Thursday, March 26, 2009

Calories and Carbohydrates

When you start reading about low-carb diets, you get the notion that you can eat whatever you want, as long as it's low carb, and still lose weight. I think it starts with the first weeks of Atkins (eat whatever you like as long as you keep carbs below 20) and follows along to the people who argue that there's a metabolic advantage to low carb diets, and it all builds to the idea that if you're counting carbs, you don't need to count calories.

But ultimately, I'm pretty sure that's not true, or not true for everyone at least. (One of the things I've really learned over the last few years is that everyone is a little different, and what works for one person may not work at all for someone else.)

When I started eating low carb, I lost about 20 lbs. or so pretty quickly, and then I've spent about a year plus pretty much maintaining my weight. Which is not exactly what I have in mind. I've proved again and again that if I keep the carbs low, I can eat mostly whatever I want and not gain weight. This is kind of a long-run good thing, I suppose, but it doesn't solve the problem of really wanting/needing to lose more. And, sure, there are many reasons why, for the last year, it's been easier for me to maintain weight than to lose it, but at the end of the day, it still leads to the conclusion that that I have to do something different if I want to get anywhere. The lower carbs have also been fantastic for my blood sugar and general level of energy, and so, particularly because we eat very clean anyway, in the "very little processed food" sense, I'm pretty happy with the general shape of my food choices. But clearly there's too much of it.

I was starting to get somewhere when I was making the photo food diary, but... well, I got lazy about it, and I realized that I eat a lot of the same thing a lot of the time, and that it's hard to get a sense of scale... so it was definitely a step in the right direction, but it wasn't enough. And I got kind of derailed when my son and I went to New York, too, and haven't quite started up on the pictures again, although I probably will.

But I think that when you get right down to it, I have to start counting calories again. I am not totally averse to doing this, but it's taken a while to really convince myself that I need to do this. First of all, I love the idea that I can eat pretty much whatever I want... but "whatever I want" is simply too much for me to actually lose weight, at this point in time anyway, because I have too many bad habits that are allowed free rein with this idea. I graze (moo!). I eat when I'm bored. I think I'm hungry when I'm bored. I don't have enough accountability. And so on. The other thing is that I have been very reluctant to start keeping a food diary, because it tends to make me a little obsessive and weird and controlling about food... about Michael's food, too, and this is not a recipe for marital bliss. I am just going to have to figure out how to avoid doing that. And how to not make myself crazy in the process.

I think that "not making myself crazy" is going to have to mean, keeping a rough tally on my iPod, not spending the hours that I used to obsessing over every micronutrient. I have been trial-running this for a couple of days, and thus far, I'm a little lighter and not much more insane than normal. Yet. :-)


MizFit said...

IMO its a big victory/realization to have started the pics and almost realized you didnt need them/they wouldnt work for you.

are you going to do an online cal counter like spark people?

people love it.

for me it would be a crazymaker.

you sound somewhere in between?

Crabby McSlacker said...

I've had the same issue at times--trying to keep a little better tabs on how much I'm eating without going the full-on calorie counting, weights and measures, food diary route.

Sounds like the iPod rough-tally method may be a smart compromise! Good luck with it.

And even if it doesn't work, it's still great that you lost weight and have been keeping it off in a healthy way, that's an impressive accomplishment!

Disconnected Diva said...

If/when I track my numbers, I tend to go crazy as well. I do agree that I have lost more while tracking as opposed to just guessing. But, I also agree that each person must find what combination works best for them.