Weight loss tracker

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Please take a seat on my couch (long one)

Or “Thank you for seeing me Herr Freud”

I’ve got my crazy on these days. There are so many aspects to this craziness, that it looks like a kaleidoscope and I find myself slightly dizzy when trying to make out the whole picture.

I need some clarity. I need a list. Lists bring clarity. Unless you have too many lists, because then you need a list to list all lists... (you see what I mean: maaaaad!)

Ok, ok... basic - and not at all all-inclusive - list then.
  • Chirstmas is only 23 days away (we from around the middle of Europe tend to celebrate on the 24th, not the 25th)
  • My family is coming to visit for a week on 23rd (my mum, little sis, her partner and my 4.5 year old nephew) This is the first time my whole immediate family will be in London for Christmas. I'm very excited and looking forward to it, but also very anxious in the same time... lots of pressure on me, as the host.
  • I've made a decision to change my job - with all the added stress this move involves.
  • David's just started his new job.
  • My weight loss has stalled in the last couple of days. I know it’s a passing thing and I’m getting smaller in measurements, but I cannot help but grieve over the fact that I’m probably not going to make it to my so important Christmas target of under 180lbs. It makes me sad. A lot.
  • This “stoppage” in losage (I made that word up) started to make me micro-analyze what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. That might have been a mistake... Read on.
I have a very analytic mind and also high tendency to anal-retentiveness. Very high... I want things done “just so”, meaning: as close to perfect as possible. Not everything in life, but certainly when it comes to my weight loss this is a huge issue. It's worrying how laid back I am in so many other ways. So, on the path to learn more about how I operate and why, I consumed a lot of info mainly to do with nutrition, calorie intake, calorie balance, exercise, etc – you get the picture. I stumbled upon some real gems in my quest (like Steve Troutman’s website Body-Improvements – check it out, it’s full of sense!) and other just as reasonable sounding advices in books, blogs, forums, etc.
But, my anal retentive personality grew larger with each step, and I dug myself in a deeper hole by the hour...
I’d like to share the problem with all of you, but to be honest I rationally know all the answers – the problem is knowing the answer somehow does not stop my craziness about the topic...
I’ve been on 1029kcal/day for a long time now, and I thought I must revisit that figure to see if it serves me on the long term and if I can improve on it in any way. So I started calculating and of course every calculation comes up with different numbers. But being a born number cruncher (me and my spreadsheets!), I can crunch the same numbers and come up with very different end results.
For example, this 1029kcal/day has been working for me fine in the last 3 months. However, I come across the serious issue of eating back your exercise calories – which I never do. That realization led me down the “starvation response” path (which might or might not exist...), and it led to me seriously thinking about the long term issue of maintenance once I achieved my goal weight. I know I will keep exercising, and I know I will still watch what I’m eating but am I going to be wholesome and healthy with such low calorie intake and huge calorie expenditure in the long term? So I decided to take Steve’s advise and re-calculated my daily calorie intake. I did it very stingily with all the smallest figures he provides and with the greatest deficit he recommends, etc, and the final result was around the 1200kcal to lose 2 lb per week. Reasonable. I still did not account for any of my exercises – I feel like eating back those calories (even in a sensible and controlled manner throughout the day) is wasting the hard work I put in. Crazy? Yes. Do I know it? Yes. Will I change my it? Highly unlikely. And that was reasonable me...
But then... I’m reading Winning by Losing by Jillian Michaels. I love her. I love her attitude. And she makes a lot of sense (in my opinion). I listen to her podcasts during my runs. That’s the only thing keeps me going 3 times a week over 5km. So, in her book she makes very similar and sensible points as Steve does. She also gives you some numbers to crunch. According to her (and if I do not take my exercise into the equation) I should eat about 1600kcal/day for maintenance. Of course to lose 2 lb per week, you have to create a deficit of 7000kcal per week. And that’s where it gets scary: this means around 600kcal per day (if no exercise taken into account). Now that is far too low for my liking! Isn’t it? But let’s add my exercise calories: about 400-500, 3-4 times a week, let’s say 2000 per week. That leaves me with 13200kcal intake per week for maintenance, and 885kcal per day for losing 2lb per week. That is still much lower than the 1029 I’m eating around currently. That’s when the alarm bell started to ring again but much louder: if I’m eating 150 kcal extra per day (1029-885), that’s a 1000 kcal extra a week, which diminishes my 2lb weekly loss – and that’s if I don’t ever go over my 1029, which I do sometimes a little bit. So, shall I go down to 885/day to sustain the desired 2lb loss? Hmm...
But there is a third opinion... and it’s provided by my beloved BodyBugg. What a downer! I can have one of 3 kinds of days: work day with gym, work day with no gym, weekend. On average on a workday with no gym (which I deliberately don’t want to call “normal day”, as normal day should involve some exercise) I burn between 2300-2500kcal a day. On working+gym days I burn anything between 2800-3300. On weekends I’m lucky if  I burn 2000. Now, I have a desk job. Sometimes I do not even stand up in my lunch break. BUT: I do walk a lot to and from work: in a non-gym day it adds up to over 10000 steps easily, and tips my moderate exercise level around 45-60 minutes (even though I increased the minimum limit of moderate from 4MET to 4.2MET in my BodyMedia software). My week involves 4 work+gym days, 1 work day, 2 weekends. If I add that up that’s a lot of burned calories: 17500 per week. With the 7000 deficit for 2lb loss a week, it equates to 1500kcal to eat each day.

