Sunday, January 18, 2009

Getting Lost in the Numbers

I spent the morning logging my dinner from last night: 1/2 of a filet mignon browned in a little bit of butter and then finished off in the oven, lyonnaise potatoes (sliced potatoes, dotted with a little bit of butter, thin strips of sweet onion and unsalted beef stock, baked to crispy yumminess), salad with homemade dressing, wine, bread, butter.  My first estimate came up to be well over 1000 calories.  WHAT?  No way.  My partner agreed.  We started looking at my estimates.  "No, I didn't put but about 1 TBSP of butter in the potatoes"  "No, you steak was only about 4oz"  "No, you did not eat 1 1/2 TBSP of butter."   With some adjustments to my overestimating, I did get my meal down to under 1000 calories, barely.    

Then I made the comment to my partner "I'm not THAT worried about it, I did exercise and burned off about 300 calories."  He remarked "you're not taking into account your BMR, nor all the activity you had yesterday.  Bring up the firewood probably burned 300 calories."   I'm not sure about that.  I was figuring maybe 150 tops.

What I am sure about though, is that I'm basing all my numbers on estimates.  I estimate my calories burned.  It's an informed estimate  - I use a heart rate monitor.  I estimate the calories I consume.  Again  - informed estimates.  I weigh  most of my foods and I use MyFoodDiary or NutritionData to get the caloric contents.  I estimate the amount of calories I need to net out each day to lose weight.  Again - informed through    But all the numbers are estimates.

I could go to my doctor and spend lots of money getting tests done to more scientifically determine my basal metabolic rate.  It would still be an estimate.   I could spend tons of money sending off samples of my yogurt to a food lab to get accurate nutritional information on my recipe.  But I don't need to.  Nor do I want to.  I don't want to go through life obsessed with numbers.  It's much easier to aim for the guidelines.  They work well enough.

Please don't misunderstand.  I think it's incredibly important to know what 3 oz of chicken looks like on your plate.  To do that, you need to weigh your portions of chicken (or beef or pork, etc) for quite some time.  Then you can start eyeballing it.  But sometimes,  just to stay honest, you need to weigh it.   Same thing with a half  a cup or rice or a TBSP of butter.  

It's also important to know how much (using highly informed estimates) you eat each day.  I don't mean to get lost in how much fat, carb or protein.  I mean, did I eat 2000 calories or a reasonable 1500 calories?   And did I eat healthfully or did I gorge on sugar, carbs and fat?  

Exercise - I don't worry so much about how much I burn any more.  When I did that, I played mind games to justify poor eating choices.  Now, I just exercise and track that I did it.  I do wear a HRM so I can keep an eye on my heart rate to make sure I'm exercising at the right intensity.  But I don't add calories to my daily allowance when I exercise.  

So, yes - I know my numbers (estimates) but I don't get lost in them.  Makes life a bit more simple.


  1. Outstanding comments, Maura! I found you through a fellow MFD's blog. I hope you don't mind if I add your blog to my list of blogs that I follow - I am inspired by what I've read so far and I'm looking for great role-models. I think you might be one ;-)
    Thanks for the insight!
    PS: feel free to follow my blog as well -

  2. Hi, Glynis - I'm a bit behind these days, but wanted to say thanks for your kind words. Wishing you well in your journey.



This blog is inactive. To visit the current blog, go to inspiredbythecreed dot wordpress dot com. Replace the dots with '.' - this old blog is suddenly attracting spammers, but I'm not yet ready to take it down.