I remember once calorie tracking over Christmas and new year. (I know, insane, right?) I don’t remember why. It was just a thing. But I do remember making a joke at some point about 70% of my calories over that week coming from champagne and Christmas cake.
Mates, I have been tracking my calories for a couple of months now as I tried to repair the damage from last year’s illness and surgery and, no joke, a significant amount of my weekly calorie intake came from alcohol and baked goods.
I think I posted here a while ago about giving up the booze for a couple of weeks to let my immune system have a clear run at a cold, a chest infection, or something that wasn’t going away. It worked. I deep-sixed the cold and dropped a couple of kilogrammes of fat in almost no time.
When I decided to swap out most of my cardio for strength training – mostly because my doctor didn’t want me doing high-intensity cardio – I decided I would also see a nutritionist to clean up my diet.
Even as I write that, it seems like such an indulgence. How hard could it be? Less alcohol and baked goods, more green leafy vegetables, right? But I’ve been checking in with Katelyn, the nutritionist, once every two weeks for a couple of months now. Along with the switch from cardio to strength training, I credit it with most of the 8 kilogrammes of blubber eel I’ve melted away from my gut.
Perhaps I’m less likely to indulge by having to check in with somebody who’ll call me out on my champagne and bakery treats lifestyle. But along with the daily calorie tracking, it is making me a lot more mindful about what I stick into my central face hole.
The weird thing about it is that I wasn’t eating nearly enough, if you take out the champagne and blueberry danishes. I’m still not eating nearly enough, which is why I’m losing weight, natch. The biggest revelation to me has been this idea that if I am going to do serious strength training, I need to eat a serious amount of protein and clean carbs to fuel it. A shit tonne more calories than I was eating before if you take out all the treats.
The other revelation? Just how hard it is to fill up that calorie budget when you are not padding it out with garbage. I’m constantly surprised when I record a chicken breast or a steak just how few calories it actually contains. On the other hand, it’s horrifying to have a sneaky chocolate croissant, as I did about a fortnight ago, and see your finely calibrated calorie budget for the entire day get blown to hell and back.
Luckily, I like protein. I like it in all its forms, even the weird vegetable forms like tofu (as long as it’s fried and drenched in a spicy Mexican sauce). Also, lucky for me, I can eat a shit tonne of eggs and dairy without blowing out my cholesterol or having any kind of allergic reaction. This stuff would be hard if you had food intolerances or were vegan.
But man, it is hard to hit that protein goal each day.