Saturday, March 8, 2014

Weight Weight Don't Tell Me

Daylight Savings Time begins tomorrow and the residual cough from the persistent cold I've had for the past three weeks is waning. There is no better time to begin to tune up the body. People think I'm nuts when I express that I'd like to drop 10 or 15 pounds. Entering my weight into the Center for Disease Control's Body Mass Index calculator I am told that my BMI is 25.5 and hence I am "overweight". Normal body weight for my height is between 133 and 179 pounds. This morning, stepping on the scale for the first time in a while, I weighed 183.2.

Six months ago I weighed 173 pounds; I was able to do training runs of up to 25 miles and I was content with that weight and conditioning level. After the deluge in Colorado last fall I spent several weekends putting new shingles on the house and my running dropped off. Also, many of my favorite trails were washed out and closed. I became rather careless about what I ate and have was given to having an extra beer quite regularly. I have found in the past that running helps me regulate my weight but doesn't do much for making me lose it because I typically eat more to fuel the running. I have had good success with limiting calories and documenting everything I eat on a spreadsheet.

To calculate how much I should eat to lose my target loss per week I entered my height, weight, and age in an online Basal Metabolic Rate calculator to find how many calories I burn just living and breathing. Mine was 1,727 calories. I multiplied this by a factor of 1.3 to adjust for a lightly active lifestyle, which results in 2,245 calories I can consume daily without gaining or losing weight. I have always heard that 3500 calories of fat was roughly equivalent to one pound. I just did a little online research to confirm this and although the figure is arguable, it close enough when taking into consideration that there will be some other imprecisions along the way. For example, I am active; my lifestyle isn't exactly sedentary so I could probably eat a bit more and not gain weight. I would like to lose about a pound a week, so to do that I need to eat about 500 calories less than the 2,245 given above. I see that it is typically recommended that men not consume less than 1800 calories per day. Certainly, there would be variations based on the man's weight and other considerations. I will set the 1800 calories as my target and make adjustments to eat more based on how much I run. I usually add between 100 and 130 calories per mile that I run. So if I run 5 miles later on I will be able to add 500 to 650 calories to my intake.

I plan to chronicle my efforts to lose about a dozen pounds here to share how I've done it before, to share some of what goes through my mind in the process, and to help keep myself accountable. I weighed myself, so I have a starting point. It is important to eat before getting hungry because once a person is hungry, judgement about eating tends to be impaired. Looking at what there is to eat in the house, I would be inclined to have some bread products, but I want to make my calorie intake as nutritious and satisfying as is practical. My wife and I try to eat a vegan, or at least vegetarian diet as much as possible, but we are not strict about it. I had eaten strictly vegan for about a year, but I allowed eggs and nonfat yogurt back into the mix. This past winter I even ate meat somewhat regularly and had some pizza a handful of times. For my current weight adjustment effort I will eliminate all the animal products except the eggs, yogurt, and occasionally some fish. This morning I think I will start with an omelet. For the cheese, I like Lisanatti Foods' almond-based jalapeño jack cheese alternative. Since I plan to run a little later I will need some carbohydrates so I will eat some toast with it.

Last night I knew my wife and I were going to begin this diet so I made a vegetable soup from the fresh vegetables that happened to be in the refrigerator. Soup is very easy to make; you put stuff in water and heat. I used some wilting celery, carrots, three mushrooms past their prime, onion, garlic, what was left of a red pepper, the chopped up trunks of two broccoli crowns, the last two leaves of some purple kale, and a big handful of Black Japonica rice for heartiness. When we had it last night I tossed in some fresh jalapeño rounds and chopped cilantro.

Breakfast ingredients and calories

2 large eggs                            140
1 tspn olive oil in pan                35
1 oz. almond cheeze                 50
1/4 avocado                             65
diced veggies                           30
2 slices dry wheat toast           160

Total                                       480

There are some general sensible guidelines that I follow to make it easier to stick to the plan. I eat before I am hungry. Vegetables of color can almost be eaten without accounting for their calories. Juices, soft drinks, and alcohol add on calories quickly. I limit these and measure them carefully. It is wise to avoid any kind of restaurant during weight loss efforts. I keep track of everything I consume. I look at the labels or look up the item on a website such as for calorie amounts. I allow myself rewards. I may allow one meal on Sunday in which I indulge within reason. If a person finds it difficult to put off a reward for an entire week, a small piece of dark chocolate, or in my case a beer, on a daily basis is within reason.

Before posting this I would like to note that I took the dog out for a sloppy early March trail run. We covered 7.2 miles after eating a couple of pumpkin pancakes for lunch that I had made for the little guy's breakfast. I should have somewhere between 720 and 940 calories to play with today, which makes dieting a lot easier. If you're not up for running, getting out for a walk of for a half hour to an hour could build in a cushion of 100 to 300 calories.

I've just finished a bowl of the above-mentioned vegetable soup and will probably have a multi-vegetable salad for dinner along with something more substantial and of protein content such as a bowl of pinto beans and a couple of heated soft corn tortillas.

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