December is going to be a rough month. Oh sure it will be tons of holiday parties, half a dozen excuses to dress up, lots of red lipstick, and will end in an amazing week in Florida over Christmas but it is going to be rough on my diet. Of the two parts of my fitness journey – diet and exercise – diet is by far the hardest for me.
I know people who say it is an incredible struggle to workout twice a week, for me, once I find something I like doing it is not difficult to keep myself motivated at the gym. Food on the other hand… I love food. As long it is not spicy I will eat it. Sure I have foods that I avoid – beef jerky, sage, pickles, and olives in particular – but for the most part I like all food.
Using the MyFitnessPal app on my phone to count calories takes a lot of the hardship out of it and I really have found my groove. (And this post is not sponsored) It helps me turn down those delicious looking chocolate croissants sitting in the kitchen at the office, left over from a breakfast meeting, or those baby Nutella and breadstick snacks we get when there is a new Costco delivery. Sure, it does not take away the temptation but when a quick search lets me know the average pain au chocolat has 480 calories it is easier to say no.
The other big thing is weighing my meals. At first I thought that was something only crazy dieters and people on the Biggest Loser did but it is extremely helpful. I quickly learned I really had no idea visually what six ounces of chicken looked like (more than you think), how much one tablespoon of butter was, or exactly how many blackberries are in a small clamshell. Knowing the weight of your food makes it really easy to plug in to MyFitnessPal to get the best estimate of what you are eating.
Working with my nutritionist I have set a calorie goal that is sustainable and meets my weight loss goals while adjusting metrics that are important for me, such as fiber. My daily calorie number (fortunately, or unfortunately) has gone down as I have begun to loose weight and now counting is even more important. A few takeaways from the last few months of counting calories:
- KCups, some vitamins, peppercorns (back pepper) all have calories and they add up
- My cholesterol intake is very low
- Peas have a ton of protein
- Food scales are actually really helpful
- For every ten grams of carbs you are supposed to have one gram of fiber
- Log everything you eat, good and bad
- Google restaurants ahead of time to look at the nutrition content and decide what you are ordering before you arrive
- Blackberries are one of the best sources of fiber
And indirectly, keeping track of my calories encourages me to workout more. Why? Along my daily calorie total when I exercise I get to eat more and still hit my goal. For example a few of my ClassPass workouts including Flywheel, Regenerate Fitness, and Swerze measure my individual performance in class and estimate your calorie burn. (You can see examples when I have shared them on Twitter here, here, and here). The ability to eat an additional 300-500 calories and still stay under goal definitely makes my day better!
As an extra incentive this month I joined Sarah of Venus Trapped in Mars and the 900 other people doing Amy Down’s Dietbet. Our contest is just about half way complete where you need to loose 4% of your weight in 4 weeks. To play you put $30 in the pot and do an official weigh in at the start of the contest, November 15th, and at the end, December 15th. If you do not hit your goal, you loose the $30, and if you win, you split the pot with the other successful contestants. I am currently on track be in the winner pool and it will be extra motivation over the next two weeks!