Monday, May 6, 2013

Nutrition / weight loss update

In the lead-up to Boston I mentioned that I was trying out a new nutrition plan. So, you might ask, how's that going?

Actually, not too bad! I'm not tracking the dietary categories the way Fitzgerald asks every day, but I did take a look at the foods I'm eating and I've found that, for the most part, my revised diet matches Fitzgerald's suggestions:

This chart shows how many servings of each type of food I had for the first week I was using Fitzgerald's system, and you can see that with the exception of meats, I'm following his suggestions. Fitzgerald says that you should have more of each item to the left of the scale than the right of the scale, and if you remove the meats from the equation, I do just that.

He also says it's okay to omit some categories entirely. If you're a vegetarian, you just omit meats. If you're a vegan, omit dairy too. To my mind, this means I'm actually doing fine -- I'm sort of like a half-vegetarian. If I ate more meat (e.g. 20 servings of lean meat and, say, 15 servings of fatty meat), then I could create a perfect hierarchy, with the number of servings gradually decreasing from left to right. But I choose to eat less meat, so in my mind that's fine.

Fitzgerald also says that the recovery period after a marathon is the best time to lose weight. I've been trying for over a year to get down to 175 pounds, so I figured I'd follow his recommendations. He says to just maintain his diet plan, but consuming fewer calories. Also, he recommends adding weight training to your fitness regimen, so I've done that -- My plan is to lift three times a week, and I've done that now for the past two weeks.

So how's the diet going? Again, not too bad. Since I started tracking calories on April 17, I've gone from 187 pounds to 182, a loss of five pounds. I use the website myfitnesspal to track calories, and according to the site's recommendations, to lose 1.5 pounds per week, I should be consuming a net of about 1,500 calories per day. Net calorie consumption takes the total calories consumed and subtracts out calories burned through exercise. In the past, I've found that the calories burned, as calculated by the site, are a little optimistic, so I created my own system of tracking my exercise that discounts my calories burned by about 30 percent.

This graph charts my energy balance from April 17 to yesterday (since I'll still be eating more today):

As you can see, I'm averaging about 2,200 calories consumed per day, and 660 calories burned, for a net of about 1,700 per day. That's more than my 1,500-calorie goal, but I've still managed to lose 5 pounds in less than three weeks, so perhaps myfitnesspal isn't overly optimistic about calories burned after all.

The graph reveals quite a bit more than that. Saturday is my rest day, and also a day when I tend to consume more calories than average -- I drink more, and I go out for meals more. I consume more than average on Sundays as well, but since it's also my long run day, my net calorie consumption on Sundays tend to be lower than average. Midweek is when I do best, since I can easily get into a routine on those days.

You can also see that my calorie expenditure has been gradually increasing over the three weeks; that's intentional as I continue to recover from my marathon. By May 13 I'll be fully recovered from Boston and ready to start a quick training cycle as I prepare to run the Peachtree 10K in July.

Hopefully by the end of May I'll be down to my target weight and will be able to return to a sustainable level of calorie consumption. Keeping my consumption down has been a little easier this time around than in the past -- I'd like to think that's due to the addition of weight training to my regimen. That said, it still has required quite a bit of willpower, especially when eating out. Losing weight has never been easy for me, and this time around is no exception. I'll try to post a few more updates as my plan progresses. In the unlikely event that you want to follow along at home, you can check out my myfitnesspal profile.

1 comment:

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