Q. How did you determine your calorie needs in the beginning? Did you start with WW and later move to calorie counting? I read in one of your FAQ posts that you didn't start exercising until you were well into your weight loss. I'm already exercising 3-4 days per week. When you started exercising what did that do to your tracking? Me and WW recently broke up so I'm trying to determine how to count calories and activity without their tracker.
A. When I started losing weight in August 2009, I started by counting Weight Watchers Points. I didn't join WW, attend meetings, or use their online program... I just used a paper journal and counted Points from the materials I had at home (previous WW attempts). I wasn't exercising at all at that time.
As I lost weight, the number of Points I was allowed to eat kept dropping. I started to feel like I was starving all the time! I decided to track my calories for a week and see how many calories I was getting from the amount of Points I was allowed. I discovered that I was getting only 1,000-1,200 calories per day! No wonder I felt like I was starving. So I decided to switch over to counting calories alone, and to track them on SparkPeople.com. SparkPeople recommended 1,200-1,550 calories per day, and I tried that for a couple of weeks. I still felt hungry, so I increased my baseline calories (see below) to around 1,600 per day, and was still able to lose weight.
|750 calories, and one of my favorite "earned" treats|
The only exception I made to this was on my long run days. I chose to allow myself to use ALL the calories earned on my long runs on a special treat--a frosted cookie from Mrs. Fields, ice cream from Maggie Moo's, a big piece of cake, etc. I only do one "long run" per week, so it gave me something to look forward to, rather than dread.
So, to answer your question, there is no right way to determine your calorie needs in the beginning. I had to experiment to find out what worked for me. I knew 1,200 was not enough, and I was NOT happy getting that few calories, so I made up my own "rule". I would start high and see if you lose weight that week, and if not, then lower it a little and try again. Obviously, you want to be able to eat as many calories as possible and still lose weight--so it just takes some experimenting to find out what works for you.
Q. I know you are training for a marathon and running is the only exercise you do now. But have you ever thought about anything else for exercise? Like different classes--Zumba (I love), body pump, spinning, or boot camp. Or if you can't go to classes what about different DVD's? I just wanted to know do you ever change it up.
A. The short answer to this is no. Before losing weight, I never enjoyed exercise--period. I started walking in order to train to walk the half-marathon in Indy. And then I started running only to run a 5K race for my bucket list. I never, ever expected to "become a runner"--I thought I would run that one race and never run another step again.
But somewhere along the way, I really began to develop this love/hate relationship with running, and I got hooked! I love constantly trying to improve my distances and times. I love only competing with MYSELF, and nobody else. I love that it's a solo sport, for the most part--there aren't people watching me, and I don't have to see all my loose skin jiggling in mirrors at a gym. I love how efficient it is--I burn a heck of a lot of calories in just 30 minutes of running.
I've tried a couple of classes with Jessica, and I was horribly uncomfortable the entire time. I'm very uncoordinated and awkward. I think that's another reason I like to run--it just feels like a natural movement to me. I don't have memorize moves and follow instructions. I tried DVD's many times, and just grew frustrated.
I am NOT trying to say there is anything wrong with doing classes or DVD's, however. I think that everyone should do what they enjoy, and if you enjoy your classes, that's great!
Q. I'm an avid follower of your blog and love the fact that you have about as much enthusiasm toward dreadmill running as I do--however we both know that there are times when it's a necessity. What I'm wondering is whether you have any set dreadmill workout plans that you work from? Do you get them off the net? Make them up yourself? Or do you just see what you fancy on the day? I'd love your thoughts on this as I'm constantly looking for something - anything - to make the dreadmill just that little bit more interesting.
A. Yes, running in place for miles on end is completely boring! When I use the treadmill, it is only out of necessity--when I don't have anyone to watch the kids, or when it's too hot to run outside. I will run in snow and freezing temps, but during the summer, I just can't stand running in the heat. So usually, I will just do what I need to do and get it done. But there are ways of making it go by faster...
I've found that the most enjoyable (least dreadful?) way to do the treadmill is to change something every minute. I might start at 6.0 mph, and then after 1 minute, bump it up to 7.0, then after a minute of that, go down to 5.5, etc. Here are a couple of my favorite treadmill workouts--I've included a run, a walk, and a run/walk for variety (feel free to change the speed settings to whatever numbers are appropriate for you).
|This is the run, and at those speeds will total about 5K|
And now a question for all of you...
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Noah asked me if he could make me breakfast. He made me a scrambled egg and toast with butter and grape jelly. I thought it was cute that he asked--my kids don't normally acknowledge Mother's Day! Maybe he's old enough now that he understand it ;)