I’ve spent most of my career preaching about exercise, and it’s been quite a long time at that. It’s only recently that I’ve realised that it’s become somewhat of an obsession, focussing on balancing calories in and calories out to maintain what I have considered to be a healthy weight.
Having recently seen a friend an mentor start to suffer from weight problems, I’ve begun to see that my constant focus on the exercise I’ve been doing has actually created a bit of a monster. It has take a good and long hard look in the mirror, but I’m now seeing that the result has been eating more to fuel the exercise I’m doing, while I was convincing myself it was the other way around.
We’ve all seen people that spend hours a day body-building, and read about those that need to consume five thousand or more calories a day to support their physique, but we also all have our suspicions that it’s a lifestyle that’s unsustainable if a goal is old age, as our bodies simply aren’t design to cope with that level of strain day after day, month after month, and almost certainly year after year.
What I was blind to, however, was the simple fact that it doesn’t have to be the weight lifting types that need to be careful to avoid falling into the trap of overworking their body. I was doing exactly the same thing. If you’re female and consuming 3500 to 4000 calories a day, you must be putting your body under huge strain to burn off up to half of that through exercise every day. For reference, that’s because the recommended healthy intake for women is around 2000 calories a day, and that’s based on a healthy level of exercise.
It was when the penny dropped that I realised food was as much my problem as it was for someone that most of us would consider to be grossly overweight. Things needed to change, and change quickly. Another of my psychological roadblocks is that I can lose focus quickly if I don’t put things into action immediately. So, the first thing I did is I looked at my diet.
In hindsight it is glaringly obvious. Normal women don’t have regular protein shakes. If I’m honest, I have no idea where that habit even came from – probably someone at the gym that told me it was a good ideal and I blindly believed it. That was the first thing to go. Other than that, the food I was eating was healthy on the whole, i was the volume that had crept up.
Being honest with myself, I knew that I’m terrible when hungry – grouchy and miserable to be around to put it mildly. That meant the swaps needed initially to be towards low calorie ingredients, which generally tend to be vegetables. That’s when I stumbled across soup makers, and in particular the Morphy Richards 48822 here. What really appealed was the way I could just put it in the office at work, chuck some vegetables and stock in just before lunchtime and it would be ready half an hour later.
What’s even better, is I can be careful to limit ingredients per portion, then eat more if I’m still hungry. That sounds like terrible diet advice, and it would be if I was trying to lose weight. Remember, I’m not actually an unhealthy weight – I don’t want to gain much, but equally I want to slow down on the jogging and home gym time too in line with reducing my calorie intake.
What I’m finding is that while I ate enough for three people initially, over time I’m finding it far easier to eat less and less as the days fall by. I suppose in some ways that’s like any addiction – some people go ‘cold turkey’ while others find it easier to gradually cut down. That puts me firmly in camp two, and I expect my co-workers appreciate that too as on the whole my mood swings are no worse than usual!
I have to say, I’d never really paid any attention to soup makers until this episode, but they’re actually really good. I noticed the Morphy Richards ones were all on offer at the time, I don’t know if that’s a regular thing or not so do your own research.
I have to be honest, there isn’t a lot of variation in the soups I’m making so far, apart from swearing that I’m never making the pea one again. That was truly vile. Cabbage is better than I expected and I’m getting through a lot of carrots too. Next on my list it so try adding some meat in too, I suspect that might help me feel fuller quicker and for longer, so that’s got to be a good thing as well as giving me the injection of protein I’m probably lacking.
In truth, I’m quite proud of recognising and addressing the problem, and ignoring the temptation to bury my head in the sand. I think I’m probably exercising a bit too much still, but it’s definitely all going the right way. If there’s more to say on the subject, I’ll report back in a few weeks.