Calories and Fat Calories explained

My husband and I are facilitating a study at the church on Wednesday nights—The Daniel Plan. Last week we discussed exercise and food.

I have always been a “calorie counter.” When I was in Jr. High School (now known as “Middle School”), I had a really good health teacher. He told us the importance of counting calories. Not only was it important to look at the calorie number on foods, but it was also important to look at the “Calories from Fat” or “Fat Calories” (products will use one or the other).

He explained to us that calories are good—we need calories to function. Calories were like gas for a car. We use calories even when we’re not doing anything—like sitting or just breathing. If we don’t have enough calories then we start to forget things or feel really weak.

When I look at foods, I look at both the “Calories” and the “Calories from Fat.” Everyone should consume a certain amount of calories per day: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/estimated-calorie-requirement

The calories in food tells me how many calories will count towards my daily intake. For example, if I am supposed to have 2,000 calories a day, then this candy bar will account for 210 of it.

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The problem though, is that 110 of those calories are fatty.

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The way I explain this is that “Calories” in general are like wood you burn in a fireplace. The higher number of “Fat Calories” or “Calories from Fat” indicates how wet the wood is that you are trying to burn. Wood is supposed to be dry so it can burn better, but if the wood is saturated with water then it will not burn very well—this is “Calories from Fat.” The lower the “Calories from Fat” the better your body will “burn” and use it– the higher the number, the wetter the wood.

Here is a picture of the calories for a particular cereal.

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The amount of calories per serving with milk is about the same as the candy bar, but the “Calories from Fat” or “Fat Calories” is much lower. This means that I can run a couple of miles to burn the 200 calories from the cereal, but since the candy bar has 110 “Fat Calories,” then that means I will have to run about four miles to burn off the candy bar.

My body will burn around 100 calories for one mile of running, but it will burn only about 25 “Calories from Fat” for each mile. In a way, my body will need to heat up to a point where it dries the wood (“Fat Calories”) so that it can be burned– that’s why I will need to run double the distance if I eat the candy bar. So it’s important to choose foods that are low in “Calories from Fat”/ “Fat Calories.”

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

A good time to start new habits!

For the past few months I had noticed that my weight loss had plateaued; and lately it was like I had gained weight. I read an article about lowering carbs several days ago (http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/bob-harper-jumpstart-skinny).  In addition, I watched a documentary that said only 100 grams of carbs should be consumed throughout the day.

So three days ago I lowered my carbs. Previous to that, I was eating wheat bread in the morning and wheat rolls or grain cereal with lunch and at night (a friend of mine had said that eating white bread can cause fat to build up around the belly so that’s why I ate wheat or multi-grain bread instead).

The truth was that wheat and multi-grain breads have lots of carbs too which is why I had been gaining weight even though I was running.

Three days ago I lowered my carb intake and I have lost 3 pounds already. I am increasing the amount of vegetables I eat and drinking more water (I try to drink between 12 to 16 ounces of water after each meal).  I have also increased my exercise—working out every day for at least 45 minutes, and starting each workout with light weights to build up my arm muscles.

The article I read mentioned that I should also drink coffee, but since I have GERD, I drink decaf tea instead. I’m not sure if it will have the same effect, but I am enjoying my cups of tea during the day.

So far I haven’t really felt “starved” or deprived of food. The other night I had a couple pieces of no-flour cake, and I eat fruits in between meals as snacks.  This morning I was able to fit into one of my jeans that were a little tight on me last week.

Now is a good time to start new habits!

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1).

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

A new day

I saw my doctor the other day—it was nothing serious. I had been running on my tread mill and felt my heart jump. Then after a couple more miles of running, I felt another jump. It was really hard for me to complete my run so I stopped.

Anyway, while at the doctor’s office, I was weighed. I had noticed that for the past several months that I had plateaued in my weight loss, in fact, it almost felt like I had even gained a little weight. Once I stepped on the scale I realized that I really had gained a few pounds from the last time I was there.

