Back to Basics: Calories DO count! - 3 Fat Chicks on a Diet Weight Loss Community


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Old 07-16-2004, 09:20 PM   #1  
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Default Back to Basics: Calories DO count!

Lately, I've been doing a bit more lurking than posting (kind of being Mr. Ed right now - remember he "never spoke unless he had something to say" ). I've noticed quite a few posts written about working out to lose fat. The questions come up asking 'how much cardio'? 'How much lifting should I do to lose fat'? etc.

I was just reading the August issue of Shape Magazine yesterday - they're featuring a health quiz beginning on pg 216. Question #3 caught my attention:

Quote:
What's the most underrated weight-loss advice?
  1. Do more aerobic exercise to burn extra calories.
  2. Ingest fewer calories.
  3. Strength train to build muscle and increase your metabolism.

    There are many compelling reasons to strength train - staving off bone loss, sculpting beautiful muscles, feeling more confident in your body - but losing weight isn't one of them. While it's true that muscle will boost metabolism, the effect has been grossly exaggerated. An extra pound of muscle will raise your metabolic rate by only 10 additional calories per day.

    Also, be careful not to overestimate the contribution aerobic exercise can make to weight loss. You simply can't hit the treadmill long enough to outrun the effects of outsize portions. "Exercise isn't nearly as important for weight loss as portion control," says Gary Foster, Ph.D, clinical director and associate assistant professor at the U. of PA School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

    If your goal is to lose weight, be sure to monitor your caloric intake first and foremost, in addition to maintaining an aerobic exercise and strength training program for overall health.
  1. These days, I think people get so caught up in CARBS that they lose sight of what REALLY matters...the CALORIES. Back in the 90's fat was the evil boogieman, now it's the nasty carb. (that brings to mind that Bud Light "Real Men of Genius" radio spot that I've been hearing a lot of lately - always makes me giggle...:

    Quote:
    Today we salute you, Mr. Over the Top Carb Counter.

    Despite the pressures of a career and family, you chose your number one priority to be counting carbs.

    Brushing aside such things as friends and family, you meticulously count every single carb hoping that in the end it all adds up to your target number... Zero.

    Did that artichoke have 13.5 or 13.6 grams of carbs? Better look it up while you crack open another pound of bacon. (I like it crispy!)

    You know that the next best thing to meat and potatoes is meat and meat.
    Jeez...wish I could find the entire text of that spot...no luck! )

    ANYWAY. Didja notice in that Shape quote, that the three possible answers are the LWL Holy Trinity? Cardio...weight training...and nutrition. I know that for ME, nutrition is the big nasty of them all. Not really NASTY, it's just the toughest for me, since I looooooooove food! I also love to work out every morning. For years, I figured that if I spent 90 minutes working out hard at the gym, I could eat whatever I wanted (judging from some of the 'old-timers' at my gym in the morning - not old necessarily, but seeing them regularly for years now - I'm not the only one who has had that belief, or perhaps it's just wishful thinking??). Unfortunately, 'taint true. Unless you're like our former upstairs neighbor, who had the metabolism of a hummingbird and could eat a whole cake without it showing on his 5'11" 135-pound frame...

    And IMO - it's VITAL to track and measure your portions, maybe not every single DAY, but when first starting a weight-loss regimen and then every so often, let's say if you feel you're eating too much or you're not losing - or start gaining - weight. (yup I've seen people post before that they gained 'five pounds this month, but it was mostly muscle' - first off, unless they're on steroids, your average woman, let alone human, can't gain that much muscle in that short amount of time; and second, body-fat measurement is far from an exact science so there's really no way of telling how much of that is fat and how much is muscle...)

    BFL is a really good program and all, but one of the issues I have with it is the 'palm/fist' method of measuring. I'd recommend if you are going to give BFL a try, to first measure your portions 'the old fashioned way' - using measuring spoons, cups and food scale (most of us should have one lying around - if not they're way cheap, unless you buy them at a WW meeting or a head shop! Sorry couldn't resist...) and THEN when you know how much your portions should be...start eyeballing cautiously.

