After two days of normal…

After two days of normal post-sickness eating, my scale is still holding steady at 142, so I think we can consider that official -- and given that when I started this whole dieting thing on January 14th, I was at 152.5, I can say that I have offically lost ten pounds, hooray! In a little under three months, I have achieved my first diet/exercise goal of getting back to the weight I was before the holidays last fall, and incidentally, am also both stronger and in better cardiovascular shape (though you couldn't quite tell that at the gym yesterday, but I think that can safely be assumed to be a convalescence blip :-).

So the rest of this entry will be devoted to an analysis of the process; those not interested may safely skip it, though congratulations are welcome whether you read through or not. :-)

Exercise / Time Required

Working on the reasonably sane schedule my trainer sketched out, this took eleven weeks, and about eight additional hours/week for exercise (that's including time walking to and from the gym). Eight hours per week is a lot of time to build into your schedule for the rest of your life, but personally, I would love to be healthy and fit and still able to run when I'm twice my current age (which would make me sixty-four). So I'm tentatively going to aim for a long-term life plan of at least five hours of exercise per week. Not enough for weight loss, but hopefully enough to keep me fit and healthy and strong and agile. I'd like to move away from a gym long-term, to have some kind of way to do weights at home, and get my aerobic exercise from dance or sports or martial arts (which would all be a lot more fun), or even bicycling or running. If I started every day with a half hour of aerobic exercise, and did a little weights twice a week or so, that seems like a reasonable plan.

For now, I'm hoping to lose more weight, so I'll keep to the gym. We also have limited space for workout equipment in this apartment. But long-term, that's the plan.

Overall, though there's definite inertia to overcome getting to the gym, I'm finding exercise itself to be far less annoying than it used to be. Undoubtedly that's mostly because my body is better able to handle it (and actually is starting to like it). Also because Sarah got me off running the pre-programmed schedules on the machines and just varying them myself as I felt capable -- that's kept me more engaged and much less likely to get bored. Maybe the most useful thing I've gotten out of meeting with her.

Having a personal trainer has been great for me, and I think I'm going to keep with it for a bit longer, if our budget can stand it (need to check with Kev). Very motivating, very helpful. But definitely not a long-term thing; once I lose the weight I want to use, I don't see any need to keep meeting with her.

Diet

I lost on average a little less than a pound a week, which is unsurprising considering just how often I cheated on my diet. At least once every week I went 500 calories over what I was supposed to, generally due to eating out. Japanese food has been a godsend, because it's the only time I know exactly how many calories I'm having when I eat out. It hasn't been easy sticking to these calories (1300 on days I was working out, 1000 on days I wasn't), but it wasn't horrible either. When I stuck to the plan of about six little meals over the course of the day, I felt healthy and energetic and not hungry until about the last hour before bed. That was the only tough part; if I was doing it right, I went to bed feeling just a little hungry. It really made me aware of how used to assuaging my body's every little craving I am -- stoicism is evidently not my thing!

I think I can keep this up for three more months; there's enough slack built into the system to allow for a fairly normal range of eating in my life. It's definitely much more accurate and effective when I actually count calories -- and that doesn't mean I can't eat the foods I love. It does mean that if I make a pot of curry, I have to weight and measure and calculate all the ingredients beforehand, so that I know whether a cup of curry afterwards is 400 calories or 500 or 600 (usually around 500, when I'm careful with the oil). And I've certainly had to get used to eating less rice than I grew up eating. I still think curry is tastiest on a fluffy white bed of rice -- but for dieting, I've had to go to a much more American style of eating rice and curry, with about the same amount of rice as curry. A little sad.

There are certain diet foods I've tried, some of which are going to become staples in my kitchen:

  • Spray-on Pam: This is invaluable for all manner of things, and a brief spray is 7 calories (as opposed to a tablespoon of butter, which is 100).
  • Splenda: I haven't tried it for baking yet (though I plan to), but it's just fine in tea, and since I drink a lot of tea, it ends up saving me a substantial 80 calories/day.
  • Skim milk: This was already a staple, but I thought I'd mention that I've gotten really used to it in my tea (although occasional richer milk with real sugar is definitely an appreciated treat) and swig it down quite happily. And I actually prefer it with my Cheerios.
  • Cheerios: I love this stuff -- a cup of Cheerios with skim milk is only 160 calories; it's very filling and yummy. Good in the morning, good at night.
  • Eggs: Okay, not a diet food, but I thought it worth mentioning that I did try egg-beaters (the stuff made basically from the whites and colored to look like beaten eggs), and maybe they'd be okay for baking, but for breakfast, what I really want is a real egg, over-easy, with toast and tea.
  • Low-calorie bread: It's worth checking the calories on this -- a slice of bread can easily range from 50 calories to 120 calories. I mostly buy around 60 calories/slice now.
  • Low-fat sliced cheese: This makes a good snack with toast, and it's easy since I know exactly how many calories (60) are in each slice.
  • Healthy Choice sliced turkey, pastrami, etc.: Very nice to add to the aforementioned cheese and bread for a more substantial snack, and two slices are only 30 calories.
  • Low-calories jam and salad dressing: Just wanted to note that it's really worth checking the calories on these, since there's a drastic range, especially on the dressing. Some jams are twice the calories of others; some dressings are ten times the calories of others!

Summary

That's the round-up; so far, pretty satisfied with my success, and it hasn't been too painful. Kevin's been a huge help and moral support; it's unclear if I would've stuck with it on my own. I think I'm ready to aim for the next ten pounds -- let's see if I can get back to what I weighed in college! :-)

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