Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My big calorie-counting adventure!


This week marks my sixth week on the Simply Filling Technique (SFT) within Weight Watchers. I spent my first seven months on Weight Watchers meticulously tracking points for all the foods I ate, and after a while this started to get tiresome. I needed a break. SFT allows me to forego tracking for most foods (as long as they are designated “filling foods”). I still have to count stuff like ice cream, bread, and peanut butter, but I eat that stuff less often in favor of nonfat yogurt, fat free/sugar free pudding, and whole grains.

SFT has been an up-and-down experience for me. The Points system has the benefit of more-or-less exactitude. If you stick to your points and track accurately, you will lose weight. Nothing more difficult or complicated is required. SFT, on the other hand, relies on your ability to stop eating when you feel satisfied (and NOT to eat when you are not hungry) in order to ensure weight loss. If you can’t listen to your body, then your results will be erratic.

So, this week I resolved to track calories in an effort to gauge what it feels like to eat fewer calories than I burn. It was an interesting experience, and I think I learned a few neat things.

(“Net calories” refers to the number of calories I ate after the amount of exercise I got was added to my recommended calories. Where the green line is higher than the blue line, I ate more than I burned.)

1. If I’m given an external allowance, I tend to eat to fill that allowance.
There were a few occasions this week when I wasn’t necessarily hungry in which I ate because I could see on my calorie tracker that I still had 300 calories left for the day. This is similar to how I felt on Points...I never left a point uneaten, regardless of my hunger level. Not a good habit.

2. I naturally eat the calories I burn while exercising.
This may tie back to #1, in which I generally ate up to my net allowance of calories, but I rarely finished a day with a big calorie deficit. If I burned 300 calories on a run, I was likely to eat 300 calories in filling foods that day. Implication: I may not be able to eat my activity points while on SFT.

3. I am very hungry on the days after big workouts.
The biggest spikes in my consumption were on the day after my two longest runs of the week. (These are the two days in which I am several HUNDRED calories over my goal. This suggests that I should try to eat lighter foods on these days (since I will seemingly be going for bulk). I may also want to plan for some light exercise on these days to make sure I burn a bit of energy.

(The red line represents the number of calories I can eat each day while still losing 0.5 pounds a week. My long runs were April 29 and May 2. The two spikes following those days are what I’m talking about in point #3.)

After a week, calorie counting feels a lot like points tracking, only more complicated.
Ultimately, I don’t think I want to keep tracking calories. The whole goal of SFT was to get away from external forces telling me how much I would be allowed to eat in a given day. Now that I see that I’m not madly overeating on the program, I am going to try “going commando” this week and returning to SFT as it’s meant to be - without calories, eating to satisfaction. If I’m going to be minding limits like this, I might as well just switch back to points, where I didn’t have to worry about as many numbers.

So, I’m curious to see whether I can sustain my losing trend next week without the crutch of calorie counting!

Last Week’s morning in-the-buff (AMITB) weigh in: 136.4
This Week’s morning in-the-buff (AMITB) weigh in: 135.6
Difference: -0.8

Last Week’s meeting weigh in (with clothes on, at 7pm): 138.6
This Week’s meeting weigh in (with clothes on, at 7pm): 138.4
Difference: -0.2

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