So, what do I do? 1200? 885? 1500? I know: my trusty 1029 has been working fine, so why change it? Well, that’s where I need to resolve my anal retentiveness: I have conflicting information in front of me, and I MUST know which one is right... I cannot possibly say – “hey, that’s all fine but I don’t care because I have a tried and tested method”. Nope, that’s not me. I NEED ANSWERS! But the more I dig the more confused I become... Add this to my list above – and embrace craziness.

On a much-much more light-hearted matter:
I'm gonna be on telly! I'm gonna be on telly! (imagine this in a singsongy voice with humming included...) My Azucar treacher (it’s like Zumba, but called differently) walked up to me in the dressing room after class last week and asked me what will I do this Friday. This was strange as I didn’t even know her name and only attended 4 classes so far. So I demanded details. It turns out Channel 4 (one of the 5 mainstream terrestrial channels in the UK) are shooting a documentary in/about our gym (which I know and saw happening before) and they are shooting the bit about her class on Friday morning, and she thought it would be great if I could be one of the background people. She needed 4 of us, and she thought my moves are good and look decent enough to make up the background (well, she didn't say that last bit, but David pointed it out kindly). Hey ho!! What is that if not an unconscious compliment - and it's coming from a woman! I mean she does not know me, I’ve only started Azucar a month ago.... And she – the hot latin American trainer girl – thinks my movements are good AND would look good on film! Some little shaky and very unconfident voice inside me is screaming: yes!yes!yes! You do look good!

I rest my case.

Happy craziness to everyone! 


Christine said...

My advise is to keep it simple. If you are stalling out on your weight loss, then I'd recommend cutting 10% of your calories. If you're doing 1029kcals a day, that means try hitting 927 calories a day. I know that seems low, especially when all the (coughbullshitcough) sweepingly generalizing weight optimization charts are recommending grossly high calories for you. But if it makes you feel any better, I eat about 800-900 calories a day and I'm not starving, I reached my goal weight, I'm maintaining my weight pretty easily, I'm not in the hospital for starvation, etc! LOL! Ultimately you need to listen to your body and figure out what number works for you. Ignore all the books and the sweeping generalizations.

trisha said...

Hey girl! I wanted to email you back after you left me my comment but you don't have an email address linked with your blog! lol If you go to your profile and click on edit it will let you add it so people can respond to you when you leave comments! :) (and that way I can email you back...haha) :)

trisha said...

OK, now I just read your entry...and I SO can relate with you because I am psycho over this, too.

There was just a thread on MFP entitled "eating MORE calories to loose" or something to that effect. It ended up being like 20 pages long and had some REAL good info, I suggest going to read it. But alot of people that seemed to be in your same weight loss phase were seeing stalls, and the last thing they EVER would think of doing is increasing calories, but for SO many of them it was just the push they needed to jump start their weight loss again!

There are also some great threads on there about starvation mode, and the reality (or fiction) of it all. I think it really does exist, but most only affects those that do not have the extra body fat % that most of us bandsters do. For example, there is no way in HELL my body would ever go into starvation mode at my current body fat percentage - I am morbidly obese. Now someone that has say 30% body fat and only another 15 lbs to loose may see something different in the way their body would react to the limited calories...

Knowledge is power!! LOL I am right there with ya girl...