Archive for February, 2009

Could Be Worse

February 26, 2009

Following Confessions of a Food Addict’s (now defunct blog) theory that weight loss bloggers don’t post when they are not doing well, I more or less lived up to that in the past couple of weeks.

It’s not as bad as it has been in the past. I’ve stayed on track with my moderate goal of logging every single piece of food that I put into my body with the exception of last week when I was hit by a nasty cold/flu bug. I’m reasonably sure that there is no chance I over ate that week as food was the last thing on my fevered mind as I prayed for sleep and the virus to leave my body.

I’m also on track with the overall slow and steady calorie reduction. I’m currently working on 2,400 cal/day this week, a repeat of last week not because I think I over ate, but because I have no idea what I ate since I didn’t log it.

It has not escaped me that this is the first time I’ve been really and truly sick since I began this ‘get healthy’ kick. It also has not escaped me that this is the first time I’ve been away from the gym for over 8 weeks. So, despite my commitment to getting my food under control before I really focus in on exercise getting back to the gym next week, routine or no routine is a priority.

In my pre-‘get healthy’ kick I typically got 3-4 bad cold’s per winter and 1-2 per summer. Last summer was pure joy in that I didn’t have a single summer cold. I’m really seeing the benefits of exercise and if I don’t want a repeat of last week I need to get my body moving again.

The crunchy bits:

Week 5 Q4 – February 1 – 7th, 2009
Overall: 70%
Household: 38%
Health & Beauty: 71%
Finance: 86%
Career: 105%
Entertainment: 52%

Week 6 Q4 – February 8 – 14th, 2009
Overall: 70%
Household: 62%
Health & Beauty: 62%
Finance: 86%
Career: 71%
Entertainment: 67%

Week 7 Q4 – February 15 – 21st, 2009 (sick week)
Overall: 42%
Household: 22%
Health & Beauty: 38%
Finance: 52%
Career: 57%
Entertainment: 38%

Weight Loss is… confusing

February 6, 2009

I got mixed answers (unsurprisingly) on the jpfitness forum. A few of the regulars referred me to Leigh, in a fat loss forum, so I’m taking the advice with a grain of salt.

The general opinion against a program like NROLFW, for women who want to see size and weight loss is that a lifting program will not produce the desired results, it is generally only for people who have little to no weight to loose and want to improve their body composition…

???

Leigh is quite negative about the idea of building muscle to reduce fat:

To be blunt, the whole “muscle trade out” thing is kind of a crock. Don’t get me wrong, a slight amount of muscle can be gained and water with it. However it depends on your “level” of fat loss needed. If you have 30 pounds to lose, sorry the scale should move. If you have 20 pounds to lose, the scale should move. The less you have to lose though, the less drastic the movement will be. …

This [increasing muscle to increase your BMR] is overrated. It takes a large amount of muscle to increase basal rate of burn. Non-exercise activity is way more important than muscle to caloric burn.

She limits fat-loss success on programs like NROLFW to people who have the right genes/lifestyle/willpower/health.

On the optimistic side she does say that it is possible, if eating at a caloric deficit, to control if you are loosing fat or muscle:

Not true. You can have a huge role in controlling if muscle or fat is loss. This is where tailoring your macro intake becomes key. If you keep your protein intake at a certain level and stimulate muscle, even on the smallest levels sometimes, you should have no problem maintaining mass.

People freak out about muscle loss and it just isn’t as easy as people think it is IF you are eating right and moving a little. I am not suggesting that the common person or even researched person understand what that is, but I assure you it isn’t complicated.

However she does flag that you may see a drop in metabolism if you have a significant amount of fat to loose, apparently significant in this case is more than 20 lbs and less than 100 lbs.

For Leigh it comes down to reduce the calories and bring back the light activity until the weight is lost, then work on body comp:

NROL is not the “technical” reason you and others can’t lose fat. The technical reason is you are eating to much to see results.

Now, can this program be contributing to that factor? Possible. It is highly aggressive in the lifting and women respond to rises in cortisol by eating and eating a lot. Most of you would be better served just eating in a deficit and doing some light work a few times a week until you got the fat off and THEN work towards a body recomp program towards the desired look you want.

Needless to say, I am somewhat confused.

The book says the exact opposite, but the diet book industry is less than reliable.

This person is fairly respected on the jpfitness forum, but then forums are not the most reliable place for advice either.

What I do know is this:

I have in the past 8 years been unable to consistently maintain a 1,500 cal/day or lower diet.

I can maintain healthy eating habits, with relative ease.

I did loose and keep off 6 dress sizes going slowly from 3,000 cal/day down to 1,500 (just wasn’t able to keep it at 1,500 long term).

My weight loss with slow calorie reduction was accompanied by light exercise, that is 30 min elliptical, 30 min treadmill, some floor ab exercises and some light weights exercises.

I have absolutely NO idea what the right balance between calories and exercise is. My only solution right now is to try to watch and see if the scale goes down as food goes down, and exercise increases.

My plan at the moment is to try to get a caloric range between 1,500 and 2,000 cal/day and test out exercise programs that incorporate some of the lifting from NROLFW, some of Health Habits HIIT programs and maybe I put the light cardio back in.

Generally…. very confused.

Question for Fitness Trainers

February 5, 2009

Like many overweight women I have tried to loose weight several time in the past 8 years, and succeeded only in gaining and extra 40 lbs from when I first started trying. I have accepted that this is due largely to poor consistency on my part and also a general lack of education about how weight loss and fitness work.

