Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Calories and fitness: almost six months in

On February 19th this year I started logging my calories using an app called LoseIt. It's free, but I chose it mainly because a couple of friends were already using it. In fact, I had it on my phone for at least a couple of months before I started using it. I've always resisted counting calories - because it's both hard, and honest! - and I haven't been in a place where I wanted to be really scrupulous about my intake.

There wasn't anything magical about the date I started tracking - I was staying with friends who were both riding a health/fitness wave, and it inspired me to get started. I'm still not remotely perfect - I don't really know how best to figure out calories when I eat out, so I've created a generic "restaurant meal" entry that I use, and take a wild guess about how many calories I actually ate. And when I spent two weeks in Hawaii for my brother's wedding, I didn't bother at all - just tried to make healthy choices and resumed my tracking when I got home. In fact, non-tracking has been my M.O. for all the various trips I've taken this year, and I think it's worked pretty well for me.  Fortunately I really do know how to eat pretty healthily, and I've been doing a better job about portion control, which is probably my biggest issue. (Also, I haven't bought ice cream to keep at home since at least the beginning of the year - definitely a help!)

So how's it going? Pretty well! Counting calories FINALLY imparted to me on a gut level why exercise is so important. If I'm limiting myself to 1,149 calories per day, it makes a HUGE difference if I go on a run and pick up 400 calories! There's no question that is an hour well-spent.

I had some medical stuff earlier this year that resulted in me dropping 5 pounds (I'm totally fine now), and since then I've dropped an additional 20. When I started tracking I was at a new all-time high (by just about 5 pounds but still... not the kind of records I like breaking!), so I'm still in a familiar weight range right now. And I've been training for Cycle Oregon, and cross-training by running. Once the ride is over (and it's coming right up!!!! eeek) I know for sure I will bike a LOT less. But I want to keep running, and intend to sign up for some 5k runs, and perhaps a 10k in the spring, so I stay motivated and engaged with exercise. And I can head back to the pool once the rains set in - that's a tough workout!

I use RunKeeper to track my running, walking, biking, and swimming. So far this year I've run 52 miles (!!!) and have biked 907 miles. My pre-Cycle Oregon goal was to hit 1,000 miles, and my stretch goal was 1,200. Since I still have three weekends to train (gah) I may even make it to 1,300 before we go ride 400 miles in a week. Yowza. I've set a goal to run 100 miles by the end of the  year, and I guess I'm on track to meet that goal too. To be honest, I'm way more wowed by the running numbers - I've done Cycle Oregon three times before, so riding 1,000 miles in preparation is significant, but at least a little familiar. Running ANY distance is a totally new experience for me!

As I said recently, this fitness/health stuff seems to come in waves, and I'm under no illusion that I'm suddenly magically a new person. But... I think I have the tools to do this. I'd like to drop a few more pounds before CO, but really, I'm focusing on being strong and active. We'll see where it takes me!

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