OOOOHHHHHHHH. This Makes More Sense.

(Trigger warning for calorie counts, weight, and other assorted asshattery.)

For my birthday in May I got a shiny new heart rate monitor – the kind I can wear on my wrist (because I’d need a damn engineering degree to figure out how to wear a chest strap around my ginormous boobs, ok?).  And it calculates heart rate (duh) and calories burned and (if you want to set it, which I didn’t) calorie intake and base heart rate (again with the duh), etc. 

And it has been pretty and shiny in my drawer for, oh, about 2 months now.  I just keep FORGETTING it.  But I haven’t been too worried about it because you know, the gym has those little handlebars on the treadmill, and I know they’re not accurate, but they’re probably CLOSE, right?  And the treadmill calculates calories burned off, and I know THEY’RE not accurate, but again with the CLOSE: I can just knock 50 or 100 calories off whatever the treadmill says I’ve burned, and that probably evens it out, right?

See, lately I’ve been really frustrated.  I’ve been shooting for 1250-1500 calories/day, and I’ve been consistently over (even if I don’t count the binges – which I don’t – I figure the low calorie intake offests most of the bingeing.).  Not by much – by 100 calories or so, but still.  It’s driving me batshit crazy.  Because I figure if I eat 1500 calories and burn 250-300 on the treadmill, well that’s around 1200-1250 calories, which is low but not unmanageable, right?  (Especially if I’m getting another 500-800 calories most nights from mini-binges.)

So I wore my pretty, shiny HRM to the gym this morning for the Very First Time.  And I read the manual (before I left, because to do it at the gym on the treadmill would just be WEIRD and HARD) on how to set your weight, and then how to start the timer for your workout and how you should recheck your heart rate every time you start working harder, and that THEN *deep breath* the HRM will track your calorie burn!  Good times, peeps, good times.

So when I got all done, the gym treadmill had my calorie burn listed at just under 300 (which I would normally record as 250).  I checked the HRM.  And then double-checked.  And triple-checked. 

My HRM calculated that I burned 626 calories.  Holy shit.

This might be why I have trouble staying under 1500 calories a day.  I mean, I wasn’t working any harder than usual today, and if I’m burning 600 off the top of that 1500, that leaves me with . . . wait . . . *carries the 1* . . . around 900 calories a day!!  Holy shit, again.  Um.  Even *I* know that is TOO. LOW.  (No, I’m not really that bad at math.  I just thought it was funny.  You!  In the back!  Laugh, dammit!)

And another thing.  Since I fucked up my body in college, I don’t really get hungry anymore.  I mean, I’ll get hungry around mealtime, but if I wait it out for 15 or 20 minutes, that hunger just . . . disappears.  Even if I DO eat, a lot of times I can just eat a LITTLE bit, and I don’t feel hungry anymore (even though I need to eat more, because A Banana is Not a Meal). 

(I really enjoy abusing capital letters for emphasis.  Really.  A lot.  Just thought I’d mention that.  ANYWAY.)

I’m wondering if part of the bingeing might actually be hunger that I’m not *feeling,* but that my body is experiencing.  (Most of the bingeing is TOTALLY mental, don’t get me wrong.  I’m just wondering if the low-calorie thing is contributing to it.)  Because at the end of the day, it’s the sugars and simple carbs that I want to inhale, which coincidentally, are the fastest source of energy for a starving body.

So I felt a lot better about going “over” my alloted goals, since you know, I’m actually NOT EVEN HITTING THEM.  (There was also a part of me that was like, “Why the fuck do I weigh so much, then” but I’m pretty sure that’s due to the bingeing, or more accurately, to the mini-binges.  An extra 500-800 calories a night will pretty much offest low intake the rest of the day/week.  Then again, now I’m thinking if I ate more all day, I might be able to mitigate the nighttime eating.)

(Also, because I’m TOTALLY NEUROTIC, and AFRAID YOU’LL JUDGE ME (yes, I know better)  (Look!  Parens in parens!  I AM A GRAMMAR REBEL, PEOPLE.) I feel the need to say that I keep reading stuff about how people underestimate their calorie intake, but overestimate their burnoff.  But every time I get diligent about tracking that stuff, I find that I’m doing just the opposite – probably because I’m so worried about doing it the first way.  I’ll do stuff like calculate the calories in something and then add 100-200 more, just as a “margin of error.”  Or if it’s something I KNOW is high-calorie, I’ll double whatever I’ve calculated – especially in a restaurant where I know the food has more oil in it than I realize.  And I tend to do the opposite on the treadmill: if the treadmill says I’ve burned 200 calories, I figure on 150 (no, there is no rhyme or reason to this system, except what’s IN MY HEAD).  So I’m also thinking that my total calorie intake might actually be UNDER 900/day, which is an even LOWER – read: worse – number.  No wonder my body is fucked.  All that to say that I’m pretty sure that the extra weight I carry is due to bingeing and not to understimating what I eat during the “normal” course of the day.)

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9 responses to “OOOOHHHHHHHH. This Makes More Sense.

