I was very inspired by a post that Alison wrote yesterday about keeping her weight stable during a time of injury. I wrote such a long comment that it could have been a blog post on it’s own! So here are my thoughts;
Weight is not something I like to go on about, but I make no secret of that fact that I use a fab website (weight loss resources) to help me maintain a healthy weight. I was overweight, and managed to get down to a healthy BMI (around 23) which is where I have stayed.
For people that do not know, on WLR you log your height, weight, age, activity level etc and it works out your “maintainance calories” to see how much energy you are using every day. You can select to lose weight at different rates (0.5lb-2lb per week), or to maintain. You can add exercise (and it adds those calories on to your daily allowance) and fill in your food diary. There is a database with probably millions of food items and their nutritional stats (eg cals, protein, fat) so your diary automatically works out the cals you have eaten, and how many left.
The first holiday I had while using it was really hard as I had no internet access, but I took a jotter with me and wrote down all my food (and estimated the cals) to try and keep on track (and in fact I managed to lose a few lbs but I think this is down to the fact that we walk all day on holiday!).
Anyway, I have managed (give or take probably 5lbs) to stay at a pretty constant weight for the last couple of years, but I have stayed logging my food online. I have had weeks where I try to eat and not log my food, but I found that my weight would creep up again. It shows me that I am not quite “there” yet, with regards to eating.
I know I am getting better at balancing my food during the day. I used to only eat my exercise calories after I had done the exercise (I fill in each morning my breakfast, lunch, dinner so I can see how many I have left over), but exercise was usually in the evening, and this would leave me hungry in the morning (but no calories for a snack) and then with left over calories in the evening. It seems silly writing it down but it was almost a superstisious feeling that if I ate them, then, for example, my gym class would be cancelled and I would then have eaten too much for the day (even if that was only 150 calories or something!).
This year I pinpointed one of my worst times for temptation, which was the staffroom at work, especially at the start of lunch time. I will have breakfast just after 7am, and typically do not have lunch until 12.45ish, by which time I would be starving. Instead of sitting down to eat my lunch I would frequently be tempted to eat a biscuit or some chocolate to get my blood sugar levels up again (especially if my lunch needed heating up- eg soup as then I would have to wait for it to cook). I realised that by not having a snack mid-morning I was being counter productive, as I was eating unhealthy foods daily, and not taking the time to enjoy them. I would prefer to have some chocolate in the evening, as oppose to munching it quickly at work. Plus I would rather have some good quality chocolate or something I have baked as oppose to some cheap (and possibly nasty) processed biscuit. So now I have incorporated a mid-morning snack daily (either a small nakd bar, a pack of 2 oatcakes or a raw seed roll), and this has meant that while I am hungry at lunch, I am not starving and have resisted the goodies in the staffroom since september.
I have also noticed that since increasing the length of my runs, I need my food diary even more. My routine for a long run is porridge, wait an hour, go on a run, eat a clif bar/ chocolate milk, have a shower, stretch, and then go on the computer or watch some TV. Typically after that I don’t feel very hungry, so have been having a slice of toast and a pear, but then I noticed that if I was having a massive energy crash in the afternoon. I would feel ok after my run, and then a few hours later I would feel awful, and in my food diary even with dinner and a nice treat in the evening I would still be at least 500 calories under for the day, which shows I was not fuelling myself correctly. I have added a few things here and there (1tsp nut butter to the porridge, some fruit with me clif bar and some soya yoghurt and granola to my lunch) to make sure I am spreading the energy out evenly during the day.
I have also noticed that on rest days (especially if these are during the week, but not so much on a sunday) I will eat a little over my allowance, and on days where I do exercise, even if it is just an exercise class, that I do not quite eat enough. I am not sure if this is because exercise supresses my appetite (I have read this can be the case) or another reason, but at least using WLR I can track this over the week and check that it all evens itself out. People who do not have weight problems do this automatically, but I suppose my appetite system is not quite fully regulated just yet.
I do not consider myself to have had an eating disorder, but I still have issues regarding food. I know that generally I eat a healthy diet (balalanced, not perfect) but I also know that when I am feeling particularly stressed then I will turn to food, and at those times these food choices will be good. These are not binges, but it is almost like I cannot work out what will solve the stress feeling, so I will have a tsp peanut butter, then a few chocolate chips, then something else- lots of little things that all add up. Clearly the reason why is that actually the food will not stop the stress feeling, but again I am not quite “there” yet. So it is something I need to be aware of, and find little strategies to help me improve. I have found that a cup of tea really helps, and teapigs tea bags are more of a treat than normal tea, so I am going for that in a big way.
As I find it hard, I am going to be focusing carefully on my food diary during my marathon training. I know that I take pictures of some of my food, but I did not start my blog to record all the food that I eat (although I do like seeing that on other people’s blogs), I use WLR to record my food diary, so I am not going to start that now (it would be boring as I am a creature of habit pretty much).
Anyway, I am not sure how to round this ramble up really. Only to say that I am much happier being at a healthy weight, and feel better when I do eat healthy food (as oppose to feeling sluggish and lethargic when I eat more processed and fatty foods). Although I am better at eating when I am hungry, and my willpower is much better at resisting sweet foods, I still need to consciously think about it in order to stay healthy. I am hoping that I will improve and this will become more automatic.
I will be interested in finding out about other people’s experiences and journeys with regard to keeping a healthy weight.