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BLC: A Change of Plans

Thursday, January 24, 2013

So what do you do when what you’re doing doesn’t work? You change things up.

I joined the current BLC in an effort to lose the last stubborn 15 pounds that I’ve gained back. The first week I tracked every morsel of food that went into my mouth, stayed within ranges for the ENTIRE week, got in three good hard swims, and gained a pound.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. Why? What am I doing wrong?

This is my current food plan:
Calorie range: 1200-1700
Fat range: around 40 – 45%
Carb range: around 20 – 25%
Protein range: around 30 – 40%

Three to four good hard swims per week, minimum 2,500 yards (which takes a little less than an hour), average about 3,000 yards, with a goal to hit 4,500 yards at least once during this challenge. This should take, I’m estimating, about 100 minutes.

I also stay away from sugar and starch, which are deadly. I do eat some processed food, but not a lot. Salad dressings and so forth, drink mixes, things like that. My top choices are fresh meat, veggies and fruit. I don’t eat a lot of bread or other grains, and I eat almost no dairy. This is a really good food plan for me, that works really well, that I’ve formulated over years of experimenting. It even allows me to have the occasional sinful snack or side dish, or even a beer now and again.

So what’s the problem?

My first year on Spark resulted in a 40-plus pound weight loss without a single lick of exercise. I joined in March 2009 at 187.5, started law school in August at around 158, and by March 2010, I was down to 140.5. I fluctuated a bit after that and ended my first year of law school in May 2010 at 143.5. I was working full time during the day and attending classes three nights a week. The nights I wasn't in class, I was studying, and I studied all day every weekend also. It was major stress and really put my time management skills to the test. But I was focused and determined.

I worked close enough to home that I could eat breakfast in the morning, get to work before 8 am, come home for lunch, pack a dinner to take with me, go back to work, leave work at 5 pm to go to class, and eat dinner in the car. I always packed a little bag of nuts or berries for a snack during classes, and I always kept a water bottle handy. I kept a box of drink mix sticks on my desk, and another in my bookbag.

By the time second year started I was over it. In August, just before school started, I got laid off from my job, then in February we had some family health issues that added to the stress. I did start working out, mostly walking and biking, with a little strength training thrown in. Somewhere in there, I started swimming again. But I stopped paying attention to what I was eating and I slacked off on the tracking. I lost my focus and I've never really been able to get it back. That's the primary reason why I signed up for this BLC, in the hope that I would gain back some of that focus.

At the end of December, I set some goals, two of which were to lose the excess 15 pounds and work out more. There were others, but those two are the important ones for purposes of this blog. I put in motion a plan to swim more, with more yardage. And I’ve been doing that. But the weight isn’t coming off. In fact, I’m gaining. It’s frustrating.

Because I’ve increased the workout intensity, it's been pointed out to me multiple times by multiple people that I might need to actually increase my calorie intake. I’ve found just a slight problem with that. Well, two problems.

First of all, it results in way too much food. Most days I stay between 1500 and 1600 calories. Eating 1800 calories a day, about 100 over my high range, makes me FULL. Eating 2000 makes me stuffed beyond comfortable, no matter how hard I worked out that day. I just can't eat that much. If I do, I risk making myself sick. Telling you how it makes me feel would be TMI.

The other problem is that every time I've tried it, I've gained weight. Like, pounds and pounds of weight, which then takes forever to get back off. It doesn’t seem to matter where the extra calories come from. I’ve tried lowering the fat and raising the carbs and/or protein, and I’ve tried the opposite. I’ve tried every combination known to man of fat/carb/protein, and it just doesn’t matter. I ALWAYS gain weight.

Not acceptable.

So now I’m looking back at where I was the most successful. And that was that first year with proper eating and tracking and no exercise.

The problem with that is that I have grown to LIKE my workouts. I LOVE swimming. Adore it. I’d cry if I had to give it up. I like the muscle tone I’ve achieved, I sleep better, I breathe better, my skin is better, I haven’t been sick in ages. I just feel healthier overall. But I keep gaining weight. Or at least not losing it.

