Last week, I wrote about putting myself on a budget, and how much I benefitted from it. Recently, I decided to apply the concept of budgeting to my food intake. As I have lamented all summer long, I recently gained 20 unexpected pounds. Since my old diet and exercise routines allowed the weight to creep up, I knew I needed to cut back on food and increase my workouts to get rid of that unwanted weight and keep it off. Honestly, I have never counted calories before, and was not looking forward to it. I discovered Argus--a free fitness app that tracks everything--heart rate, calories burned, calories consumed, coffee drunk, water intake, nightly sleep. When I say everything, I genuinely mean everything.
Argus asked my goal weight, and I entered a number that was 20 pounds less than my most recent weight. It asked how many pounds per week I wanted to lose. When I entered 2 pounds a week, Argus suggested that I eat 1200 calories a day. I knew that was impossible, so I lowered my sights to losing 1.5 pounds a week. That meant I could eat 1500 calories each day. I've followed the 1500-calorie meal plans that used to come in my Fitness Magazine in the past, and knew that goal was attainable. Argus said it would take about 10 weeks to achieve my goal.
I decided to begin my experiment during DC Restaurant Week (maybe not the best idea, but it worked out). That Monday night, my dear friend and I met up for Peruvian food. Earlier in the day, I ate as fulfilling a breakfast and lunch as I could while trying to keep the calories down. I knew I was going to blow through them during dinner. I had a green juice for breakfast and a green salad with 1 hard-boiled egg for lunch. Even with the mojito, appetizer and dessert I ordered, I managed to keep my caloric intake to about 1700 calories. I could live with that.
Friday, I made plans to go to a steakhouse with another friend. Knowing that my week would be bookended with two big meals, I kept myself on track during the intervening days. I had a green juice or smoothie for breakfast every day (trying to stay under 300 calories). I had a green salad for lunch as well (400 more calories). Dinner was a casserole made of chicken, corn and zucchini. Free of carbs, it was only 350 calories per serving but very filling. That meant, I could have dessert as well. I chose cherries or air popped popcorn (yes, I do it old school in a pot with hot oil and kernels).
My food and financial budgeting have proven to me that I still can enjoy myself. In fact, I'm a bit happier knowing that I'm not overspending or overeating. If I know I want to have a decadent meal (which usually comes with a hefty price tag), I think through how I can minimize my spending and eating during other meals to satisfy my desire. I haven't felt hungry or deprived since starting either budget. I'm actually flourishing, knowing that I am making wise choices that are sustainable over the long haul. Plus, I finally am beginning to lose weight. So far, it’s only been two pounds. But I am confident that if I keep up my eating and exercise regimen, the weight will take care of itself. Surprisingly, I'm loving every minute of my finance and food budgets.
Crystal Moore began her wellness quest in 2003 after being diagnosed with lupus. Her quest has led her to embrace yoga, faith, exercise, healthy eating, and relationships. Share her journey.