    But don't give exercise short shrift! - Question #7 in that Shape quiz goes like this:

    Quote:
    What is the main predictor of maintaining weight loss?
Quote:
  1. Exercise.
  2. Having a low-stress job.
  3. Being Single.

Answer: a.

As noted in Question 3, exercise alone isn't the most effective way to lose weight. But that doesn't mean it isn't an essential part of any weight-loss program. In fact, it's exactly what will help you safeguard all your efforts. "Exercise is the single best predictor of who keeps weight off," says Gary Foster.

Plus, there's more incentive to hittin the gym than fitting into your new smaller-size jeans. "Exercise helps you sleep better, reduces stress and improves fitness," Foster says. "More important, exercise improves lifespan."
Feel free to comment - gotta go babysit now
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Old 07-17-2004, 06:01 AM   #2  
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Thank you for a most EXCELLENT post, Ms. Ed, and please keep posting -- we’ve missed you and you've got lots of good stuff to say, as always . You are right on the money with all your points.

Nutrition — that's the toughest for me too and I'll bet for most of us at LWL. Getting to the gym isn't usually the hard part -- it's eating clean AND in the correct amounts. As you oh so correctly point out, portion size does matter, a lot (unfortunately, there is no free lunch, calorically speaking )

I was thinking about this whole calorie issue as I was staring in amazement at all the new low carb foods in my grocery store. Holy pork rinds, Batman, there’s an awful lot of calories out there dressed up as diet LC foods. For the most part, it seems like the food manufacturers are creating LC versions of junk food, right? No one’s coming out with LC apples or LC potatoes — it’s LC ice cream and Doritos and muffin mix and candy. All the stuff that got me, at least, fat in the first place.

The problem is that all these fake LC foods — Frankenfoods — are turning LC dieting into the same diet disaster as the LF craze of the 90s (remember eating the whole box Snackwell’s cookies because they were fat free?) Why? Because calories DO count! Flashback: did you know that pretzels and Twizzlers, even eaten by the bag, contain NO fat? And that you can gain weight eating NO fat?? I learned that lesson the hard way — duh — they still had tons of calories and calories count.

The same thing is true for LC foods. They’re often loaded with as many calories as the real junk food that they’re trying to replace (despite all that net carb baloney you might see on the front of the package, sugar alcohols contain almost as many calories as real sugar and will mess up your gut to boot). The danger is thinking that if it’s “low carb” it’s 1. better for you and 2. you can eat as much as you want.

There isn’t a diet out there that lets you eat as much of any food as you want and still lose fat, whether it’s low fat or low carb or low whatever (veggies excepted). Because in the end, it’s all about the calories and we have to limit those in order to lose fat. No one’s figured out how to change the basic rule that to lose fat, you have to burn off more calories than you take in. Period.

So I completely agree — calories DO count!
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Old 07-17-2004, 07:40 AM   #3  
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Great posts as usual girls!!

What amazes me is that people think, that LF or LC foods, are healthy! What type of vitamins do they have? IMO, None! They are processed beyond belief or recognition... Like Meg said they don't have LC apples or potatoes, probably because THEY are a perfect food...

Again, ppl think there's a magic pill or an easy or fast way out of their fat bodies, when in fact we know there isn't...

Someone on this site had a signature saying: "We don't have unlimited money, why do we think we can eat unlimited foods!" Even with healthy unprocessed clean food we can't consume mass portions of it, this is why portion control is so important...

Yep, calories do count one way or the other...

Last edited by Lanaii1; 07-17-2004 at 07:44 AM.
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Old 07-17-2004, 09:43 AM   #4  
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I have to disagree. There are many low-fat and low-calorie foods, even processed ones, that are very healthy, and are very strong tools in weight-loss and weight-loss maintenance. Progress doesn't preclude quality!

While some regimens may go too far in one direction or another, we ARE learning more and more each day about the human body and how it reacts to various foods, and that knowledge clearly shows that not all calories are created equal. There will be more to learn, no question, but we need to be aware of all the information available today and not rely on any traditional "common sense" which may be out-dated by recent discoveries.
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Old 07-17-2004, 10:00 AM   #5  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bicker
I have to disagree. There are many low-fat and low-calorie foods, even processed ones, that are very healthy, and are very strong tools in weight-loss and weight-loss maintenance. Progress doesn't preclude quality!

