May 27, 2012

Reader Questions & Answers #14

On Sundays, I will answer some readers' questions in a post. If you have a question that you would like me to answer here on the blog, just send me an e-mail with the subject "Q&A", and I may include them in a future Q&A post. They don't have to be about weight loss or running--anything is game!  (Remember, I'm not a doctor or dietician, or any sort of medical professional--I can only answer questions from my own experience).

Q. Were you very accurate with your calorie counting?  I know counting calories will not be exact, but did you always do a give or take? Now that you have lost weight, do you feel that you can relax more about weight loss?

A. I am such a perfectionist that when I started losing weight, I was very precise with my measurements. I like to measure food by weighing it out in grams rather than portioning with measuring cups or spoons. While portioning my oatmeal, I would make sure it was exactly 40 grams--if it said 41, I would take a little out. I felt like it HAD to be precise, or else I was "cheating".

Now, however, I realize how silly that was! Eating 41 grams of oatmeal instead of 40 is not what made me fat. So I definitely got more relaxed after losing the weight. I never used to eat at parties while losing weight because I didn't prepare the food, so I had no idea exactly how many calories were in it. But now I realize that it's okay to guesstimate.

I try to be accurate in eyeballing a portion of food, and I look up the calories--I know that it's not 100% precise, but it makes counting calories a lot less complicated. I think as long as you can trust yourself to be honest, then it's okay to not be be super precise about the accuracy. But if you tend to give yourself a little more than you are accounting for and convince yourself that it's the right portion, then maybe you should weigh it out ;)

Q. I remember reading on your blog in the past that before you lost weight your day centered around food and eating. I have that same problem. Even though I am following Weight Watchers and having success I still think of or plan my food for much of the day. At what point, if ever, did food not become central in your thoughts or day? Do you still struggle with food thoughts filling much of your time?

A. This is something that Jessica and I talk about often. Jessica lost 80 pounds a few years ago--from counting calories and exercise, just like me. We both agree that food takes up a huge majority of our thoughts for the day--even after losing the weight. Before losing the weight, I was always thinking about what I wanted to eat next or what sounded good to eat. As I was losing weight, I was always planning out my meals in my head. And now that I'm maintaining, I am constantly thinking about and worry about gaining the weight back.

Jessica's before and after photos

I really wish that I could just push food out of my mind for an entire day, but it's impossible. Losing the weight didn't make me quit thinking about food all the time, unfortunately. In a perfect world, I would be able to eat "normally" (intuitively, but without thinking about it that way) and I wouldn't give a single thought to food when I wasn't hungry. But I honestly can't even imagine what that would be like! I realize that obsessive thoughts about food aren't "normal", but I haven't figured out how to fix that yet.

Something that really drives me crazy is how I associate food with certain places. If I have to go to the mall, for example, I immediately think of Mrs. Fields and I start to obsess over what I can buy there. Or if Jerry suggests going to the movies, I immediately think of popcorn. Sometimes the kids want to go to the dollar store, and that makes me think of candy. So frustrating!

Q. What sort of exercise (if any) does Jerry do?? Does he run at all?

A. I've actually been asked this question quite a few times lately. I will let Jerry answer it...
"Do I exercise? No. Here are my reasons excuses for not exercising:

1) I don't have time.
2) It's really hard.
3) Have you SEEN Katie's toenails?!

See? Exercise.
I do play softball during the summer, but that is the only "real" exercise I do. I've tried out running a few times, because Katie is kind of inspiring (not sure if you've heard that before), but I really don't like it. I lost weight just from eating what Katie gave me to eat."

And now a question for all of you...

Does your spouse/significant other exercise with you? As Jerry just answered, mine does not. I'm kind of glad he's not a runner, because we would probably fight over who gets to do which races and who stays with the kids ;)


  1. Interestingly, for me, thinking about food all the time didn't come until I got really overweight, and was worried about it, and that disappeared around the same time I passed that same number on the way back down. I still think about food more than I eventually hope to, because I'm still losing (slowly!) and need to. But I'm really looking forward to the day I can just quit thinking about food!!

