How Your Friends Make It Easy to Be Healthy: Calories & Sleep

Counting Calories and Getting Enough Sleep

This is a diary of the healthy lifestyle goals that my son, Chris, and I are making together each month.

Since it takes 21-30 days to develop a new habit, making a goal for the month ahead is an effective strategy.

Chris and I agree that making these monthly goals together and posting our results here for you to see helps us to improve our health.  I’ve always found that if I say out loud to someone what I plan on doing, I’m more likely to do it.  Because if I said I would, I feel responsible to follow through. 

Age doesn’t matter.  It’s never too late.  You can always make progress and actually reverse the signs of aging!

In May, my goal was to count calories (for the first time ever!) and keep them down to 1200 a day.  Chris was so exhausted from insomnia and hard work that he decided to try to get enough sleep each night.

My Experience

I had a membership at Anytime Fitness, where I got a free personal training session (or two).  The recommended I cut my calorie count to 1200 per day.  I never counted calories before and it sounded like a hassle that I did not welcome.  my fitness pal

They recommended that I download the free app for My Fitness Pal on my iPhone.  I did and it has been an excellent tracker for planning my food choices every day!  I am very pleased with it.

At first I was starving because I would have too many calories the first half of the day and then none left for the second half.  Then, I was hungry because I had so little food during my meals (I was obviously eating foods high in calories).  Finally, I learned what types of foods I could eat in order to have three satisfying meals a day, or more (as in snacks).  I stay up so late that I often get hungry late at night anyway…

I used to have cafe au lait, half milk and half coffee, because I loved it ever since I went to France for the first time.  I also thought it was healthier to have less coffee.  But I never knew there were so many calories in milk, even skim milk!  So now I have one creamer and one teaspoon of sugar in a full cup of coffee.  More coffee but fewer calories!

Also, now I measure how much I’m having as I prepare my food.  I was having a almonds and walnuts often because even though they are high in fat, they are high in the good fats that lower cholesterol.  However, the calories come at too high a cost. Now I have them less often.

I have a protein shake recipe from Jane Fonda.  She had said, “This is my basic breakfast.”  Now I know why.  It has everything you need to start the day, but it keeps the calories down.  Here it is:

Jane Fonda’s Protein Shake

Combine the following in a blender:

1 c. milk or apple juice (when using milk, you might want to add 1/4 c. apple juice as a sweetener)

About 3-4 fresh or frozen strawberries, or 1/3 c. blueberries or peaches (never with syrup!)

1/2 fresh banana

1 tsp. wheat germ or bran

1-3 tbsp. protein powder

A few ice cubes if fruit isn’t frozen

Optional:  1/4 papaya (the more fruit you include, the more milk or juice you might want to add too)

Blend all of this together until smooth and thick.

My Fitness Pal also takes into account the exercise you do.  It subtracts the amount of calories burned for the cardio activities that you enter into the app.  Then you get to have more calories to consume.  Yay!

The first week of May, I lost three pounds and my goal was five.  My Fitness Pal had a big congratulations for me with confetti and balloons.  Then a week later, somehow I gained a pound.  Maybe it was because I was starving the first week….Well, then the app didn’t remind me to weigh myself the rest of the month…hmmmm.  When I did so at the end of the month, I was down to the original three-pound loss.  That seems to be my plateau, my normal weight.  I’m not worried.

When I add my foods into My Fitness Pal, at times it pops up with further information, like ‘that is over your amount of fat intake for the day’ or sugar or carbohydrates.  I was just ignoring it, thinking I was working hard enough just to keep the calories down!  But in June my goal will be to stick with the 1200 calories a day and also pay attention to making sure I stick to a low-fat diet when that info pops up.

Chris’s Experience

There was no gain for Chris.  He was just as exhausted at the end of the month as he was in the beginning.  He said that it actually could have been worse than ever.  He was going to bed earlier the first week, but then it all went out the window.

This night owl tendency runs in the family.  My husband and I and our daughter all keep going until late at night.  I get this feeling inside at night that I just can’t stop.  I’ll tell myself it’s late and I really have to end the day, but something in me wants to keep going.  And then in the morning, it’s so hard to wake up.  It was always that way.  My Dad was an early bird, up at the crack of dawn.  Ever since I was little, he would be calling me to wake up for school every morning and getting mad at me.  So I understand how Chris feels about getting to bed earlier.  It’s a real struggle for us.

Watching movies helps Chris fall asleep.  (Well, of course, he’s an actor!)  I told him that studies show that any light, including low-level light such as from television and computer screens, keep people awake.  But he insists that watching movies is the easiest way for him to fall asleep.  The problem is that it keeps other people awake in his apartment.

His goal for June is to stop eating late at night and get to bed earlier, like about a 10 or 11 pm cutoff.  That way he can watch movies and not disturb others too late.  He’s been going to sleep at 1 am or later.

sleep well

What about you?  Do you count calories, fat, carbs or sugar intake? Do you have trouble getting enough sleep?  Do you have a fitness buddy to help keep you on track?  How about a fitness app?  Let us know in the comments below.  

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