Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Oatmeal and Sausage

Whether you have ten lbs to lose or 100 lbs to lose,
this process is the same:
Know what you are eating; change what doesn't work.
I'm in the middle of my first week of "trying-not-to-eat-like-a-human-garbage-disposal". And it is kind of hard.  Habits are hard to break and when you get into a behavior pattern, you will do things without even realizing it.  You will also have a hard time making decisions about the relative impact of your daily choices.  For example, having justified eating a big lunch from my local sushi bar a few times a week, it was hard to force myself to look up exactly how many calories I was eating because I had already classified this behavior as "good".  It doesn't mean I can't continue to do this, but once I took the responsibility of realizing that the two rolls I was eating for lunch were accounting for about 900 calories, I know that I need to dial it back a bit.

Monday was my first day and I started off pretty good with good healthy breakfast (oatmeal and turkey sausage with maple syrup, 215 calories), but then the inevitable happened.  I got hungry.  Since I was supposed to lift later that day, I used this hunger to justify a snack.  In this case, crackers, lots of them, mainly because I was out of bananas, but crackers have a lot of calories.  So, I ate a 200 calorie healthy breakfast and then ate about 300 calories worth of crackers.  Silly.

This could have been a good start to the day,
but I stopped paying attention to what I was stuffing in my face.
And to make matters worse, I did not get around to getting into the gym, I used the residual hunger and potential training as an excuse to eat a big, not-so-healthy lunch.  (This is where the 900 calories of sushi happened.) It is important to note that I had a pretty bad cold at the time and had lost my voice and so fatigue and lack of motivation were already looming on the horizon.  I also went on spent the afternoon teaching strength at my children's elementary school to about 40 third and fourth graders.  So, did I come home in any mood to lift?  No.  Did I lift?  No.  Was I hungry?  Yes.  Did I eat more crap? Yes.

And so, I've already eaten the bulk of my calories for the day and we still have to sit down and eat dinner.  This is was much better, baked chicken and a salad with kale, avocado, and tomatoes, but then I screwed it all up by eating two biscuits while I cleaned up the kitchen.  Why did I do this?  Because I didn't eat enough dinner.  Why didn't I eat enough dinner?  Because I felt guilty from indulging at lunch and snacking later.  And then I had two glasses of wine.

So, Monday's grand total:  I didn't train and I ate about 2500 calories, 700 more than my calorie calculator allowed me for weight maintenance.  Typically I will eat more than my daily calorie allotment on the days that I train and eat less on my recovery days.  This was kind of the opposite.  And this has been typical for about four months.

So, changes I am incorporating this week:

1.  Breakfast will always be the same.

Oatmeal:  It's good for you.
I've tried a lot of things for breakfast and I have found that I need a decent dose of protein in the morning to keep me going.  I also need some carbohydrates.  Over the past few years, I have always come back to having oatmeal (the rolled oats kind, not the instant) and turkey sausages or an egg.  So, in the interest of consistency, I'm keeping with this.  It is easy to prepare, easy to eat, and provides me with 12 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, 24 grams of carbohydrates, and 4 grams of fat.  If I get hungry later in the morning, I will have apples and/or bananas on hand and if this is consistent, I'll bump the oatmeal up to the full serving.  Being prepared is 90% of the battle.

2.  I will determine the calorie and macronutrient content of everything I eat.  Even when I'd rather turn a blind eye.  I have some book references and I have the internet.  If you can google, you can find it.  Don't worry if you've already eaten it, you still need to know what you're eating.  I just downloaded My Fitness Pal onto my phone so I really have no excuse to not keep track of things.

3.  There are no such thing as "cheat" meals.  I will enjoy my food, make changes in my daily eating pattern when there is a known indulgence on the horizon (holiday party, dinner out at a restaurant, Christmas dinner, etc.), and control my portions even in the midst of decadence.  In other words, PAY ATTENTION to what I'm eating.  When I fail to lose weight or just eat healthier, it is always due to a lack of attention.

I'd just like to finish by saying that I don't consider this a diet, I consider it a behavior re-set.  I let things get out of hand, I stopped paying attention, and I was just being lazy.  You may look at the photo above and think "You're not fat at all!" or you might think "You're a trainer!  Where is your six-pack!". So, before we get any further with this project, let me clarify two things:

1.  I don't think I'm "fat".  I have a healthy BMI and I am very fit.  However, I am "fluffier" than I'd like to be, a lot of my clothes no longer fit well, and there's no reason I can't maintain my weight and my waistline where I want it.  I have hypothyroidism and had half of my thyroid removed a few years back because I had a tumor growing on it.  I now have to take Synthroid every day to regulate my metabolism.  I must be vigilant about my diet because it is relatively easy for me to pack on the pounds rather quickly.  It takes a lot of work, it is hard, and a lot of times, its not fun, but changing my habits makes it a lot easier.

2.  I had a six-pack once, and it was awful.  I had a six-pack, but I also did not have any breasts.  I looked like a twelve year old boy with a Barbie head stuck on top.  Six-pack abs are something that very few people walk around with, especially if they are over the age of 25.  Achieving bodyfat that low is something that bodybuilders and figure competitors do to prepare for a contest, but rarely maintain it through the course of the year.  Women with bodyfat low enough to have a visible six-pack will often cease to menstruate.  It can also cause a shift in hormones that impact one's bone density and overall health.  So, no six-packs here.

It is Wednesday and I feel I'm getting back on track with self-discipline and routine.  As I usually tell my clients to do, I'm logging my diet and exercise using My Fitness Pal.  There are a number of similar free online apps you can use for this purpose, or simply keep a notebook.  No matter how you do it, paying attention will benefit you far more than not.  I'll post another update in a few days and see if I've managed to get any closer to my goal.


  1. You know, it's refreshing to see someone at normal healthy weight admit that they screwed the pooch by 700 calories.

  2. Chi (from the bad place)December 5, 2012 at 7:33 AM

    215kcals of oats, turkey and maple syrup. Was your breakfast one spoonful of food or two?

    Also, oat meal, is that just what we call oats on this side of the atlantic?

  3. Well, thank you. And for what its worth, I'm hungry. :)

  4. meh ok, know i have actually read the whole article, you have answered the second question.

  5. Chi,

    It actually fills up a substantial sized bowl. That's 4 sausage links, and about 3/4 of a cup of cooked oats. This morning I added a half cup of blueberries and couldn't have eaten much more. Well, that's not entirely true. I could have eaten a lot more, but was pleasantly full.


  6. Sara,

    I'm pretty sure you are logging my eating habits right now (and my goals). I need to touch base with you soon for advice - or simply keep reading your blog. How do you like My Fitness Pal?

    1. I like My Fitness Pal (MFP) a lot actually. I'm a little technologically backward and just started using apps this year. I also use Endomondo to track my runs and love that as well. My dad actually introduced me to MFP and has had a lot of success with it. It truly does have a lot of options for food counts and I like having a ball park figure for where I'm at during the course of the day.

    2. Thanks! I'll check it out when I get home.