Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Discovery of Calories

I am on a diet. My half-hearted efforts at losing weight produced nothing but aggravation and slow weight gain, so I’ve stepped up my game plan. My spouse and I are counting calories and measuring food.  I have always resisted this tactic. I hate math, measuring and precision. 

I prefer a more Laissez-faire approach to food and life, but now I have to change my tune. Or at least my eating habits.

Fortunately my spouse, CB, likes to calculate, measure and even figure out how to index calories, fat, protein and how they all interact with one another. So I buy the food, cook most of it and CB is the calculator. 
“Guess how many calories are in a banana?” CB asks as I pick up the yellow fruit. “It's only half that much,"” I respond as  I pop it into my mouth. “I don’t eat the peel.” 

Actually I didn’t really do that. I just thought it. However, prior to the calorie counting I can’t tell you how nuts, slices of bread or chips have found their way into my body, mostly due to boredom than real hunger. 
But that is stopping now.

Now that I have to account for every morsel I ingest I find myself thinking it is simply not worth the effort. I hate math so much that I’d rather pass up noshing on cheese and grapes than add up the caloric intake of said food. But I make sure I have three meals a day so my body doesn’t resist weight change by going into “starvation mode.”

Over the years I have made conscious efforts to eat better and exercise more. I gave up drinking cocoa, Pepsi and most refined sugars and cook with lemon water rather than oil or butter. This did not result in weight loss. I think it just prevented MORE weight gain. Personally I think I deserve a medal for my efforts, but no one is give me one - unless you count the Gold Medal Flour Betty Crocker offered.

Even more distressing is I made it through 50 years of life without ever having to worry about gaining weight. Chocolate was my best friend and sugar was my lover. However, when I hit the big 5-0 things changed. I steadily gained a pound every month or so until I realized I gained the equivalent of an extra grandchild in my body. Some of this is overeating, some is insufficient exercise and some of it is the slower metabolism that comes after menopause.

I’m not a total slug, I take a yogalates class on Tuesdays and Thursdays and afterward I walk a couple miles with my classmates. When the weather is nice I play softball, tennis and golf, but unfortunately I can only do this when it is less than 80 degrees outside, which only happens about 4 months each year in Arizona.
Not one to give up, I decided to give pickle ball a try. They have an indoor court at the Red Mountain Multi-Generational Center in Mesa.  My friend, Joan and I risked humiliation to attempt the sport. I thought we did a pretty good job, but I was so sore that night that I didn’t even want to think about another attempt at the game for a week.

I felt muscles I never knew existed – even after an intense yogalates session. It’s been a week of exploration. I’m aware of dormant muscles, unconscious eating habits, as well as a new, burning desire to play shot put with my scale – which I think would make a great, new Olympic sport. 

But, as all the self-help gurus say (and I’m one of them) I am “in choice.” It may not be an easy decision but I CHOOSE to live a healthier, more conscious life, even if I initially resent having to do so. Whether it’s food, inactive muscles or negative thoughts, speech and actions (the topic of next week’s blog) the more conscious we become of what we are doing, the better we are able to improve our lives.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for a snack. What? ONE slice of wheat bread is 100 calories (and empty calories at that!) Forget it. Pass me a half-cup of organic strawberries and brew me a little green tea.