I've been working on this health/fitness/weight loss thing for a little over a year now.
Watching what I ate helped me lose weight in the past, so I started there. I'd never tracked my calories before but I started last May.
Then, in July, I started exercising - a lot. That meant that my recommended daily intake (RDI) went up by several hundred calories. It was a good thing, too, because running makes me hungry.
At first, I was able to maintain my nutrition and exercise goals simultaneously but, as I ramped up my running, I became less and less concerned about what I was eating. In fact, like many people, I frequently used running as a justification for food splurges.
Though I've done a good job staying near my RDI, for the past several months I've been eating a lot of garbage. I'm probably single-handedly contributing a metric ton of fast food trash to whatever land our garbage fills.
I eat good stuff, too - fresh fruit, steamed veggies, whole grain bread, and other nutritious foods all make regular appearances - but it doesn't make up the majority of my diet.
My weight loss hasn't stopped but it's slowed and I can tell that I'm headed toward a plateau; the running will keep the weight I've lost off but, if my eating continues as it has, I'm unlikely to lose anymore. I have a decision to make: Will I be content where I am or do I recommit to my goals - making my overall health a priority?
It's an easy answer. Yes, of course, I want to commit to making my health a priority.
The problem is - I don't want to track calories anymore. It's becoming a discouraging obsession. And I'm becoming increasingly convinced that I eat more food when I track because I think, "Hey, I still have 300 calories left." Then I eat whether I'm hungry or not. I also justify poorer food choices because I'm staying under the limit.
I've heard people say that weight loss is a simple calories in/calories out equation. That may be true. Health, which is what I'm going for, isn't so simple. Maybe I can lose weight eating X calories of junky food every day if I'm burning Y calories through activity but, if that X consists of Whoppers and fries and lots of processed junk, I might (do) end up feeling crappy, anyway.
My first step: No more food from restaurants with disposable utensils. Friday will be my cheat day but, even then, I'm going to try to avoid big chain fast food in favor of food trucks and local eateries.
On a side note:
Anyone want to become my personal healthy-cooking chef? You can live in my pantry (which is actually a better offer than you might think) and help me become a PaleoveganglutenfreenoMSG superstar. Apply within.