I am writing this post from a fog of hunger. I did just eat a little container of hummus (150 calories) and five naan dippers (another 150), but I don’t think the energy has kicked in yet. So bear with me.
Last week I started participating in an eight-week weight loss program sponsored by my employer. When I first signed up, in April, I referred to it as a “wellness” or “fitness” program because I couldn’t bring myself to say the dreaded WL phrase. And even now, as I’m writing this, a whole host of qualifiers comes clamoring to my mind because I feel like I need to justify my participation to you (and to me): “I don’t want or need to lose a lot of weight, just ten pounds.” Or “I’m doing this because I’m planning to run a half-marathon at the end of the summer” (thereby letting you know that I’m already an active person). I.e., I don’t really need to lose weight, at least not as badly as that other employee that I just saw walking down the hall, who should have been the one to sign up. Etc. In fact, when I showed up for the first session last Tuesday, I kind of hoped they would send me away–“Oh, you’re too skinny for this program!” But they didn’t. So I finally had to admit that maybe I actually needed to be there.
That was the first hurdle to be leaped (not that I’m quite up to jumping hurdles yet. Next obstacle: Committing to a daily calorie goal. I really, really hate counting calories. In fact, I have serious philosophical problems with the whole idea of treating food as nothing but fuel. I’m pretty sure chefs think of themselves as artists, not bioengineers. And we all recognize that a gift of food–especially homemade–is a lot more meaningful than a free tank of gas, monetary value aside. (See my post called “food speaks.”) In addition to my theoretical objections, I hate the inconvenience of having to know or guess the caloric content of everything I eat. What about the chicken jalapeno popper soup that was already in my refrigerator when the program started, which I made from a recipe that didn’t include nutrition facts? It has a lot of fresh vegetables in it, and one of the main ingredients of the “creamy” broth is cauliflower, so it’s actually pretty healthy. But I don’t know how many calories are in it, so I end up making a guess that’s probably wildly inaccurate. And I know it’s cheating to lowball the estimate, so I guess high–and probably cheat myself out of 100 calories I could have eaten. (Maybe that’s why I’m so hungry this afternoon, come to think of it.) Ironically, this calorie-counting thing has me cooking less and eating more packaged foods: at least this way I know what to record in MyFitnessPal.
The exercise part is the easiest for me; as I mentioned (and I’ll say it again, in case you missed it the first time), I’m already a pretty active person. This works to my advantage because, logically, I get to add calories onto my daily intake whenever I exercise. So I’ve been doing this thing that I’m pretty sure is antithetical to the spirit of this program: If I’m getting toward the end of the day and I realize I’m not going to have enough calories left to eat a snack while watching Fear the Walking Dead, or whatever, I’ll get in a quick extra workout to buy myself some more calories. I actually worked out three times on Sunday, and I had three snacks during Fear (hey, it was the two-hour season premiere).
I’m fully aware of how pathetic this is. I also know that when I go back and read through this post, I’m going to hate how whiny I sound. And I already want to apologize to Bruce Springsteen for appropriating his song title because it was the first clever saying with the word “hungry” in it that I could think of. But I’m going to go ahead and post this before I change my mind because I think some of you can relate. And we all like reading about stuff we can relate to. Now to find out how many calories are in a fun-size 3 Musketeers, because I’m still hungry.