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What Worked This Week

Friday, April 05, 2013

I haven't started the "New Rules" program yet, but so far I'm digging the philosophy. Just reading the intro paragraphs of "New Rules of Lifting for Life" hit salient points for me:

- "The math and physiology appear simple only if you refuse to acknowledge complexity. There are too many individual metabolic variations, and they're too poorly understood. Then, when you look at weight loss from the behavioral side, you see an equally complex set of variables."

- "People do manage to lose weight and keep it off. I know some of them, and I've probably corresponded with hundreds. Their secret? They figured out how they gained weight, and did the opposite until they lost it."

- "I don't think a diet or training program produces weight loss, any more than a hammer produces a house. It's the person. The best workout or nutrition plan in the world won't work unless it's used by someone who's ready to reorganize his or her life around the goal of losing weight. Even then, it's almost never simple or straightforward."

Hello! This is EXACTLY my experience. This is how I lost weight and maintained it to date. Everything I did to become fat, I reversed. It wasn't fast and easy, and it took me a long time to realize some of my problems were problems.

But that is weight loss. Can this book take me to the next stage of body sculpting? That remains to be seen.

This morning I weighed myself, and I am 2lbs down. Once again, calorie in minus calorie out math does not work for me. The amount of calories I ate and expended had nothing to do with the amount of weight I lost. I didn't measure my bodyfat or collect my measurements, though - I'll do that tomorrow.

I calculate my basal metabolic rate differently than the Spark tracker. Muscle is metabolically active, and fat is completely inert, so I base it on a formula that takes lean mass into account. I won't bore you with the math, but if you are interested in doing this yourself, the formula is in the wikipedia entry for BMR.

According to this calculation, I burn approximately 1300 calories at rest. I then tack on any exercise calories burned. This usually puts me around 1500-1600. I've been tracking my food, but I'm not necessarily focused on calories. On days when I worked out, I was hungrier and I ate more. I ate about 1800 calories on those days. On "rest" days, I was less hungry, and ate about 1400-1500 calories.

If it were as simple as calorie in versus calorie out, I should have maintained or gained weight. This didn't happen. I lost 2lbs, but I ate more than I theoretically burned.

How did that happen? What's the secret? Am I genetic anomaly?

No, not at all. Weight loss doesn't fit into a neat little formula, unfortunately.

Here's what I think happened:

- Strength training workout. I get the feeling that some of you don't really believe I'm pushing hard on the strength training. Yes, little 3lb weights DID in fact cause my arms to burn! However, they no longer burn, so I am a little less pathetic than before, but now I'm grunting on 5lb weights.

Activities that cause muscle fatigue induce extra calorie burn for a few days because your body needs lots of calories to repair it. Hence, why I was crazy hungry. This 'afterburn' will not be recorded in an exercise tracker. The articles I've read say that it requires more calories to build muscle than will actually be used in the final result. Say that a pound of muscle is equal to 1,800 calories. It requires 3,600 calories to BUILD it. This is why low calorie diets do not build muscle.

But you can't simply eat more calories. They have to be good quality calories, or the excess will become fat. You can't build it in a day, either.

- I didn't do strenuous activity every day. I had a couple of lazy days when I did nothing, and a few more low intensity activities just walking around the neighborhood. The day after rest day was when I noticed improvements, if any, that I made from the prior workout.

- Clean eating. I earned a freaking halo this week. I didn't eat any Easter candy or fast food. On days when I ran short on time to cook, I didn't go to the fast food window; I bought rotisserie chickens from the supermarket.

I have a few advantages in this department. I'm not working in an office and I don't have kids, so there was not any candy bowl temptation. There weren't any Cadbury eggs in my line of sight. I love those things.

- No grains. Not trying to stir up a debate about this, but if you want to know what works for me, this is one of them. Your results and choices may vary.

- I am normal weight. I find it easier to tweak my response at a normal weight rather than obese weight. Probably because I cleaned up a lot of my metabolic problems on the way down.

If I were to pin my finger on things that worked out for me this week, I would say food is the biggest factor.

"You can eat your way out of any exercise." ~Jillian Michaels
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Really agree with all those points!

    I used to smoke and I'm finding that getting control over my nutritional habits is really a lot like quitting. There's a physical addiction that has to be conquered straight out of the gate, but there are layers and layers of habit to be picked apart over a fairly long period of time.

    It is not about sheer willpower, not over time at least. At first it might be - you just grit your teeth, slap on your patch, and agree to be miserable for a little while. But that actually passes pretty quickly, kind of like carb cravings for carb addicts. Those first few weeks are seriously rough. But conquering the habits and associations of (in my case) 22 years is not an overnight proposition. The weight has been on since I was about 27, so I'm looking at changing the habits of 28 years here.

    It's just like how you would eat an elephant. One bite at a time.
    1779 days ago
    Nice post, glad to hear you're finding the new book motivating....in the end, motivation is what energizes us to action.

    I had a long discussion on nutrition, ST, and cardio with trainer guy and a 20-something muscle head at the gym tonight....I'm going to digest it (so to speak) and put down some thoughts in a blog this weekend.
    1779 days ago
    "People do manage to lose weight and keep it off. I know some of them, and I've probably corresponded with hundreds. Their secret? They figured out how they gained weight, and did the opposite until they lost it."

    Love this! I think you just inspired my next blog, thanks!
    1779 days ago
    I'm excited for you! :)

    And hey, 3 lbs may not seem like much - but it is a start, and you will gain muscle at a very fast rate at first. I'm weak. And every time I go to the gym, I'm increasing my weight on some exercise. Every time.
    1779 days ago
    That's the crux of the "The math and physiology appear simple only if you refuse to acknowledge complexity" aspect of this. When we eat low calorie for a long time (as I did), our bodies will lower BMR to match our food intake. Eat 1200 calories long enough, and eventually we'll start maintaining at 1200 calories, even though we still have fat to lose. The low-cal diet screwed up my metabolism something fierce, and eating more food was the cure. That is was part of the problem that I wasn't aware of.
    1779 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/5/2013 5:19:06 PM
    I've always heard diet is the bigger make or break part of the equation. I looked up that LBM BMR calculation...pretty interesting. It is odd how it does come down to calories in/calories out, but it's hardest to calculate what exactly calories out means for each of us. I use the SP BMR calculation and based on my intake/deficit, I calculated a 3 pound loss for the month. It ended up being more like 3.6. So that formula seems to be the best fit for me. I think we all have to do the research, be willing to go through some trial/error, and just be patient to figure out what works best for us.

    It sounds like you have had a really awesome week. I'm excited you are already seeing some gains from your ST! I bet you'll start moving up through the weights faster than you think!
    1779 days ago
  • A*L*P*
    Food is totally it. I love that quote. NOt a big Jillian fan, but that quote is very true. Of course I am struggling but dang, it is not due to lack of effort. I work out hard, I eat good. I am struggling with internal stuff more than anything now.

    I am working on the grain thing. I am not going completely off grains, but focusing on the better kinds like quinoa and brown rice and limiting bread. Funny thing is that I am not really missing bread that much. I do think that there is something to grain. Getting carbs from better sources versus grains and bread makes sense.

    Let me know how you like the NRoL for Life. I am loving the program so far!!!!!
    1779 days ago
    Jillian is a wise woman.
    1779 days ago
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