While some regimens may go too far in one direction or another, we ARE learning more and more each day about the human body and how it reacts to various foods, and that knowledge clearly shows that not all calories are created equal. There will be more to learn, no question, but we need to be aware of all the information available today and not rely on any traditional "common sense" which may be out-dated by recent discoveries.
Brian - I do agree with you, that quality is as important as quantity. The higher in quality your calories are, the more 'bang for your buck' nutritionally and all around!

The theory behind both the low-carb and the low-fat diets (IMO) is that by limiting him or herself to 'only' low-carb foods or 'only' low-fat foods, the dieter limits variety, causing caloric intake to go down. That's been proven in studies - the reason the low-carb diet works is simple - calorie reduction! Now, I do agree that not all processed foods are baddies. HOWEVER, the food industry is skewing the pendulum again, just as they did back in the 1990's - by manufacturing foods that are 'low-carb' but are high in calories, thinking that most of the target audience won't even LOOK at the calories, but just blithely purchase and eat mass quantities of low-carb candy, low-carb cookies, etc. And that new game the food industry is playing with the "net impact carbs" - I'm hoping the FDA does something about that soon - gives a lot of Average Customers the belief that the other carbs (and their related calories) just flow through their body without being absorbed and stored as fat. (During the Snackwells Era, I thought the same thing - as long as those Fig Newtons were fat free, all the other calories would just pass right on through...of course most of those other calories were SUGAR which went straight to my butt and thighs!)

The intent of my initial post was to make people aware that in the end, calories DO count. It's vital for each one of us to find a healthy eating regimen that works in our individual lifestyle, a diet that's easy to follow and can be maintained for life. As Suzanne 3FC's siggie used to say "What works for Mary may not work for Jane - find something that works for you". Also the book Thin for Life has shown that the people who are most successful at maintaining a weight loss are the ones who have devised their own 'maintenance program' - and as Meg and others have said, once you get to your happy weight, maintenance eating is pretty much the same as 'weight loss eating'.

Gotta run to the gym!
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Old 07-17-2004, 10:35 AM   #6  
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Default Living with TWO Trinities

I'm printing these out and taking them with me to Saugatuck. Wiser words were never written. Portion size has always been my biggest challenge, which is why I keep several measuring cups and spoons close at hand. I also keep a small digital scale on the counter because I don't trust my own eyes. I've been doing this for years, and I can still convince myself that a plate-sized portion of almost anything is 3 or 4 ounces. After not weighing, measuring or logging for the last 8 weeks, I was startled to realize just how much I've been eating. I actually have two trinities: nutrition, cardio and weights AND weigh, measure and log.
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Old 07-17-2004, 10:50 AM   #7  
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Robin -- Weigh, Measure, Log... Soooo true that 2nd Trinity... I like because I'm the exact same, I can convince myself that a plateful of ....um whatever is one serving... I have everything on little hooks on the back splash of my kitchen counter to have it on hand...

Karen -- Have a good workout! ... True what you and Suzanne say : What works for Jane may not work for Mary ....

Biker -- What I was saying I guess is what works for me... I used to eat Raisin Bran, excellent cereal by most standards, but it just lead me to eat more and be hungry for processed carbs...DH still eats it... NOW I eat large flake oatmeal with soy milk and an egg white omelette for breakfast and I am so much more satiated and satisfied for longer,than just a bowl of Raisin Bran, because other than the raisins the flakes, to me and IMHO are processed to the max... As an example a few weeks ago I ran out of oatmeal so I had RB and my usual omelette and within 1.5 hrs I had the shakes, and could not function, I hadn't had the shakes because of lack of food in about a year and I attribute this to my blood sugar level getting too low, I am not diabetic or have thyroid problems I get checke yearly....
Now this is just me! We are all so different and unique and this is why these forums and discussions are so much fun....
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Old 07-17-2004, 08:22 PM   #8  
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Quote:
I've been doing this for years, and I can still convince myself that a plate-sized portion of almost anything is 3 or 4 ounces.
Oh, Robin and Ilene, it's so funny how true that is for me too! When I'm hungry, a tablespoon of PB turns into 1/4 cup and a "serving" of cereal is really two or three and you'd get a pint of Ben and Jerry's if you asked me to dish out 1/2 cup! So I have FOUR sets of measuring cups and spoons and a scale.

