The food and activity journal did its job. Just writing everything down – point form, nothing pretty – highlighted why I’d been eating more bready stuff and hence why I was worrying about gaining weight.
Far from being the first step on the slippery slope back to toast addiction, my calorie-dense snacks were a sign that I – get this! – wasn’t eating enough.
How do I know? My exercise regime was frequent, varied and darned vigorous, and my meals were loaded with nutrient-rich, calorie-poor choices. All good, so far.
Seeing the two lists side by side, black ink on white paper, showed me that my expectations were askew. A snack of one celery stalk with a tablespoon of peanut butter simply is not sufficient to fuel a brisk 20-minute walk to the gym, 20 hard-core minutes on the arc trainer, and a brisk 20-minute walk home.
My meals were more substantial than that lightweight snack, but clearly still not enough.
So I added an element to breakfast and lunch. Along with my steel-cut oat porridge and half-cup of compote, I stirred in half a cup of yogurt too.
My morning snack was a pear and two slices of Swiss cheese.
To my protein (two gluten-free turkey sausages) and one veg (a handful of broccoli) for lunch, I added another handful of red cabbage and sprinkled the vegetables with shaved Parmesan cheese.
I was stuffed – so full that I couldn’t manage another snack before I headed out mid-afternoon to walk 20 minutes to the pool and swim a kilometer – which felt great, even though I haven’t swum a lap for at least a year. I picked up 15 pounds of groceries, loaded them into my backpack, and walked home.
Then I was hungry, four and a half hours after lunch.
I made my snack a little heftier than usual. A dozen almonds, a small apple, and hot chocolate made with brown-rice protein powder in a cup of soy milk.
That was at 4:30, and I finally got to dinner at 7:30: an egg with half a turkey sausage and some chopped red and green peppers, half a cup of yogurt and half a cup of compote.
That felt like a lot of food, but all I had to do to make it work for me was space it out a little further. Instead of being hungry every hour and a half and noshing on crackers, I comfortably lasted three hours or more before another substantial installment.
I’d tipped the balance from Calorie Negative to Calorie Neutral, and seeing the evidence in black and white, as well as on Grandma’s old scale, was very sweet.