The Importance of Self-Observation and OMG I Am So Bad At It!

Following up on yesterday’s long, belabored video post which included a discussion on caloric intake, I received some feedback from my dietician that has led me to a) continue to feel confident in the practices of the 20/20 Lifestyles Team, and b) realize that I really, really need to work on my powers of self-observation.

First, let me highlight the response. Because I tend to be inept at paraphrasing, I’m going to go ahead and post some tidbits from her email:

“Sorry for the explanation being so long, I just wanted you to understand where we come from when calculating and recommending calorie ranges. As you have for the most part felt full, good energy and pleased with your intake we are in the right range I would say. Thought (sic) you are concerned as we have a large calorie deficit compared to what we need. (Other side note: we do calorie needs using the Mifflin St Joer equation. This estimates your RMR or calories needed just for metabolic process etc. This projection for you is ~1686 calories. Multiply that by an activity factor for exercise and movement, I would suggest ~1.3, and we get 2191 calories /day estimated to maintain current weight with current activity levels. As our goal is weight loss, we would subtract calories from accordingly. We recommend anywhere from 500-1000 calories /day depending on the person and their history, etc. For us, that is ~1200 calories /day. Which was our general goal until we got sick and were moving less and therefore needed less energy in.”

That is precisely what I’ve been looking for in terms of some empirical information regarding how we’re directing my calorie intake. She then goes on to suggest that we experiment over the next few weeks at a higher range. But ultimately, she expresses the following, which I think is the most important part of her email:

“One thing to do before we begin reviewing this is consider the bigger picture: are you hungry, how is your energy, how has your weight loss trended in the past, how do you feel in the current range, how sustainable is it and how does it compare to your projected needs/goals. There is unfortunately always room for error with calculations that project calorie needs. Room for error with individual needs (every person is different), and in estimating calorie burn. There is also unfortunately always room for error with calories in: though what you track comes very close it is possible that actual intake differs from what you see online. So then we would come back to bigger questions: how is hunger, energy and weight loss, plus how does our intake meet up with our projected needs?”

I need to get on the wagon in terms of being more successful at, well, let’s call it “self-science”, than I have been. Sure, I share my successes and excitements when I’m excited about them. And I occasionally take notes about if I have a stomachache, or if I have a headache. But I’m the kind of person who can’t remember where bruises came from, or what I did each day the previous week. I expect it to stay in my head and it just doesn’t. (I think you can tell from my videos where I have random remembrances with no timely rhyme or reason “Oh! Swimming!”, “Oh! Progress photos!”).

At my weekly check-ins I mostly (read: definitely-NOT mostly!!) remember about how I felt over the week, but it’s far from an accurate picture. When is my stomach growling? I know it does, I just don’t write down when. When do I go to sleep feeling hungry? How do I feel in terms of satiety after every meal? When I come home from the gym do I nap? Sit around? Feel energized? These are important data points that, if I want this process to work, I have to provide my caretakers with so they can make the most-informed treatment plan for me. It seems like a large undertaking, but I’m already tracking everything (in two separate trackers, no less), so what’s another two minutes a few times of day taking additional notes?

So to sum up, I am confident that the 20/20 Lifestyles team is doing their best to steer me towards health. I don’t think my dietician wins a prize if I lose the most weight (though maybe I should ask, lol!) They’re not making this stuff up, and the only limiting factor here, I think, is my ability to give an accurate representation of my experience. If it turns out I’m feeling hungry (true hunger) often enough, I have no doubt they’ll increase my intake. And if I run into problems at maintenance, I’m sure they’ll be around to help guide me through that process as well. I feel very much in the steering wheel. While there are a general set of program rules, everything is tailored to the individual in myriad ways. So my journey isn’t the same as everyone else’s, I have to be okay with that and focus on advocating for myself, as I’m the one who has to live this life!

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