You Don’t Have to Finish It

You Don’t Have to Finish It

I don’t know why it took me so long to get this.

If I order food, and I can’t finish. Even if it’s expensive. It’s okay. 

Maybe it can be packed, maybe it can’t. It’s okay. 

If I buy a packet of chips or biscuits that is way above my calorie need for a snack. It’s okay. I don’t have to finish it. I can just eat a bit of it and put it inside a box for some other time. It’s okay. 

I can have snacks in reserve now in my room, because I don’t have to finish them just because they exist.

It’s okay. I’m okay. 

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What I’ve learnt from a few weeks of calorie-counting …

What I’ve learnt from a few weeks of calorie-counting …

I started counting calories (this time) on 26th July 2015. Since then, I’ve been fairly regular, except for brief times when I had no idea how to count the calories (or even guess).

Here’s a couple of things I’ve learnt:

After a bit, it gets really easy: Okay, maybe if I was counting every bite of food ever (down to the five calories in a bit of carrot) as I used to do, it would still be a tedious, annoying process. In the first couple of weeks, I used to spend a fair amount of time thinking and cataloguing the calories in various food. Planning out what to eat during the day became a chore, and I wasn’t sure if I could stick to it. However, after a bit it became really automatic and really only takes about 15-20 minutes that I can do between classes or just before bed. I can do this. I really hope so, anyway.

The blog helps a lot to stay on track: The thing about calorie counting is that it’s easy to make the excuses. “Oh, x day was a birthday/wedding/celebration/whatever.” It is, however, hard to see that number on that screen. Therefore, the urge is always to “stop” counting on days of binges (and I’ll admit that I feel that way too). However, seeing those gaps when I’m trying to write a weekly recap really reduce the number of days when I don’t track. I track all the bad stuff, like days of extra-drinking and restaurants and everything (to whatever extent possible).

I won’t stick to it everyday: This is something I’ve understood, and accepted. I won’t make it to 1550 everyday, not if I want to keep up with my social life and not be the girl who just eats salads or be perpetually hungry and feel restricted. I also know that if I keep up with my exercise goals (or even go for a swim 3-4 times in that week) then I’m burning an extra couple of hundred calories. (Conservative estimate puts swimming thrice a week at about 500 calories. I usually exercise more than that.) I use those to fuel going out and drinking and living it up – though I try to eat and drinking conservative, low-calorie food and alcohol when doing so. Also, I have learnt that 1-2 a week, depending on what is done, is probably for the best. Better for my wallet, too.

I want pizza: Okay look you guys. I make a big deal of pretending that one can eat out, even at fast food places and make healthy choices. I know exactly what I can order from, say, McDonalds or KFC. But pizza is SO DIFFICULT. The most I can fit into my day would be half a medium pizza, which would be well-over half of my allotted calories and still not enough to keep me full. But I’ve decided that if I can eat well for two weeks (by which I mean not going above 1550 calories on any given day) and I don’t eat back my exercise calories, I can probably order from dominos once. Is it going to be worth it? We’ll see.

Calorie counting doesn’t necessarily make you healthier: I mean, it has meant that I pick smaller portion sizes (I have realized, with a little horror, just HOW badly I was eating in the past). But it doesn’t mean I’ll necessarily shy away from the packet of chips or won’t eat a muffin for breakfast. Also it’s sometimes just easier to count them because they have a calorie count on them. While I don’t consider this an absolute sin, I will look into incorporating more fruits and vegetable into my diet pretty soon, I think. Also, looking at the numbers it has made me start exercising a whole lot more. Not necessarily always more strenuous exercise (somedays I’ll pick walking over zumba or swimming, for example) but any exercise.

Sometimes you have to say no: No to the extra slice of pizza, no to going out, no to one more shot. It’s tough, but so what?

On cutting out food groups

On cutting out food groups

Today, a friend announced to me that she wasn’t eating sugar for the next two weeks, and it was so hard to find anything to eat because everything had sugar.

“I’m dreaming of cookies,” she said.

A few weeks ago, my mother told me that she was going to give up carbs.

“A lot of my friends have lost weight on it.” 

I don’t know why both of these things make me feel so uncomfortable. is it because I enjoy my morning carb-and-sugar-loaded muffin and I am loathe to give it up? Is it because I am weak?

I mean it’s probably at least partially because I am weak. I don’t think I’d be happy cutting out a food group from my life like that, calling it “bad” or “evil”. I don’t apologize for the way I eat. Though I try to get in vitamins, nutrients and protein, if there are days when I eat a lot of junk, I don’t beat myself up for it. If my carb and sugar filled muffin can get me through the day with the right amount of calories, I don’t sweat it.

I also fully appreciate that it might not be the best thing for my health. I would like to eat fancy healthy breakfasts with only egg and vegetables but they’re not in my means or control right now. (I’m restricted a bit by what the mess prepares and what is available around, and I don’t have the time or resources to cook at this point in my life). I know, however, that eating too many carbs and too much sugar and not enough protein, vitamins and minerals will not be good for my health in the long run. (Though, given the backtracking between “fat is evil” and “carbohydrates are evil” that the weight loss industry has done, I’m not sure any food groups are massively terrible for me in moderation).

