Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Day 24: What's In A Day?

Update: 239.6 lbs, 18.6 lbs so far, 19.4 left to reach goal.

First time I've been under 240 in quite a while. Someone asked why simply counting and reducing calories is working so well for me. I gave him the simple formula I had read that said 3500 extra calories either way equals a pound of fat. Eat 500 extra each day for a week, and you'll gain a pound, eat 500 less each day and you'll lose a pound. Since I was losing more than a pound each week, I realized that I must be eating quite a bit less than 500 calories off of my normal intake. It made me stop and look at some of my previous day's menus, and I was shocked to see how bad they could be.

I get up at 6 am to get the girls going for school, and would typically have coffee and a decent sized bowl of cereal (any kind we had) with skim or non-fat milk. Turns out, my decent sized portion is at least 2 cups of cereal, and 1 to 1 1/2 cups of milk. With just about any cereal we would have in the house, that's going to be 300 or more for the cereal, and 150 or so for the milk. Plus one or two cups of coffee with more milk...brings my normal bowl of cereal and coffe with milk up to right around 500 calories. (And that's not counting the days I have toast, or we make pancakes or bacon and eggs, etc.)

Since I eat breakfast around 6:30, on many days I'd be jones-ing for a mid morning something...and would cruise through Starbucks for a tall non-fat latte at 120 calories (pretty much the milk) and often times wash it down with an Orange Cranberry scone. I looked it up the other day, and was surprised that it was a whopping 470 calories! Good gosh...that "snack" was 590 calories alone!

Lunch can be just about anything. On the days we have 'work lunches,' we frequent places like Quiznos for sandwhiches, Love Love for teriyaki chicken, John's for chinese food, Paddingtons for pizza, Baja Fresh for mexican, Lefty's for pizza, Applebees (once in a while, because it's across the street) or sometimes La Hacienda for mexican. Now, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that there are not a ton of low-cal options at most of these places, and actually, even if there are...they've not been what I've been ordering. Let me give you a couple of ideas:

Baja Fresh Fajitas: 1300-1500 calories depending on meat and tortilla options
Teriyaki plate, with Gyozas and sauce: about 1000 calories, as best as I can figure
Paddintons humdinger: gosh, total guess 1200-1500 calories
John's sesame chicken and fried rice: 1300-1500 calories...huge portions here
Quiznos Honey Mustard sub: 900-1100 calories
La Hacienda Cheese enchiladas, rice, beans: 1200-1400 calories

...and you get the point. Some of these are general guesses, but basically lunch has pretty much been a 1000 calorie (or more) affair. So lets just say 1100 calories for lunch.

By now, I've had plenty to eat, and can probably skip a snack for the afternoon, but might have another latte, or at least some coffee and cream...but not every day, so lets leave the afternoon with a zero count for now.

My wife makes pretty sensible dinners, and I usually eat pretty good sized portions. I don't double or triple the normal portions, but have my fair share, and we do eat out on occasion. But portion control is probably an issue for more people than would think. What I've considered normal portions are actually probably large according to health experts. All that to say, even a fairly healthy dinner of chicken, vegetables, rice/pasta and maybe some rolls can add up fast when I have a big mound of rice, or butter up a couple rolls to go with it. I won't list out a bunch of dinner menus, but I'd bet on the average I put down 800-1000 calories at dinner, when we eat at home. That number goes up if we eat out, I'm pretty much sure.

So lets add up what we have so far:
500 - Breakfast
590 - Mid morning 'snack'
1100 - Typical lunch
800-1000 - Typical dinner

2990 - 3190 calories - total count for the day

Here's where it gets ugly...those that are faint of heart may want to turn away. We usually have dinner by 6 pm on most nights, and sometimes as early as 5:30. By the time our kids are in bed and we have time to watch a show together or work on projects, or the computer, etc...it's past 10 pm. I'm not usually in bed before midnight on just about any night, and we've easily pushed past 1 am to watch a show and just spend time together. When we've been especially crazy on a work project, I've also been up late working before.

The problem with staying up late is that a good chunk of time passes between dinner and bed time, and hunger starts rearing it's ugly head. Now if I'd grab a carrot or apple, there's no real issue. However, I don't have that kind of will power (or haven't harnessed it until now) and usually opt for cookies and milk, ice cream, second helping of dinner, or Paul's Famous Nachos....all of which can equat to as many calories as my dinner ration. Who knew cookies were like 250 calorie bombs each?! So, not every night was a big snack night, but probably every other night, so lets just say I added 700 calories to the tally for the day.

Bringing our grand total to 3690 - 3890 calories for a single day! Shocking. Crazy thing is, I know I'm not in that boat alone...as I've told people this story, some nod along in an understanding kind of way because they've been there too. Now the weight loss I've been experiencing makes more sense. If a big guy like me takes in almost 4000 stinking calories and reduces that diet to no more than 1500 calories, and drinks the recommended daily amount of water, and tries to get on the treadmill for 20 minutes....the weight, at least initially, is going to come off quicker, and I can attest that it is so.

So what's in a day? A lot, if you don't pay attention, or don't care...and I've been living both of those out. If nothing else, aside from the weight loss, I'll have a better understanding of what I'm consuming every day.


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