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counting calories works! (Read 1528 times)

    Maybe this will help someone else with the same issues...

     

    After a lot of Christmas cookies and New Years' parties, I was hovering around 202 pounds.  That's not unusually heavy for me, I'd ranged between 189-208 for about 13 years.  But I felt heavier than I should be even though at 6-3 that's not fat (I lift weights and am pretty muscular).  I was running about 25 miles per week.  Easy days more 8:30-8:40 per mile, some days around or just under 8.  Pushing the pace on a tempo got me 7:30-7:40.

     

    I have a sweet tooth.  I go through 4-5 boxes of Little Debbies per week, a couple packages of cookies, and at least a gallon of ice cream or box of ice cream sandwiches.  Its nothing for me to eat a pint of Ben & Jerrys and have it not be my only snack of the night.  At nearly 37 for the first time in my life I started watching what I ate.  I used myfitnesspal.com because it has an easy free app for my iPhone.  I tracked calories for 4-5 days before I started and was hitting 3600-3800 calories per day, then running would knock off 550-750 for a net of 2900-3100 usually.

     

    I started the diet on January 11th. My calorie goal was 2100/day based on 1/2 pounds lost per week (for someone who does not exercise).  I tried to hit that or come within 200-300 of that, which for me meant knocking out the extra snacks I'd have all day at work and especially at night.  I made no changes to meals - those by themselves were fairly healthy.   Then I'd run and end up a few hundred calories under...I didn't count lifting or yardwork.  5-6 days per week I was able to do it.  I lost 5 pounds the first week, 10 the first month, and 20 in 2 months.  I got down to 179 and have hovered between 179-183 since.   I still crash 1-2 nights per week and eat a ton, but otherwise its pretty nutritious meals with a dessert after each one and a max of one snack at night.  I try to abstain from snacking at work with reasonable success.

     

    I am still running about 25 miles per week.  My times dropped with the same effort level.  My easy runs are about 8:10 per mile though I still purposely back off to 8:30 or so one day a week.  One or two runs per week drop into the 7's without much of an issue and I've put some tempos at or just under 7:00/mile.  But I feel better - it made a BIG difference.  Much lighter.  My stride is much easier and I feel stronger.  Uphills aren't as bad.  I lost 1-1.5 inches off my waist and now my clothes are too loose.  I have more energy.  I don't sweat nearly as much...before I would just sit at work and sweat and now I don't.  I didn't lose any strength with my lifting so now I'm putting up a higher % of my weight.  90 degrees isn't as oppressive as it used to be though I still don't run in it.

     

    Yesterday I ran a race in 19:52 (would have been faster had I paced better).  2 years ago racing at 190-195 I ran the same times, but had to run nearly 40 miles per week to do that.  The extra weight off makes a difference.  With a few more miles and a smarter race I think I can get under 19.

     

    So for anyone else who struggles with taking the weight off I suggest counting calories.  Seeing it in front of you in writing helps.  On myfitnesspal (which is online too) after a couple weeks of getting your frequent foods in there its easy, plus you can scan bar codes in.  There are other sites.  By tracking it I was able to make myself stop when I should stop.

      Good job.  I've used myfitnesspal before and it works really well.

       

      My problem is that I haven't shown the self control to do my part.

       

      I've lost about 25lbs over the last year, but it was almost entirely due to my additional exercise volume rather than watching what I eat.

       

      It is very useful though on helping to decide better choices.  I used to eat those Holiday Inn Express cinamon rolls until I logged one in at 440 calories and I had eaten 3 of them that morning!  Fast food options also really make you cringe, who wants to blow 1,500 calories at one meal at McDonalds?  The other joy killer for me was pizza.  Just couldn't fathom how many calories half a large pizza actually was.  That's now just a once or twice a month splurge instead of weekly or even twice a week that it used to be.

       

      Still working on making better choices when possible, but I've sure enjoyed the freedom the additional exercise volume has given me to cheat a couple days a week.  I've got 12 more pounds to go to my goal weight and it will be interesting to see what happens then.  Maybe I can get down below 200 after that, but not holding my breath, I'll be very happy to hit 205 and stay there.

      Age: 46 Weight: 208 Height: 6'2" (Goal weight 195)

      Current PR's:  Mara 3:48:09; HM 1:43:26; 10K 44:51; 5K 21:27


      I'm back!

        Yep, counting calories certainly works -- if you can do it. That's the challenge.

         

        I lost 50 pounds 12 years ago counting calories, and have kept it off. But I still have to count or it quickly goes back up.

         

        For me the Hacker's Diet helped a lot. It's basically just counting calories, but the tools are helpful. Specifically, plotting your weight trend every day is great psychology -- your daily weight fluctuates a lot, which messes up your sense of progress. But your trend moves more slowly, and most days your weight will be below your trend, giving you positive feedback.

