I had another day of being super hungry yesterday, one that led to eating over 4500 calories. As I discussed in a previous blog, this isn't "binging". I'm not rushing to inhale the food. I'm not craving and caving in to that. I'm not hiding my eating from anyone (here or at work). It's simply eating more food and more often through the day, deciding not to sweat the calorie range.
Now, this has been happening off and on for some months now.
There's also the fact that I've bounced back and forth between a low of 167.5 and a high of 172 since around mid-November. (I hit 172 as my new low in mid-October and first saw 167.5 in early December as the BLC#20 came to a close.)
It's not a plateau, at least not in the traditional sense that I would be expecting it to have continued downward and "done everything right" to make it do so. It is heavily related to my average calorie intake during that period. My average daily calories were around 2500 for the period from when I was just starting to see numbers below 170 until the last day I was doing 7000+ weekly cardio (about two weeks ago). My expected range was in the 1900-2250 realm, so I was definitely exceeding that.
Worse, I'm looking at total amounts recorded some weeks for things like peanut butter or almonds and they are not matching up with the quantity that would be in the full container. I've been under-counting more than a little. (When I'd eat the whole jar / container, it was right. But when I'd just eat it all during the week over 5 days, it wasn't.) Which says I've probably been eating over that 2500 average by another couple hundred.
Yeah, I've been eating at what is really maintenance level ... so I've been maintaining. Good little body.
So it was (past) time to really step back and take a look at things and make a few changes.
I'm a night owl. That's a given. I prefer the night. I am more alert and active in the evenings. Even with regular 8 hour nights, I tend to auto-pilot my way through the first hour or two of the day. I know this and it's not the problem.
The problem is that my routine changed. My previous routine was lights out somewhere between 12 am (midnight) and 1 am meaning I've closed up my laptop, taken care of my teeth, and rolled over to begin seeking genuine sleep. That gave me a consistent 6.5 - 7.5 hours of sleep nightly. Lately I've been up past 2 am more nights than I want to count, and barely managing 6 hours a night. There's even been a couple of nights with 4 or less hours of sleep.
I know better. I know what that does to me.
That little sleep makes me mentally slow down - getting my work done more slowly, spending more time to write the same sorts of responses and blogs, sometimes just sitting and zoning. The more time things take, the less time I seem to have to do everything and the more behind I get. I dislike feeling pressured ... and start adding "fun" things, little addictive games, so I don't feel like I'm all work and no play. Then I stay up even later playing. It's a vicious cycle that doesn't end until I make sleep a priority.
That little sleep also makes me hungry - as a way to replenish the energy that proper rest should be giving me and to replace what the adrenalin push of keeping me going depletes. I feel more awake when I eat better / more. (Not excessive amounts that would put someone to sleep.)
That little sleep makes me less mindful of snack items I'm eating. Anything not already in a single-serving-size portion is probably going to have too much eaten. I've gone through a container of almonds that was probably 15 servings in 5 days and thought I was taking a normal handful each day because I just wasn't mentally all there paying attention.
So sleep is one of the basics I'm already working to put back in order. I've made the plan to not play the game except while waiting on or riding the buses. If I pull it up at night, it's getting deleted off my phone. Simple as that. I'm done with this downward spiral because I'm giving my play more priority than my health and sanity.
4A-HEALTHY-BMI had sent me a SparkMail a few weeks ago when she noticed the calorie ups and down, and there was something I mentioned in my reply but didn't really delve into. I also mentioned it to my OUTLAW team yesterday.
I'm currently at what I would call a comfortable weight. I look in the mirror and am happy with what I see for the most part. I know where I'm thick, I see plenty of excess fat in my torso, but compared to 80 pounds ago ... I'm rocking the slim chart.
There's two weights I remember from around 19 years old. I was 168 pounds when I went in to get my ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery - a test to see where your best skills might be, to select a field) results. I did well enough I could have my pick of services (would have gone Air Force) and vocation. Go to sign up and find out I'm a few pounds over the max to go to Boot Camp. I just needed to lose about 5-10 pounds which would be easy peasy.
Turns out I was almost three weeks pregnant.
I never did join. Instead, I got up to 199 on the day before I had DDb, two weeks late and she weighed in at 8 lbs 15 oz. That dropped me back down pretty darned fast, and I didn't worry about the weight on the scale again. I don't even remember my weights with DS or DDa. They were smaller and I didn't even get near 199.
I do remember being 150 in Sophomore or Junior year of high school when I took Driver's Ed. We had a class on blood alcohol level and when asked for someone who weighed 150, I stood up. (The instructor was explaining how someone lighter would actually have a higher blood alcohol level than expected because there was less blood to mix into.)
So, long story short (too late, not possible from me), I remember being in the 155 to 170 range for my late teens and early 20s. I didn't pass 200 until years later when I made my fateful decision to become invisible.
