So maybe you noticed I lost a bunch of weight and then I stopped losing, then started gaining, and have been fighting off the returning pesky pounds for several months. If you read my earlier post today, you know I am annoyed with this. Obviously I need a new plan. And I think I have it!
This might sound lame, but gimme a chance to explain. I think this will work for me, and just maybe it will work for other people who are going, "What am I gonna do??? I can't seem to get it in gear! I need to lose weight!! UGH!!"
I pretty much lost all this weight by counting calories. I just logged everything I ate on the free site, sparkpeople, and kept it to a certain calorie level: 1800 to start, and then working my way down to 1500 calories per day. When I got tired of counting calories, sometimes I took a break and just kept a tally in my head, or eyeballed my food, or just ate a lot of fruits and veggies and no junk. Which works fine, unless you get your taste for junk back, which I have. But I am convinced that calorie counting is THE ONE THING that definitely WILL work for just about anyone. It's free, it's relatively easy once you're in the habit, there are no inherently off-limit foods, and there are no special programs, books, or equipment needed. If you are stuck, why not give it a try?
Anyway, obviously, I am not *working* my calorie counting like I used to. Problem being, I tend to want to eat in the late afternoon and I go over my calorie level. I keep starting over, but those calories count. So I am stalled.
Enter my big idea: a MONTHLY calorie budget. I posted earlier about every calorie counting, and how people tend to think of a 24-hour-day as a "diet unit." But if you have a bunch of good days a just a few really bad days eating too much can halt your progress. Well, how about this. You take the number of calories you should eat in one day (for me, 1500-1600), and you multiply that by the number of days in the month (30 for November). You get a calorie budget. This is the number of calories you should eat for the month. For me, taking 1600 times 30 days, I get a calorie budget of 48,000 calories for November.
Now, how does this help me, any more than setting a goal of 1600/day? Well it helps because it makes me look at the bigger picture. It makes me accountable in a broader sense. It's easy, when you have a daily calorie budget, to go over your calories by a bit, and then think, "oh well, I blew it. I will just eat as much as I want and start over tomorrow." But with a MONTHLY calorie budget, every bite counts. You have to stop and think: "hey, I only have x number of calories to spend this month, so I need to spend them wisely. If I overeat any MORE tonight, I will have to eat less all month to make up for it." This has helped me already today, because when I was grocery shopping I really wanted a big ol' sub slathered with mayo and loaded with meat and cheese. But I didn't want to spend my precious calories on THAT. So I had some turkey and a pear instead.
The beauty of the monthly budget is you can consciously save up extra calories for a treat, or you can just go along doing your very best and then IF you mess up, you will be fine. If you have an extra-hungry (PMS?) day, you can allow more of your calorie budget on that day and fewer calories on the days you're not so hungry. You just sit down at the end of the day and subtract the calories you ate from the budget, just like a grocery shopping (monetary) budget. Then you can take the amount that is left for the month, divide it by the number of days left, and that gives you an idea of how much you can eat per day for the rest of the month.
"What if you binge and end up the last week of November with no calories left?" Well, obviously, that's what we are trying to avoid. I don't think that will happen for me. I plan to work hard to make that NOT happen. And because this is interesting, and more like a game, or even a challenge to me, it is more stimulating and enticing than the same old calorie counting I'd been doing.
Okay, so that's my new plan. If things DO get out of hand and I end up using too many calories early in the month, I plan to "earn" more calories for the budget through exercise. It would have to be EXTRA exercise on top of what I already plan to do (bike 30 minutes 6x/week and strength train 3x/week). A half hour on the bike, and the bike tells me I burned 200 calories. So I can add to the calorie bank that way if I need to.
You're probably either going, "dude, she has really lost her marbles," or "wow, that's brilliant." But let's just see how it works for me. I gotta do SOMETHING new to get me going, so this is it. If you want to join me, go ahead and start tomorrow. Just take the number of days left in November times your daily calorie goal and start keeping track of what you eat! I know FOR A FACT that if I eat 48,000 calories this month, and no more, I WILL lose weight. No doubt. Stay tuned to see :)