Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pay as you go

by Suw on October 25, 2009

I have been on a lengthy crusade against the evil that is sugar, but must confess to mainly being on the losing side. The summer has been quite stressful and where once I lost my appetite when stressed now I seem to feel constant hunger. Part of that hunger is down to the amount of sugary food that I was eating – for some reason sugar makes me feel hungrier, not less hungry.

Anyway, various schemes to cut down on the number of times I was popping to the corner shop for a Coke and Wispa have failed. I’m not great at willpower and have even less of the stuff when stressed (although that’s because, as I’m sure I’ve said before, you only have a limited amount of willpower, although you can increase it with practice). Going cold turkey failed. Simply trying to cut down has failed. So time for some creative thinking.

Kev and I have joined a new gym which is larger and closer to our new flat than the old one was. It’s a 10 min walk through the park each morning, which is a most pleasant way to bookend one’s work-out. This new gym has machines that weren’t available to us in the old gym, including a crunchie machine (for your abdominals) and a lower back resistance machine.

My new scheme combines and reinforces gym and a reduction in sugar intake and it’s really very simple.

I can only buy treats at the shop when I have burnt off their calorific equivalent at the gym.

It’s very simple and so far it seems to be working. It encourages me to work harder at the gym and gives me some idea of how many calories you actually work off. It turns out that I have been burning relatively few calories at the gym, which would explain why I’m fitter but still getting fatter. In our morning workouts, which are only half an hour long, I spend half my time doing resistance work and the rest on the recumbent bike, treadmill or cross-trainer. In that latter 15 mins, I tend to burn only about 75 kcal.

If you’ve ever tried to find a sugary treat that comes in at under 75 calories you’ll know that it’s basically impossible. A can of Coke is 139 kcal and a Wispa is 210 kcal. People have advised me to go for dark chocolate because it’s less sugary. That might be so, but a large bar of Green & Black’s 70% Cocoa is over 500 kcal.

This means that it takes me two workouts during the week to earn enough kcal to have a Coke, and three to earn a Wispa. Erk! I don’t think I’d ever really realised how much effort I need to expend in order to work off one of my favourite treats but now I know it really has changed the way that I think about them. I always knew that these were empty calories – there’s no nutritional value in them at all. They’re stupid calories. But, well, a kcal is bigger than I thought it was!

The nice thing about this is that I can still have my treats, but only when I’ve earnt them. So I don’t need to go cold turkey and I don’t really need willpower. I just need to make sure that I get up early enough to go to the gym and that I work hard whilst I’m there.

I really do hope that this will result in the loss of a few *cough* pounds because I’m heavier now than I’ve ever been. Trousers that were really loose on me once now fit snugly. I really can’t let that go on otherwise I’ll be a blimp before you know it.

So wish me luck and here’s hoping this tactic really does work.

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