Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Get a Hold of Yourself, Val!

I started this post by looking back on my google calendar, trying to remember the last time I was consistently eating nutritionally and sparingly. Ummm....it's been a while. I was doing pretty well for a few weeks before our New England vacation. I wasn't doing great, but since I was working out so much I was getting in better shape. Then vacation was a blur of butter and seafood. Oh, and wine.

Now, I'm just flat out out of control. Eating what I want, when I want with absolutely no regards to health, nutrition or amount. For weeks I've been saying in my head " This stops now." Well, guess what? It hasn't stopped. Tonight, I had dessert twice. Twice! What the heck is going on!! And, I spilled hot chocolate on my hand while making dessert #2! Really, Val? You want dessert (#2!) so badly you burn yourself for it?

By announcing "This stops now" on here, I think I'll listen to myself. I'll hold myself accountable. Maybe not even for myself, but for all the other folks out there who need motivation to get back in shape themselves. And I'll feel like a fool going for '2nd breakfast' if my co-workers are around!

So, what's my game plan?

First, I need to admit that from a baseline of "old lady" schedule, my schedule has become even more geriatric. I'm totally okay with this. My atypical schedule, however, requires me to have an atypical eating schedule. I need to focus on my body's needs instead of society's generally accepted eating times. For me, this means eating breakfast at 4:30 or 5 am before my morning workout. Then, I'll eat again when I'm hungry-either mid-morning or lunch- but I won't eat the food at work (see below). Instead, I'll eat my healthy choices that I bring to work. Then I can have a snack in the afternoon if I'm stuck late at work or a super early dinner somewhere b/t 3-5 pm before my evening work-out. Then bed at 8 or 8:30. Yes, I know how crazy this sounds. But I think it will work for me. That's all that really matters.

Things I need to keep in mind:

--Fruits, veggies, and protein. These should be my eating priorities. If these are available (and I should always keep some in my purse!), this is what I should eat.
--No eating the food provided by work. The food isn't bad. It's actually decent. But the temptation to eat too much or just have the unhealthy options instead of the salad is just too great. My exception will be pizza day because I LOVE PIZZA! (Even bad Pompeii pizza is oh-so-good!)
--Minimize drinks w/ calories. This means lattes and wine. Don't eliminate (that's crazy talk!), but minimize.
--1200 calories is the goal. If I go over, it's okay as long as I work off the excess. Calories in minus calories burned off should = a negative number or zero. In reality, I'm fine with this averaging out over the week- some days I'll eat more than I burn, others I'll eat less.
--No dessert. I don't even really like dessert. This should be a no-brainer.
--Keep in mind the words of a wise colleague of mine- "It's okay to go to bed hungry". It really is. Our brains are bigger than our stomachs. We feel hungry even when we are not. And since I always have breakfast before my morning work-out, I don't need to worry about running out of calories during the AM workout. (Exception= pre-long run or pre-race nights. Then, I need the fuel.)

I considered whether to post this. Despite the fact that I only have 14 "official" followers of this blog there are actually a significant number of work friends who read this from time to time and this definitely borders on (okay, probably definitely is) TMI (too much info, for the over 50 set). But you know what? I decided to post for 2 reasons:

1. I am in a line of work where we constantly preach (or at least should be preaching) "lifestyle changes" to our patients. Thus, it's a good idea to consider the challenges ALL of us (and ESPECIALLY our patients) face when it comes to eating properly. It's important to acknowledge that for some, it can be hard, and for most, it must be intentional.

2. When people hear that I am on a "diet" (I prefer "trying to eat healthfully and sparingly"), they say "Why? You're so thin!" Well, let me tell you that with a few genetically freakish exceptions (yes, I'm jealous), most of us suffer from metabolism slowing at some point in life. For me it started around age 27. For others, it may not be until age 50. But for most, it will happen. The only reason I'm still thin is because I work out. At this point, I am thin because I choose to be thin. I work at it. Most thin people do. So can you, our friends and family, and our patients. And for the record, yes, I'm well aware that I'm in 'decent' shape. But I'm not in the shape I want to be in- I need more lean body mass and less fat. I'm NOT trying to lose weight- just fat. That's as important to me as "dropping that extra 10 lbs is for other people". So don't judge!

Okay, that's enough and probably way more than you wanted to know! But I feel more in control already. Time to pack for T-giving, get to bed early and get up early for my 10 mile run before clinic.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Maybe I'll see you at the airport;)


  1. Happy Thanksgiving! I agree 100% - if we're going to preach to people about healthy lifestyles we need to make some attempt to model those lifestyles. I hate it when I drive up to the hospital and see healthcare workers (in scrubs!) smoking! What kind of example does that set?

    Now, that said, I think 1200 calories is probably inadequate for you. I've been aiming for 1700 a day, just as an example, and I am steadily losing weight. I'm not pulling any Biggest Loser-style losses, but I've lost about 1.5 lbs a month over the past year.

    I'm shorter and older than you are, and probably not as active - you probably need closer to 1800 a day - maybe more. I'm reasonably certain that there's a connection between caloric intake and metabolism, and I'm afraid if I eat too little that my metabolism will take a nosedive. You might want to look around and see what you find in the literature on that.

    Okay - sorry about my book-length comment! I applaud your desire to set a healthy example for your patients - just remember to eat enough so that you have the strength to look after them! :)

  2. Terri-
    If I don't pay any attention to calories and eat literally anything I want, my caloric intake ends up around 2000/day. I know that's way too much because w/ 2000 in, I'm gaining fat and circumference (though not changing weight). I calculated 1200 using more conservative BMR calculators. Additionally, when I was eating at my best ("healthfully and sparingly") for a 8 week period a couple months ago, 1200 worked out well. I was hungry at times for the first week or so but then felt great for the rest of the time. Then I got super busy w/ overnight calls at work and did some "my life sucks, I deserve treats" eating and fell off the bandwagon.

    I think most basal metabolic calculator rates grossly overestimate the number of calories we need, plus we grossly underestimate the calories we eat--> this is a combination for too much food!

    There certainly is a proven relationship b/t caloric intake and metabolism. When you take in significantly fewer calories than you need, your metabolism does slow a bit- at least temporarily. However, if you are persistently eating more than your body needs, you simply have to cut back if you want to see any positive changes in your body.

    I'm a wimp- I don't like to be hungry and I don't like to be tired, so I'm not in danger of ever eating too little!

    1800 cal/day would not work for me- that's just too much for my body. I'm glad that you've found a good eating regimen for yourself though and I'm a bit jealous that you probably can have dessert every night! ;)