Sustainability and Food Logs

I think I’m going to have to start food logging again.

For the last year I’ve been trying to not really think too much about my weight and trying to work on loving myself and just trying to build sustainable healthy habits. This worked great for the months I was going back and forth to Knoxville and walking with my childhood friend several times a week. I was also running a little more (I’m back to intervals now, which is less actual running) so I found I lost a little bit of weight and settled in around 20lbs higher than what I call my “race day” weight, but I felt like it was a sustainable body with a healthy mindset without obsessing about food or exercise….so who cares? Right?

Well, once I stopped walking 5 miles a day with my childhood friend and never finding the equivalent walking buddy here, I could feel the weight being put back on and the moderate eating habits deteriorating as I settled into a new normal in Huntsville. My goals is to settle into sustainable habits and lifestyle that let me STOP thinking about weight and food because I just never fluctuate. But I think I’m learning with this last year that as long as my athletic habits fluctuate, and as long as I’m still prone to stress eating (meaning my eating habits are fluctuating), I’m never going to find “sustainable”.

I tried to really focus the last few weeks as Nikki and I’s half-marathon training program officially started. I wasn’t logging anything, because that’s opposite of what I want my life to look like, but just tried to curb the emotional eating and tried to stick to my training with my daughter for our half-marathon.

And even with those 3 focused weeks I still gained weight every week.

I’m now almost 20 lbs higher than I was this summer and it just keeps going up.

I think I have to face the fact that maybe I don’t know how to feed a non-ultra running body. Either that or I’m totally bad at judging my own eating habits when I’m not counting calories.

I don’t WANT to think about calories or the scale AT ALL. But I can’t settle into NOT thinking about it until I find what my sustainable body is and sustainable means NOT GAINING because that’s not at all sustainable from a health perspective. Also? It’s hard to love a body whose clothes don’t fit and I had already spent a chunk of money clothing my body this last summer thinking it was the “sustainable” body and now warm weather is coming back again and I don’t want to have to buy more clothes. (Winter clothes cover a wider range of body sizes, I’ve discovered.)

So, I need to figure this out. I need to find sustainable. My ultimate goal is to weigh the SAME WEIGHT for 1 whole year, something I’ve never done in my adult life, and I guess my assumption that I could do that without monitoring my food was naive. Maybe it would be easier if I wasn’t prone to emotional eating fits…or if I had more consistent exercise routines. But since neither one of those things settled into a “normal” pattern in the last year, then I have to start teaching myself the actual calorie intake this body needs without ultra-running and just try to learn how to adapt on the days I do run. I’m not training for a marathon right now, so my calorie intake isn’t even that much greater on an “exercise” day so I’m probably completely distorting all of those things in my head.

So I’m going to log my food and exercise this week. And I’m going to try do it as a “learning” exercise and not as a “weightloss” technique, if that makes any sense. I’m looking for SUSTAINABLE. And sustainable does not mean CONSTANT WEIGHT GAIN which is the pattern I’ve fallen into this winter. 1-2 pounds every week. That is obviously NOT sustainable.

It’s not about losing weight (she tells herself as she starts her food log). It’s about building a lifestyle where I can make reasonable decisions about food but not obsess about food. Where I can keep moderate exercise levels, but not obsess about exercise. Where I can periodically turn to food as therapy and not beat myself up about it. But I can’t get to any of those places until I have a better understanding of what I’m even putting into my body since obviously my non-tracking self is not making sustainable decisions.

5 Comments

  • Diane

    I can relate- tracking food and eating patterns shouldn’t have to be a weight loss or counting calories. I needed to find a way to log food and identify patterns due to my food allergies and some new symptoms. I have severe celiac and apparent dairy intolerance, so I struggle to find things to eat I enjoy and the context of weight loss or calorie counting just seemed like taunting.

    I did find a very neat app called Cara which is specifically focused this idea – in addition to food there are about 10 tracking categories from water to pain to skin that you can toggle on and off depending on your needs. It’s completely neutral, just tracks, no goals or anything.

  • Jane

    Totally relate to this, Kim. I lost 47 pounds by food logging and going to boot camp faithfully over 6 months, and then sustained that for another 6. Then we moved to Nashville, I started a new job, all kinds of new distractions and stresses, so I gained 20 pounds back. I didn’t food log or exercise during that time. About a month ago I joined a new boot camp and started logging again, and it is SO apparent that my primary issue is portion control. I really have very little idea how to feed my body without accountability, so it looks like if I want to be healthy, this is a daily part of my life. I know it is hard to be hostage to the apps, but I find that even when I KNOW I am going over my allotted calories for the day, putting it there and facing it works for me. Good luck, and feel free to reach out if you need a buddy for this.

  • Olivia

    I started a food and exercise journal today, too. I think it is okay to track food habits – putting it down on paper is more reliable than relying on memory alone. I am relating it to my music practice. Keeping a diary of which fundamentals I’ve been working on in my daily practice sessions helps me see which areas need more work, and shows me how much progress I’m making toward my long-term goals. It helps me stay focused, so I think I can apply the same method to eating and exercise. We’ll see if it works. Good luck!!

  • Kelcy

    I think the mental work you’re doing behind the logging, eating habits etc is really brave and in the long run, the most important, right? I just want to challenge one thing – when you indicate wanting to find a sustainable weight, consider what a sustainable level of vigilance is. I’ve been dealing with a binge eating disorder and it will never completely go away, I have to on some level be constantly vigilant about it and thought patterns that lead to BED. Anything sustainable, whether it’s weight, eating habits, workouts, comes from some degree of routine. SO, to find a sustainable weight, what level of routine are you willing to implement to supplement the eyes-on vigilance that maintaining a certain weight takes to equal sustainability? I hope that makes sense as an equation: vigilance + routine = sustainable (so if the degree of routine increases, vigilance can decrease, and vice-versa).
    For me, I require a high degree of routine and a moderate degree of vigilance. The vigilance, for me, would be incredibly high if I didn’t implement ANY routine. My BED would be ALL OVER THE PLACE, and I’d be fluctuating wildly in weight and compensatory workouts and there’s a spiral out of control somewhere there.

    Just thoughts, take them with a grain of salt. I appreciate your words, keep sharing because your voice is important.

  • Beth Edwards

    14 years ago I lost a good amount of weight and kept it off for 5 years . Then I start5ed on anti-depressants and found it again. Not all the meds, but without all the fear and stress, my give a crap got lost.The first weeks homework was to keep a journal. Not to change diet, just to write everything down. Each week was to add a challenge- like only whole grain carbs, 5 fruits and veggies, etc. There was no calorie counting, just portion sizes. What I found helped the most was to rate hunger/fullness on a scale of 1-5 before and after eating every snack and meal- There were 3 meals and 2 snacks each day. Having to quantify hunger and fullness really helped me keep the over eating in check. As for the brownies-= eat 2 bites- the first bite and the last bite. I would also not keep the rest- Buy a chocolate bar and eat half and put the rest in the trash. The same with cupcakes at school. Every 5 year old wants you to eaT one of their cupcakes- So lob off the frosting or cut it in half and put 1/2 in the trash kept me from eating the other half laTEr. In my opinion, the secret to keeping to a food plan you can eat for the rest of your life is that their are no forbidden foods ansd I kept track of hunger levels. My issuenow is a huge sweet tooth

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