          I've always considered it nearly impossible to count calories unless you are eating processed foods with packaging labels or totaly natural food in it's most simple form. 

           

          Last night I had an Indian meal which had some of the food brought by friends and some made by my wife.  It would be a nightmare to input that.  At least 4 sauces and 3 dishes, each dish having probably a dozen ingredients.  Hell, I don't even know the name of 2 of the dishes. 

          In an infinite universe, the one thing sentient life cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion

          http://htwins.net/scale2/scale2.swf?bordercolor=white&fb_source=message

           

           

           


          I'm back!

            That's certainly true. But the process of counting, whether you're accurate or not, is the important thing. Eating out does make it harder. But if you write down a best guess, you're still in the game. Any systematic errors will manifest themselves in your weight-loss rate not matching your goal, at which time you adjust your daily calorie budget to compensate.

              Doug

              Yeah, you're probably SOL when it comes to barbecues and such.  I skipped entering on the superbowl when I was the official chili judge but I ran 9 miles that morning so it wasn't too bad.

               

              I always went conservative. I make a big plate of salad (lettuce from my garden, shredded carrots, almonds, some cheddar cheese and light dressing).  It probably isn't any more than 250 or 300 calories but I put in 400.

               

              npaden

              I still struggle with it too but I'm still overall better.  If you were falling off the wagon every night with the snacks and cut it down to 1 or 2 nights per week like I did you are still making progress, so don't beat yourself up over the occasional lapse as it will happen.  My joy killer was Carrabba's Tiramisu, where the little piece came in at like 1300 calories!  Good luck

               

              bhearn

              I saw that too.  It wasn't a continuous trend.  I'd be the same for 3 days, drop 2 pounds, be the same for a week, drop 3 pounds.  My chart looked like a set of stairs.  Now it jumps up and down from 179-183 seemingly at random (have a long run and didn't eat much, goes up, pig out on ice cream and skip the run, goes down).  I think I may be at or near my floor.

                I'm glad you've gotten in great shape man!

                 

                I've only just slapped at the brass ring a few times in my adult life.  I've never grabbed that sucker and ran with it.  I have a little work to do to get back there.  Stay healthy and keep going!

                In an infinite universe, the one thing sentient life cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion

                http://htwins.net/scale2/scale2.swf?bordercolor=white&fb_source=message

                 

                 

                 

                  I'm glad you've gotten in great shape man!

                   

                  I've only just slapped at the brass ring a few times in my adult life.  I've never grabbed that sucker and ran with it.  I have a little work to do to get back there.  Stay healthy and keep going!

                   

                  Interesting comment that.  "I've only just slapped at the brass ring a few times in my adult life."  I take that too mean going all-in on some goal?  I'm 51 and I am reaching for the brass ring on weight right now but the goal isn't weight it's ultimately lower weight's effect on my running.  I started at 185lbs about 4 years ago and am now in the high 140's.  At 5'9" 148lbs is lower than the "average healthy weight" spit out by most calculators (not that that's gospel).  I plan on continuing what I've been doing until I get into the low 140's.  I just want to see what happens with my running as I get closer to a 'long distance runner' type weight.  So far my weight loss has resulted in faster long distance racing times.  At some point soon the opposite effect will start to happen.  That's when I'll know my experiment is over.  Even so I hope to maintain my weight in the lower 150's for the rest of my life as this weight really feels good and I've hovered there for a few years now.   I once thought I was "too muscular" to ever get much below 165lbs - boy was that wrong. This is kinda like my last grasp at the ring while I'm still young!  

                   

                  To make this related to the original post:  I've done no calorie counting up to this point.  I just eat healthy, non-processed foods for all of my meals.  I don't eat out and I especially avoid all fast foods though I will have a hamburger once in a great while.  I stopped drinking all juices and sodas (diet or otherwise) and have a beer only once or so a month as a treat.  Sugar (including fruits), fat and starches are restricted.

                   

                  kpx33x - I see you've mentioned ice cream more than once - must be one of your 'weaknesses' and I can relate!  I have a really good ice cream substitute.  I take a bunch of bananas and peel all of them.  Put them in plastic ziploc bags into the freezer.  A couple times a week I'll pull out two bananas and let them defrost enough that they are a little bit soft then use a handmixer to blend them into a creamy texture.  Sometimes I'll cut up some strawberries or kiwi for toppings.  I swear it is really close to ice cream and completely satisfies my desire for real ice cream.  Plus you get the potassium all of us runners like bananas for.

                    Interesting comment that.  "I've only just slapped at the brass ring a few times in my adult life."  I take that too mean going all-in on some goal?

                     

                    well, for me it was more like saying I look good in a mirror, can run like hell, and feel great.  Running was a big part of it when I was able to get there.  But I never lasted long.  If I get an injury I tend to throw myself into work, kids, etc and let my fitness go. 

