28 July 2010

I Still Miss You, Rice.

I'd never been one to actually count calories in my life. After all I'd never had to before; as a teenager I could snarf down two Big Mac meals and go for dessert after with no pauses or gastrointestinal distress. Obviously my Ferrari-like metabolism slowed down as I got older, but I also started minding my diet a little more closely. It wasn't enough though. Sure, every now and then I'd attempt some kind of portion control, but those moments were few and far between and inevitably I'd go back to eating way more than what I actually required (very easy to do when I went out to eat or got take-out several times a week). to add to this, by 2006 I led an almost completely sedentary lifestyle consisting of 50-hour workweeks in a cubicle and minimal outside physical activity, so boom -- I gained weight.

The added pounds weren't enough to buy new jeans or anything, but I was definitely out of shape and overeating. It didn't seem like it at the time but my daily caloric intake was probably twice to three times what I really needed. Carbs, unsurprisingly, were the usual culprit. I downed white rice, noodles, sandwich bread and cereal like they were going to be rationed the next day. I decided a few months ago that the madness had to stop.

As you might know, I've been on a seafood diet since February. In April, I started P90X (I've just finished BTW! More on this in an upcoming post). In June, I decided to start counting calories to determine just how much I've been eating, and to cut down accordingly. The results have been very enlightening.

So I've been using FitDay to keep track of my food and caloric intake for almost two months now. The benefits have been twofold:
  1. Psychological/Mental. I've become extremely aware of what and how much I eat. FitDay has a great feature that displays the nutrition information for the thousands of food items in its database, so I can no longer blissfully ignore the carbohydrate (or sugar, or sodium) content of any of my meals. I scrutinize the nutrition labels of every jar, bottle, bag and box that goes in my grocery cart. As a result, I find it a lot easier to say "no" to food. And I actually feel great knowing that I'm making informed choices about my own diet. Knowledge, in this case, equals much better health.

  2. Physical. I've definitely slimmed down. Unsurprisingly, keeping track of (and regulating) my caloric intake worked. Last weekend I weighed in at one pound below my high school weight! My jeans are sagging. I have lost some muscle mass as well -- P90X concentrates more on general physical preparedness rather than weightlifting -- but I'm planning on changing my diet regimen slightly to include much more protein when I finish cutting weight.
Giving up carbs was pretty easy for the most part. The majority of my carb intake now comes from a cup of oatmeal in the morning, supplemented with various fruits/veggies throughout the day. I don't buy sandwich bread or cook pasta anymore. Initially, I thought that giving up white rice would be terrible and while I do miss eating it, especially with certain meals, I can definitely do without it. I probably eat rice only once or twice a month now, usually when I treat myself to sushi :)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not immune to cravings.

almost, but not quite [via]

There have been times when a grilled burger, rice noodles or any one of several Filipino dishes sounds like it would be perfect, and I've given in to those cravings on rare occasions. I didn't adhere to my regimen a handful of times (including camping and a wedding reception). On those occasions, I had to decide between going hungry and being as reasonable and practical as possible. The choice has been easy. I'm happy to say that it's worked -- very well -- so far.

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