Sunday, February 26, 2012
When I was two pounds from my initial goal weight, I started reading posts on the At Goal and Maintaining Spark Team. I learned that maintenance is hard, and that most people who lose a lot of weight gain it back. I learned that the odds of keeping it off improve if you keep it off longer. I learned that different strategies were key for different successful maintainers. I learned that the consensus among successful maintainers in that team was that maintenance is *not* like losing weight, and requires a different mindset.
I didn't learn an easy way to tell what weight I ought to be. That remains a puzzle. BMI is a nice estimate that tells you where you want to go when you're a long ways away; but it's kind of like saying, "Go to New York!" Okay, now I'm in New York. Precisely where in New York should I be?
The best answer I came up with for what weight I ought to be is a reasonable appearance and feeling energetic and fit. I achieved that in the range of 165 to 167 pounds, 8 to 10 pounds lower than my initial goal of 175. It took me 8 weeks after achieving initial goal to adjust my eating to where I was no longer losing weight. Then I focused on running. First I focused on continuing to run through the winter; later I focused on a half marathon at the end of next April.
Well. Man plans, and God laughs. In the process of learning to listen to my body, one of the learning lessons is my current foot injury. In 20-20 hindsight, this might be a result of failing to listen to my body about the thigh injury before; it's possible that I messed up the foot by running with a gait altered by the bad thigh. Whatever. Now I need to get the foot healed up, and that means no running since February 1.
No running means I'm burning less calories, which in turn means I need to eat less. I learned early on that the SP exercise tracker is useless in terms of quantifying calories burned accurately, so I had to experiment with changing the diet and see what my weight did. That has resulted in 4 adjustments to my calorie range during the month of February. First I cut out 200 calories. After gaining 3 pounds, I cut 400 more. When I hit a new low weight at 162.8, I added back 200 calories.
This morning I hit another new low at 162. In hindsight, I understand this. The foot is slowly getting better, and I'm more active because of that. In addition, I've slipped into the habits and thought processes from losing weight, where I dutifully ate up to the minimum of the calorie range and not much over that.
So today I added back another 100 calories, to force myself to eat just a little more. I'll give it a week and see what happens. I'm confident I can solve the puzzle of making adjustments to what I eat to put my weight into a desired range.
I'm far less confident that I know what that desired range should be. I was nervous the first eight weeks of maintenance when I couldn't seem to stop losing weight. I was more comfortable in later weeks when the weight mostly went sideways, then got nervous again with each new 30 year low weight.
Now, I don't know. It's counter-intuitive that I should lose fat while I'm resting from my major physical exercise to let the foot heal. But the mirror seems to show me a little bit less of the small roll of belly fat that I still have, and I'm fitting into 32" waist jeans now, when 33" was comfortable at the start of maintenance.
Oh, well. I see a future where I will always have to track what I eat. I see a future where I will be making adjustments to how much I eat based on what my weight does. I see a future where I continue to weigh myself each morning, a fasting dehydrated weight that will be as consistent from one day to the next as practical. My crystal ball is too cloudy to let me read the weight on that future scale. And my 20-20 hindsight tells me that my high school weight isn't really comparable to what I weigh now, because I didn't have a standard for how to weigh back then. The weights I remember from my teens and early 20s are probably weights in clothing, and heavier than what I would weigh with my standard now.
Maybe my high school weight was more equivalent to what 160 would be now? I don't know. I just have to muddle through until I figure out what my true ideal weight should be. And maybe my ideal weight will change depending on whether I'm running or not? I just don't know.
Maintenance is a puzzle. I have some parts of it solved, and just have to trust that the rest will fall into place when I need it to.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Yesterday morning my internet connection was slow. I didn't think anything of it till I got a call at work from my daughter. She was at my house doing her laundry, and the internet wasn't working. She took the liberty of calling my ISP for tech support, and learned that they needed to make an appointment to send a tech out.
Got home yesterday, and found the earliest available tech appointment was for the 2PM to 4PM window today. Um, that's over a full day without internet.