  1. Does make more sense.

  2. one of the most surprising things realized in recovery (i’m not there yet) is that hunger isn’t always that empty belly feeling. sometimes I want to eat and it feels like that feeling is coming from my head (ie a binge thought) but is really a different type of genuine hunger. I think this is particularly the case when I’ve been exercising a lot. I’ve also found that some of the emotions I’d dismissed as binge triggers (tiredness, grumpyness) are sometimes signs of genuine hunger too and will go away if I eat a little more.

    I always rounded up too when counting calories. I’m glad you realized all of this, it feels awful to live on such a low number.

    h.x

  3. Yeah – def. try upping your cals and see if that helps! Esp. with the binges.

  4. First, could you name your wonderful heart rate monitor that does not require a chest band?

    Second. I am like you. I over estimate size and weight and calories when I track them. I under estimate my activity level. And it took me months to figure out that I binge after a workout because my body is friggin hungry.

    Doing planning on that feed my workout thing right now.

    And please tell me your workout is not all treadmill- that you do do resistance training. Because it is so much better for caloric burn than wasting hours on a treadmill.

    (I also do not often feel hunger. Never had. But boy do I get cranky when I need to eat.)

  5. Georgie, I know, right?! And to think I’d resisted a HRM for so long. Oops.

    Hayley, I know exactly what you mean. I find that when I exercise regularly, my perceived hunger levels actually DROP – I really don’t feel very hungry at all. But I knew that when I felt tired and headache-y, that was low blood sugar. Now I’m thinking that the anxious, panicky, bird-in-my-chest feeling that precedes a binge might ALSO be hunger. Good to know.

    Charlotte, that’s what I’m most interested in, I have to admit: I’ll be FASCINATED if eating more takes care of even a small percentage of the bingeing. (And of course, I’m trying to lose weight again, so the idea of eating more freaks me out. God has a sense of humor that way . . . )

    Oh! Deb, it’s the Mio Shape. I was thinking I’d post a review, but then I found this link, which has a great review already. 🙂 And I have to admit that I blow hot and cold on the resistance training. I actually really like it, but the treadmill is more for my head than my body: if I bust out 45 minutes on the treadmill, I don’t get that anxious, panicky feeling nearly as often. So right now I’m mostly just doing the treadmill in an effort to control the Crazy. But I’ll definitely go back to weights soon.

  6. Harriet Welch

    Holy cow, 626? How long were you on the treadmill? I wear a HRM when I run and bike and I burn about 300 calories per mile running. Someone told me to keep the HRM going until my heartrate goes back down to normal, and I’ve noticed that adds 75 to 100 more calories. I’m jealous – I want to burn 626 calories!

    And I don’t think time spent on a treadmill is wasted. I do prefer to run outside and the hills definitely add some good caloric burn, but in bad weather a treadmill is a necessity. Cardio is so important for your heart!

    Strength/weight training is important too, but I don’t think one is more important than the other for caloric purposes.

  7. LOL, Harriet, I was on for about 50 minutes (the length of an episode of TV, which I watch on my iPod). But I weigh 180-ish, and my maximum heart rate is much higher than normal: somewhere between 200 and 210 (I’m 32 years old, so my “standard” max would be 188). So I can work out at a fairly high heart rate (I average around 185, which I can keep up for a long time – once I get into the high 190s I start working a lot harder, LOL) and between that and the extra weight I carry, I tend to burn a lot of calories. (I might be burning SLIGHTLY fewer: I think the default setting on my HRM is 200, so if my max is 210, I’d be burning a few less. But mostly it’s the weight that ups my burn so much.)

  8. I absolutely think eating more will help your binges altogether. I’ve done the stupidest diets, cherries only one day, strawberries the next, celery the next, and if I ate a cherry on celery day, the whole damn thing was ruined. Long story short, I binged, got fatter, started over. My metabolism/body isn’t messed up, at least not any more. It took a while, and I had to learn to read myself. And I totally know what you mean about the treadmill being for your head, I like cardio for that reason, but am actually starting to crave the weights. I like the way they make my muscles feel, and I’m almost thin enough that muscles show. But seriously, the thing that will fuck up your weight loss the most is binges, and eating too little will bring them on. Maybe instead of a 500 cal binge, you could eat a small meal or large snack, and you’d feel less freaked out. Maybe you have to force yourself to eat, I do that, defensive eating, it’s a very strange concept. And it saves me from irrational eating behaviors. I really don’t do well if I get very hungry, and I only get hungry if I’m exercising enough. If I don’t, I have to be logical and eat what I feel is appropriate. Anyway, this is a long enough comment and I’m grouchy and tired, as you can probably tell.

  9. LOL, Julie, I didn’t do the cherry/strawberry/celery diet, but I did the yogurt/apple with cheese/banana/hard boiled egg diet. Good times, right? 😉 And yeah, I think my metabolism has only really recovered in the last year or so. I’m noticing more “normal” variations in my weight based on what I’m eating these days.

    I think part of the problem I run into with the mini-binges is that I tend to be a calorie-hoarder. I save them all up so I’ll be sure to have enough for dinner, and then realize that I have MORE THAN I CAN EAT. Except that then I mini-binge. I’m finding that I do have to use some “defensive eating” earlier in the day for just that reason.

    Lordy, it seems weird that something that should be so simple (eating) can be so complicated, you know?

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