“Am I doing the right thing?” I asked my husband on January 2, 2016. The right thing being, logging everything I eat into Fitbit and monitor my total caloric intake and just how much fat I was consuming.
“I give it a week.” He said.
Gee, thanks. But I could see where he was coming from. I love chocolate. And baked goods. And I “don’t need to diet”.
But I went much longer than a week (spoiler alert – I am still going strong), much to my husband’s dismay. “You don’t need to diet.” “You’re not fat.” “Just cheat for the day.” These were my husband’s anthems on repeat. In fact, he would constantly make food suggestions that would devastate a day’s numbers when he knew better.
“You’re a bad influence” and “You’re trying to sabotage me” became my familiar lines.
For the record this is not about dieting. I have never really been on a diet, and I can tell you right now I would suck at it. I’m not one for deprivation, but more than that, I don’t need to go a on a diet. I’m 106 to 109 pounds depending on the day. I am not diabetic or have any medical issues that would call for a rigid or specialized diet. This was never about getting thin, or looking better, or some form of an undiagnosed eating disorder or just because I am a control freak. This was always about being healthier.
In fact, the only time I ever went on a “diet” was in college when I was trying to bulk up. Because I have a freakish metabolism and just don’t gain weight no matter what I eat. (Yes, yes … upon this declaration I usually get a “You bitch!” comment from a friend, but as a guy where abs and biceps matter more than a tiny waist, this was actually not a good thing.) I would load up on carbs, drink tons of those nasty-ass protein shakes and lift weights several times a week (at a gym – no less!) and I maybe put on ten pounds in a few months. Of course, ask me how many of those pounds decided to stick around… Not a damn one.
And I’m not doing that now. I’m not worried about gaining weight and don’t want to lose weight, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still eat and be healthier while I maintain my weight. In college, I did what everyone else did. I lived on crap. Fast food, chips, candy, chocolate, processed this and processed that. I mean we all do it – right? For me, I figure if I eat 2000 calories per day, I would like to have the recommended percentage of that be fat, protein and carbs. I never want it to be 60% fat. And no, as much as my husband likes to declare that fats I have are healthy (whatever!) it should never be 60% of your daily intake. I mean, for reals.
I think about our pets and neither of them have weight issues and are super healthy, but that is because I go by the “their body is their temple” and since I’m in charge of what they eat, I have to treat their bodies as such. When we have kids, I imagine I’ll be the same. Never about denying them, simply about giving them choices and encouraging healthier ones. If this is my attitude about others in my care, why don’t I take the same approach to myself? Well in 2016, I am. And so far, so good…
I don’t count calories and I don’t say I can’t go above X. Instead, my calorie goal is simple. I don’t want to consume more than I burn. I don’t have to burn more than I consume, but I at least want them to cancel each other out. And as far as percentages for fat, protein and carbs, I figure up to 35% of what I take in can be fat, but no more. Carbs can be anywhere from 45% to 65% and I should always have protein take up at least 10% of my intake. These are the recommended percentages for adults.
My husband kept saying, “What would your doctors say!” in terms of my diet. My response was always, “I’m not limiting my intake or cutting calories, but I am making sure what I eat isn’t 60% fat, I think they’d approve.” And then he’d drop it because he knows that I’m right. What doctor wouldn’t get on board with such an idea? (It’s a miracle I don’t have a specialized diet because I actually have a ton of medical problems including a genetic heart defect, autoimmune disease which affects my kidneys, bone marrow disorder, brittle bones and more. It’s quite an extensive resume.)
When I first started out there was a lot of trial and error. Protein bars and other quick fixes to lower my fat percentages while raising the ones I cared about like protein made for some nights of scrambling and eating things I just didn’t want to, so that I could “fix” the day’s intake numbers. Of course, eating six marshmallows to up my carbs and lower my fat at 11:30 at night is not fun and kind of defeats the purpose of this. I don’t do that anymore.
Now I just make smarter choices and plan what I have around what I want to have. For example, when I want to get a lot of writing done it means I need a lot of coffee and sweets to keep me going… Well that means I have to have a real healthy lunch (usually tuna or something like that) and a well-rounded dinner. If I want to go out to eat, say BBQ, I know my numbers will go nuts and I am not a “just a salad” person. Nope. I’ll get ribs and sausage and all of that. Well my other meals need to pick up the slack, and this is not the day to snack on pastries or chocolate. Really it’s about shuffling. And it works.
I see myself now, and I am making different choices. I don’t have six cookies when I need a sugar rush, I’ll have three with something healthy. If I want to have chips I will, but I’ll have twelve instead of one third of the container or bag. This, these different choices, was the reason behind logging everything in Fitbit in the first place. Because it really is a lifestyle change.
But I’m happy. And I feel better. And ironically, I eat out less, cook more, and enjoy the foods I love (fish and shellfish over red meat, this is my natural preference) more because they’re high in protein and low in fat. I don’t do cheat days because I don’t deprive myself, so I never feel the need “to cheat”. I haven’t refused dessert or not gone out to eat with others because of my “diet”. I simply plan ahead. I don’t say no to anything I want, I just say, “not that much.” And despite my husband’s worries, I am still around 106 pounds, so I’m not losing weight.
(I’m actually relieved because until I started logging everything I didn’t realize that I don’t eat as much as I thought I did in terms of calories. My average caloric intake so far this year is 1693 calories. But the reason I was kind of worried was that I typically burn an average of 2134 calories per day. And before you judge, I don’t work out or go to the gym, but I walk everywhere, do stairs, dance and just do my thing. My thing happens to be staying really active – seriously I can’t stay still for long.)
I’m really happy with the choices I’m making and proud that I’ve had it stick. For someone who has never counted calories before, or looked at things like fat versus protein, and as someone who isn’t struggling with their weight, I think I’m doing okay, both in results (my percentages have only been off three days so far this year), but also as far as my commitment to keep going.
So here is to eating healthier. Here is to treating my body like a temple instead of this unfortunate thing I have to put up with. Here is to making the right choices for me, and feeling so much better (inside and out) because of it. Here is to a wonderful 2016, and my commitment to keep this up. And here is to not pushing it on my husband (because I want him to be around for a long time, and it’s always more fun to do this kind of thing with someone else, but I’m not going there).
Seriously, Roy, you’re welcome! 😛