                    In an infinite universe, the one thing sentient life cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion

                    http://htwins.net/scale2/scale2.swf?bordercolor=white&fb_source=message

                     

                     

                     

                    juniordo1


                       

                      So for anyone else who struggles with taking the weight off I suggest counting calories.  Seeing it in front of you in writing helps.  On myfitnesspal (which is online too) after a couple weeks of getting your frequent foods in there its easy, plus you can scan bar codes in.  There are other sites.  By tracking it I was able to make myself stop when I should stop.

                       

                      Great job losing the weight!

                       

                      I also had great success losing 35lbs in 4 months counting calories. I used the elliptical in front of the TV to get my daily burn. My elliptical has a calorie burn meter but I put in 25% additional time/calorie burn to ensure I wasn't being cheated by a generous counter. My weight loss was pre-running and running became my exercise of choice to keep the weight off. 

                       

                      I believe the key for me was to log everything I ate and drank, no exceptions. I also used a calorie counting site. . I went a little farther and ate the same breakfast and lunch everyday for four months to eliminate the guesswork. A sensible dinner and a lot of water got me through the days. My wife hates it when I decline certain foods because she knows I just ran the numbers in my head. I am still a pretty good at estimating caloric content of foods.

                       

                      I am a fan of desserts so they were very limited and it was tough watching others eat those sweet foods. I am also a fan of beer and most diets specifically dictate no alcohol but I would put in the appropriate time on the elliptical to burn enough calories during the week to allow for some brews on the weekend. My wife says that is cheating but the weight came off and is still off 2.5 years later.

                      2013 -Sub 2:00 for 1/2 marathon

                        I think one thing that calorie counting does is actually makes people aware of how many calories are in different kinds of food - and that's half the battle.


                        IMKY13 finish!!

                          Good job.  I've used myfitnesspal before and it works really well.

                           

                           

                          +!

                           

                          I've been using myfitnesspal and love it!!  I have lost over 21 pounds since Christmas.

                          Fitness/weight goals for 2014

                           

                          1) STAY INJURY FREE!!!

                          2) Get to 189 lbs by the end of July 2014...and stay there (as of 4-25-14 was at 203 lbs)

                          3) Complete Ironman Chattanooga in under 14 hours

                          4) Break 4 hours in a stand alone marathon (Goal race=Rocket City 12/13/14)

                          5) 4,500 total overall miles for the year:

                                   Swim: 100 miles

                                   Bike: 3,000 miles

                                   Run: 1,400 miles

                          jdais


                            I'm going to try the myfitnesspal.  I currently weigh 192 and would like to get down to 175-180.  Do you log your workouts in there too because the calorie burning seems very high or do you just log food?

                            Swim , Bike, and Run A LOT

                              To really track your net calories you need to log your exercise in there as well.

                               

                              You can customize the workouts and I think override the calories if you feel they are wrong though.  I double checked mine and felt that they computed out pretty accurately though.  It takes into account your current weight in the calculation so as you lose weight you burn less calories doing the same exercise.

                               

                              As mentioned before, just tracking for a while and identifying the foods that are way too many calories for what you get out of them is half the battle.  It is so easy for me to resist those Holiday Inn Express cinnamon rolls now that I know they are 440 calories each.  Same with most fast food, I logged an Inn & Out combo meal once that was pushing 2,000 calories with the chocolate shake included.

                               

                              There are a few good choices out there on fast food.  Chick fil A uses peanut oil for it's cooking oil and is almost half the calories of the other Chicken places on similar sized portions of their chicken strips.  Taco Bell Fresco style chicken soft tacos are pretty low calorie and Wendys has a few decent choices like their Chili.  Chef salads are a generally a pretty good choice about anywhere.

                               

                              Going out to eat is just crazy on how many calories there are, but at least you know and it will shock you into not going out to eat as much.  A steak and veggies is about as good of a choice as any, some of the italian meals are insane with the sauces.

                               

                              I'm on my last 10 pounds or so and it has gotten harder here at the end.  I think I'm going to have to start limiting my chocolate candy to make it the rest of the way.

                              Age: 46 Weight: 208 Height: 6'2" (Goal weight 195)

                              Current PR's:  Mara 3:48:09; HM 1:43:26; 10K 44:51; 5K 21:27

                                 

                                So for anyone else who struggles with taking the weight off I suggest counting calories.  Seeing it in front of you in writing helps.  On myfitnesspal (which is online too) after a couple weeks of getting your frequent foods in there its easy, plus you can scan bar codes in.  There are other sites.  By tracking it I was able to make myself stop when I should stop.

                                 

                                This is great information. I signed up yesterday and am already surprised at the calories some things contain.

                                For instance, I learned that one bag of Panara potato chips is 160 calories (bad news) and a 12 oz Sam Adams Pale Ale is also 160 calories (good news).

                                 

                                 

                                 

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