I managed to pretty thoroughly blow my calorie budget yesterday. Let me describe what happened, in hopes that it will be an object lesson and a warning to the rest of you.
I need to get up at 3:30 a.m,, in order to get ready for work. Or, at least, that’s the theory. For many and varied reasons (one reason, for example, was that it was 3:30 a.m.), I didn’t actually get out of bed until 3:55 am yesterday. So that put me behind schedule. How far behind? Well, far enough that I didn’t actually make breakfast at home or pack my lunch. Instead, still damp from the shower, I hustled out the door and in the direction of a drive-through.
There aren’t a lot of options for drive-through breakfast in my town at four a.m. My choices, in fact, were McDonalds or White Castle. And since nobody was at the McDonalds at 4:25 a.m., I hit White Castle and had a breakfast of three of their sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sliders, and a big cup of ice water. At 320 calories per sandwich, that made a 960 calorie breakfast – about double what I eat if I make it myself.
So that was expensive, leaving me with only 1440 calories for the rest of the day. But… it’s not my first time on this track. I can manage. I arrive at work barely on time, and the day settles into its standard routine. Right up until after my first meeting of the day, because it’s Thursday and my team takes turns bringing in food on Thursdays. And today it’s a glazed cinnamon coffee cake with pecans, and I’m drooling just remembering it. So, without paying attention, I have two pieces.
After the fact, I go to check the nutritional information. It’s a bakery item, however, with no nutritional label. Just ingredients. This sends me to my FitBit app and its handy calorie search feature (which I’ll be discussing on some future Thursday), and I get an estimate at 400 calories in total. Which could actually be way off, because I didn’t actually weigh the two pieces I ate. Still, I’ll go with it – and I have 1040 calories for the rest of the day. And it’s lunch time.
Because, when you start work at five a.m., lunch comes early.
Remember how I didn’t pack lunch? Well, I head up to the convenience store in my office building, and I buy two microwave beef and bean burritos. Hell, they aren’t too bad at *Taco Bell* – their Beefy 5-Layer Burrito is twice the size of one of these things, and weighs in at 500 calories. How bad can the microwave ones be?
580 calories for the two of them, it turns out.
That doesn’t feel too bad, and I’ve got 860 calories left for the day. Plenty of room for some fruit as a snack when I get home, and then a decent dinner. You can actually eat quite a bit for 700 – 800 calories, if you’re paying attention.
My second meeting of the day rolls around just then, and they provide snacks. My willpower crumbles in the teeth of a Hershey’s bar with almonds and a can of Coke. Not Diet Coke. Coke. My kryptonite. And just like that, 353 more calories go down the tubes. Literally.
All right, all right. I’ve got 507 calories left in the day. I can do this, right?
The answer, it turns out, is “no”. Because I’ve also got a nagging awareness that says “oh, yeah. That’s right. For various reasons that aren’t important to this post, I have to buy dinner *out* for the family today.” And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where I give up the fight. I swing through Dairy Queen on the way home and buy a large chocolate cone – 440 calories of delicious, chocolate-flavored kryptonite, leaving me with 67 calories for the day. And then, for dinner, I bought a Hungry Man fried chicken TV dinner – you know, one of the ones that not only doesn’t have food that looks like the box, but also doesn’t have anything recognizable as parts of a chicken found in nature?
Yeah. Along with containing “chicken”, it also contained 970 calories. So my net consumption for the day came out to… let me do the math… 3,753 calories. Which is, if you do a little *more* math, 1,353 more than I’d budgeted for the day. In fact, the *only* saving grace out of the whole fiasco is the fact that my Fitbit calculates my total calories burned for the day at 4,495. So, I at least managed to burn more than I ate.
Now, do I have a point to this? Or am I just bitching? Well, the answer is: yes. Because I *am* bitching. It’s just a one-day fail, but it came right on the day when I hit 374 pounds, so it feels bad. But there’s a point here, as well.
Be mindful of what you eat!
I look at my daily calories as a budget. I can spend them however I want. If I really, really want to eat ten chocolate bars, I can pay the 2,100 calories and go to town. But the trade-off is that, if I do that, I’m not supposed to cheat – I now have 300 calories for the day for actual food. Which is why I prefer to make my own meals, or at least buy reasonable microwave meals for days when I don’t have time. Because, that way, I know what I’m eating in advance and I can plan accordingly.
Grazing works for cattle. It doesn’t work in an environment where “grazing” consists of vending machines and fast food. Plan your meals, and make them tasty and interesting and something you want to eat. Because if you don’t…
You, too, will eat 156% of your calorie goal. And, although you think you might, you really don’t want to do that.