It's familiar enough. I'm wearing "normal" clothing sizes (M / L depending on cut, that kind of thing). I regularly get compliments on how I look, how much I've lost. In fact, I've had a few people look shocked when I say I have around 15 more to lose. I'm larger-boned (around 7" wrist) and taller than average (5'8") and busty, so I carry it well enough that clothes can let me mask the thicker torso and gut.
Not only that, but health-wise and fitness-wise I'm doing rather well. Those 15 pounds aren't the make or break point between a health problem and total health. I'm continuing to work with weights and build muscle.
What I realized yesterday was that I've got no sense of urgency. I never wanted to make weight my focus. I figured eating right and focusing on fitness would just naturally bring my weight down. (Well, more than figured. During all the time I was deliberately gaining weight, if I started hiking or walking, I lost. If I stopped eating as much, I lost. My body never willingly held onto those pounds - I had to work to maintain and increase them.)
I haven't come up with an optimal solution on this one. I do NOT want to get into a scale number mindset or a particular size goal. But I need to mentally redefine what is the best weight and shape for me. This isn't. It's comfortable, but it's like a ratty T-shirt comfortable. It needs to be replaced.
Minimally, I want to rediscover the waist that is smaller than my ribcage. I think that's a starting point.
It also leads into the next thing.
Weights and cardio.
I do NOT ever want to be the kind of person who spends over an hour doing cardio. I don't consider that effective for the kind of weight loss or body recomposition I'm interested in. My primary goal with cardio is not fat burn. It is CardioVascular Fitness -- my heart and lungs being healthy and fit.
I do want to be the kind of person who has an effective strength training routine. I consider that effective for long-term fitness, not just in terms of pounds on the scale but in terms of how much muscle I lose, maintain, or gain, how strong and durable my bones are, how well my tendons and ligaments support everything around them, reducing chance of injury and pain. To me it is number one in the battle to age gracefully, something that is important to start now at 43 going on 44.
Up until a couple weeks ago, however, I'd been increasing my cardio more and more. I'd gotten to a point where I was tracking 48 minutes of brisk walking (from work and from the gym) and doing 60 minutes or more of cardio every single day of the week, including weight days. Well, I had gotten a clue and dropped my cardio on weight days down to 20 minutes (plus the 48 of walking). My SP calories burned was running 7300 - 7500 toward the end of that.
A couple weeks ago I decided to stop tracking the walks, with the idea I don't get my heart rate up enough for them to "count". I also increased my strength training to 4 days from 3 and dropped my cardio to 10-15 minutes those days. I dropped my fitness tracker's expectations to 3000 a week.
But I was still walking briskly and walking the dog longer and further. I just wasn't tracking it.
Which leads me to the couple of days of "I'm ravenous" overeating. My last couple of strength training sessions have been a bit of a slog, weights I did well before seeming absurdly hard. Then I ate a lot yesterday because I was so hungry and my weight work that night was a breeze. Waking up this morning, I had a lot more energy than I'd had since the weekend.
All of which comes together in some changes I'm making.
My walking is going back in the tracker. However, I will be using my Heart Rate Monitor to get a closer idea of time and calories burned based on real exertion and manually tracking rather than using the generic "Walking (4 mph)" option. The calorie range is based on a sedentary lifestyle plus the recorded activity. That much and that fast walking is NOT sedentary and I need to have it accounted for when deciding the appropriate calorie range to eat in.
I need to stop the wild ups and down with my calories. To do this, I'm temporarily setting my goal as though I'm mostly maintaining (by setting the goal date to a couple years from now). I'm going to figure out how many calories I'll be burning including the walks and set the fitness tracker according. That will give me a "maintenance range".
This first week I'm going to eat to the range point (100 below the top number).
The following week I'm going to eat to the bottom of it to create a deficit of 250 daily (1/2 pound) for the week.
If this (mixed with the above sleeping better and defining what I'm trying to achieve) gets me off the merry-go-round of being ravenously hungry about once a week, then I move to the next step of seeing what my weight did for those two weeks. Food tracking is going to be near meticulous as is fitness tracking. If I gain during both weeks, I'll create a larger deficit. If I lose, I'll stick with the bottom of that range. If I stay flat, I'll move it down another 250.
Oh, and I did forget one item.
One of my concerns a couple weeks ago was that I was filling in all the extra calories I could eat because of my heavy cardio focus with treats. One or two a day would have been no big deal, but when I could easily fit 600 calories worth of empty calories every day and was DOING just that, something wasn't right.
Unfortunately, I went overkill in the opposite direction. I discovered yesterday that I was feeling deprived and resenting the lower calorie range because it felt like I couldn't fit a single treat in.
Not only that, but I missed buying a few things last week when grocery shopping. My food shelves at home and work ... look EMPTY. There's enough to eat, but visually it created a feeling of scarcity. There's not enough food ... so illogic dictates that I need to eat more of what is there.
Really brain? The sleep-addled effect is definitely at work here.
So, part of what's changing up will also be defining what I consider treats and making sure they fit, but don't become excessive.
Last comment: I know this might make my first week or two of BLC#21 a little off in the weight loss department, but ideally this will align me better to move through the entirety of the twelve weeks.