22 July 2007

Increased Dietary Restrictions

Yes, I'm making my foodie life much more complex as I go on (dare I say it) a diet. It's true. I took all the pertinent measurements, weighed myself and bit the bullet. It's time to cut my calorie intake, exercise more and drop the "married, fat and happy" weight.

My friend Dawn pointed out that since year two of happiness with John, I've gained 10 lbs per year. That's a total of 30 lbs. Too much weight for my 5'2" frame, to be sure. Not only that, but it puts me in the high risk group for diabetes and heart disease.

What to do? While nosing around Mom and Dave's cookbook shelves, I found Secrets of the Lean Plate Club by Sally Squires, health reporter for The Washington Post. It's filled with important facts such as how much protein my brain actually needs to function (46g per day), how much fat is alright, and much more. Reading just the first 100 pages of her book provided a huge wake-up call, so a week ago Monday, I began my fight against calories. I committed to losing 30 lbs in 6 months, trying to lose 1-2 lbs per week by cutting at least 500 calories from my diet each day and upping my exercise to every day, for at least an hour (instead of the 3-5 times a week I'd been averaging).

One of the first and most important pieces of advice Ms. Squires gives is to keep a food journal. I found one online that I liked, my-calorie-counter.com, and plunked down my $25 for 6 months of a premium membership (allows users to make custom entries in the food journal). I've been using it every day, mostly adding custom entries for the items I've been eating. For each entry, the software instantly calculates where I am in terms of calories, protein, sugar, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and carbohydrates.It's just up to me to measure my food and make sure that my servings are true servings and that I don't go over my self-assigned targets.

So, for example, here's how my day went (foodwise) on Tuesday, 17 July:

In the image at the beginning of this post, you can see my targets for my dietary intake. Here, you can see my actual intake and how I score against those targets (scroll down to the bottom of the image to the left). Items in blue are within the targets, while those in red show where I've topped out.

With this diet, I'm also drinking more water, taking my vitamins more religiously and exercising more deliberately. The Calorie Counter part of the journal also calculates the calories you burn when doing various exercises, like using the elliptical trainer, lifting free weights and/or hiking. Yesterday, for example, I ran a calorie deficit, but not on purpose. John and I hiked for two hours, and the calories I'd eaten for the day didn't add up to as much as I'd burned. So, I ate 3 oz of shrimp and a cup of cooked, plain, whole wheat pasta to balance things out a bit.

The biggest challenge will be to apply low-fat alterations to some pretty high fat recipes I enjoy. However, the site also has a bulletin board and a very active community of users who share recipes and their results. One person gave a great tip about using yogurt instead of butter in cakes. I'm going to try that later and post the results here when the cake is done.

Each week, I'll weigh and measure myself before entering my numbers in the journal. The reason for this is to track my progress along with the calories. It's a little work, but I'll bet you I'll be seeing the rewards soon enough.

Wish me luck!


Anonymous said...

I feel ashamed to say this, but you exercise more than me. I need to work on that.

Ever since I was put on Seroquel I gained 20 pounds, and then I lost 5 of those pounds. But those 15 pounds aren't going away.
It can be difficult to manage weight while on medications. First they make you hungry, and then they make you drowsy so it's impossible to work out.

One challenge is lowering the calories in food. I find it very hard to make good results when baking when you remove all of the fat from a recipe. I found replacing most of the fat gives the best results. Like leaving two tablespoons of butter in the recipe, and then replace the rest with whatever you want.

My friend is on a weight loss diet, and she has been making many great choices. I know it can be hard.
Best of luck to you. Keep me updated.

Deb Schiff said...

Thanks, Moop_stick.

The problem with taking all the fat out of a recipe, especially one that uses whole grain flours, is that it just doesn't behave the same way.

Take for example the cake I tried making last night. Had I known, I should have greatly reduced the baking time and the temperature of the oven. Instead, I burned the cake. Not terribly, but enough not to serve it to friends, unfortunately.

So, I try again.

By the way, yesterday was a very high calorie day. Some friends and I had Indian food in Edison, NJ (little India), and I'm sure I topped out in more than a few categories. Oh well. One out of 7 isn't bad. Starting over with a very low calorie day today.

About exercise, one way I tackle that issue is by taking breaks while working (I work at home) and get on the elliptical machine or pick up weights for 10 minutes at a shot. You do that 5 times during the day, and you've added 50 minutes of exercise!

Also, I have one of those big exercise balls sitting in front of the tv. Instead of sitting on the sofa, I sit on the ball and do crunches instead. You can do 100 crunches in an hour-long program, easily.

You can do it!

Laavanya said...

Hi Deb, Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving your kind comments. I am 5'2" too and trying to lose 30 lbs too. But I'm registered at www.sparkpeople.com and it Free. I find it a pretty good place to track my food, exercise and the articles and support groups are really good. Just wanted to let you know in case you'd like to look it over.

Great blog here with lots of healthy recipes.

Deb Schiff said...

Thanks so much, Iaavanya! I'll go check out www.sparkpeople.com.

So far, so good. I really need to post my progress. Thanks for the reminder!

Deb Schiff said...

I signed up for sparkpeople, but I don't think I'll use it because it doesn't track some of the most important things I need to track in the nutrients, like sugars and fiber, but thanks for turning me on to it, Laavanya. You can do it!