In 1996 when I first got internet service, it was a toy. It was very entertaining, but most of what I used a computer for was local. Now, I need connectivity to do the SparkPeople thing. Other stuff too, but SP is what cramps my style soonest.
I had to finish my Friday eating without being able to look at the Nutrition Tracker. I had seen the tracker results at the office at quitting time, and I knew roughly how many more calories I needed; but I couldn't remember for sure how much more protein I needed. And of course I couldn't remember the exact macronutrients on the stuff I normally eat in the evening; the tracker figures that stuff for me!
So I stuck to fairly normal stuff, and wrote down what I ate on paper. I added calories to the best of my ability to remember or estimate them, and hoped for the best. Then I planned out my Saturday breakfast and lunch to be very standard stuff that I've done a lot of times. Best I could do.
The internet came back briefly (and slowly) this morning, and I learned I ended Friday 40 calories above bottom of range, and in range for all the macronutrients. That was a relief, even though I knew I'd be close and one day wouldn't make or break things. Went to my volunteer job doing tax prep, and only gave them about an hour and a half. Fortunately, there were enough volunteers that the site could afford to let me slack off today.
The tech arrived around 3 PM. It was interesting how the drill was different than it had been in 2002 when I had the service installed. Standards have changed. New connectors were put on the coax, a new tap and ground was installed, and my modem was swapped out. New modem didn't work. Swapped for another one.
The internet came back, and it's faster than it's been in quite a while. Apparently my former cable modem had been slowly dying for months and months. The good news is that there's nothing wrong with my router.
All is right with the world again. I can read blogs, I can post a blog, and I can track food. But maybe I shouldn't do as much of the reading and posting as I did; I seem to have been awfully productive with household chores this morning when I had no connectivity.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
This morning's snow has mostly melted. Tonight we're supposed to get more wet heavy snow, which has a chance of melting during the day tomorrow. I'll see how much is in the driveway tomorrow morning, and make a judgment call on clearing it. Chances are I will. This time next month, if my car will drive over fresh snow I won't bother shoveling it. But snow in February could last a few weeks.
I'm on track with SP, but it feels like treading water. Today I had to make an effort to eat up to the minimum of my calorie range. But I'm pretty sure I need to do that to maintain my weight. It reminded me a bit of the weight loss phase and early maintenance, when I frequently had to eat late to get in required calories. I can do this.
The foot continues to improve, very slowly. It didn't bother me while shoveling snow this morning, and I found myself walking at an almost normal pace at times today. It's still not right, but I notice this more from my altered gait than from direct pain in the foot now. Perhaps I could have gone for an intentional walk today, but I didn't. I want the foot to get enough better to run on, and it's clearly not there yet.
So I'm kind of marking time on the fitness front, resting the foot to the extent practical, and waiting till I can use it normally again. Meanwhile, pushups on the ball have progressed from 3 sets of 25 to 3 sets of 35 while the steel cut oats simmer. When the foot is good enough to do standard pushups, I'll have to test to see how many I can do.
And now I need to be to bed early. Sleep is important, and my body is telling me I shortchanged it in that department last night.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
The bad foot is getting better, slowly. Today it felt good enough in the morning without tape or shoes that I went to work without taping it. That turned out to be premature, but I had the foresight to have athletic tape with me just in case.
During the day, I found myself occasionally walking at an almost normal pace. Sometimes I didn't notice the foot hurting at all. Of course, at other times it was obvious and I had to be slower than normal; but being able to walk normally at all is progress.
There is still no question of trying to run on the bad foot. Three paces of testing are enough to make that obvious.
SparkPeople doesn't have much in the way of specific advice on how to deal with injuries, but I'm finding that some of the lessons from SP are helpful.
First, patience. Weight loss is supposed to be a long, slow process requiring ongoing effort in the face of not always making progress. I really didn't face that during my weight loss phase, but I'm facing it with the injury. I want it to be all better, right now! But that isn't reality. I need to keep doing the stuff that lets it heal, and trust that healing will happen.