Since I was having an issue with my heart, the doctor ordered an EKG. When he saw the results he said that my heart was “perfect.” Then my husband’s physical appointment followed. I was there when the doctor explained to him about exercise and eating fresh vegetables and fruits.

After getting home, I looked for information about jump starting my weight loss and found an article online (http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/bob-harper-jumpstart-skinny).

The visit to the doctor’s office and the article made me realize that I had slowly slipped back to my old eating habits—eating more bread, eating more meats, eating desserts, etc. No wonder I had gained weight even though I was still running! So for the next three weeks, I will watch what I eat and follow the plan listed on the website.

I tried to start yesterday, but at the end of the day I had cake while celebrating my daughter-in-law’s graduation from nursing school.

“…we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day” (2 Cor. 4:16, NLT).

Today is a new day!

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

I was an “out-of-control” glutton

My husband and I know of an older man who is in his 70’s who seemed so much younger because he has a lot of energy and is very active—he would go on mountain hikes that were several miles long, and he would go whitewater rafting and canoeing. His advice was to live life now while you still can and keep doing what you love.

I wanted to have that kind of energy and strength, but I had to make some changes in my life. I couldn’t keep eating like a “teenager”—I had to take care of my body.

I heard that as we get older it’s natural to gain weight, but how much is “natural”? When my children were younger I weighed 107 pounds—I remember this because when I tried to give blood the person said that I had to be at least 110 pounds. They gave my children cookies and sent me on my way.

My heaviest, non-pregnant weight was 148 pounds (it could have been higher than that, but that’s what I remember from the doctor’s office). The sad thing was that I didn’t even realize that I had gained this weight— in my mind, it just “seemed to happen.”

I remember eating quarter-pound hot dogs, quarter-pound burgers, milk shakes, and large cinnamon rolls (I was eating as much or even more than my husband) then telling myself that I’d work it off—who was I kidding? I hadn’t exercised in several years! That was my way of feeling less guilty for having no self-control.

One day I noticed that my clothes were starting to get tight. Then I noticed that I was slowly transitioning into larger blouses and pants. I would tell myself, “Clothing sometimes runs small.” Why would I fool myself like that? I didn’t like what I had become. I didn’t even like looking at myself in the mirror. I was an “out of control” glutton.

That’s when I “woke up.” I couldn’t keep going down this path—I had to do something. Not only did I not like how I looked, but I found out that it was affecting my health—my cholesterol and blood pressure were up.

So I started to “run” (it was more like light jogging and walking, but it was a start). Even though I wanted to exercise there were weeks when I did no activity. I felt pathetic—I felt like a “loser” and I wanted to “give up” and “give in”—just eat whatever and do nothing about it because it was just too hard to exercise.

It wasn’t until I started to Tweet about my progress that I was able to stick with exercising. It felt like there was some kind of accountability. After a “run,” I would Tweet my time, the distance, and some encouraging Scripture. I tried to do this at least twice a week.

I increased my time on the treadmill, and I added an extra day to my week—I was working out three times a week, 30 minutes each time. I went from light jogging/fast walking, to light jogging only, then to running. That was about 2 years ago.

The progress is slow—sometimes I only have one day a week to exercise and I find myself eating lots of cake during special occasions. Sometimes I would gain a pound or two, then there were weeks or months when I “plateaued”—no changes in weight, but I kept going. I try to think of certain foods as “poison” for my body and this has helped me to avoid some of them.

I long to be that “skinny” young mother that I was, but even if I never get there at least I am helping my body to recover from the damages I inflicted.

Change is possible— you just have to want it more than the other thing. I loved all the wrong foods, but I really want to be healthy so I can be around a little longer for my children and grandchildren.

I picture myself at my granddaughters’ wedding and seeing my great-grandchildren. I want this to happen in “real life.” I know there are no “guarantees” in life—God can take me anytime He wants and I can’t do anything to stop Him, but I shouldn’t shorten my life by being a glutton with no self-control.

I think this might be an issue for others too and that’s why the Bible has so many passages about “self-control.” One that seems applicable to my situation is Proverbs 25:27-28, “It’s not good to eat too much honey… A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls” (NLT). I don’t want to have “broken-down walls” anymore!

