Thursday, April 28, 2011

The good and the bad and the Easter candy

I'm having a good week for exercise and a very bad week for eating. So I'm publicly calling myself out. I've actually been getting up in the morning to work out. That's huge for me.

However, when I was at the store Monday I bought some cheap post-easter chocolate candies. I thought to myself that I would only have a couple of pieces at a time. Usually that would be the case. I'll eat sweets and I can have small portions, but I like to savor each little bite. Except it's finals week and "that" time for me. I've wolfed down almost the whole bag of candy in two days. Boo! I feel fat and bloated and ashamed right now.

And then I feel guilty for how I feel, because even though I am trying to lose some weight, I am at a healthy weight and am satisfied with how I look almost 100%. At least 95%. So I shouldn't have these negative feelings. But I still shouldn't have eaten all that chocolate. I have a 2nd bag. I'm going to to take it to work tomorrow and share the love.

This is why I don't buy treats or keep it in the house. I can be good almost every day, but it only takes one or two bad days to derail my goals.

In the true meaning of Easter, I'm going to forgive myself and let it go. Tomorrow is a new day.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Resting Metabolic Rate Test

I went to Peak Fitness up at the U and did a Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) test. In a nutshell that is the energy expenditure produced by your body when at rest. If I laid in bed or just sat in a chair all day long, it would take me 1253 calories to exist.

How it works

3 hours before the test you have to stop eating and can't exercise until after the test. If your body is digesting it will change the results. Also if you have exercised recently it throws it off. I'm not sure if it's the increased breathing or what, but it will increase your metabolic rate short term. You're testing your resting metabolic rate so these are important. I took a snack in the car so I could as soon as it's over.

Once you check in and fill out some paperwork (general health questionnaire, consent form), you sit for 5 mins and let your body come back to a resting state. Then you put these nose clamps on the nose to plug that up and breath through this tube thing that is hooked up to a machine that tracks your oxygen levels. It's a little bit like scuba breathing. That lasts for 10 mins.

You will probably drool a bit, and it's a bit awkward breathing into the tube, but I read a magazine and got used to it pretty quick. You do need to make sure you have a good seal on the tube while you are doing the test for accurate results. The whole process including instruction and questions takes about 30 mins.

What I learned

So what does that tell me? Well for one thing it is a lower number than the calculation I had come up with when I was planning my calories in/out. I had come up with a figure of 1394. That means I was off by 141 calories a day, 987 calories a week. That adds up. I figured since I started trying to lose some weight that is a difference of about 4 lbs. So when I felt like I was working my butt off and not seeing a lot of results, that would explain it. Would have been nice to know that 3 months ago.

If you have every found yourself in a similar situation, you have to take a really honest look at your eating habits. I feel like I was doing a really good job tracking even those sneaky calories. A couple of tortilla chips here, a handful of peanuts there. When I was tracking my calories I accounted for every little bite I was taking. So, before you run out and have your RMR checked, make sure you're both honest and aware of all the calories in.

I say that because the majority of people who think they have a slow metabolism actually don't. Based on periodicals I've read and feedback from trained professionals, most people are close to normal. Well, congratulations to me. I'm actually 12% below normal. Or in other words, 12 % more efficient. That is most likely attributable to my under active thyroid. Low thyroid levels lead to lower metabolic rates. For me, this makes sense.

What I need to do about it

Moving forward there are 2 things I need to do. First I need to recalculate my calories in/out. I like food. I like to eat food. So that means either increasing my activity level, or lowering my caloric intake by cutting some discretionary calories or just substituting some lower energy dense delicious foods for some of the higher dense items I've been eating.

Also, the way to increase the metabolism is to increase lean body weight. In other words, build muscle. I have increasing strength training as one of my tactics, but I have yet to implement. I'm feeling a little more motivated to get on that now.

If I can find a scanner, I'll post a pic of the report. While, most people are going to be normal or close to that, if you are interested in getting tested, it was $30 for non-U student/staff and $25 for U students/staff. It takes about 30 min. You can find Peak on FB or here:

They offer other services such as body fat testing, nutritional counseling, and fitness assessments.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Weight plateaus and setpoint theory

I feel like I've hit a plateau in my weight loss adventure. I am serious about losing about another 8 lbs (of fat, not lean body weight). This is realistic and healthy. It will put my % of body fat at approximately 24% which is perfectly healthy and I believe will help me be a little more competitive in my running/racing.

So here we are. 140 is about where I've gotten to more times than I can count. I may dip a little lower, but I get here and then I either stay here or put 5-8 lbs back on. Even when I'm actively trying to lose weight--tracking calories, exercising, etc. There are so many variables that can be at play when you stop losing weight--burn out from overtraining, lack of sleep, stress levels, body adaptation and increased efficiency at current activities and levels of exertion, mental/emotional sabotage.

Another factor I have recently done some research on is the setpoint theory. The premise is that the body has a particular weight or body fat % it likes to be at. The problem is the body interprets going below your setpoint as starvation (even if you have love handles to prove otherwise). When you go below that level, it does lots of complex things with hormone levels, how it processes glucose, and a bunch of other internal functions we don't even realize are going on moment by moment. Blah, blah, blah. All this research is good and fine, but I'm a woman of action. What am I going to do about it. I've come up with a couple of different tactics I'm going to try that target both the physical side and the mental. I'm going to try them all so it will be difficult to figure out which tactic was more/less successful if additional weight lose occurs and is maintained. This feels so sciencey. My Investigative side is getting all excited.

Here's my plan:

1. Increase lean muscle mass by increased strength training, as that is the best way to increase your metabolic rate long term.

  • currently about 1x/week for 20-40 min

  • increase to 2x/week for 20-40 min/session

2. Use positive affirmations, visualization, pranayama (yoga breathing techniques) and meditation to focus on and get my mind to believe it is possible and do-able. This has been very successful for treating chronic pain and other disorders and diseases. Mind over matter. 3. Research and practice a yoga routine that promotes brain (specifically hypothalamus) health, hormone regulation, and releasing and removing toxins. The hypothalamus is supposedly where the "setpoint" is located and regulated. It is responsible for regulating hormones related to hunger and satiety. Yoga also decreases stress levels which can affect the hypothalamus and the release of other hormones (hmmm, could that have any link to emotional eating?).

4. Continue tracking my caloric intake and ensuring it is sufficient for my basal metabolic rate (calorie deficit will come from additional physical exercise, not by cutting calories). I am actually even going to try and increase my daily average caloric intake to see if that helps. A caloric deficit of 500/day should result in 1 lb weight loss/week.

I really feel like I'm on the edge of something big here. I am positive and determined to find success. And if my first attempts do not work, I'll try something new (see video in the previous post). So here I go, ready to take the plunge.

These are my scientific experiment goggles, I'm ready to go

Is anyone really interested in the results of my experimentation? I think I'm going to journal what I do, how I feel before/after I do it, and whether or not I feel it is working. I could post summaries of my journals here if you want. Or I can just follow up in 4-6 weeks with one short summary of the results.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Follow up

Weighed myself this morning (the lady time is all over now). 139.8! That's right. Under 140. Victorious! I don't like the BMI system for people with more than average muscle mass, however, that does make me officially no longer over weight according to the BMI. I didn't really think of myself as overweight before because I understand lean vs fat mass and what real health is, and how to listen to my body, feels good to make it official.

I saw this video today and it seemed appropriate. This is for any of you how have "fallen down" in any endeavors in your life--weight, jobs, romance, family, whatever. And yes, I did tear up.