Last Saturday was the the Sole of the City 10K, race 2 of the B3 challenge. It was a beautiful morning and I’m sure was a great race! Unfortunately, my orthopedist said I shouldn’t run until I’ve been to a bunch of physical therapy sessions. Despite my best efforts to ignore his advice.. I only managed to get out a 3 mile run a week before the race, and that was a struggle. So, I accepted defeat and decided to skip the race. Sigh. At least I got to keep my awesome Under Armour premium.. so my money wasn’t completely lost.
I decided to shift my focus away from running and more into rehabbing my knee. I’ve also decided to work on my nutrition a bit. In August of last year I went to the Wellness Center they have at work and had some body composition and metabolism analysis done. I discovered I had a slow(ish) metabolism (not surprised) and I was around 28% body fat. I decided to try and bring my body fat percentage down (aiming for around 22%.. at least at first) I was also hoping to get my weight to 135-130ish- which would be a drop of about 10-15 lbs. So that first month or so, I followed my prescribed calorie count (calculated by my very own metabolism) and I was able to lose about 4 lbs and dropped to 26.8% body fat. YAY!
My second metabolism test I had done was in November. I had ended up gaining weight (2 lbs), but losing about 0.5% body fat from my visit in September. The results of my metabolism test though were depressing. My RMR (rest metabolic rate aka BMR- basal metabolic rate), which is the body’s baseline for burning calories (what you burn just by functioning every day) went from 1469 to 1190. That’s crazy low. I asked the trainer what would be considered problematically low- something you would seek out medical advise for- and she said below 1000. So yeah, 1190 is low. What made matters worse- she estimated based on lifestyle and my exercise habits that in order to lose 0.5 lb/week (dropped down from 1 lb/week because the calories would have been below the 1200 calorie threshold) that I was to eat 1325 calories/day. Better yet- that if I ate over 1576 calories/day, I would actually start to GAIN weight.
SO.. not only did I have to eat about 100 calories less than I already was (and struggling with.. 1450 calories is tough to stick to!) I would only be losing 0.5 lbs/week doing so.
I felt really discouraged by this. I was blessed with a ridiculous appetite. And a slow metabolism. And a resistance to weight loss. Lovely.
Then the holiday season hit and while I didn’t go crazy.. I definitely wasn’t watching my calories too closely. I knew I wouldn’t.. I can’t help it, so I don’t even try. I enjoy the season for what it is. This doesn’t mean I gorge myself.. but I allow myself sweets and candy and bigger meals than I’m used to. I put on a couple pounds- which I knew I would. Then we went to Disney for Marathon weekend. I focused on carb heavy meals because I was running the back to back races and needed the energy for them. But carb loading bloats me.. so I was feeling rather squishy by the time we left.
After all this was done, I went back to my regular food amounts. I tried to stick to 1400 calories/day because I found below that was just too hard to sustain. I’ve been doing this since mid Jan- early Feb and I’ve not lost a single thing. Nothing. Granted, I did have to cut my exercise down because I couldn’t run and I was still recovering from the marathon. But even when I tried to return to my routine, I really didn’t find it made much of a difference. I tried shifting the focus of my diet to a more protein/less carb oriented one.. still nothing.
In February, I bought the Beachbody program PiYo after I decided I needed to cut high impact workouts because of my knee pain. The program came with an eating plan booklet. At first I ignored it, because I already ate healthy food and was counting calories. But in March I decided to look at it, because what I was doing clearly wasn’t working. The way it worked was you calculated a calorie goal- then based on your target, you ate the plan for your range. My plan said I needed 4 proteins, 4 vegetables, 2 secondary vegetables (carbs and starchy veggies), 3 fats, and 2 fruits per day. Then it had food lists you could eat from, with corresponding portion sizes.
SO I ditched my usual habits and tried to stick to this for a few weeks. It was a little hard though.. because I wanted more than my allotted two 2nd veggies.. and the portion sizes were small (A half a banana was considered 1 fruit?) So from there, I switched to focusing on just eating mostly clean. Just eating whole foods as much as feasible. I planned out my meals ahead of time and food prepped on Sunday. I’ve enjoyed eating so many diverse meals.. and honestly, I love healthy food.. I still would have a few pieces of chocolate every day, so I wasn’t depriving myself. But the scale wasn’t changing. And I feel like I’m increasing my body fat. My clothes don’t fit how I’d like. So once again.. I’m a little discouraged.
The premise of clean eating is that you can have unlimited food, as long as it’s whole foods. That whole foods will naturally fill you and hold you, so you won’t over eat. Well, I’m skeptical about that. My whole life (and I’ve pretty much been struggling with my weight my whole life) I’ve been taught calories in- calories out. And restricting calories is the only way to lose weight. So the concept of unlimited food is hard to wrap my head around.