So here’s what I’ve decided to do:
1. Keep my food ranges the same. No change.
2. Instead of swimming hard core 3 – 4 times per week, I’m going to swim twice, with less yardage. Instead of working on endurance, I’m going to work on skills. I’ll average between 2,000 and 2,500 yards per swim instead of 3,000 and up.
3. Add in two days of walking, which hopefully I can turn into running. At one time I could run a mile in 11 minutes. I’d like to get back to that, slowly.
4. Add in one day of biking, as long as the temperatures are above 30 degrees and there’s nothing falling out of the sky.
5. I’ll also do ST once a week, but only because this BLC requires it. I really don’t like ST and I may not keep it up after this challenge is over. There are a couple of simple ST routines I can do at home using my own body weight. Or, if I decide I can’t stand the ST, I may try a beginner’s yoga DVD from the library.

Biking, walking/running, and ST/yoga don’t have the same calorie burn as swimming. But they are equally beneficial, I like them (at least the biking and walking; I’ve never tried yoga), and they work different muscle groups. Hopefully with a little less intensity and no change to the food plan, the weight will start to come off.

If not, well, it’ll be back to the drawing board yet again.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Well mate the first half is my life story too!! I am about to write my post so now I'll just say see Lauries!!

    I have joined the uni gym cos its free this year. I am gonna lift heavy weights and bike to classes and eat in ranges. That is my super plan!

    I too lost weight in the first year and have never really achieved that focus again so going back to what I did then was walk to and from school and grocery store (up hills and steps) and eat in ranges.
    We can do it!!
    1749 days ago
  • JO88BAKO
    That's a great plan! Glad you are an Outlaw!! Have a great weekend. emoticon
    1755 days ago
    Laurie - if you can afford a trainer even just for a month of 1 or 2x week ST I found that was the best investment I ever made to give me the skills, the safety and the desire to do those exercises. I love them now but it took that kind of help to get me there.

    Good luck!
    1755 days ago
  • PSMITH3841
    I think changing up your work out is a good idea, the body get accustomed to the routine and is "bored"with the standard muscle usage. By changing it up, the muscles get "surprised" and have to work harder to accommodate the change. You probably will be able to get away with minimal ST, since you swim and that works all of your major muscle groups and then some! I bet this new regimen will work! emoticon
    1756 days ago
    PAMATX may have hit on something there. Maybe you're toning up. If you're not tracking measurements Spark has a handy measurement and conditioning page off your home page. I've been the same weight for almost two years but my body fat keeps dropping.
    1756 days ago
  • CHARLIE215
    If you don't like ST, you could try something like Jillian Michael's 30 day shred which is more of a circuit training workout
    1756 days ago
    Great analysis.i like to analyze how things are going too. Sometimes I think that st has been helpful in losing weight for me. Who know m.b. you will find that too.
    Good luck.

    I am in blc too. Which team are you on? Some of those challenges are too much. I do what I can, but it is probably good to try different things.

    Btw I am in the panthers team.

    1757 days ago
    How do your clothes fit? Have you measured? I'm just wondering if it's muscle gain. Glad you're not giving up exercise. I'd have a lot to say about that! I also agree that increasing calories probably isn't the answer. I think your plan is a good one. But of course, you're pretty clever!

    emoticon emoticon
    1757 days ago
  • BILL60
    Great plan!! I would, however, differ with you on the calorie burn regarding swimming. Biking and running (provided the intensity is similar) burn more calories than swimming. Hang tough and keep the faith.
    1757 days ago
  • JMOUSE99
    Patience and persistence. I get sick of hearing this too! emoticon

    Calorie dense foods like nuts bring my calorie intake up easily. If you want to try more calories this may be the way to go without getting too full.
    1758 days ago
    I think you are smart not to buy into the "you need to eat more calories." And getting lots of different kinds of exercise is not only less likely to be boring but just gives us a more functional body. Great plan.
    1758 days ago
    I would up the ST training and lift heavy, not a lot. http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/tr
    aining/the-5x5-program.html (copy and paste this in your browser)

    I know you hate ST which is why I think this one might work for you. It's killer, but fast. You do it and you're done. Every time I've hit a plateau I do this and include Udo's oil or some such blend and it's worked for me.
    1758 days ago
    Your plans all sound good - all you need now is patience! Weight fluctuates easily by 3lb up and down depending on hydration, so don't worry about "gaining" a pound here and there - chances are you haven't. How about another non-scale measure, like using a tape for tummy/arm/thigh measurements? It's much less stressful than weighing, particularly if you're exercising and swapping fat for muscle. Muscle weighs more...

    1758 days ago
  • PJ2222
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1758 days ago
    I hear ya! It's harder this time around....let me know if your new plan works...
    1758 days ago
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