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Plan and goals for March

Sunday, February 28, 2021

March is almost here so it's a good time to think about my goals for the month.


Basically I am going to do what I do now in March too, since I have only recently adjusted my routines. However as an extra goal could be to try and cut down my portion sizes a bit. Not much, but there is room for some streamlining of my plates.

One thing I have noticed is that I have difficulties imagining what the whole plateful will look like by seeing the different components of the meal, so I will try to actually use my plate as a measuring tool, before heating or making my food. Of course not all meals are suitable for this, but in general I think this will help me the most right now.

Secondly, I should calculate before eating/heating what the calories look like, this is especially handy and important with ready bought foods, treats, etc. So for example if I buy a bag of candy (which sometimes happens, ha ha) I will not just see what the nutritional information says is has calories per 100 g (this is all food labels state the calories and nutrients in Finland, always per 100 g or with some liquids per 100 ml. I love it because it makes comparing easy), but I will actually calculate how much the whole bag contains. This way there will be no surprises, and if I still choose to eat the whole bag I do it consciously.

Third is a more indirect method, which I have been already practicing for a year or so. I belong in many vegan groups, where people post their plates and portions. By looking at these photos and comparing to my own I have been able to form an idea what an average portion sizes often are.

My ultimate, long term goals are to lower my body fat percentage and build more muscle mass. If I need to prioritize one over the other, right now I will put the muscle building on a higher priority. However I hope that as a beginner* I could do both at the same time. I hope to more or less maintain my weight although I know that with muscle gains it might become higher.

For calorie and macro tracking I started using the BiteSnap app again in the beginning of February, and will continue to do so. It's a photography based app that works with estimating and/or precise tracking, and I have been doing approx. half and half. So it doesn't give me 100% accurate data, but since I do manually add lot of foods with exact measurements I think it gives me good enough data. And what's best, it's easy, fun and interesting to use, and doesn't make me obsessive.

At first I did few days of tracking without altering what I eat, and I noticed my calories are a bit higher level now, that they have been before - let's just say they were higher than expected. Probably because I have gotten my appetite back and I also started to eat regular lunches on work days (which are both good things!) and used lot of ready bought foods (which is not so great). So since then I have been, without taking much pressure or obsessing over it, tweaking my diet towards where I want it to be. I am still on thi phase, so I will continue the process.

One of the thing I want, is to get out of the dieting mindset and into a healthy and sustainable eating mindset. I have deliberately increased my calorie intake a bit from the time when I was dieting (or since last autumn, when I was eating really badly) BUT at the same time I have decreased it a bit from the the level my first few days of tracking indicated it was.

My calorie intake is now more in sync with the calories I burn, compared to,say, a year ago, when I was really tightening my belt. These days I often burn close to or over 2000 calories per day now, so I need to have energy!

What I am still tweaking is this: finding a balance where I can get muscle gains but not get more body fat, and maybe even keep my weight even-ish. I am currently aiming to be on a maintenance or a slight calorie deficit (-250 kcal) level, with an occasional calorie surplus day. TDEE calculator suggested that with my activity level and fat loss goals I should aim to eat approximately 1625 kcal, so I try to keep my days, depending what my calorie burning has been (it can vary between 1600 and 2200), between 1500 and 1700, with occasional higher calorie days if needed. I will keep updating these numbers if my weight changes, etc.

This is completely new leg on my journey and I am not quite sure how it will all work out, but I will live and learn! I have a feeling everything will work in the end successfully.

When I think outside of calories, I feel my diet and eating is now in a good place. I have re-found a joy of cooking and eating, which is wonderful! I am happy with how much protein I get (and its quality), I am very pleased with how much veggies and fruits I am eating daily. I am loosely following calorie density principles, and my meals are really satisfying and enjoyable.

For my exercising I am now following this type of weekly schedule: 1x HIIT or equivalent, 1x rest day, and the rest of the week I alternate between Pilates and strength training, so that HIIT is never followed by strength training, and there is a day between strength training sessions, and the Pilates days act like a buffer in-between them. Additionally I do extra stretching when needed, and of course I listen to my body, and take lighter days if needed.

With Pilates I have been able to start doing more demanding classes. I will also try to get my daily steps and go for a longer walk once-twice a week. Probably more often when we enter into spring.In general I try to add more non-exercising activity into my days too, I have noticed that this is often the key for me to get my burnt calories to 2000 per day.

That's pretty much my plan. Tweaking and updating it as needed.

*) I have lifted before many times and love weight training, but I have had such a long break I am a reborn newbie again.
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