Turns out, you can over eat while eating clean after all. And without having anything to track I feel kind of lost. I’m eating the right things.. I’m exercising.. where am I going wrong? I HATE articles where someone goes “oh, I just cut the junk and worked out 2x’s week and I lost the weight.” WTF. What gives? I’ve started to feel like I’m the exception. Like somehow, I’m broken and it doesn’t work for me. Works for most other people, but it doesn’t work for me. I even tried 6 months on weight watchers last year.. didn’t really do anything for me. Sigh. Meanwhile, the local radio show host is running ads for Medifast, claiming to have lost 9 lbs in 4 weeks. Ugh.. I have to keep reminding myself that he probably was eating junk and not working out before hand.. and that Medifast meals would never satisfy me.
So amidst my inner turmoil, I turned to YouTube and discovered some videos on IIFYM (If It Fits You Macros) eating. The premise of this method is that you can eat anything you want, as long as it fits your macro nutrients for the day. NOW.. by anything, they mean anything. Pizza? You got it. Donuts? Go for it. Giant triple cheeseburger- you get the idea. If it fits, you can have it. I don’t quite buy into that. I don’t eat those things usually. Once in a very long while maybe, and even then, it’s usually a situation where there’s nothing else really available. So, my approach to this would be sticking with the clean eating foods, for the most part.I read a couple blogs from people who have transformed their bodies into lean muscle. A lot of them followed this type of eating plan and boasted a higher calories intake. I read an article about how cutting calories only slows the metabolism down, and the more you cut, the slower it goes. It also said that high amounts of steady state cardio also damages the metabolism if your calories are too low. Hmm.. maybe that’s why my RMR dropped so much from August to November. I was marathon training and reducing my calories. I would allow a little more on long run days, but for the most part, I was eating 1450-1500 calories. I was told by the trainer as well, not to adjust my calorie range as I exercise- to only eat those calories. Maybe this is where I was going wrong?
So, now I have decided to seek a new direction. But where to start? Some sources say eat a lot of calories. Others say I have to stay in defect. Some sources talk about fat loss vs weight loss, and list very different macro ratios for the two methods. I was a little lost as to what I should be doing. I tried a couple different macro calculators and calculated a TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) of around 1750 calories. OK- seems feasible. A few sources I read said I needed a deficit for weight loss. Makes sense- so 250- 1750 = 1500. So my calorie range should fall around 1500 to lose 0.5 lb/week. But what should be my macro nutrients? I found a great post on Bodybuilding.com which had the most comprehensive way to calculate what I need. SO, that being said- I calculated that my TDEE is between 1688 and 1829 calories. This was in concurrence to the other calculators that I’ve tried. The post suggested a 10-20% reduction to be in defect. This puts me in a calorie range of 1350-1646… making my decision to go with 1500 pretty solid. Using the 1 g of protein/lb lean bodyweight, I should be eating 106 g (or 424 calories) of protein. I calculated fat using 0.4 g/lb lean bodyweight, so I should be eating around 42.4 g (or 381.6 cals) of fat. For carbs, I didn’t consider myself very active (considering I can’t run/workout intensely, and my job is pretty sedentary) So I simply subtracted the protein/fat calories from my total calories to come up with 694.4 calories, which translated to 173.6 g carbs.
I usually track everything on Sparkpeople. I’ve been using them since 2011 and have been tracking food/exercise/weight on and off since then. I was having trouble adjusting my goals though.. it wanted a range for everything and I wasn’t sure how it was automatically calculating things. A number of sources I researched suggested MyFitnessPal, so I checked them out. WOW. While a lot of the features were the same as Sparkpeople, some were definitely different. I LOVE how you can put the URL into the recipe page, and it will import it. I love to cook and try new recipes, but it’s pretty tedious to enter into Sparkpeople- you have to search each individual ingredient, then calculate the nutrition info, then fill out the rest of the recipe, then submit it.. it’s just really long and involved and sometimes I wouldn’t log my meals just because I didn’t feel like creating a recipe for it. I think this really won me over with MyFitnessPal.. I feel so enlightened!
ANYWAYS, because MyfitnessPal won’t let you plug in your own macronutrient numbers, or even customize percentages, I calculated the percentage of each macro and rounded to the nearest selection. So, my ratios roughly are 30% protein, 25% fat, and 45% carbs. It was suggested by several sources that I track this for a month, before trying to tweak anything. If I’m not seeing differences after a month, then I change something.
I have to say I’m kinda excited about this. Though I do have in the back of my head that voice reminding me that it’s just yet again at another program that’s going to work at first, then not. It’s kind of scary venturing into the unknown as far as changing my eating habits, but I guess if I don’t try I’ll never know. Either way, it’s better than sitting here spinning my wheels right?