Appetitie Awareness Training Wrap-up and Calorie Counting

9 Feb

The last week of AAT was pretty uneventful.  Truthfully, I ditched the forms and switched over to mental monitoring.  Things were going so well that I had decided to only write down any unusual circumstances, such as binges or non-effective emotional eating episodes.  That never happened.  I was always mindful enough to determine whether or not a choice would be worth it.  When I knew it wouldn’t be or would mean stuffing myself, I didn’t eat it.  I’m not going to pretend this is how things will be FOREVER now that I’ve completed this program.  The idea is to come back to it whenever I find myself slipping back to my old habits.

After 1 month of utilizing this method, AAT accomplished the goals I had in mind.  I wanted to make myself more accountable for my food choices and dump mindless eating.  During this experiment, I willingly ate high FODMAP foods when I knew the discomfort would be “worth it”, but I also stayed tuned into my tummy during every meal and almost always conceded when it told me “ENOUGH!”  I learned to question my victim approach to “trigger foods”, realizing I had more power over my eating choices that I was giving myself credit for.  I had fallen into the mindset that my environment was more responsible than I was.  I know that I am more likely to give in when the situation makes it easy, such as having a whole pie in my freezer.  However, I also know that I can choose to eat just enough to feel non-deprived rather than tell myself “I should probably hurry up and eat all of this, so it won’t be here tempting me tomorrow!”  My black and white thinking has started melding into gray.

Yay healthy relationship with food!  The trick will be to keep it up while I attempt to make diet changes.  I wasn’t restricting ANY foods during my AAT, making success fairly easy.  Binging is the most seductive while restricting.  A person only has so much willpower.  However, there are further elimination trials I want to try in effort to reduce my fibromyalgia symptoms.  On an (almost) daily basis, I suffer from one/more of the following: neck pain, brain fog, tension headaches, dry eyes/eye pressure, post-nasal drip/cough/stuffy nose, shortness of breath, depression/anxiety (though mood disturbances have become less common since I started eating & sleeping better!),  & body aches.

I have certain diet ideas in the works for March but wanted to use the last 3 weeks of February for a different experiment: calorie counting.  I have never tried using the calorie counting approach for any extended period of time in the past.  It’s a pain in the butt for someone who doesn’t eat a lot of prepackaged foods with the nutrition info plastered right on them.  When you eat mostly homemade items made with real food, there’s a lot more measuring and headaches involved.  Calorie counting is not something I would ever do long term and doesn’t work for everyone with underlying health/hormone issues.  BUT since this is the method dietitians recommend to average folks trying to lose weight, I thought it would be interesting to give it an official try.

After the first week of AAT, I lost 2 pounds.  I didn’t lose any additional weight but managed to keep those 2 off, so I’m calling it a victory. 🙂  I am currently at 133 pounds.  The goal is to be at 130 by March 1st.  This is slow progress, which I prefer.  I was always taught to encourage people to lose weight slowly, because they would be more likely to keep it off.  However, a 2010 study of over 200 obese middle aged women showed that those who lost weight at a faster rate lost more weight overall and kept it off longer.  Perhaps for people with a lot of weight to lose, 1 or 2 pounds lost after a week of hard work is not going to impress them enough to motivate their continued efforts.  Whatever the reason for these results, I intuitively feel like slow and steady wins the race.

So, what am I doing exactly?  I used the Mifflin St. Jeor ( & Harris Benedict ( formulas.  These were the equations taught to me during my dietitian studies.  You only need to use one of them, but they are slightly different, and I wanted to find a calorie range to work with.  I calculated my BMR (basal metabolic rate).  This is the rate at which your body burns calories just to function.  Basically, it’s the fuel that’s required for you to maintain your weight while lying in bed all day.  Then, I multiplied my BMR by a moderate activity factor (explained on the Harris Benedict site linked above) of 1.55.  This gave me the number of calories I would need to consume per day to maintain my current weight.

Since there are 3500 calories in a pound, the logic goes that I need to deduct 500 daily calories through diet & exercise to lose 1 pound in 7 days (7X500=3500).  Since I need approximately 2100-2200 calories per day to maintain my current weight, I will be aiming for 1600-1700 calories per day.  As an alternative option, I could eat 1800-1900 calories on the days that I burn 200 calories through exercise.

I’m on day 2 and only slightly annoyed, more by the calorie counting process than the calorie restriction itself.  Wish me luck!



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