Day 88: Numbers game

Day 88

  • Weight: 132.6 lbs.
  • Workout B: 16 minutes, 47 seconds; next: new workout plan, Dec. 3
  • Total inches: 122.0
  • Protein: 129 g (4 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,102

Numbers are everything, and yet, don’t always matter.

This dueling set of principles has been the heart of my calorie counting for the past 3 months.

I count the calories every day, weighing every morsel of food. I’m currently shooting for 2,100 calories a day, but will probably go up to 2,200 in December, since my weight has been flat all month.

But I can’t weigh everything. When I dine outside the home, I have to guess. I’m pretty bad at guessing weights and sizes. But I try anyway.

And unless the calories per portion are printed on the packaging, I have to guess there, too. The Internet helps, but any number of sites will give different estimates.

I learned working at Southern Living about how trying to present nutritional information in recipes was a tricky proposition. Readers look for good data, but it’s hard to calculate perfectly. Burning food in a lab isn’t the same as burning calories in cells.

So even that recipe data can be flawed. What’s a numbers guy to do?

Be consistent.

My calorie count for my protein shake won’t be right every day. The size of the banana and the amount of peanut butter varies. But in the long run, it’s mostly right.

My portion sizes of pizza, chicken or taco salad are measured, but again, not perfect. As long as I measure the overall trend (more muscles, more pounds, more total inches), I’m OK.

The fun part about calories is making it a game. I can easily hit 125 or more grams of protein each day. Getting calories to the right number is more complicated.

I have any number of foods I can use at night to zero in on 2,100. And I don’t mind varying portion sizes. I am not cursed with hunger, so eating less on any given day isn’t a problem. I’ve even balanced out high-calorie days with low-calorie days.

It’s mildly annoying to have to weigh food several times a day. It’s mildly rewarding to hit the target number over and over.

I still pretty much eat what I want. Right up until about 10 p.m., when all accounts are settled.

The numbers are my friend, pushing me to keep going and keep tabs on progress.