  2. I think about food all the time, I am currently counting my calories on my fitness pal. I plan out my day, and see how many calories I have to see if I can fit something in. Etc. Today I went to a BBQ, and decided not to eat, I think part of it was I didn't know a lot of people there so I was self conscious eating in front of them, but mostly because I really would have loved to consume the whoopie pies and potato salad, and because I didn't make them then I don't know the calorie count. So I just pounded water for the 3 hours I was there and ate when I got home. I'm sure I'll get better at this, but for right now, being in complete control of what goes in my pie hole helps me.

  3. My husband and I just decided to start training for a 5K together. I was trying to do it on my own but it was hard to find time- we have a 2yr old daughter, and it was just tricky. Tomorrow is the 2nd day we'll be out in morning all 3 of us (1 in a jogging stroller!)for training. So excited! He's a bit more in shape than me, so that inspires me to be better- I'm super competitive :)

  4. I totally think about food all the time. Now since I'm trying to lose weight the thoughts have shifted a little but it's exactly like you said! As far as me and my hubby working out together. We go on family walks together and at that time I work in some couch to 5k training so I push the stroller and he pushes our daughter in hers.

  5. I think about food all the time, and I've never been overweight, but I did have an eating disorder in high school, and I have not been able to go a day without thinking about and planning my meals since, even now that I'm "better." I try to think about what I was like before the eating disorder, but I can't remember.

    My significant other does not exercise with me. It makes me a little sad. I can get him to go the gym with me now and then, but he said making him run would be a deal breaker haha. He supports me in every race though, and I can't imagine not having such a wonderful and caring cheerleader!

  6. My husband does not work out with me, although I try to get him to! Love Jessica's before and after pictures. I've heard you mention her weight loss, but wow, y'all have pretty similar loses!

  7. AnonymousMay 27, 2012

    After a year of this, I don't think about food as much as I used to. I do breakfast on autopilot -- Luna bar if I'm running, cereal if I'm not. Lunch is either left overs or something pretty quick like a soup or sandwich, or pita and hummus. Post workout snack is usually nuts and an apple. I do put thought into supper.

    I think it's just that I've spent a lot of time retraining my brain to figure out a new "normal." Plus, I am just so busy that a lot of days I don't have time to spend a lot of thought on it. Some days I'm more food oriented, still, but I'm better.

    Husband doesn't exercise with me much. He does step aerobics two days a week. I run 3 days and do zumba and spin on other days, ST once a week. On Sundays we try to do something together, like ride bikes or skate. Soon I hope we start some short hikes, longer bike rides, canoeing, etc. Just something active.


  8. I hate my obsession with food. When I was heavy, I just ate a lot. I didn't think anything of it. Once I started losing weight, it became all I think about. Even three years later, it's all I think about.

    My husband won't run with me either. I've tried to convince him to just try it once, but he won't. I'm okay with it, but I think he'd like it if he tried it. :)

  9. Hubby and I both run some, but rarely together. We have a 6 year old and no family nearby, so unless she's with a friend or something, we can't run together. Plus, his stride length/pace are SOO much faster than mine, it's just not to run together, i REALLY wish it was. We have a family membership to the YMCA though and will sometimes do exercise classes together there since they have free childcare. I do hope to do more active family activities together now that we are aboth a bit more fit and not feeling as tired and lazy all the time.
    My 6 year old did her first 5k with me last weekend too. It was AWESOME. We walked most of it, but she did run at least .75 mile or so. If anyone has kid friendly races near them, I highly suggest taking your kids. She was SO incredibly proud of herself for finishing it and told everyone we came across about it for at least 3 days.

  10. I sure wish I could go a day without thinking about food, too! I would love to not have my life seem like it completely revolves around food... Ha! ;)

  11. I have the same problem with thinking about food. It sucks. As soon as I finish eating breakfast, even thought I'm full, I think about what I'm going to have for lunch, and how many calories it will be, and whether I should have a snack and a smaller lunch or just wait and have a normal sized lunch, etc. I get so upset with myself, but being a housewife and all, there's not a whole lot else for me to distract myself with.

