Thursday, May 29, 2008

How Much Did I Actually Eat Before?

I weighed 278 pounds when I made my decision to change – I must have been eating millions of calories a day, right? Out of curiosity I thought I would plug in the numbers to see how many calories it actually was.

Interesting. Turned out to be 2300 calories a day to maintain that weight at my age and height. Guess how much I’m eating now, approximately? About 2000 – 2100. Not that much of a difference really when you look at it from a daily maintenance perspective.

However, I wasn’t exercising at all and I ate a lot of sugary and just generally unhealthy stuff. And even now, if I weren’t exercising a fair amount almost every day both on the treadmill and at the gym lifting weights or going out hiking, my maintenance calories would be just under 1600 per day.

More numbers – how many extra calories did I eat to gain all that weight? I know that somewhere in 1994 or so, I weighed 155 pounds. So I gained 123 pounds in 12 years. Supposedly, you have to eat an extra 3500 calories to gain a pound (and restrict by the same amount to lose one). So I ate 430,500 extra calories to do that, in 4380 days. That’s something slightly more than 98 extra calories a day on average.

To me this just highlights the need to vigilance and care. I already know that I have a propensity for gaining weight, and I have a lot of fat cells that are just waiting for some extra calories to show up so they can grab onto it and store it.

So now, in order to maintain, I know that I must

  1. Pay attention to what I eat. This is why, even though it may seem obsessive, I still count and log my calories. It keeps me honest because I love food so much it would be ridiculously easy to start justifying overeating again. And the food I eat is as healthy as I can make it, with only the occasional straying off the path for a gooey treat.
  2. Get as much exercise I can in a healthy, safe and fun way. I have a desk job where I sit on my butt all day, so I have to stay focused and dedicated to this. If I don’t exercise, I have to restrict my calories down to my estimated maintenance level.
  3. Weigh myself on a regular basis. Again, I personally consider this a key factor in my own maintenance because it makes it impossible to lie to myself. It’s a number and it keeps things objective.

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