In a previous post, I discussed my plan to phase out calorie counting, and phase in full adherence to the Phase III nutrition plan of the DDP Yoga guide. At the time of posting, I was about 45 days away from completing a full year of calorie counting on the MyFitnessPal app. I thought it would be nice to make it to a full calendar year of logging in every single single thing I ate and calorie I burned exercising, so I planned to use the remaining time as a transitional period. In other words, I would follow the DDP Yoga guide all day long ignoring the calorie counting, and then at the very end of the day, log in my calories and exercise to see how I had done.
All was well with this plan on good days (you know, the ones where I am well rested and emotionally centered enough to ward off the over-eating demons). In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was actually eating fewer calories under the new regime. The reason for that is pretty straightforward. When I am calorie counting, and otherwise have zero restrictions on your eating, I will eat to the very last calorie. I have, on more than one occasion, measured out 2/3 of a tablespoon of peanut butter because I had 70 calories left. I have also exercised more than initially planned because I had overeaten that day, and the overeating was enabled by knowing I had that exercising safety-net. In contrast, when you are eating by a plan, not conscious of how many calories you are consuming, and not eating up to the last free calorie at the end of the day in an orgy of peanut butter and carob chips, you don’t eat as many calories.
Another massive, yet completely unforeseen benefit of this plan, is the reduction in sugar in my diet. According to MyFitnessPal, I am meant to aim for 67 grams of sugar or less per day. However, despite my best efforts and the the fact that I was coming in under my calorie allowance, my sugar intake was comically excessive. In the month of November, I didn’t come in under my sugar allowance once. In fact, I consumed an excess of 3,521 grams of sugar. That means I ate 5,598 grams of sugar that month. That’s 45 sugar cubes a day! A day! That’s a lot of cancer-causing inflammation in someone who conned herself into thinking she was eating clean. In contrast, since I have started transitioning over to the non-calorie counting plan, on the good days (the ones where I didn’t give into temptation), I have actually come in under my daily sugar limit. I scrolled through several months worth of records of the previous regime and didn’t find a single day without excess sugar consumed!
You may remember a couple of paragraphs that I carefully added the operative “on good days” phrase. That’s because I wasn’t awash in a surplus of uneaten calories and sugar grams. On certain days, I had “slips”. In other words, I ate things that contained dairy, gluten, GMOs and lots of empty calories. Or I ate two or three servings instead of the prescribed one. On those days, after I made one of the aforementioned poor decisions, I would often tote up how many calories I had eaten at that point, and in essence, spend the remainder of the day on the previous calorie-counting plan. The concern here is that I am not really “transitioning” in that I am still availing of the calorie-counting safety net when I eat bad foods. In fact, I am still allowing the calorie-counting to enable these poor decisions.
As it stood, I was at an impasse; my desire to commit fully to the Phase III eating plan was at odds with my desire to make it to a full year of calorie counting. Luckily, kismet had the temerity to do what I could not. One evening, I got into bed, and was logging in my calories for the day when I saw the following status: “Liz has logged in for 5 days in a row.” Five? FIVE?? I should have been up to three-hundred-and-forty days by that point! I realized that I must have logged in after midnight five days prior, and therefore hit the metaphorical reset button on how consecutive many days I had logged in. As I am not willing to extend the transitional period by a further three-hundred-and-sixty-five days, I call it quits and dove straight in to the Phase III plan.
I am now officially and exclusively on the Phase III plan now! No calorie counting. Not throughout the day, not at the end of the day. None. That’s not to say that I haven’t had slips, but when I do, I don’t allow one slip to set the tone for the rest of the day. In fact, without the safety net of calorie counting, I have been forced to really examine those errors and see what series of events led to them. I have also found some inner strength in this eating plan. Yesterday, I was at Target to buy some clothes for my daughter. I was feeling a little hungry, specifically for chocolate. So, we headed to the junk food aisle. I looked at all the ingredients of the dark chocolate bars. However, all of them had some form of dairy, or ingredients that I couldn’t be sure weren’t dairy and gluten. In the past, I would have thought, “Close enough,” or given myself points for effort. But yesterday, I felt like sticking to the guidelines was now the only thing standing between me and reverting to the 198 lb mass I was before starting DDP Yoga, so I walked away empty handed. This won’t be the last time I face temptation, and there’s every chance that I won’t always be so successful in warding if off. But yesterday was a real sea change. I felt stronger and more resolved to eat healthily.