Monday, May 17, 2010

Calorie Counting

After doing Weight Watchers for the last 18 months, and off and on for too many years to admit to, I've decided to stop counting points, and count calories ... and take more notice of the balance of food I'm eating (protein, carbs, fat, salt). I started the year saying this was the year I wanted to make habits of eating healthily, I think that will be the key to keeping the lost weight off.

So why move from points? (especially as I don't plan on giving up my WW meetings) Through marathon training I haven't followed points properly at all, I do use them as a base to what I'm eating, but as wonderful as I believe the WW programme is, I don't believe it caters for athletes (wow, did I call myself an athlete? LOL). I found it really really hard to figure out how many extra points I could eat with the amount of exercising I was doing, so after much thought and googling I am using and trying to record all my food and my exercise. Plus although out of all the diet companies out there, they probably promote "normal" eating the best, I don't believe they promote healthy, natural eating as well as they could (as an example, one of their frozen meals that I regularly take to work for my evening shift dinner, has 1100mg of salt - that is half my salt intake in one small meal).

But, of course, I have a few questions ... do you think the Garmin is accurate when it counts calories? I'm pretty sure it is for running calories, but what about biking? I've been wearing it while I do my delivering, on a regular day I'm usually out for 2-3hrs and bike 20-30km over that time - according to the Garmin, for example, today I've burned 600 calories. Last Wednesday I ran, biked and helped my 11yo deliver her pamphletts - all up (according to the Garmin) I burned about 1500 calories. Now 1500 calories, plus the 1200 (worked out from height, weight and wanting to lose 2lb/week) is 2700 calories to eat for the day - thats a lot of eating - and I did eat, a lot, that day.

Next question, do you think you should eat all those extra earned calories? Personally, I'm leaning towards NOT. I'm thinking that at some point the body goes - nah, I'm not taking any notice of any more burned calories, I'll only notice/use so many of them. No scientific thought in that all - just a gut instinct, and also knowing that I definitely don't lose weight if I eat over a certain amount.

Anybody use calorie counting to lose weight? Any ideas, thoughts? I'm thinking I will have to work to find what balance works for me, as I'm thinking everyone is different.

Long term I'm hoping to ditch another 18lb, short term definitely another 6lb - 6lb for health, the extra 12lb, I think will make me run better and faster. Very long term, I want to find where my body sits as to how many calories it needs to maintain, how many extra calories I can eat following calories burned to maintain.

I never want to be disgustingly over weight again and I know, oh so KNOW, that I could put all that weight back on in a blink of an eye - I have to work out how to manage my eating, exercise and weight so this can be a life time thing.

As for running - I've run a few small runs and yesterday ran a lovely 14km, I'd really missed those long runs over the last couple of weeks! Bad news is that I have quite a sore "back of my" leg - I *think* it is the bottom of my hamstring, but in the evenings my knee is aching a bit, and my calf seems to be sore while doing day to day things. The hamstring actually hurts as I start to run though, so I think that is where the real soreness (I'm too scared to call it an injury) is. It is fine after 1-200metres and isn't actually hurting the rest of the run, but I have decided to be good and not run today (which I didn't plan to anyway, Monday is a x-training day), and to also have tomorrow off. Hopefully by Wednesday it will be starting to feel better, I'll do a small, slow and easy run Wednesday and see how it feels, Thursday was a planned rest day, then a smallish run Friday - hopefully that will be enough resting to fix it.

Have a good week everyone :)


  1. 1- Garmin tells LIES about calories. Even though it has the HRM it calculates based on distance/speed. So it heinously underestimates hilly workouts/mtb rides etc. It also lies about bike rides. Like telling me I burned 4000 calories on Saturday in 3.25 hours. LIES DAMN LIES.
    2- I use this neat calculator
    3- yes, WW is rubbish for athletes.
    4- I don't eat all my extra calories- usually more like 1/2? I think this is partly to balance out the risk that I'm overestimated burn and underestimating consumption. Also reflects changing metabolism/weight and therefore calorie needs.
    5- on that last point, it's best to try to spread the extra calories out over the week. I try to take a "net" approach to calories- in - out should be less than my basal needs. i know it's the same maths expressed differently, but I like it.

    (Sorry for the essay)

  2. I don't trust my Garmin for calories burned at all.

    I log my food/calories and exercise using I think their calorie estimates for exercise are more realistic, but who knows? I should check out myfitnesspal too.

    I know I have to make a conscious effort to make sure I'm eating lots of fruits and veggies to get the right balance and the SP site helps me track things like that.

    I don't tend to use all of my "extra" calories... but I use some of them, that's for sure.

  3. How I wish Garmin calorie count was right. I would be very, very skinny by now. :)
    There a so many factors that go into how many calories are burned. As you get more efficient you your sport you actually burn less calories per mile than a beginner. For walkers, much less runners, ambient temperature matters as bodies need to burn calories to keep warm if the weather is cold. Heavy person will probably burn more calories per mile than a skinny one.
    Then there are calories in foods. For example when they list an apple having 90 calories do they mean ripe sweet Fuji apple or sour Granny Smith (do you have those?) one? The difference can be huge.
    And so on, and so on.
    So no matter what program you use remember that the numbers it provides are with huge error so they can be only good as general guidelines. observe your body to see what works for you.

  4. I don't trust the Garmin count. I think it overestimates as I'd be burning an extra 8000 calories a week according to it which is a lot of extra eating. And God knows I like the extra eating but I'm fairly sure I'm not eating an extra 8000 worth!