SO this post is a little tough to put out there. I’ve always been super self conscious about my weight. The only thing that has helped me to overcome it (slowly over time) is exercise and being able to accomplish amazing things with my body, regardless of it’s size. Yesterday I had an appointment with our Wellness Center on post to do some metabolism testing. The Wellness Center is open to active/retired military, friends/family, and DA civilians. My co-workers were talking about signing up, so I decided I would too, thinking it would be a great opportunity to figure out what’s up with inability to lose weight. I feel like I owe a little back story here..
I’ve been trying to lose some excess weight for a while now. I’m no stranger to health, weight loss and nutrition. I grew up a heavy inactive kid, and have lost weight many times. Using various plans. My first was Atkins in high school, where I managed to drop 35 lbs by following a low carb diet. It was fairly easy, and I didn’t have to exercise. For the first time in my life, I felt like I fit in with my peers. I felt on top of the world. Its kind of silly, when I look back at pictures of me then, I see a smaller me, but I’m so unfit and soft looking! And I’m definitely not as small as I thought I was at the time.
After high school, the weight started to creep back on. I stopped eating low carb, and really wasn’t eating healthy at all. I still didn’t know a lot about nutrition and balance, and didn’t exercise. I lived on my own the last two years of college, and looking back, I’m horrified at some of the things I would eat. I rarely ate vegetables at home, unless it was in the frozen meals I bought. I didn’t drink much before I was 21, but after, I was going out with friends and having a couple of drinks and bar food. By the end of college, I was just as heavy as I had been in high school before I lost weight. My clothes didn’t fit well, and I was miserable.
I started dabbling in some exercise. I had an exercise DVD I would do before work a few times a week. I did like the feeling when I was done, but I wasn’t always consistent. When I got Zeus in 2007, I remember I was trying to take a picture of the both of us to show off my new adorable pug puppy. (A selfie before selfies were cool!) I took several, but I just could not get myself to look good in any of them. I felt disgusted and unattractive. My mom had recently lost a bunch of weight as she took up running on her treadmill. When she started, she could barely run 2 minutes. But now she was running for an hour straight. I decided if she could do it, I could do it too. I started using the treadmill. I remember being so proud of myself the first time I could run 15 minutes straight.
In November, a few months after it had opened, my family decided to join the YMCA. I still go there today. I loved seeing my fitness progressing as I used the machines. When I worked in Northern VA for almost a year, I stayed with my grandmother (who lived closer to work than my parents) and would drive half an hour to the closest Y location to workout. SLOWLY, the weight was creeping off. When I moved back home in Spring 2008, I started doing classes at the gym. I loved that it was so interactive and the workouts were done before I knew it. I also started weighing and measuring my portion sizes and that helped a lot. I was tracking everything on a website I found- unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of it.
I found SparkPeople in 2011. SparkPeople is a wonderful health and fitness resource with tools to track and measure nutrition and fitness, tools to help manage your goals, a huge library of articles, a blog, recipe calculator and recipes, and even a personalized profile page you can set up with pictures, state your goals, post blog entries and make friends with SparkFriends. The support from the SparkPeople community was phenomenal. I had never met a community so positive, uplifting and motivating before. There is virtually no negativity like you would see on Facebook or other mass social media sites. I was not afraid to put myself out there. It’s all people with the same common goal, to live a healthy, fit and happy lifestyle. I still use the website today to track my food and fitness, make recipes, and help support other members of the community. The website has been invaluable to me.
I signed up with TNT to run my first half in 2011. By April 2012, I got down to my lowest weight of 134- a total loss of 41 lbs since 2007. I felt great at this number, though I feel like I needed to go a little further. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, and I stopped tracking and started indulging a little more.
I thought I would shed some of the pounds I gained while training for my first marathon, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. I gained instead. I also thought my wedding would be great motivation to lose a few, but I only managed to maintain. After the wedding in late 2013/early 2014, I found myself at 150 after the holidays. This is a pretty uncomfortable weight for me, and I knew I had to get it down. In February I joined Weight Watchers, looking to change some things. I felt like a different approach to eating might kick me out of this maintenance slump I had been in.
I’ve lost 5 lbs since February. It’s been frustrating. I admit that I hadn’t been super diligent at times with my tracking. Mostly because I had a bunch of races to run, and was eating a lot of points due to carb loading. When I hurt my foot in May, I decided to take it a little more seriously because I couldn’t exercise as much and I knew I had to control my eating. I know my metabolism is horribly slow.. and it is very easy to gain weight, while super hard to take it off again. I managed to maintain at 147.. but by the beginning of August, I’m only at 145. and it bounces between 144 and 147.. so essentially, it’s maintenance. This is super frustrating because I’ve pretty careful about what I eat. My calorie intake is usually between 1500 and 1800, depending on the day and how much exercise I do. Most of the time, I’m within my prescribed SparkPeople calorie range, and all the time well within my WW points range (usually using up my activity points, but having plenty of weekly points left) I also strive to eat whole foods and have been shying away from processed (with the exception of my cereal in the morning.) I like to incorporate vegetables into my meals (except usually not breakfast, unless I make an omelet. Although I often include a banana) and fruit for snacks. I drink at least 4-8 cups of water/day. What. Gives.
So fast forward to yesterday.. I had my metabolism test appointment. Basically they did two things; A metabolism test to measure my BMR (basal metabolic rate- the rate at which your body burns calories doing normal bodily functions, like breathing, digesting, pumping blood etc.) and a body fat percentage test, to determine how much excess fat I’m carrying.
The metabolism test was kind of cool. The tech had me strap on a mask and lay down, breathing normally. It took 15 minutes. Factoring in my activity level, my height weight and gender, the tech was able to determine that yes, I had a slower metabolism, and I need to consume 1440 calories/day to lose 1 lb/week. Wow that’s low. Especially considering that I’m marathon training. BUT that’s explains why I haven’t been losing (or rather, losing very very slowly.) I’ve simply been eating too much for sustainable weight loss.
The body fat test was interesting too. Using an ultrasound device, the tech determined that I was 28% body fat, that 30 (or so) lbs of it was healthy, and that 9 lbs of it was excess. Although I was considered in the normal healthy range for my BMI (body mass index) She said I should weigh between 120 and 137 to be at an optimal weight. Considering that my goal is 130, I’d say I’m am pretty spot on and in tune with my body and its needs.
My goal is to lose about 15 lbs and reduce my body fat percentage (which I’m guessing will fall somewhere around 20%?). I feel this is fairly important not only for aesthetics and self esteem purposes, but I really want to help out my marathon training and be able to run an injury free marathon. Every extra lb of weight increases the force on my joints, ligaments/tendons, and muscles. The lower the weight, the lower the risk of injury. This is something I definitely need to get a handle on now while I’m still running shorter mileages.
The metabolism test will continue with a class on health/nutrition and metabolism, followed by a detailed one-on-one analysis with a trainer to determine goals and an action plan. This I have to schedule for the near future. After that class, I can also schedule a fitness assessment, when I can have my VO2 max measured and talk about target heart rate training- which is something I don’t currently do, so it might be helpful to learn about. In a month, I’ll have a follow up metabolism test to see if I’ve made progress. It’s really a cool thing to know my exact numbers instead of estimating from a calculator. I’m looking forward to seeing where this takes me!