But will restriction?

For a short point in college I struggled with the idea of restriction. The idea that if I ate only raw food, then everything would be fine, that my life would fall into place. Looking back on it I can imagine it being a sort of eating disorder. And it came with the “cheat days” – sundays where I would eat mountain loads of the crappy food I denied myself on every other day. In retrospect, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to deem those binges. That food became so coveted that it was very difficult to focus on anything else. The snacking on those days was mechanical, and I’m not even sure I enjoyed it much.

Nowadays, I eat a little snack every day. Whatever I’m feeling like. Chips. Chocolate. Noodles. Muffins. Juice. Coffee. I also eat fruits and rice, dal and raita, bhel and nuts. I’ll admit to you that I probably don’t eat very healthy, though not much unhealthier than most college students.  I track everything I eat and drink. I’ve found that a lot of things have lost their coveted status. I don’t want to eat chocolate, or chips. Especially not if that sets me back another 300 calories or something. I pick the lower calorie, smaller serving sizes. I don’t eat the whole thing. I make creative meals with crackers and cheese and milk. I eat a couple of squares of chocolate if I don’t want the whole thing. I eat the whole thing if I want the whole thing. I don’t order pizza just because there’s an offer because I know it’ll ruin my week and I’ve already gone above once this week.

There’s no all or nothing. There is tomorrow. There is plenty.

And I’m not living for the next cookie.

Am I right? I suppose only time will tell. But at least, thank god, I’m not constantly talking about it. (I never want to be one of those diet people. This blog is enough.)

How to Stay Healthy When Life Goes Crazy

How to Stay Healthy When Life Goes Crazy

Hi everyone!

As mentioned in my last post, it was all set to be a crazy week. I had:

  • Wonderla.
  • A very important job interview.
  • Family get-together over three days (friday, saturday and sunday)
  • General deadlines in terms of work.

Obviously, all of these exciting events did damage my normal goals. So how did I do this week?

Exercise: 

Monday: Went to Wonderla.

Tuesday: No. 😦

Wednesday: Interview.

Thursday: Swimming for 30 minutes.

Friday: Swimming for 30 minutes.

Saturday: Swimming for 30 minutes. Also, loads of dancing in the evening for about 30 minutes.

Sunday: Walk with my parents (with a little running thrown in here and there) for about 30-40 minutes.

Honestly, this was as good as it could’ve gotten this week. I’m particularly proud of the end of the week.

Food: 

Monday: 2300 calories. Because Wonderla.

Tuesday: 1422 calories.

Wednesday: 1900 calories (this is because, feeling very happy about the interview, I went out for dinner with two fellow interviewees despite already having eaten pizza at the interview and eaten enough throughout the day).

Thursday: I have no idea! How could I not record it? However, given that I had about 575 calories left over for dinner, I am assuming I ate something reasonable and made it within the 1550 limit.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday: With my family, given the varied nature of the meals and the fact that there was a LOT of sharing, I was never sure how to calculate, and so I didn’t.

Lessons Learnt: 

So it hasn’t been a great week, food wise. I hope this blog will not become an “excuses” blog, so I won’t really make excuses, but I did learn how I could make some better choices this week:

Don’t snack between meals: I tried to avoid this as much as possible in my family celebration, because we were eating huge meals already and snacks tend to be super high calorie and nutritionally useless. I didn’t always succeed because, well, banana wafers and caramel popcorn and sakarapara and murukku were on offer, but I avoided it as much as I could. I also saw that the more nutritionally conscious members of the family were avoiding them strenuously.

If drinking, drink low calorie drinks: Think I succeeded in this. Peach snapps with soda, Bloody Mary, and Gin and Tonic over three days of family celebrations. Not crazy, calorie wise. Also yummy. I avoided all other drinks, though I did end up drinking a LOT of coffee and tea  that everyone else was drinking (but with very less sugar). Next time, would avoid or opt for plain milk.

Choose smaller portions of everything: Did, mostly. Went back for seconds only very rarely. Couldn’t resist the homemade Bhel on Saturday night. I especially took small portions of desserts or shared with people, which I’m proud of.

Don’t eat unless hungry: Again, mostly happy about this. Though I did go a little overboard on Sunday.

Stay active: Think I nailed it on this one! Swam laps in the pool on Friday and Saturday (my uncle’s house has a pool nearby). My brother said I’ve become boring in the pool but my parents definitely think my swimming has improved since they last saw it last June. Enjoyed dancing a lot with my cousins on Saturday night. Loved the walk with my parents on Sunday, had a lot of important conversations with them.

Have fun with family: Remember that life is about more than calories and that enjoying with your family (even if you only eat at maintenance and don’t lose any weight at all that week) is good for your mental health. And when your aunt says you look thinner and clothes fit better and you can walk and swim and run without getting winded … smile.

🙂

Looking forward to a great next week.

(Sorry for the long wait for this blog post. I’ll try to be more regular as well.)