    And my husband doesn't work out 'with' me, but he does work out some. (Probably twice a week to my five times. It's progress though!) We use YourShape for Kinect and it's something you have to do one person at a time.

  12. My boyfriend Dan exercises with me. I'm so thankful for him! There are days I truly have no desire to eat well or exercise, and he can motivate me to get me out the door. We are currently training for a half marathon, and when we finished our 10 mile run last week the first thing we said to each other after was, "I could NOT have done that with you!" It's not so much about going on runs with him, but the support he has given me when I really needed it is amazing. I'm convinced it's why this is the first time in my life diet and exercise habits have stuck. :)

  13. I look forward to the day when food is not on my mind from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep. I can manage to block out many mnay other thoughts that are not good for me but when food is concerned, it's impossible.

    My husband actually started running with me wehn I first started. He did this despite being a heavy smoker and despite having a painful foot problem cause by standing on a nail many years ago - sadly in spite of both those things he was faster and fitter than me! But he is a builder so that's my excuse.
    Eventually I asked him to stop coming with me because I couldn't keep to his pace and didn't enjoy running with him :D
    I've just started the Insanity workout and he even offered to do it with me to help me but I know I have to do it myself so i said no.

    Having said that my hubby is also a feeder and is constantly 'innocently' buying me sweet treats :(

  14. Katie, my husband and I are right in the middle of a weight loss journey. I have lost 88 pounds and he has lost 93, but we both have more to lose (70ish for me, 100 for him). I started my journey in November, and after my husband started seeing my results, he joined me in January. We joined a gym (Louisville Athletic Club) together and if it wasn't for him, I don't think I would have made it this far. On days I want to wimp out and not go, he talks me into going. Now, we don't do the same things at the gym. I like the treadmil and he likes the eliptical, but we both use the machines in the cardio theater, where we can watch movies on a big screen while we work out, and just seeing him there in the room with me helps me to keep going.

  15. My hubby works out on his own so far and we take turns watching our 3 boys while the other is working out. We will have to start working out together soon as we are going to run a half marathon together in November. Sad thing is my run pace is his jog pace - so it will be interesting to see how we train together.

  16. My husband is my rock when it comes to running. I'm on week 6 of couch to 5k, and he is with me pushing the 2 kids in the jogging stroller. He is in the army and has to run for work (plus he just enjoys it) so he is far more fit than me and keeps me motivated.

  17. I have to think about food just as much now as I did when I wasn't trying to lose weight.

    Charlie will run with me if I sign him up for a 5k, but he hasn't been consistent with it compared to when I started running. We did take up tennis again last year and that's A LOT of fun! We laugh hysterically at each other and then we get super competitive and want to kick each other's ass! (I'm finding it kind of hard to run with him now. The shoe's on the other foot and I am worried about how HE is doing!)

  18. I hate that I'm constantly thinking about food too. I have the same problem with associating places with different food items. I feel like I can't go to certain places because I'll be tempted to eat something.

  19. I feel like I'm always thinking about food in the sense of "Well, if I eat this now I can't eat that later" which is good - because I'm trying to train myself to make a lifestyle change, but I'm still not at a point where it doesn't feel like I'm sacrificing things.

    And my spouse doesn't exercise. He claims he hates it and would rather do yard work or other "normal" activities to get his movement in for the day. Sometimes I wish he did, because I don't think he understands yet WHY I like/continue to run, even when I complain about it :)

  20. Loved the questions and answers this week (every week). I obsese and weigh everything too. Food is also contantly on my mind when trying to lose weight, I feel my day is consummed with thoughts of eating and exercising. My husband does not exercise with me although this morning he went on a 2mile walk with me. He needs to lose weight and I want him to be healthy. If he was to start eating right and exercising his pounds would DROP OFF. Why do guys lose so much faster?! Not fair!!!