Yep, weigh, measure, and log is another holy trinity. I still do all three every day, even two years into maintenance.
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Old 07-18-2004, 08:33 AM   #9  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsJim
HOWEVER, the food industry is skewing the pendulum again, just as they did back in the 1990's - by manufacturing foods that are 'low-carb' but are high in calories, thinking that most of the target audience won't even LOOK at the calories, but just blithely purchase and eat mass quantities of low-carb candy, low-carb cookies, etc.
I agree that they were doing that, but I think that things have actually improved a bit from there. For example, consider the new "Truth About Carbs" entrees from Smart Ones (Weight Watchers). These are really good tasting, with excellent macro-nutrient break-downs. They've formulated a set of entrees that specifically avoid the high GI foods like rice, potatoes, and pasta.
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Old 07-18-2004, 08:48 AM   #10  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lanaii1
Biker --
bicker, if you please.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lanaii1
What I was saying I guess is what works for me... I used to eat Raisin Bran, excellent cereal by most standards, but it just lead me to eat more and be hungry for processed carbs...DH still eats it... NOW I eat large flake oatmeal with soy milk and an egg white omelette for breakfast and I am so much more satiated and satisfied for longer,than just a bowl of Raisin Bran, because other than the raisins the flakes, to me and IMHO are processed to the max...
Have you compared the Glycemic Load between the two? I think you'll find that processing isn't the determining factor in what leads you to eat more and be hungry, but rather the Glycemic Load of what you eat. Oatmeal has a much lower Glycemic Load than Raisin Bran. Some of the foods with the highest Glycemic Index are natural/raw. So processing isn't the determining factor. That was the point I was making.

It is reasonable that, before all the research on GI and GL came to light, we thought that processing was the issue, because, many processed foods have a high GL and many raw foods have a low GL. However, armed with this new knowledge of why the trend was saw previously was the case, we can now better navigate the waters (so to speak) and choose the best raw foods and the best processed foods.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lanaii1
Now this is just me! We are all so different and unique and this is why these forums and discussions are so much fun....
I found, though, that many people find this to be the most infuriating aspect of this whole realm, since it often leaves them in a position where they don't know how to start, how to progress from a trouble-point, etc.

We are different, no question, but I believe that most of the difference, is psychological.

Consider that if our bodies were so radically different from each other that each time someone had some illness or disease it was the first time that specific manifestation ever occured. Since every body is, in that scenario, different, what we learn about treating an illness in one person would be of no value in treating another.

Of course, that's not the case. Our bodies are relatively consistent. What works for us, in terms of weight-loss and weight-loss maintenance, differs mostly because our beliefs, habits, tendencies, sensibilities and preferences are different. This is a very good thing, IMHO.

First, it means that we can learn things about the body that can help us manage issues such as obesity, to some extent at least, physiologically. For example: Glycemic Index. GI has some significant impact on everyone struggling with this issue. The impact can be different, of course, even physiologically, but most of the difference is attributable to different psychological make-ups. Another example would be what we're now beginning to learn about cortisol.

Second, since much of the differences between people struggling with these issues is psychological, and there are far more effectiveness means of helping people change their psychology than there are to change their physiology , we have yet-another tool to apply to this struggle! While not everyone can, most people can benefit from some application of mind-over-matter. Great examples of this is food journaling (which helps erect a psychological barrier on overeating), affirmation, and goal-setting.

Sorry to get off onto a tangent, but I don't think I've seen this issue of "everyone is different" addressed in great detail before. I think it would help to consider what it means, how true it is, in what ways it is and is not true, and how we can use our knowledge of this issue to benefit our efforts!

