Thursday, February 18, 2010

Chubby Hubby

My ideal running weight is somewhere between 150 and 155lbs. A few years ago I dropped down to 143lbs, and while I found that it helped me run fast in shorter races (not so much of me to carry around), it cut into my endurance for the longer ultras. So I pulled back up to 150lbs and discovered that worked a lot better for me.

If I get much above that it starts to impact my running, so my ideal is to maintain right around that level. I very rarely weigh myself, but when I did last week I was a little surprised to find that I've crept up to 162lbs (11.5 stone). I guess that explains why my running has sucked for a while (that plus the stupid foot niggle which is still refusing to go away).

So while I have been doing quite a bit of strength training (which has maybe added 1 or 2 lbs), I figure I probably need to watch what I'm eating for a while until I can get back to that magic weight.

Now the first thing you need to do when you're trying to drop some weight is to figure out what your caloric intake is, and the best way to do that is to keep a food journal. But it's fiddly, boring, and takes so long to write down and figure out. There has to be a better way!!!

And there is.

In fact, there are a number of free online sites that will help you put together a food journal. I used to use the excellent fitday - it has some extremely detailed reports and analysis, but it still took a chunk of time because I had to manually calculate and input a lot of the foods that I ate. Then a few days ago I found myfitnesspal and switched over to it. This is a wonderful site if you just want some basic tracking, and its database already contains many of the HEB brand products I tend to use, so it's fast and super easy to use. While the reporting is not as detailed as fitday, the speed of use means I'm much more likely to keep on using it.

But there's another catch. If you're like me and make a lot of food from scratch then it's not going to be in the database. So what to do?

Well, you could write down all the ingredients, total up the caloric info and divide it by the number of portions.

Or you could just go here. Simply write your recipe ingredients into the text box and let it magically calculate it for you. Once you have that, you can enter it into myfitnesspal as a custom food and you're good to go.

The great thing about using tools like this is that you start noticing trends in your eating habits. For example, while my carb/protein/fat ratio is just about what I thought it was (and should be), my portion sizes are just too big.

It's a simple enough equation - calories in vs calories out - and I'm just eating too much (no big shock there as I love to eat).

But there's something about having to write it down that makes it far less likely for me to cheat.

Ah, accountability - are you my friend or foe!!!


Anonymous said...

forget calories, just run more.


johnt said...

Ooooh, OOoooh, Portion control, oooha!

Mark said...

You guys :-)

Ashlee Wetherington said...

soooooo the stars aligned and it worked out that i can in fact run the disney half marathon in 2 weeks! i wanted to get your opinion on running between now and then. i'm going to shoot for 11 miles tomorrow morning, then next saturday, what should i do? the race would be the following weekend. i was thinking maybe 8?

Mark said...

Ashlee - 8 sounds like a good number, then just a few nice-and-easy short runs during that taper week to keep it ticking over. You'll have a blast - don't go out too fast (you're guaranteed a PR after all), and just enjoy the day, the atmosphere and the whole experience - such fun. You have more than enough drive and determination to get you to the finish line, and what a great excuse to carb load!!!

Look forward to reading about your adventures.