CICO: effects and side effects

After 4 weeks on Calories-In-Calories-Out, or CICO, I’m ready for a change.

The main effect of the calories-in counting is to remind me how much I hate counting calories. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s assisted by an app or not – it’s a faff. And it’s always an approximation. When I have a curry, is it a medium sag bhaji? Or a large? Who knows. Perhaps more importantly… does it matter? I find myself obsessing about details of food and I don’t think that’s good for me.

The main effect of the calories-out counting was to get me to move more, which is pretty much exactly what is supposed to happen. Right up until my Garmin tracker broke I was obsessively getting exercise.

I’ve never been particularly good at sleeping and so often find myself waking up at 5 or 6. It turns out that if you get up then and go for a walk, it’s nowhere near as irritating as lying in bed and trying to get back to sleep. Here’s a 6.20am snap from my holidays…


Other exercisey things I’ve done this month include:

  • Swimming
  • Kayaking
  • Dancing
  • Stand-up-paddleboarding
  • Trampolining
  • Jogging

I even finished my first parkrun without stopping for a walk break. All good.

Did it work though?Percentage bodyweight lost since Jan 2 (1)

I lost a bit, but not particularly fast. During the last week (when I was away from home, and had a broken fitness tracker) I put on a couple of pounds, leaving me with a reasonable overall loss for the CICO period and just about back where I was 8 weeks ago before the previous not-really-a-diet.

On a more reflective note, perhaps CICO provided me with just a bit too much freedom. One of the benefits of a diet rather than just calorie counting is that following a food plan takes away some of the cognitive load. In following a diet you are abdicating food responsibility to The List Of Acceptable Inputs.  CICO on the other hand doesn’t tell you what to eat – you still have to take responsibility and decide that for yourself.

Other stuff

I didn’t drink or smoke this month. I got some exercise on 27/28 days and I got my 10k steps every day. I wasn’t particularly vegetarian (11/28).

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