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Too busy

For the past few months, we have been trying to be “healthy.” I started to run because it was a good way to get a cardio workout plus I could lose some weight. Lately, I haven’t been able to run as much as I did. I can’t seem to find the time. I was able to run yesterday, but it had been nearly two weeks since I last ran.  

Even though I have added “boot camp” classes once a week to my schedule, I am still not losing any weight. I think it’s because my exercise is inconsistent. I used to run every other day, but now I am happy to get just two runs during the week and often I only get only one short run.

I guess it’s the same way with my spiritual walk. Sometimes it seems that my growth is stagnant. Often it’s hard to find the time to read my Bible or to pray earnestly to God. I find myself getting distracted with other things, and life in general seems so busy.

Could it be that I am investing my time on worthless things? Could it be that I am just not managing my time properly?

I know that if I took the time to exercise on a regular basis then I would see the results that I want. In the same way, if I were to be intentional in my reading of God’s Word and in my communication with Him on a daily basis then I would have more calmness in my spirit. When life gets hectic and chaotic, that calmness would positively impact me and everything around me.

It seems everything stems from our relationship with God. If our relationship with Him is fragmented, then our life in general will be fragmented.

In Psalm 37:23-24 it says, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand” (NLT).

I need to build upon my relationship with God then everything else will fall into place, and even when I am going through the “storms of life,” I will still experience peace. 

I think I should make it a priority to strengthen my relationship with God, then maybe as time permits, I can expand my exercise time. Exercise can improve my body, but God’s Word will improve my whole being.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Exercise and God’s Word

I was able to run for the second time since my tonsillectomy a couple of days ago (I plan on running for the third time tonight). My recuperation was supposed to be two weeks, but I thought it would be better to wait another week before running again.

Prior to my surgery, I was able to maintain a certain plan of what I ate and when I would eat it, but slowly during my recovery time, I noticed that I would eat more or eat things that I usually would not eat.

For example, during my third week of post op, I had slow cooked spare ribs in spaghetti sauce—I’m not supposed to have meat or tomato sauce since I have GERD, but I told myself that I would just take my medication if I had a problem. Then I ate chicken almost every day with quarts of rice pudding.

Now that I’m resuming my workout routine, I realized that it’s easier for me to resist certain foods when I am exercising than when I am not— I’m certainly not eating as much as I had over the previous three weeks.  

It seemed that when I was disciplined in working out (prior to the tonsillectomy) then I was able to have self-control over the types of food or the amount of food that I would eat; but when I did not work out (like during the post-op time) then it was more difficult for me to maintain good eating habits.

I think the same principle applies in our Christian walk— when we stay focused on God’s Word then we have more strength to resist temptations, to endure the “buttons” that Satan pushes, and to overlook distractions that can keep us from living like a true believer in Christ. 

I can handle situations differently when I am “in the Word”—my attitude is better and things don’t bother me as much. My thoughts are more positive and I have more patience. I can even stop myself from saying things that I will regret later.

James 4:8 says, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you…” (NLT). “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things… ” (1 Cor 9:25); Proverbs 3:6 has, “Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (NLT). So true!

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

The Temple of God

My husband and I have been trying to watch what we eat—eating more fresh vegetables and fruits, and refraining from eating red meat, fatty foods, and fried foods. I never realized that eating fresh vegetables can be so satisfying!

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In the past year or so I have lost about 30 pounds. I want to take care of my body. I think what drives me to do this is 1 Corinthians 6:19— “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?”

Not only am I watching what I eat, but I am trying to exercise regularly—not because it’s the “in thing” to do, but because I don’t want to have health problems in the future. A couple years ago, my blood test showed that I was on the verge of getting high cholesterol, but my levels are normal now.

Healthy eating reminds me of Daniel 1:12 &15, “’Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,’ Daniel said…. At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king.”

How are you taking care of God’s temple?

Copyright © 2013 M. Teresa Trascritti