Monday, October 08, 2007

Further ups. Further downs.

Well, this has been a very full week, one way and another. Lots of academic work, job applications, and J had a bit of a crisis on Thursday (he'd held it off until I'd handed my work in...) There was talk of his going into hospital, and it was all rather frightening for a while.

I know that going into hospital might not necessarily be a terrible thing, if it actually did some good, but given that J generally only wants me when he's feeling down, the idea of him being somewhere else daunts me. Not that it would be a bad thing if he had more people to support him, but... it's not that there is nobody else offering support; it's just that I'm always his first choice.

However, it doesn't now look as though he will go into hospital (he's not a danger to himself, so if he did go, it would be voluntary). His therapy is being changed a bit, and the doctors are considering whether to try medication again.

I'm kind of hoping they decide not to, because this would be something like the fifteenth different antidepressant J's been on, and none of them has had any visible positive effect. (Negative effects have been present and correct.) However, J seems to think it might be a good idea, and it's his decision.

Things improved a good deal on Friday, and the weekend's been not too bad; we went for a long bike ride, played with the kittens, and saw a good deal of my family. And he seems OK today, if a little panicky. I now have another job application to do and a five-minute presentation to write on the importance of local-authority archives...

On the other hand, it's been a good week for weightloss.

On Monday (possibly because it was also the first of the month) I decided to sign up for a SparkPeople account and do some food tracking. I've tried to do the tracking before while keeping this blog, but although I have written things down, I never get around to looking up the nutritional info. I do tend to lose while I'm doing it, however. This week, my intention was just to document what I was eating, rather than try to change it particularly.

Once, in a time long ago before I had a blog, I used to have a FitDay account and track EVERYTHING. Rigorously. This came directly after a period of more or less no exercise and fairly poor eating habits, otherwise known as the beginning of my first postgraduate degree. At that point I was living on my own, and that made it fairly easy to weigh everything I ate and so forth. The snag was that I didn't have any scales, so couldn't tell either what my start weight was or whether I was losing any, and that also made estimating my recommended level of food intake a bit hit-and-miss. I still have no idea whether I actually lost any weight during this period or not. Photographic evidence suggests I might have lost a bit.

When I moved back home, I stopped tracking everything because I was no longer cooking for myself, so I didn't really know what I was eating and it became too much of a faff. FitDay was/is somewhat cumbersome to use, and entering all the foods took quite a lot of time.

I got the impression that SparkPeople was better; it's actually not that different in that respect, although I'm being less obsessive this time around (I'm prepared to choose an equivalent if the food I want isn't already entered, and I'm not weighing every carrot). I've been at it for a week, and so far have not missed any days, although Sunday - salad buffet lunch at Mum and Dad's - was probably a bit approximate.

Things I like about it: it gives you an upper and lower calorie limit, not just a target to hit; it allows you to save "food groupings" (such as cereal and milk: handy if, like me, you eat the same things repeatedly). This feature also comes in handy for saving recipes you make from scratch.

What I don't like is the same problem that I had with FitDay: it's very US-centric. Often I've had to be a bit creative to find what I was looking for in the food database. For example, "peppers" didn't bring up anything, and nor did "capsicums" (my next guess). But "bell peppers" does. And there's a lot - a LOT - of pre-prepared US items, but not many UK ones, although there are some.

I suspect this is what you get with a database into which users can enter their own items: someone's found it worthwhile to put in Flora Light (a margarine) and Hellman's Light Mayonnaise, but not UK-style baked beans, for instance. (It matters a bit. US tinned beans have a lot more sugar in them.)

What surprises me most, so far, is that for the first couple of days of tracking, I actually fell UNDER the recommended calorie level, and well under the recommended intake of fat, although my protein levels (which I'd expected to be low) are about what they should be. I suppose that being vegetarian, I know I need to make sure to get protein, but maybe don't pay such attention to the proportion of carbs to fat. Although I'd said I was just going to record this week, and not change what I was eating, I seem to have self-corrected a bit: I notice that by the end of the week, I was more in the middle of the recommended levels, and that the proportion of carbs had gone down a bit. (This despite eating ice cream twice.)

But I've lost two pounds this week without apparently trying. I am not making any promises to myself that I'll track for X number of weeks, but if I can just keep doing it one day at a time...


PastaQueen said...

Glad to hear J is doing better! I've been tracking my food for the first time in my life the past month and similarly have found it fairly eye-opening.

Rosemary Grace said...

Oh Man, I just started tracking again on Fitday online, the first day was surprisingly good, a "normal" work day for me and right about where I'd want it, then came Friday-Saturday-Sunday and I now know for sure why two pairs of trousers that fit me in early August are currently too tight to wear. I appear to have developed into a weekend binger.

I hope things keep improving for you guys!

Loth said...

Tracking seems to work for me too. Have you tried Their database is UK based so most foods can be found pretty easily. I like the fact that the exercise diary and food diary are linked so you can eat the calories you earn by exercise!

Isabelle said...

Well done, sweetie. Hope J isn't too bad and your presentation is going ok. Life will improve!