Yesterday I went for my annual physical exam. My blood pressure was good (122/80) and although I haven’t gotten back the lab results, my lipids (total cholesterol, etc.) are usually good, by a stroke of genetic luck (I seem to line up with my mother’s side rather than my father’s, where high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease have flourished.) As a cancer survivor (March, 2001) I’m hoping to get those little notes in the mail that say “normal” for the other tests that were done. And my doctor encouraged me to go for screenings that a new health care program might not give such an easy nod to in the future, so I went ahead and had a bone density test and will schedule my second screening colonoscopy soon. All of these things are important, but there’s always one other issue that looms largest in my mind at this time every year—and really, most days of my life—and that is my weight.
Although, according to the scales in my physician’s office, I’ve only gained 2 pounds this past year, the numbers were tell-tale: I have hit my all-time high, again. And the arthritis pain in my feet, knees and lower back remind me constantly that I’m carrying around at least 20 extra pounds that those bones and joints would prefer not to have to transport. [As an interesting side note, the scales in the physician’s office (fully clothed) weighed me as 12 pounds heavier than the scales in the radiology office, where I was barefoot and only wore a thin cotton gown. Could my sweater, boots and pants possibly weigh 12 pounds?]
So today I’m finally at a place where I’m ready to do something about this weight. Again. But this time, I’m willing to ask for help, and to return to an ancient practice: counting calories, and writing down everything I eat, and drink.
Asking for help from my Facebook friends, I was encouraged to hear from two relatives right off the bat, my niece in Jackson, Mississippi and my first cousin in San Antonio, Texas! (I’m feeling the love.) One said to eat only 1500 calories a day and do cardio exercise for 30 minutes at least 4 times a week. The other mentioned 4 400-calorie meals a day. And a dear friend told me about online calorie-counting sites where you can even journal your program. Thanks so much, guys!
So now I’ve got information and a goal. Oh, I haven’t mentioned the goal yet, have I? Ten weeks from tomorrow I’ll be at the beach for spring break with a friend and her family. That got me to thinking: 2 pounds a week for 10 weeks = 20 pounds. I would love to lose 20 pounds!
But instead of an online journal, I’m using a tiny notebook that fits in my purse so I can record food and drink when I’m away from the house. I’m hoping that its presence will discourage too many stops at bars and fast food restaurants. Honesty is going to be key, of course.
I have a hunch that a lot of my calories come from two sources: wine and chips. So I looked them up, and most white wines have 20-23 calories per ounce. Then I measured the amount I usually pour into two different sized glasses—a tall white wine glass, and a very small, pink “depression glass” that a friend gave me. Look at the difference in how 4 ounces (92 calories) of Pinot Grigio look in these two glasses. I think I’m going to try to only use the small glass for a while. Psychologically it feels like I’m getting more☺
So, today I begin. Here’s what I’ve had so far. Before dinner.
3 cups decaf coffee
(w 2 Splendas and 1 t. raw sugar and 1 t. fat free Half n Half each) = 55 calories
1 cup regular coffee
(w 3 t. sugar and 1 t. milk – at a friend’s house) = 55 calories
8 oz. Pinot Grigio = 204 calories
7 South of the Border tortilla chips = 140 calories
½ peanut butter & jelly sandwich (45 cal. Bread, 95 cal. Pb, 50 cal. Jelly) = 190 calories
Total by 4:30 p.m. = 604 calories
Notice that I have not had ANY fruits or vegetables today☹
So, for dinner (and any snacks and drinks before or after) tonight, I can have about 900 calories. Looks like I’m going to need to focus on vegetables and steer clear of rice, potatoes, and fats. I might figure 4 oz. of wine into the evening. This measuring and counting calories is always a big reality check. (I was happy to find this quick online calorie counter, but I think I’m going to also need to buy a small one for my purse.)
I’ve done 30 minutes on the elliptical 5 out of the past 7 days, so that’s a good start. I’m wondering if it would help to try to do 45 minutes rather than 30. (In December I worked out 16 of 31 days, but I don't want to even think about how many calories I consumed during the holidays!)
I’d love to hear from my readers—encouragement, advice, success stories, failure stories, keep-going stories, whatever! Kinda’ hard to be starting out on this at 5 pm on a Friday afternoon with the weekend (and company) coming, but I’ve found that there’s always some reason to put off anything that’s hard, and things that really matters. And often those things go hand in hand.