Last edited by bicker; 07-18-2004 at 08:51 AM.
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Old 07-18-2004, 10:33 AM   #11  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bicker
bicker, if you please.
My appologies it was a typo

Quote:
Originally Posted by bicker

Have you compared the Glycemic Load between the two? I think you'll find that processing isn't the determining factor in what leads you to eat more and be hungry, but rather the Glycemic Load of what you eat. Oatmeal has a much lower Glycemic Load than Raisin Bran. Some of the foods with the highest Glycemic Index are natural/raw. So processing isn't the determining factor. That was the point I was making.

It is reasonable that, before all the research on GI and GL came to light, we thought that processing was the issue, because, many processed foods have a high GL and many raw foods have a low GL. However, armed with this new knowledge of why the trend was saw previously was the case, we can now better navigate the waters (so to speak) and choose the best raw foods and the best processed foods.

I found, though, that many people find this to be the most infuriating aspect of this whole realm, since it often leaves them in a position where they don't know how to start, how to progress from a trouble-point, etc.

We are different, no question, but I believe that most of the difference, is psychological.

Consider that if our bodies were so radically different from each other that each time someone had some illness or disease it was the first time that specific manifestation ever occured. Since every body is, in that scenario, different, what we learn about treating an illness in one person would be of no value in treating another.

Of course, that's not the case. Our bodies are relatively consistent. What works for us, in terms of weight-loss and weight-loss maintenance, differs mostly because our beliefs, habits, tendencies, sensibilities and preferences are different. This is a very good thing, IMHO.

First, it means that we can learn things about the body that can help us manage issues such as obesity, to some extent at least, physiologically. For example: Glycemic Index. GI has some significant impact on everyone struggling with this issue. The impact can be different, of course, even physiologically, but most of the difference is attributable to different psychological make-ups. Another example would be what we're now beginning to learn about cortisol.

Second, since much of the differences between people struggling with these issues is psychological, and there are far more effectiveness means of helping people change their psychology than there are to change their physiology , we have yet-another tool to apply to this struggle! While not everyone can, most people can benefit from some application of mind-over-matter. Great examples of this is food journaling (which helps erect a psychological barrier on overeating), affirmation, and goal-setting.

Sorry to get off onto a tangent, but I don't think I've seen this issue of "everyone is different" addressed in great detail before. I think it would help to consider what it means, how true it is, in what ways it is and is not true, and how we can use our knowledge of this issue to benefit our efforts!
Thank you for the tangent, it was very informative......
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Old 07-21-2004, 12:10 PM   #12  
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Default Calories Count? (Darn.)

I'm just a newbie, but I love reading posts from you "seasoned" folks' on here. Very inspiring -- and I need that now more than ever!

I decided about 2 1/2 months ago (with my husband) to make a major life change by joining a gym and exercising. Because we'd been mostly sedentary (not as bad as we were before we lived in the city because of all the walking we do, but still pretty bad), we both had the idea that once we started exercising, the pounds would just drop off without our making any significant changes to what we ate. Imagine my surprise when it (the super-magic amazing weight loss) *didn't happen*.

Well, now I'm a little more illuminated. I love exercising (cardio 6x/week, weights 4x/week), and I can definitely feel myself becoming more fit. That's good by tself. But the past month or so, I've been watching my eating more carefully. Lo and behold -- I've lost weight. Only about 12-15 pounds so far (depending on the day; I need a new scale), but it's encouraging. I haven't started *carefully* tracking calories yet because I'm trying to take it slow (given a history with an eating disorder, I'm very nervous about getting obsessed).

I gotta say, though... it's frustrating to realize how much of weight loss depends on what I put in my mouth. Exercise is great, but it sadly ain't the end all/be all I thought it would be.

Just my 2 cents. Thanks again for all you guys do on here!
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Old 07-21-2004, 01:54 PM   #13  
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Everything you said is sad but true ....

It took me quite a while (I'm a little slower than you are! ) to catch on to the fact that I could give 110% in the gym all week and absolutely wipe it all out with an hour of unplanned, off track eating. Sigh. Dems da facts and that's just the way it is for me (and a lot of us). I envy those who can have a cheat day and 1. be able to get right back on track and 2. keep losing weight.