  21. Just yesterday I was wondering what Jerry did for exercise and if he ever went running with you. I was thinking I needed to send it to you for a Sunday FAQ. How crazy is that?!? :)

    Hope you're having a great Memorial Day!

  22. AnonymousMay 28, 2012

    Hahahahaha I love his #3 reason!

    I also have the food obsession. I hate it.I would love to just not think about food every second of every day.

  23. My husband does not run with me. He has trouble with his arches. Before I started running, he was the runner. He got really annoyed when he started having this arch problem and he's tried shoes, inserts, everything. He does prefer weights and riding the recumbent bike. We used to workout together sometimes (I'd be on the treadmill, he'd be on the bike). However we workout so differently. He'd prefer loud music and I'd prefer watching a funny show. So I think we've just learned that we each have to do what is we want individually. ;-)

  24. You got me thinking Katie. I am obsessing over food less.

    I think it is because I am eating what I want - just reasonable portions. It is when I try to squelch my cravings that I get obsessive. If I feel like a food is off limits, and I eat some, I usually binge since I have that "last supper" feeling.

    It also helps that I am extremely busy all the time. I don't have enough time to obsess. ;)

  25. OMG! Great question about thinking about food. I do ALL the time. I got obsessed with points when I did WW. I would think "how many pts is this?" "If I eat this how many pts do I have left?" "How many pts do I need for dinner?" "When can I eat next?" I finally stopped because I felt like I couldn't handle the mental aspect. I still struggle daily with the thought of food and I do my best on "normal" working days where I pretty much eat the same thing every day. At least breakfast-lunch and snacks at work. Weekends are rough for me.

    My hubby does not work out. He could stand to lose a few lbs. He lost a good 65 lbs before I met him so I think he thinks he's good now. But he has weight to lose. Unfortunately some dumb ass Dr told him he may never get rid of his belly. No matter how many Biggest Losers we watch, he still thinks his belly is here to stay. I use to point out how the men would lose all their belly. It never really clicked with him :( I wish he was more active and would work out. He farms and he has decent muscle and is quite strong. But he doesn't seem to grasp that he is not "fit". :(

  26. LoveAnAnimalMay 29, 2012

    Hubby & I exercise separately. My husband is very fit and has been very committed to his exercise regimen for many years and goes to a gym near his workplace. Even on weekends the poor guy doesn't get a break, especially in the warm months and he works hard doing yard chores, and at times home repairs & maintenance.

  27. Dave used to go to the gym with me..before Noah came a long. It was nice and I kinda miss that. But I am def ok going at it alone :)

  28. My husband rarely used to work out and he was always in better shape than I was. I constantly work out just to maintain everything. However, age is the great equalizer. Now he has to work out and is struggling to establish a routine. Exercies has been a part of my life schedule for a long time so I feel a little smug. He just joined a gym, something that I have been wanting to do (together) for a long time. He wouldn't do it until a book told him it was the right thing to do. Soooo frustrating!

  29. Does your friend Jessica have a blog? I'd love to read about her weight loss journey if she does. Can you share the link? Thanks.

    1. Agree! Would love to hear her experiences as well! She looks awesome and seems like such a good friend.

  30. I love what you say about makes me feel less crazy that I still obsess about it too!

    As for my hubby working out- he use to run but injured his ankle in the marines. Now he's slowly recovering and playing softball. We also just started doing turbofire together a few weeks ago!! :)

  31. I have noticed that I have become more addicted to counting calories on sparkpeople(absolutely love this website)!! I try to be as accurate as possible and I see more results by counting my calories.
    I, too, think of food constantly. I jokinly ask a question to a co-worker saying, "Is it normal to think of food all day?" I didn't know that others struggle with this as well. I've noticed that the busier I am, the less that I think of food. However, when I get bored or am not doing anything, what do I think of.......FOOD :/
    As far as working out with my spouse. He is a retired soldier, so he is fit. I work-out with him as much as possible (when he is not at the gym with his friends or I am not at work or cooking or doing chores get the idea "mommy/wifey duties). Let me warn you though, he does the drill sargeant training...ahhhhhh! However, he is a really good motivator :)


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