BEN’S ZONE: Goodbye Pies & Post Workout Binges, It’s Time We Part Ways

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Welcome to a new feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie (he doesn’t admit it, but he’s a total food snob), coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving father (our dog adores him – as does our son whose favourite toys are cooking related just like his Dad). Who is also seriously into his fitness. Be it bikes (he has far too many) or more recently muddy racing after completely Tough Guy (and getting hypothermia just for the fun of it) in January this year. Oh and he has a bit of a penchant for pink. He will blog pretty much about the above and you can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy 🙂

It’s been a tough week. A few weeks back I twisted my ankle and, like any other responsible father of two pushing 40 I ignored it, took ibuprofen and hoped it would go away. It didn’t and once I’d got to the point where ibuprofen was kicking off my asthma something had to be done. 15km last week finished me off and I near enough crawled home.

I could resist the call of common sense (and an altogether more naggy sound emanating from the wife’s corner) no more and so this week I have done what I should have done at the time, namely nothing. No running, no dog walking, no lunchtime jogs, nada. I might have done circuit training on Wednesday perhaps but this was an experiment and one with a clear and painful conclusion.

Unfortunately, my enforced rest, like the water level dropping to expose the sharp rocks beneath, has revealed the problem I’ve been dodging for months. I eat too much, far too much.

The problem is twofold, firstly, I’m a good cook, food is a hobby for me and secondly, I don’t drink and I don’t smoke so I use food as a reward mechanism. Normally this is not a huge issue for me, my exercise is heavily biased towards cardio so my ever helpful GPS gives me a figure for the amount of calories I burn in a workout.

That plays no small part in my post workout food binges, and I don’t use that word lightly. But even saying that the signs have been there for a while. My ‘normal’ jeans size no longer fits comfortably and I don’t like what I see in the mirror any more.

Throughout my life I was blessed with a metabolism that meant I could eat as much as I like whenever I like but a combination of age, quitting smoking and two kids has meant that’s no longer the case. This means that for the first time in my life I have to learn portion control.

I don’t need a diet as such, as I mentioned before, I exercise a lot, this is about getting back into control over what I’m eating.

My weapon of choice is the ubiquitous My Fitness Pal (MFP) and I’m telling it all my secrets. For the first week I would log all my meals but none of my snacks but MFP was clear and said that we either had a relationship based on honesty or not at all. I had to listen to her (anything capable of making me feel that guilty had to be a woman) and now we’re open with each other.

The news was far better than I imagined. Most of what I cook is fine, I just need to cook less of it. It really shouldn’t take an app to tell me that it’s not necessary to have 5 sausages with dinner or 3 Creme eggs, or both. But it did. The most surprising thing to me is how miserable it has made me.

Within my daily allowance of calories (2500 cal per day as you asked) I can actually eat really well and I’ve not been hungry once. But I hate having limits. I’m almost tempted to have another snack or more dinner just to prove I can. But I’m only cheating myself in doing this.

In all honesty I’ve not hit the sense of pious satisfaction I imagined I’d get from staying within my daily allowance of calories (and fat, and sugar, and protein, MFP is nothing if not strict) but I do feel happy that I’m addressing an issue that I’ve been ignoring for far too long. It also strikes me that I’m lucky to have to face this for the first time now.

So it’s ok. I’m grumpy because my head says to me I can’t have a blow out but that’s nonsense really. I can eat what I want, I just can’t pretend a burger is two slices of cucumber and half a carrot. And it’s a good thing. I don’t have to feel like I’m spinning out of control any more and I do get to make some positive progress that, at the very least, will mean chin ups get easier. Man I hate chin ups. Who knows I may even come to like this new way of doing things, they do say, after all, that abs are made in the kitchen.

8 thoughts on “BEN’S ZONE: Goodbye Pies & Post Workout Binges, It’s Time We Part Ways”

  1. Haha! I have an on/off relationship with MFP, but since I started working out seriously 3wks ago, she & I have had a much better relationship! My one suggestion would be – pick your “activity level” (I’m “mildly active”) but don’t forget to add in your workouts. I do HIIT & strength training, but I log it all as “calisthenics” and by the amount of time I do (30-60 mins depending on workout). It has been a better, more realistic figure daily for me to work with (my daily is 1150, then add in my workout). Also – it incentivises me to do my workout!

    I realise you might already be doing this, but for months, I’d been linking mine with my FitBit & couldn’t work out why it would negate the calories.

  2. I’ve been adding my exercise from my GPS. Fitbit is ok for steps but it can’t seem to get exercise so I just do it all manually. That’s my issue though, I’ll do a run, add in 1500 cals and then eat crazy amounts in some kind of mad quid pro quo.

    The MFP thing is as much about learning *what* is a reasonable portion size as getting a proper view of everything.

    I used to do this back in the day, exercise crazy amounts and offset this against drinking and smoking as if it really was as simple as one balancing the other.

    Right now I’m just using it as it forces me to fess up t what I’m doing. I’m not even really looking to lose weight more get healthier but more than that, I need to be honest about what I am up to.

    As ever, the problem centres in my mind.

  3. Such a great feature and lovely to have a male perspective on things. Also interesting to read about Ben eating a limit of 2500 calories a day when Laura is following Cambridge – interesting to see how that works together. I look forward to seeing how Ben gets on with the MFP diet! x

    • I think the difference is in what we’re trying to do. I want to control my binge eating. I don’t mind if I lose weight or not, possibly I could even gain if I do more strength training (though the thought of more chin ups brings me out in a cold sweat). The Cambridge is about losing weight and (from what I have seen) it’s very effective.

      What I need to do though is develop a discipline around food that I’ve not had before.

  4. What a good idea to have Bens blog. Enjoyed reading about BIG eating, good luck Ben look forward to further reads.

  5. Delighted to see you writing again, I have always thought there were two great authors in your family. Controlling food is such a hard thing to do because things like drink and smoking you can choose to ditch completely, but you have to learn to eat better, rather than not at all. I totally understand the paradox of knowing that you are not hungry, but still wanting to eat – at times like that healthy snacks just don’t do it.! Portion control does work, though, even if I decide to stick my diet in the naughty corner and have whatever I want I cannot eat the quantity of food that I used to be able to, so after a while a natural control kicks in. Of course, you can always ignore it………….. From your point of view I think you are wise not to be too focused on the scales, just on creating eating habits that are as beneficial as your exercise regime. You will succeed and feel better for it, and please keep up the occasional blog, I love the way you write.

  6. Thanks mum, it is nice to write again. With the food, if something makes me feel that uncomfortable (and the thought of regulating my eating did) then it means I have to address it.

    Who knows on the writing, maybe Laura will let me back here from time to time.


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