Congratulatons on the pounds lost to date!
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Old 07-21-2004, 02:24 PM   #14  
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Well...goodness. I guess I'll join the club with my 2 cents...what the ****.

I do not consider myself a member of any particular diet 'group' any more than I am all one heritage.
I personally do some foods which say "low-carb" on the label. It is because sugar makes me PSYCHO! and it also makes me hungry. Like many, I am hypoglycemic. Also, I like choose some foods because they are higher in protein ,which I am always battling to get in enough protein, and it just happens to say "lower-carb" on the label. I am not on a "LC Diet" per se and it has been awhile since I had 'bacon-n-eggs' for breakfast. I guess if anything I am a low glycemic'er (I just made up a new word!) I eat (for example) the LC yogurt because it has less sugar and has 12 grams of protein and is also low fat. It also only has 80 cals vs the regular yogurt at 200+ and the Low fat stuff at 100ish. Point being, I don't eat it because it's 'low-carb'. Frankly it is the 'BACK' of the label I am most concerned with.
I am like the kid in school that doesn't fall into any group and is just friends with everyone. I have grown to know my "own" body and I know what makes it happy and makes it feel good and keeps it strong and helps it rest at night etc..Do I follow it all the time? Shamefully I must say ,No, I am a struggling human and am working toward more consistancy...towards improvement...
I agree that it is sad that so many people want to find the miracle answer and if they just join that 'club' the beautiful body (and health?) will follow. I have often said to people (when this subject comes up) there were beautiful bodies a hundred years ago before we cared about fat or carbs etc. Those people ate what they needed and nothing more and they worked their as*es off. But technology has gotten us here and we are not using our powers for good. I think most would agree that 'wonder bread' (and all the related foods) are very high on the average american diet. I would have to say IMHO that most people that are on the SAD (Standard American Diet) are on a HIGH processed carb/sugar diet. So to cut back would simply bring them into homeostasis, not neccessarily put them on a Low carb Diet. But people get confused so easily. People will see me eating my Lo-carb yogurt (translation, higher protein, lower sugar) and go "Oh....she follows Atkins..." and it's like um...wait a minute....don't make assumptions.
I think that keeping a log is a fantastic idea! and a proven one. It helps you understands your own body and how it reacts to certain macronutrients. It is also a reality check for those that are convinced they don't overeat but somehow became obese. A new Mom asked me (at the gym a few months ago) should I focus on weight training, cardio or diet to get toned? I said "Are you going to feed your baby, change it's diaper or love it?" She said "Well all of that, obviously" and I said "There you go..."
It isn't simple. I struggle with my diet because I love the taste of high glycemic , low nutrient crap (pardon) and even though it makes me 'feel' crappy, sometimes that doesn't stop me. I feel awesome when I have a meal of salmon, salad and a small bit of sweet potatoes. Why? Who the **** knows...?. I can assume it is the essential fatty acids, the protein and antioxidants mixed with a small portion of medium glycemic carbs but really all I need to know is that experience tells me that it works for "me"...to keep me strong, happy, healthy and trim. Of course I am speaking in general terms, I am not suggesting I would eat that for every meal.
I guess I dissagree with appraoching diet like a religion or assuming that as long as the foods are "OK" on that particular diet that it is a free for all. Calories absolutely count, of course they do... but where you get them from counts equally.
I made the most progress of my life when I kept a journal, planned and recorded my meals and workouts. I was never more balanced and strong. I should keep one again.... On boy I feel a public commitment coming on here...

Anyway, I find this all interesting and am curious to hear the diferant opinions and experiences. Food to me is like medication. Advice is only general..For 'most' people two tablets work but for some one os plenty and for some it takes three to kill the pain.
We all know that no-one should take the whole bottle ,though, so common sense can prevail. I would thoroughly enoy reading a 'journal' thread (and participating) even though we all are on slightly differant plans. It would be an opportunity to learn and gain ambition from anothers fortitude and create commitment. As well as an opportuntiy to be understanding and respectful of what works for differant people.
All rightl.. that's all I got.
Blessings....
XOXO
L2L
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