Friday, April 23, 2010

Front-loading calories

Yesterday started out destined for failure.  I got up late, spent far too much time mirror gazing, realized I didn't have any coffee in the house, and then ran to the bus without breakfast.  I stopped at a bagel shop outside my office for a quick bite, and when I got to my desk I realized my bagel had not just butter, which I'd ordered, but also cream cheese.  A bagel with butter is already about twice the normal number of calories I consume for breakfast, and adding cream cheese was going to throw off my whole day.  That meant no snacks in the morning, a very small lunch, probably no snacks in the afternoon either, and then a moderate dinner. 

I was really worried about this because I always have an apple around mid morning to fuel my lunch time workout, and I'm still usually ravenous by 1:30 when I actually eat.  The thought of no snacks was terrifying.  There's only so much hunger I can ignore. 

However, I need not have worried.  Those extra calories in the morning meant I was barely hungry by lunch, even after a metabolic conditioning session at the gym.  I had a small lunch, a small snack, and a small dinner with no problem whatsoever.

This blew my mind.

I know that in theory, my body needs a certain number of calories per day.  It doesn't care when it gets them or what they're made of.  It will assess the calories it needs versus the calories it has taken in and send signals to the brain to compensate for a difference in either direction.  That's the way it's supposed to work, and that's how one maintains a steady weight. 

But let's be honest.  If that system worked for you and me, you wouldn't be reading this and I wouldn't be writing it.  I stopped listening to my body's signals years ago, and I think it just gave up.  To discover yesterday that the system actually functions and that I really will stay full longer if I consume more calories was delightfully shocking.  I feel like I've got a prayer of maintaining my loss (which I'm very excited to tell you about!  The numbers on Sunday will be fantastic!).  I normally have 2 eggs for breakfast and I feared adding to that number because I was worried that with all my fruit snacking during the day, I wouldn't have room.  It never occurred to me that if I ate more at breakfast, I wouldn't need to snack.  It's logical, but I don't trust logic when it comes to my eating patterns.

The bottom line is that this means I'm in control of what I eat, now more than ever.  It also means that every day has a very good chance of being successful on the eating front, regardless of how it starts.  I don't have to spend the morning in a panic, anxiously waiting to get hungry and worrying about when that might be.  Instead, I'm learning to trust my body.  It's a new thing, and I'm very apprehensive, but it seems like it might pay off.

In other news, today a coworker noticed my loss!  According to last week's trend line, it's not even 5 pounds.  I know how snarky that sounds, but let me remind you it took a solid month of working out 5 days per week and counting every calorie to lose just those 5.  I know a lot of people who start with more to lose can shed weight in the beginning like a duck sheds water, but that wasn't me.  As it happens, I've also noticed my loss.  There is significantly less chub around my tummy and butt.  This makes me happy. 

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