I’ve been thinking a lot about food. It started with an attempt to cajole daughter number two to increase her calorie intake in the fall. The doctors were getting antsy again and I was having trouble making sure I got the food in that I was needing so we set out together to try eating five meals a day in an effort to spread out the effort. She gained better than expected but I continued to struggle. Right around the time our move got delayed I started experiencing huge dips in energy mid morning that came on like a fog I couldn’t escape that would hover around my head for hours clouding my thoughts and ability to reason. Next came the heartburn that manifests like a sickly, sour taste at the back of my throat then finally I got my period back after the babe (I know, 27 months, no one cares) then promptly lost it again. After repeated trips to the doctors for bloodwork and an ECG and finally a stress test to try to reproduce the effects while being monitored, I resigned myself to taking the referral to a sports doctor my doc had suggested to see if he had ever heard of anyone else with the same complaints. Throughout this whole period I was watching what I ate. Sugar was out (including tums) since it aggravated the heartburn. Beans followed and bread was reintroduced after an elimination period. I was getting really fun to eat with. Don’t even ask about the sauerkraut. Sauerkraut three times a day interspersed with fresh pickles to rebuild the gut flora. Weeks where I’d manage three days pain free and remember what it was like to feel normal again, except for the fog. Always the fog.
In preparation for the sports doctor I starting tracking my eating and activity metrics so I could best represent the problem. I searched high and low for apps that would let me easily record all the ins and outs without making my food and exercise a focal point of some sort of social media nightmare. I finally found FatSecret (horrible name, great product) that lets you track these things without turning it into a game and forcing you to invite your friends to ‘motivate/laugh at/with you’. After filling out the preliminary info about my height, weight, activity level and goals the app assigned me a calorie level I was to strive for in order to maintain my current weight (my goal) in a healthy way. 2600 calories. After tracking for two days I found that not only was I coming in under that total but that my energy expenditures were much higher than expected. Clearly the discrepancy was causing some of my problems, no?
The truth is I don’t know. After a week or so of trying to eat closer to the prescribed number of calories (I still haven’t made it all the way to matching output) I was still foggy and battling the heartburn but I got my period back which in all but the obvious ways can’t be a bad thing. Always nice to know that you are functional at base levels even if that does mean that you are also fertile and therefore a person who has to consider such things. I’ve been recording now for nearly a month and I really can’t say what I’ve managed to sort out other than some deep seated conflicting ideas about food and exercise and body image that I’m slowly sifting through. I’m trying to eat the more than 3000 calories I seem to expend but it is hard to do it well without beginning to look at the food with loathing and fatigue. I feel defeated by this process much of the time but given that I’m headed into a period where it will just be me and the kids alone for months I’m feeling the pressure to do what I can to get it under control. Last but certainly not least, I’m feeling closer than ever to kid #2 who struggles everyday to sustain herself with food she neither craves nor enjoys. Many, many times in the last few weeks we commiserated about the difficulty of eating because you know you should when you’d rather do anything but.
This week’s goal is to inch the food a little closer and try to find a way to adequately estimate calories burned for a breastfeeding woman who lugs a toddler and bag full of crap everywhere she goes. Yesterday I spent to much time trying to figure out which walking speed best approximates the amount of energy I expended while digging through for bind off clothes for the socks I knew were there then the time spent wrestling said toddler to get them on. Desk work, my ass. Let’s get some real activity categories: Holding an average toddler at arms length over a drinking fountain for five minute intervals; squatting repeatedly to find the thing you said was there but they refused to believe you and look for them selves; tying and trying tiny shoes. To hell with it. Tomorrow I’m crediting myself for six hours sleep and 18 hours of calisthenics, heavy.