Since I have become a real person, I have decided to start working on becoming a healty person as well. It is a working progress thing which is still going on, yet I have decided to share few toughts on the way as I am not sure how long will it take.
There are two major groups of people in this world.
A) those who think counting calories is ridiculous thing to do
B) those who are acctually counting them every day
Hypothetically, there should be a third group as well. It would include those few people who rely on their guts to know how much they are supposed to eat and live in balance without making conscious and obvious efforts to do so. I think everyone dreams to join their team but it is a long and complicated journey. As my guts are driven by Nutella and my instincts on eating healthy do not exist, I have recently started an experiment. I have been logging in all consumed calories throughout the day. I know what you think – I must be desperate. However, let me share few outcomes with you first and then judge me.
I use to be the the person laughing at the “cliché counters” and refused to join in. Nevertheless, I have lately had several conversations with different people whose opinions matter to me reagrading the topic of healty eating habits and knowing mine sucks, I have decided to do somethign about it. For starters, I am not great at keeping notes. I would buy a beautiful notebook to document things, e.g. to write a food diary. Yet, it would get tossed into the corner withing few days. Using modern technology, e.g. a food app was not crowned with success either. My problem is, I lack consistency. So, I have decided to comit to an experiment for three weeks – two weeks seemed too short to gain any results, one month seemed just undoable for me. The aim was, to log down food I have consumed – simple overview without doing any evaluation at first. I think it was a very crucial step to do. Just eat like you usually would and understand how it looks like from a perspective of nutritional numbers. Do not make any changes yet – it is a piece of advice I did not stick to before. It is also a reason, why all my previous attemts shipwrecked. As soon as you start writing things down, you tend to make things look better – you would either start eating healtier in overnight or cheat and give up soon. Only a super hero would manage the first one. I know, each book recommends starting a food diary/counting calories to help you make smarter choices but who says, where your mistakes lie? Am I simply eating too many calories or am I eating the wrong kinds? I was lucky enough to grow up to see an example when eating chocolate and staying fit works along. So I assumed, based on my shallow observations, I just needed to do more sport to balance things out. Yet, again ist not as simple as it looks. How much is more? Do I have to something every day or is occasional hike on wekends enough? So even if you decide to lose weight by training more (it was always my aim to do so) you still have to count calories to know your Input.. I was perfectly aware of my Output, I do have a smartphone which is tracking my daily activities and I also own a sport watch as well. It is easy to do the calcualtion after an intense workout – patting yourself on shoulder after you just burnt 2500 Cal on a long ride, you believe you are entitled to refuel this with five chocolate bars. Because thats what the math says. I have been living like this for years and it would work somehow – sometimes I was not just metaphorically speaking about those five bars of chocolate. Nevertheless, I always knew deep down, it will not be enough to reach the goals in the end and a change is inevitable.
So I starting counting. I have installed the MyFitnessPal (read more here) app on my phone, as I liked the idea of Input – Output equasion for each day. What is more, it is compatible with Strava.com I use to track my sport activities (which works with my Suunto watch 🙂 ) it was super easy for me to join in, and even if you do not understand a word from previous sentence, you can always add the activities manually. It is simple and I would highly recommend doing so. You can log in the walked distance after running errands in the city, etc. Adding food is also quite easy, you either scan the barcode or add it manually, again. If you prepare your meal yourself, you can just scan the ingredients while cooking or you put in some more effort and calculate the final numbers for the meal as well. That is, what I tried to do as I have my problems cooking meals by following recipes and the main point of the experiment was to find out what I usually eat – not to introduce new meals to my plan. So, following recipes from the forum was not an option for me. It would have been a huge change plus I like my cousine.. There was no point to cook strange meals for threee weeks just to return to the old habits in the end. Of course, I keep my mind open for new suggestions but I usually alter them in the end to put my own note on it.. It was my only rule I set up, I am not eating anything because someone says is healthy. So, I ended up creating a spreadsheet to calculate the final nutrition values of meals I have cooked. (I will upload them to the food section over time).
- I have to say, it was fun. For the first time I enjoyed writing a food diary. It was very time consuming, so be prepared to invest some long hours if you decide to conduct a similiar experiment of your own.
- You can be hungry even if you have eaten a lot (speaking in language of Calories).
- I have realised how uneducated I am about nutrition, I have no idea what acctually those numbers on the packaging mean. It is far more complicated than just simple calories counting.
- Within three weeks, I have had my ups and downs. Of course, I have indulged in chocolate – I am only human. However, I now understand why it happend and how to get it under control.
- I did not take the fun out of eating and cooking, yet I will be rethinking my choices in the future – especially when it comes to the chocolate granola (I am not eating those 1200 Cal for breakfast anymore when spending a day in office chair!)
- Those three weekes were just a beginning and I might not have become smarter but I know, what knowledge am I lacking.
- It was a very good experience, seeing my “intuitive” choices in a different light. Some important discoveries have been made regarding what I have considered to be healthy but it acctuallly is just a nasty food packed with empty calories.
- I am ready to start optimising.
Horryfied by some choices I have made and discovering new friends in the fridge, I have collected some good quality data. Now, the next step will be evaluating and introducing few changes. Occasional slip-ups are allowed and to make the process sustainable, it is important, to make it fun as well – so including a lot of experimenting in the kitchen and learning a great deal about nutrition are in order. In the mean time, stay tuned for updates and some delicious recipes – starting with soups, my new dinner BFFs.