I've started this blog to document my journey running while balancing motherhood, and eventually if I'm lucky enough, my next pregnancy.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

lessons from 1 week of calorie counting

Sorry I've been such a bad blogger. I've been so busy finishing my grades for my students and most importantly, counting every single calorie that enters my mouth. Last week, I promised myself that if I counted my calories for two weeks, I could treat myself to a massage at the spa. That was last Tuesday, and I'm very excited to say that I've been keeping track of everything. I've been using a great and FREE website to do this, CalorieCount.About.com. Using CalorieCount.About.com is super easy. Virtually everything I've eaten is in their searchable database, and when it's not, adding in calories or nutrition information is a snap. It takes me less that a few minutes to enter all my meals and snacks. And if I'm low on a nutrient, I just click that nutrient and get a whole list of foods I can eat that will bring me up to my daily value.

Here's what I learned:

1. Last week I decided to just count calories and noticed some scary habits. I was going over my calorie intake by 400-500 calories a day! I was shocked. I noticed that what was really doing it was mindless nibbling-- a few graham crackers here and there, a serving of goldfish, a little taste of the Lindt chocolate that sits on the English Department's conference table. All those extra calories negate the calories I burn running and add up to about a pound a week. Yikes! No wonder my pants are tighter.

2. With CalorieCount, I can see a daily and weekly breakdown of all the calories, nutrients, fats, carbs, basically everything, I eat. I LOVE this! I wasn't really using all this analysis in the first few days, but after a while, I started looking at trends. I can see exactly how many grams of carbohydrates, protein, and fat I'm taking in each day and week. This is going to help me get better at making sure I have the proper amount of carbs and proteins to fuel my long run. When I went to the nutritionist, she suggested my limit for each to be 65 grams of protein per day, 238 grams of carbs per day, and 58 grams of fat per day. I don't have to eat the total amount; that's just my limit. But I'm still not sure how to balance my carbs and proteins best before a long run. Regardless, now I know what I'm actually taking in, and once I start doing research, I can modify as necessary.
3. I'm taking in WAY too much sodium. I was watching The Biggest Loser (yeah, I'm hooked) and saw Curtis Stone (sigh... drifting off into dreamland) cooking this fabulous meal without any salt. I want to find more recipes that highlight the natural taste of foods rather than mask them with salt and sugar.

4. I'm having difficulty getting my daily requirements of potassium and, on most days, iron. I'm thinking of taking a multivitamin to compensate for what I'm missing, but I absolutely hate horse pills. However, I think getting all the nutrients I need are going to make me a better runner by helping my body run more efficiently and heal faster (right?).

5. This week, I decided to make more of an effort to stay within my daily calorie allotment. I've nailed it for a day or two and come within 100 calories on the other days. What I've found to be most effective is planning as many of my meals in advance as possible. I can log them in either the night before or that morning, and I know in advance how many calories I have to work with for the rest of the day.

6. I need a dessert to be satisfied. My new favorite: a banana sprinkled with cinnamon and 1 tsp of chocolate syrup. It's under 200 calories, delicious, and completely satisfies my sweet tooth. It's also getting me closer to the potassium I need each day.

And one last thing related to calorie counting... I'm even more excited that last Sunday I woke up to a special email in my inbox. My husband bought me a gift certificate to the spa to make sure I treat myself. He's such a great catch, and he's all mine ladies! ;) I have an appointment all set up for Sunday at 1. I'm getting a special massage for athletes, the 90 minute Lemongrass Ginger Ache Away. I can barely keep myself contained. After a full week of running, sleeping on my neck the wrong way for the third night in a row, and three days of being snowed in with a very active (although totally cute) toddler, I really need it!

I've been running now for three years, but I've never taken my nutrition seriously. Now that I want to become a better runner, I need to treat my body with more care. I think this massage is going to be a celebration of a new journey for me as a conscientious eater, which I am sure will make me a better athlete.

Any good suggestions on books that will help teach me how to better fuel my body as a runner? There are so many of them...


  1. you know what has way more potassium than you'd think? coconut water. like tons more than you find in a banana. i was really impressed when i saw that. some people don't like the flavor, but i think that its just sweet enough without being too much.

  2. Also if you can't handle the large horse pills, try Flinstone Vitamins (take two) I believe. But make sure you are taking your folate also. Well lots of love, Mom

  3. i've been reading a book called "racing weight" but i don't if i should be recommending books that i haven't finished and have been working on reading for 2+ months lol

    new to your blog.. i totally relate to your about me, cause i used to think i never could run too!

  4. Woo-hoo!! Enjoy the massage girl!! :) And the banana with cinnamon and chocolate sounds delish!!

  5. Congrats on keeping the food diary! It totally helped me too. Amazing what we end up eating if we don't have any accountability. As for books on eating - I got Cleaning Eating by Tosca Reno for Xmas. Has some good ideas but I wouldn't follow it to a "t". My husband followed Body for Life diet for a few months and felt great! I'd check out what your library has first and then buy the book(s) you think work best for you. Can't wait to hear about your spa day!


I'd love to hear from you. Nothing makes me happier (except chocolate and cupcakes... but really, who can compete with them?)