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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A mile (or three!) in my shoes.

When last we met, I was dishing on healthy summer sides – simple, healthy choices to make in order to beat the summer weight I inevitably always put on in the warmer months. I was determined to beat it this year, and not let my “special occasions” get the best of me. Enjoying party and boat food (and drinks!) once in a while is fine. But if you’re like me, summer becomes one giant special occasion.

If you read between the lines of that sentence, you’ll gather that I didn’t exactly practice what I preach. “Me…becomes….giant.” That’s how I read that sentence. OK, so it wasn’t that bad. I gained about eight pounds (rather quickly, I’ll admit). My bikinis looked good in June and not really that good in August (they must be shrinking). And my shorts and skirts are tight. Urg. I always get a physical in August, so there’s no avoiding the reality of the scale.

My Very Fit, Tiny Doctor: “How did this happen? We need to check your thyroid. I’m ordering a full work up.”

Me: “No need to check my thyroid…again. I ate ice cream every day since our vacation in June. No real mystery here.”

Tiny Doctor: “But we lose weight in the summer! All those great outdoor activities!”

Me: “You mean like eating?” (she didn’t laugh)

Tiny Doctor: “You need to lose 20 pounds.”

TWENTY?! I only gained eight. If I lose 20 pounds, all the clothes in my closet that I can’t button now will be too big. TWENTY?!

Me: “Ha ha, no seriously.”

Tiny Doctor: “I think you should weigh X pounds.”

Me: “I haven’t weighed X pounds since 8th grade.”

Tiny Doctor: “By next August, you will. Tell me about your diet and exercise.”

Me: “Well, I go to the gym 3-4 times a week. Classes, elliptical, Body Pump for weight training. And I write a healthy cooking blog. Whole grains, lean proteins, lots of veggies. I know what to do.”

Tiny Doctor gave me a look that all but said “knowing is clearly not doing.” Gulp. How embarrassing!

Tiny Doctor: “You need to run.”

Me: “I don’t run. What about the elliptical? Or step class?”

Tiny Doctor: “No, running is the answer. Three to six miles a day.”

OK. Hold the phone. Three to six miles? Running? I can't run. I mean, I can do hours of advanced step class like it’s nobody’s business. But running is a fight-or-flight-only activity. I last about three minutes on the treadmill.

Tiny Doctor: “At your current weight and BMI, your body needs about 1,400 calories to maintain. I want you to eat 1,100 calories a day of protein and whole grains until you lose the weight and then 1,200 as a lifestyle. Run 3-6 miles 3 days per week and weight train 2 days per week. You should lose about 1 pound per week and lower your body fat by 2%.”

Hold the other phone! Take all the numbers out of this sentence and it reads like one of my blog entries. Eat right and exercise. Lean proteins, veggies, whole grains. Keep track of your calories. Eat less than you burn and you’ll lose weight. Lose weight slowly to keep it off. It's a lifestyle! I know how to do this! But really, I thought my base numbers would be higher.

What this really speaks to is the misconception that our bodies need 2,000 calories a day, as nutrition labels would suggest. Clearly if I ate 2,000 calories a day, I’d gain weight! (Which is evidently exactly what happened this summer.) One size does not fit all! I was shocked at my 1,400 number. That’s a strict diet for most people! I encourage you to have your doctor calculate your BMI and show you the number of calories that your body burns in 24 hours "just being" -- in other words, going through your daily routine without deliberate exercise. The burn number is probably a lot lower than you think. No wonder it’s so hard to lose weight! It's depressing, but once you have the math (your math), it's hard to argue. Calories in, calories out.

This is an outrage. Twenty pounds. Ha! I got to the office and shared my story, looking for a little sympathy. (“Can you believe it?! Twenty pounds!” “Where will you lose it from?” “I don’t know!”). Then I called my mom. She’ll be on my side, surely. Nobody tells her little girl she needs to change!

Me: “Mom, my doctor wants me to lose TWENTY POUNDS! Isn’t that ridiculous?”

Mom: “Good for her! You hold onto that doctor! She knows how important weight is at your age!”

Gee, thanks Mom! Now I’m fat and old. (wink…I love you Mom!) But I know she’s right. Eight pounds this summer is ten next summer, and 12 the year after that. And I’m almost 36, after all. It’s a recipe for disaster, and I have to get a handle on it now. Doctor's orders.

Oh well. I’ve always wanted to be a runner. There’s no time like the present! I went home from work and put my sneakers on. Our road is exactly half a mile. I’ll run down and back. That should be good for a start. And really, I wasn’t even sure I would make it a whole mile.

I ran and ran, willing my legs to keep moving. It was a brain game. And I did the mile. It was a moment of victory and it felt so good! The next day, I did a mile and a quarter. A couple days later, I went for two and I thought I was going to pass out. But I did it. I stayed there for a week, and then moved up to two-and-a-half miles. I can’t believe I’m doing this!

It’s been a month since my doctor visit and now I’m up to 3-mile stretches. I’m trying not to think about the fact that this is the minimum distance she wants me to do. Instead, I’m focusing on the feelings I have about this accomplishment. For me, this is huge. And to be honest, I’m starting to enjoy it. Keith bought me new running shoes to protect my joints. I got a heart rate monitor to track my burn. I’ve lost 6 of the 8 pounds I gained over the summer. Now it’s a mission for me – and not really as bad as I thought it would be. I picture myself totally fit at X pounds, and it motivates me. The calorie part is easy. The running part is monumental. This truly could change my life, and I look forward to sharing my journey with you. Stay tuned!

So what does one eat as part of this plan? Try the recipes in my cookbook -- all work perfectly as part of a 1,200 calorie per day lifestyle! The Svelte Gourmet: A Month of Main Courses cookbook is available at www.thesveltegourmet.com/products.html. Enjoy!


Anonymous said...

I lost 37 pounds in 2 years by eating roughly 1400-1600 calories per day while running/walking 3 times a week and doing spinning classes twice per week. It's tough! (Note that it took me two years of this on-and-off, haha.) I got so gym-obsessed that on Saturdays I used to do a 45-minute Zumba class followed by a 10 minute ab-blaster class followed by a 60 minute Spinning class! Holy Calorie burn, Batman!

Since I lost the 37 pounds (as of January 2010) I've gained about 8 of them back because I now don't track Calories (I *guesstimate* that I consume around 1600-1800 Calories per day, but I really don't know for sure) and I only run 3-4 miles twice a week and no longer belong to a gym (so I don't do spinning anymore... sigh...).

Just be healthy and happy!

Me said...

I've also dropped quite a bit of weight (about 25 pounds) and I do exercise (treadmill and yoga) and try and eat well MOST of the time. But I am a firm believer in healthy AND happy. If I had to run 3-6 miles three times a week, weight train twice a week and make sure I only consume 1200 calories a week, I would quickly become miserable. Good luck to you. Although I must say this as well - if your doctor told the woman I see in your "about" picture that she needed to lose 20 pounds, fire her! I sincerely hope you were a lot more portly at the time she saw you or she needs to get her nose out of her antiquated BMI charts and just look up to see what a real healthy woman looks like.

The Svelte Gourmet said...

Ha ha, thank you! I did gain about 8 pounds and was fighting to fit into the jeans from that "About" photo. I've lost the 8 (not the 20!)....but I find that this routine of running and weight training has totally transformed my body. I look better now than I did at my starting weight -- toned, more curvy, and with the legs of an athelete. I feel better, too, and it is the best cure for stress. 20 pounds or not, my doctor was right about the lifestyle. I feel like a new person! But healthy AND happy is what's MOST important.