Day 46: National Nutrition Month

Disclaimer: This post is part of my participation in the Genghis Grill Health Kwest Challenge. #Healthkwest #GenghisGrillAd http://t.co/JcWNs8HuyX


Today’s #HealthKwest social media challenge: It’s National Nutrition Month! Write a short blog post about some things you’ve learned about Nutrition during the Kwest!

 

Over the years, I had done a fair amount of reading on issues of nutrition. As a diabetic, I understood well the effect that carbs had on my body (and the importance of consuming them slowly over the course of the day). And I also knew that a good diet is one that is as natural as possible, with most of my food coming from fresh sources and less being processed. And of course I knew the dangers involved with our industrial food supply and why it is better to eat organic food as much as possible. This was all good information but I was lacking two key components: first, how to integrate this knowledge into my daily life and second how should my diet change so that I could lose weight in a healthy manner.

During the last 46 days I’ve had the chance to work through some of the issues. The most important lesson I learned is that losing weight is largely a matter of math – namely that I need to burn more calories each day than I am taking in.

Day 46 of #Healthkwest
Day 46 of #Healthkwest

To be able to do this, I first had to calculate my maintenance calorie count – this is the number of calories I burn in a day by simply being alive and doing my basic normal activities. There are several formulas on how to calculate this number (and a slight variance on the results depending on which formula one uses — all of our bodies are metabolically different, so these formulas are just rough estimates), but the easiest way I found to do this was to use the Calorie Maintenance Calculator tool from acaloriecounter.com (scroll down towards the bottom of the page for the calculator tool)

With this data in hand, I now know that I can maintain my current weight by eating precisely this amount of calories, or I can lose weight by eating less or burning more — in fact the math is easy for this, a reduction of 500 calories per day will result in one pound of weight loss per week.

When I began the HealthKwest I weighed 302 pounds and was only “lightly active,” so my maintenance number was 3227 calories. So dieting wise I sought to reduce my caloric intake down to 1800-2000 calories per day (a reduction 1227-1427 calories per day) and then to boost my exercise, starting at a goal of 45 minutes to one hour of heavy exertion per day (which at my current weight meant burning 500-750 more calories).

This formula worked well for the first half of the contest, as the weight came off fast, but now it is not working as well. My weight loss has slowed down which is frustrating to me. I have a few theories on how I can fix this and do well for the last couple of weeks…

1. Since I have lost around 40 pounds (when I last checked), my maintenance calorie count has gone down a bunch – to 2977 (a reduction of 250 calories), but I have not adjusted my target calories. Ideally I need to drop my goal calories (1800-2000 at the start) down by 250 calories, to around 1550-1750 per day. This will be hard but since I only have two weeks left, I think it is what I need to do. Obviously over the long haul, I don’t think I want to keep my calories down this low, but I’m hoping that I can push my weight loss into a faster rate of loss for these next two weeks.

2. When I started the HealthKwest I tracked my calories very methodically, logging every single thing I ate into an app on my phone. But now I’m much more complacent, not tracking everything and instead just trying to keep a running guestimated total in my head. I suspect I’m probably underestimating my calories, so I need to go back to careful tracking and recording of all calories.

3. Obviously I can always exercise more. I’ve been shooting for at least 2 hours per day lately, but I may need to do a lot more during these last two weeks.

4. I need to continue to make fruits and veggies the primary focus of my diet.

5. I need to continue to substitute cabbage for the starch in my bowls, but also should work on reducing my calories in other ways – rationing or eliminating the meat would be smart, but also need to do a better job with the sauces, trying to make that part lower calorie too.

Those are my thoughts for right now. There are of course as always some challenges ahead. My family normally celebrates Passover and Easter (my family is bi-religious) but both fall during the closing days of HealthKWest. I don’t want to miss out on these holidays (both of which are very food-oriented) but I also don’t want to lose any ground during the closing days of HealhKwest. I’m also struggling to stay on track of everything else in my life (work, seminary and family) while maintaining the appropriate level of intensity in the HealthKwwest, but I’m just going to have to do my best and press on during these last 14 days.

Anyway this was wordier than I meant it to be, but that’s what is going on for me.

As to the original question – mostly I think I would say that the key to losing weight while staying health is lots of fruits and veggies. It really is that simple. I suspect that one could even not count calories, but just eat nothing but fruits and veggies and lose weight. I’m not ready to give up meat, dairy, etc. but I am convinced that eating a veggie-centric diet is the way to go.


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And last but not least, my semi-legenday Lego Movie-themed Genghis Grill dance video…

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