Tag Archives: diet

Numbers STILL Don’t Lie

Back in December 2010 I wrote a blog titled “Numbers Don’t Lie.” At the time I tracked my nutritional intake and training output on an excel spreadsheet. I was a year into training for my first marathon that would take place just three weeks later at Walt Disney World. Now days there are a plethora of different websites and technology to help people keep track of their caloric intake as well as their physical activities.

Today, I’ve left Microsoft Excel spreadsheets behind in lieu of my Fitbit. I own a Fitbit One and enjoy logging all of my calories and physical activities throughout the day. I can keep an eye on my calories in versus calories out throughout the day and at any given time have a snapshot of where I am in my daily fitness journey. It’s a very helpful tool and it keeps me honest. Why? Because numbers don’t lie. If I choose to not log a snack I am just cheating myself and skewing my numbers. If I want to know why I’m gaining, maintaining or losing weight then it’s easy just to look at the numbers and know whether or not I need to make an adjustment or stay the course.

Looking at the numbers takes a lot of the variance out of the thought process. I have had people swear to me that they barely eat anything and cannot lose weight. It’s becoming more common knowledge that if you use more calories than you eat then you will lose weight.  What many people fail to consider is the damage of one or two meals each week. In the past I have enjoyed a “cheat meal” as a reward. What I didn’t realize is that I could offset all of my efforts with that one meal if I weren’t careful. Having a cheat meal is okay, but I still needed to pay attention to serving size. If my cheat meal accounts for 2-3 thousand calories or more then I very well could have worked out the entire week just to have that one meal and NOT lose any weight. Of course this is assuming weight loss is the goal.  This includes even running a marathon.

Imagine going to a cookout and indulging after a hard fought 26.2 mile run (marathon distance).  You have some major hunger so you have a burger with chips, potato salad, a coke and maybe even throw back a couple beers. Later on you decide a hotdog looks good…after all you EARNED it across those 26.2 miles, right? You also have dessert and maybe another beer if you are so inclined.  A couple cookies make their way to your plate as you hash the day’s running event with your friends and family reciting paces per mile and the number of gels you took in along the way. Before you know it the afternoon is gone and you stick around for Round 2 of eats and treats! After all is said and done you begin to add up the caloric intake and come to realize that while you may have burned ~4,000 calories during the marathon that you ingested in excess of 4,000 calories for the day.

Screenshot 2014-06-01 10.46.02
Even after a marathon effort you can still take in more calories than you burned for the day!

Now, you know me and if you’ve read my other blog posts I adamantly defend the right to enjoy a good cookout!  Plan it into your training schedule, please! However, we still need to take into consideration portion size. Have a beer…heck have two or three! Have a burger! Have a slice of pie! But, keep track along the way as you don’t want to negate all of your efforts. I want you to understand that while running is a great calorie burning exercise running is NOT an open ticket to eat anything you want as much as you want.

Also, don’t go in the entire opposite direction. After a marathon (or any a long run) you need to take in calories for recovery and taking in extra protein afterwards is a good practice in my experience. Again, focus on proper portion size…not too much and not too little.

One more thing, I know I used the marathon distance as an example and I know that many would say that the marathon isn’t about weight loss.  I agree, I was just using the ultimate distance many runners aspire to as the extreme example to prove my point.  Even running 26.2 miles you still can’t outrun your fork. Even going the marathon distance doesn’t mean you can or should eat everything in sight afterwards. As they say, “Everything in moderation…including moderation.”

Happy Training

Brian

Numbers Don’t Lie.

I love food.  A great burger. An awesome cup of coffee. A sweet dessert. A hearty chili. A good dark beer. A succulent filet. A fine fillet o’ fish.  Anyone hungry now? All can find their way into my diet and in moderation can really be enjoyed!  I used to reach for a Snickers, Kit Kat or Hershey’s if I had a sweet tooth craving. Now I reach for 1-2 squares of the darkest chocolate I can find. It takes a lot of discipline not to pig out one day a week until I started keeping a food diary for a while. It’s on the desktop of my work laptop so it’s always staring me in the face. Not only did I keep a food diary, but I kept it on an excel spread sheet broken down by meals and snacks.  So I guess it’s more of a calorie diary than a food diary. Remember, I was 65-75 pounds over weight at the beginning. From writing everything down, I found out that numbers don’t lie.

If the numbers don't add up I don't lose weight
I can tell about how many calories I’ve taken in as well as the work I’ve put in and the pounds I’ve lost at a glance.

Obviously, I needed a change and I made those changes. As of today I am quickly approaching 180 lbs which is a far cry from the 245 lbs at which I started! One of the amazing things I found after starting this food diary was the effects of one meal on my week. Numbers don’t lie. If the little dial on the scales didn’t go down then I could look back at my spreadsheet and know why. I recorded calories burned as well so I really got into it. After a while I even started changing the font color to red for high calorie meals.  This was a visual indicator of what stopped me from being successful in my goal that week.  Now if you’ve read my other posts you know that I plan for holidays and enjoy the foods that go along with them.  I used to work for the Walt Disney Company so I know all about indulgence!  🙂  But aside from the 10-12 weeks a year when it’s okay (for me) to splurge I try to keep on track with a fairly controlled diet which includes all sorts of foods…foods that support my current training goals whether it be for a marathon, dropping 5 pounds, maintaining my current weight, gaining muscle, etc. I found that if I had a meal that was 800 calories for lunch and I burned 500 calories in exercise then a lot of time I was just going to the gym so I could have french fries that day. Totally not worth it for me since the numbers didn’t add up. Why? Because numbers don’t lie. Eventually I had to discipline myself to change my behavior and my perspective on what constituted a meal. I was way out of whack on my perspective of what size a “meal” should be. Did I need an 800-1000 calorie lunch? No, I didn’t. Did I have to have a salad every day? No, I didn’t. I just needed to make different choice and explore my food options a bit more. Recently I hit a weight plateau so I went back to my calorie diary and started keeping track again.  Sure enough, it took me a couple weeks, but the pounds started to come off again.  Bam, down another 5 pounds.  Numbers don’t lie. So the moral of the story is know what you’re eating, how much you’re eating and the consequences of it all. I found there is a fine line between indulgence & gluttony. If you’re not sure where that line is just look at the numbers because numbers don’t lie. Happy Training & Happy Holidays!