Today I am thinking about food. Most days I don't think about food. I just eat. And eat and eat and eat. I am a unconscious eater. I don't necessarily eat poorly, but no one is perfect and we all have our kyptonite in the kitchen. Mine by the way, M&M's. I will knowingly destroy a bag of M&M's. I am much like a Koi fish in that regard. As a Koi will grow to the size of the bowl, aquarium or pond you place it in, I will eat as many M&M's are in a bag, regardless of size of said vessel.
Most meals I am very good about where I eat, what I eat, how it is prepared and how much I put on my plate. For the first round. It's that damn unconscious mind of mine that puts a second portion on my plate. It certainly doesn't hurt that my wife is a wonderful cook. (cliche'). The good news is that without even really trying, a part of my subconscious I have trained well, I eat pretty balanced meals.
Some meals, mostly late snacking, when I am tired and my defenses are down, I'll find myself suddenly several handfuls into a bag of corn chips, dried fruit or nuts. Unconscious eating habits. I can be on point for 90% of my day, but that 10% of the time easily adds 50% to my daily caloric intake.
Part of my issue with eating to much is that over the last two months I have also changed my workout routine. I have completely changed physical activity from all endurance based training for Ironman distance triathlons to a balance of functional strength training and endurance for obstacle course racing. While I have focused a lot on the types of exercises added and subtracted, I did not dig deep into the affects it had on my latent caloric expenditure. I burned a lot more calories in training for Ironman distances than I am in this new paradigm and I did not change my eating habits to reflect that.
So back to the title of this post, Bowling For Food. I have this bowl, a Guyot Designs Squishy Bowl. It has a capacity of 16oz. There is really no reason for me, at any meal to be eating more than 16oz of food, so I have used it control my portion size for the entire meal. Yeah, I know, its a stupid trick. But it gets me back to really thinking about how much I am putting on my plate and after a few weeks of positive reinforcement, I am no longer subconsciously eating. Sure I am occasionally tempted to fill it full of M&M's but I do have that much control over myself.
Also, I am going back to the questioning my eating motives. Again a stupid mental trick but it forces me to ask a question regarding if what I am doing in the pantry is a planned or unplanned attack on my caloric intake. Now what I do in there is a conscious decision. I always prefer affirmations, but sometimes those become just repeatable phrases that mean nothing. A question makes you think.
Last trick isn't really a trick but the tried and true background to controlling intake, writing down what is eaten and how many calories it is. I am OCD enough to do this diligently and honest enough when I do it to recognize, "That handful of candy would taste really good, but I just don't want to waste the time, figuring out how many calories and it would be embarrassing to show that to someone for accountability." I will scratch out on paper or spreadsheets all that jazz, but on my iPhone is an app called, Lose It! which is very user friendly for tracking food intake and meeting goals.
The flip side to tracking all the calories going in, one must track all the calories going out. Since I usually wear some device that tracks exercise calorie expenditure, it is a nice change in the day to add something that shows a caloric deficit that has a positive impact on the total calories for the day.
I mean look, I am long in the tooth at diet and exercise, and even I need to hold myself accountable to how I eat. I eat healthier than most, but I can still over eat healthy food and gain weight. Now I can get myself back on track with just a few sleight of hand gestures like bowls and post-it notes because I am 'feeling' the effects of subconscious eating and being at most ten pounds over my race weight, acceptable in almost any athlete post season. I am not in a full fledged medical or physical requirement to lose 30, 40, 60, 100 lbs. Efforts that requires serious and drastic lifestyle changes to what, where, how and when, someone eats.
It's not enough to exist. I am going to live.