Tis The Season For Overeating - NOT

I enjoy the Christmas season. The pace of work slows a bit. Maybe you can take a few quiet days between Christmas and New Year's to finally clean out those Inboxes at work - both the physical box and the e-mail one.

I also enjoy all the foods around at this time of year. There's so many tasty morsels everywhere you go. At the office someone is bound to bring in a box of baked goodies - and you have to try them!

But there is the dreaded downsize of all the nibbling. Weight gain. You've done so well all year long sticking to your training and eating plans. It can slip a bit right now. But as I've blogged before, your weight gain/ weight loss process can be asymmetric. Dropping the extra weight after the holidays may take you much longer, or be much harder than you thought.

And we are all at risk of underestimating the amount of calories we actually eat. In fact, a US Department of Agriculture study found that most people actually underestimate how much they eat by 11%. That can really add up over time.

Say you were aiming for a typical 2000 calorie-a-day diet. At an 11% error, you'd be eating more like 2200 calories-a-day. In almost 3 weeks you'd pack on an extra pound of fat. Uggh!

You Need To Keep Track

The only method I've found that really works for me, and keeps me from lying to myself about how much I eat, is to keep a detailed log of what I throw into my mouth - and that means everything including those few bites of leftovers from my kids' plates. It literally feels like I'm dissecting every bite of food that passes over my lips.

But I don't track it all manually. I use a software program called DietPower.

It has a nearly complete database of everything you might find yourself eating. What I really like about it, is that if I find a food not in DietPower's database, I can use the food's nutrition label and add it myself. It doesn't happen too often though.

But frequently it might be one of the homemade recipes we cook at home. In that case, I can input the entire recipe into DietPower, including the total number of servings, and the program will give me the complete nutritional breakdown of the recipe on a per-serving basis.

Weight-Loss = Calories Out - Calories In

Of course weight management isn't all about calories in. DietPower can keep track of your calories out too. It has a database of calorie burn rates for more than 1000 activities that can be tailored to your own weight. It's a great way for tracking any of your cross-training activities. And if you use a Power Meter on your bike, or a Polar HRM with the OwnCal feature, you can use those numbers to input how many calories your burn too.

Now I don't use DietPower year round. Frankly, I do find it a bit tedious at times to enter everything. The program does have a "favorites" feature, though, that makes it quick and easy to enter the foods you most frequently eat. And you'll quickly realize that you tend to eat a core set of foods, week in and week out. With DietPower you can discover what some of your most healthy choices for those core foods should be.

I often use DietPower for a period of 2 to 3 weeks at a time, to really get back in touch with what I'm eating. I want to make sure I'm not lying to myself about how much I'm eating, or how nutritious my choices are. And certainly during a period like the holidays, the program can really keep me on track.

So if you suspect you're lying to yourself too - and you probably are - take action now and download a free trial copy of DietPower. I think you'll be surprised at the results...

To Athletes Who Want To Manage Their Weight

Photo "Isabel and Andrew's Christmas Tree Roast Pork" by avlxyz

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