Wednesday, October 26, 2011

{Fitness} Why I'm Finally Calorie Counting

Okay, first of all, I'm not going to be talking about calories all the time. I do not like it when women obsess about "their" calories. So don't think we are going to be having real-life conversations about how many calories are in things for the rest of forever. I am still just figuring this all out. I would much rather talk about your baby, a book you're reading, how you scored a sweet deal on your super fly jeans, or whatever.

So this is just for the purposes of learning how calories feed our bodies energy and how weight loss happens. And I will get to that. But first let me show you WHY.

Why I'm Calorie Counting

So, before we had kids, I weighed 111 pounds. Right now I am swinging between 111 and 112, which is great post-10lb-second-baby. That is in the healthy BMI range for my height (crazy, crazy short: 4'10") but it is at the upper end of healthy. I want to be more in the middle.

Also, I may have gotten down to my pre-both-pregnancies weight, but I have NOT gotten back to that body type. I know that my weight distribution has forever changed. But I would like to NOT look pregnant when I'm not sucking it in. So here, at long last, are those before pictures the hubs was teasing me about because I don't look happy. I think I was just focused on trying to get the right angle so you could see the weird poochiness in all its glory.

9/30/11 - 113 lbs, no regular exercise

There it is. I am to embarrassed to show you the stomach itself, at least until I have a better "after" to show you. You're not missing out, though, I promise.

Anyway, that view in the mirror was my why. I decided it was worth the work.

Calories & Weight Loss

You probably already know this, but basically to lose weight, you need to take in fewer calories than you expend doing exercise and your daily activities. I've been learning healthy ways to do this, but I didn't start out doing a very good job.

Here are some basics:
  • Bodies need a baseline amount of calories just to function, that means your heart beating, breathing, all that stuff your body does even when you're sleeping, requires a certain amount of calories. This is called your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), and it is basically the number of calories your body would burn even if you stayed in bed all day. You can calculate it here or if you sign up for a calorie counting program, it will probably have a calculator there, too. I did mine at MyFitnessPal.
  • Burning more calories than you take in USUALLY means weight loss. If you take in 1700 calories, do 200 worth of exercise, and your BMR is 1500, you break even. Sweet! Your body will need to dip into its energy reserves (aka fat!) to fuel your body. But...
  • Taking in less calories than required by your BMR is STARVING. You don't want to do that, not only because starving is obviously unhealthy, but also because it is bad from a weight loss perspective. When your body goes into starvation mode, it freaks out and starts holding onto fat even harder, because it thinks you are in some crazy Hunger Games situation and have to forage for food and might die. So it is really important to get your baseline amount.
  • Calories aren't everything. Your body needs nutrients: vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins, etc. to be healthy. So eating a bunch of low-calorie junk food isn't going to cut it. You need real food, healthy portion sizes, and reasonable calories.
Calorie counting has been a humbling--very, very humbling--experience. I love food. I look forward to eating; lunch alone while the kids nap is a big treat for me. So finding out how many calories are in the food I thought were healthy was really a blow. Cereal and milk? Surprising number of calories, when you realize how many "servings" is in a normal sized bowl of cereal.

How I'm Doing

I'm doing okay. My weight loss has kind of plateaued the past two weeks at about 111.75 lbs, but there could be numerous factors contributing to that including:

(1) not drinking enough water
(2) hormones (we love them, right?) and
(3) inconstant eating, especially on the weekends

I am, however, doing great at my 3x week gym goal, sometimes I even hit 4 times. And things there are getting easier, so I'm having to increase intensity to keep it challenging.

I'm also learning to estimate calories in my head, which is making my eating habits a little easier.

And I'm doing crunches. I hate them more than most any other exercise, but there was no way around it. Baby bellies don't disappear on their own.

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