a 5 lb increase every 3 or so years. I suspect (based on my own experiences and those of several fat and ex-fat friends): formerly obese women must exercise even more than 1 hour to keep the weight off. Or, alternatively, they must cut calories lower than women who have never been obese.

It's all quite interesting! One good thing about doing more exercise, as tolerated: regular cardio may help maintain executive functioning in the frontal lobes. That should also help me sort all this information out as time progresses. :)


Anonymous said...

Okay, I already commented more than my share, but I just gotta add this: I vote for keeping the chocolate too! :)


screaming fatgirl said...

LOL. Everyone is commenting like I've decided to give some things up already!

I'm only going to give things up proportionally and only if it appears to be absolutely necessary to do so. I'll still have it all, just less.

However, I hope that things continue at a reasonable pace and I can keep on with this eating plan until "the end". At that point, the plan would be to gradually scale up my eating until my weight remained stable... but that's getting way ahead of myself. I still have a year and 7 or 8 months to get the losing finished before I have to worry about maintaining.

Thanks to all for the comments! I really appreciate it!

Rebecca: I'm dubious of all of the information about "what it takes" because I think most of the studies are short-term. I think that the body can be reset back to a less spartan level through time as the metabolism and endocrinology may "heal" through time. While I believe previously obese people may require lower calories in general for a short time, I'm not sure that they need to do it forever. I could be wrong, but it's my sense that most studies are really too short to walk away with any permanent notions of what is required. I'm just going to play it by ear, and hope not to stick at 1200 all of the time for a long time. I could do it, but I really don't want to, nor do I want my body to think that's going to be the norm.

I'm pretty patient. If I plateau, I'm likely to wait it out rather than cut calories. Also, I'm not getting back on that exercise like a demon bandwagon. I've been there, and it ruled my life and ultimately contributed to my regaining when I couldn't continue doing it.

I hope I'm not proven wrong. Fortunately, I'm an individual, and what works or is necessary for everyone else who takes part in short-term clinical studies may not necessarily apply to me. I realize that is more of a hope than anything else, but it is not a vain one. ;-)