One of the things that I need to do to let it heal is avoid aggravating the injury. That means no running, and limited walking. Here's a second lesson from SP, use a pedometer. In weight loss mode, I wanted to get 10K steps every day. In injured foot mode, that's too many. I've been getting 5K to 8K steps most days. Progress is better when I get fewer steps; but fewer than 5K is only going to happen on Sundays. This requires yet more patience.
Another thing I need to do is get enough rest. Here's a third lesson from SP, get enough sleep. That means enforcing a strict bedtime, and trying to get to bed even earlier when I need more sleep. That's a hard thing for a natural evening person to do, but it's easier than arranging to be able to sleep later in the morning. And progress is better when I get 9 hours of sleep than when I get 8.
Yet another SP lesson is, listen to my body. The fact that I *can* sleep for 9 hours tells me my body has healing to do. When I'm healthy and generally well rested, I can't sleep that longer than about 8 hours.
And of course, there's the obvious SP lesson: Control what I eat, and monitor what my weight does. That turns out to be one of the easier things to deal with. Right now my nutrition range is 400 calories per day lower than it was when I was running 4 days a week. That seems to be the right level to maintain, right now; but I know I will need to adjust that as things change. I hope the next change is an upward adjustment because I become more active; I fear the next change will be a downward adjustment because I rested so much I became less ft. But whichever way it shakes out, I'll deal with it.
Meanwhile, I've found that I can work up a light sweat in 15 minutes doing stuff that doesn't bother the foot, while I wait for steel cut oats to simmer in the morning. There's a bunch of small SP lessons in that - patience to cook steel cut oats, desire to be active, adapting to different exercises such as pushups on the ball, and small regular quantities of exercise being better than sitting on my butt feeling sorry for myself.
I will run again. It's not yet clear when, but it's going to happen. For right now, the plan is to do what I can to make the time when I can run happen sooner. Psychologically, this is not unlike losing weight; I need to do the routine things daily, and trust that the results will follow.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Since injuring the foot, I've adjusted my calorie range 3 times. First, I moved it down a little. Then I gained 3 pounds rather quickly, so I moved the range down a chunk. I lost back the 3 pounds, plus some; so I nudged the range up.
Upon reflection, what ought to happen is that as the foot slowly, every so slowly gets better I should be burning more calories. This mostly won't be in the form of exercise identified to the SP tracker, but in the form of walking more because it hurts less. That will probably create a need to adjust my calorie range repeatedly over the course of the year.
If and when I can get back to running 4 days a week, it should go back up to where it came from. If training for a half marathon (which sounds like fantasy land right now) ends up getting me to run more than I was running, I might even have a higher calorie range than where I was.
This is not what I envisioned when I achieved my initial goal weight. I envisioned figuring out how many calories I needed to eat to maintain, then settling down to eat that many. I envisioned eventually getting a feel for how much food that is and being able to stop tracking.
That's not going to happen. Real life is that how many calories I burn will change over time as I change what I do. Even without a foot injury, it was inevitable that there would be times I'd run more or run less, by enough to affect how much I need to eat to maintain weight.
So I come back to the very first thing I learned from SparkPeople: Track. Everything. I. Eat. I need to do this, because if I don't know what I'm eating I can't tell how to make changes when the weight moves somewhere it shouldn't.
Yeah, I understand that the theory is to learn natural hunger signals, eat when you're hungry, and let your body tell you when to stop. My body isn't very good at that, or I'm not very good at listening. I am less hungry now on less food than I was when I was running; but the reduction in hunger lagged the need to reduce what I eat. So my personal answer is, I need to track everything and control calories, carbs, fat, and protein. So far, I haven't felt the need to track anything else, such as sodium or fiber; but if the day comes when I need to do that, at least it will fit into the system I use.
This may be a major reason why maintenance is so hard. It's not like parking a car in the garage; it's more like trying to keep a boat in one spot in the middle of a lake with variable currents and winds. It can be done, but it requires me to pay attention and make adjustments in response to changing circumstances.
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