Almost a year ago now, the penny dropped for me on the difference between a diet and a lifestyle change. I finally accepted the idea that if I am really committed to getting my body into a physical condition that I can feel proud of that I need to find a healthy eating and exercise program that works for me for a long time in the daily grind and not something that is short term.

I went back to a site that I’ve used successfully for short term weight loss www.caloriecount.about.com and I invited members to join me on this challenge to really discover what a consistent effort to change our eating and exercising habits means and requires as opposed to short term diets.

In the last year we have learned a lot. We have identified triggers for why we don’t follow through, we have exercised goal setting, and learned personal motivation and commitment.

New Rules Of Lifting For Women was introduced to the group about 6 months ago. One member has had significant success with it. I asked around and found three more of my friends who have also had significant success using NROLFW. Regardless of the questions I am asking below I am excited to try this out for myself.

I should say that for the past six months that this book has dramatically changed the tone of the women in the group from ‘why can’t I keep myself on this low-calorie diet’ to ‘I feel so much better when I lift and can eat more, this is great!’

However now one of our members seems to be completely stalled in her progress, and there are now several threads on the site that suggest that NROLFW is ineffective for women who want to loose weight….

Okay, I can see the weight loss point… muscle by volume weighs more than fat. So if you build muscle you may not see the scale go down.

I should mention at this point that I do think we are a group of women who are not focused on the scale are focusing on getting physically fit, that is loosing size and gaining muscle. This is commonly articulated as weight loss, but I do believe after a year that the numbers on the scale are not the primary motivator for these women. It is more likely the dress sizes and pant sizes.

To that end the criticism of NROLFW is best demonstrated by a post from trim4ever’s post on this form and on cc forums.

The idea against NROLFW is that because you need to increase your caloric intake to build muscle that women who want to loose size / weight will not see the results they are expecting, further more that because (according to this poster and others on cc) to loose fat you need to be in a caloric deficit that the goals of muscle building and fat loss are mutually exclusive.

The general theme seems to be that if the women on the forum want to meet their size and weight goals then the only recourse is to return to a low calorie diet until the fat is lost. The thread author calls this fat stripping and advocates keeping weight lifting to ensure that fat is lost instead of muscle.

They would follow up the fatstripping with a bodybuilding / muscle building program.

This opinion seems to boosted by this article by Alwyn Cosgrove, although in my opinion I don’t think he’s actually advocating for fatstripping as opposed to muscle building.

Now, I’m not an expert by any stretch, but this seems to be completely against everything that I’ve just read in NROLFW and also on several fitness blogs that I trust.

My understanding is that on a low-calorie diet you will loose weight, and you may loose that weight in fat, but there is no way to control if you are loosing fat or muscle.

Also, the general problem with low-calorie diets are that they do slow down your metabolism, are very difficult to maintain and result in the kind of yo-yo dieting that I myself have been victim to for the past 8 years generally resulting in overall weight gain as opposed to weight loss.

Further more it’s my understanding that muscle gain and fat loss are not mutually exclusive. Muscle if built, will increase the basal metabolic rate and make the body more efficient at using energy thereby actually helping to burn fat more effectively even when the body is at rest.

I have three questions based on my much too long introduction (thank you for your patience)

1. Am I on the right track with my thinking about low-calorie diet effects and the idea that muscle building and fat loss are not mutually exclusive?

2. If so, where can I get more concrete information to show that so that it’s not just my opinion, and is at least backed up by someone who knows what they are talking about.

3. If the above is correct and building muscle is the best route to size loss and a healthy body, what would be encouraging to women who are not seeing results on the scale or on the tape measure? What initial indicators of success could they look for?

Week 49 Check-In

February 2, 2009

I missed my calorie reduction goal by 100 calories this week, eating an average of 2,700 cal/day. I was doing quite well for most of the week hovering around the 2,300 cal/day mark and then on Friday and Saturday I dove headlong into food and ate over 3,600 calories on Friday and 4,500 calories on Saturday. I really don’t even know how I fit that much food into my body. It’s shocking.

Unsurprisingly the scale was up on Sunday morning. What does continue to surprise me is that as I have slowly reduce from 3,200 cal/day average to 2,700 I seem to be hovering in the same 5 pound range give or take a few pounds each week. In other words my weight seems to be maintaining… roughly.

I’m really re-evaluating the eat less, exercise more ‘simple’ weight loss advice. I think like most women when I listen to the ‘eat less’ I want to drastically reduce. I have, in the past, put myself on diets that were less than 700 cal/day. A responsible diet for me is between 1,200 – 1,500 cal/day.

I have to admit I find even the ‘responsible’ diets hard to maintain. Which puts me and millions of other women firmly in the yo-yo dieter / wagon jumper diet camp where we diet for a time and then gain it all back as we find we can’t maintain it. Ultimately failing to make the diet a lifestyle change.

I’ve told myself that if I could simply do the change slowly enough I could maintain it. However, now that I’m reading more on health and fitness I’m finding that the calorie range I’m shooting for may be too low. Maintaining my weight while I am eating as much as I am seems to support that. If I could actually get in shape and loose the weight I need to loose at a 2,000 – 2,500 cal/day diet that could be the difference for me between success and another turn on the yo-yo diet.

I feel like I’ve turned my own body into a science experiment. I am strangely excited about watching it’s progress now.

Crunchy Bits:

Week 4 Q4 – January 25 – 31st, 2009
Overall: 70%
Household: 48%
Health & Beauty: 67%
Finance: 86%
Career: 81%
Entertainment: 71%

Running Average
Overall: 80%
Household: 69%
Health & Beauty: 76%
Finance: 85%
Career: 99%
Entertainment: 80%