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February 18, 2007

Calories Matter

I just thought I would provide an update. The biggest issue I have had with diets and weight management programs is that they may work short term, but the weight comes back as soon as you achieve your goal and relax, AKA fall off the wagon. I do not want to feel like I am "on a wagon".

I hit my ideal weight goal in January of 2006. That was one year ago. Since then I have been able to easily maintain that weight using a sane approach. That means I have been able to eat, drink and be merry without serious repercussions. The key is balancing total caloric intake and not making a habit of over indulging.

At 61 I am reasonably active but have had to adjust my caloric intake to about 1,500 calories a day to maintain my weight. Face it, our metabolisms simply change as we age. Playing tennis and exercising moderately help but no longer help as much as they did when I was in my twenties. I also admit that there is too much to do each day to spend hours a day exercising. Life is to be lived. It should not be a chore.

Having a computer program to help me track my weight, nutrition and calorie intake has been an excellent way for me to stay on track. Others will find tools they can use. The key is daily monitoring and intake adjustment. As weight starts to climb, drop a few calories, as it declines (yes, I have to watch both sides of the ledger for a change) add a few. Working within a pound of your ideal weight makes it easy to get results within a day or two.

I have developed a new way of eating. It does not exclude any food or drink. It only moderates the amount of total calories I consume. So I can go out and enjoy any restaurant, celebrate with any group, or dine in with take out. One word of caution, I don't do fast food any more. Way too many calories in each entree. For example, a Big Mac or Whopper with cheese represents half of one day's calories (about 750). Why expend them on that when I could have had an omelet for breakfast and a large turkey sandwich for lunch or had a large interesting salad and 8 oz of lamb steak for dinner. There is not much of a choice to me any more. But, if I did want one, all I need to do is adjust my breakfast slightly and pass on the fries!

It is all in the choices we make. I am enjoying being in control for a change. It is great positive reinforcement to continue to simply watch what I am doing and make smart choices.

Posted by Ben on February 18, 2007 8:12 AM | DIGG | del.icio.us | furl

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Sounds like you're doing a great job! Good for you. I have struggled with eating disorders for many years and I'm working with a nutritionist to help me develop a healthy lifestyle when it comes to food, no more fad diets. You mentioned that a computer program helped you keep track of things. I've seen some out there but was just wondering which one you used since you found it helpful. Thanks.

The program I use is FitDay. You can download a version from FitDay.com. I am sure there are many comparable programs out there.

The first 30 days is the most arduous as you need to enter what you eat and add new foods if they are not in the data base. Once I built my database, I found the program to be easy to use and typically enter the meals at the end of the day. I have become able to estimate caloric values on the fly.

It was not the program that took the weight off. It was my becoming aware of the differing caloric values of the foods we eat. Tracking the calories and nutrition and, most important, weight change, is where the program came in handy.

My wife would also point out that I am now eating a much healthier diet. But that was almost a by-product of getting control of the calories. I enjoy normally large meals and found that I could maintian the joy of dining without the excess calories if I made smarter food selection choices.

Good luck!

You are correct. There are many variables that contribute to establishing a targeted balance of nutrition, exercise and total calories. FitDay, merely one tool, enabled me to better understand the impact of my food choices, that was my point. Total calories matter, food choices matter, and getting exercise matters.

Like any endeavor, the key is making the program become a routine, a life style. I think I have acocmplished that for the first time in literaly decades.

The other day I was out with friends and I deviated substantially from my routine as it was a festive evening. We had a great evening. Three days later I was back at my ideal weight. I merely slightly adjusted my calories the next two days so the three days averaged out at my norm.

I no longer become anxious that my old weight is coming back because I am in control of what happens. It is my responsibilty to manage this aspect of my life; not be managed by it.

I am using FitDay which I downloaded from fitday.com. It is resident on my laptop and I have found it a great tool to use on a daily basis in daily menu planning as well as meal tracking, weight projecting and nutrition monitoring.

But I think any of the current programs will work as well.

Good luck. I am now at 16 months with no change from my ideal weight (+/- 1 pound) and no draconian regimine!



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