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Losing Weight is Like Learning to Drive a Stick

Friday, August 30, 2013

Today's Coaching session addressed the idea that each of us is an experiment of one.
Isn't THAT the truth! What works for you may not work for me, and vice versa, so you can't rely on what worked for your friends and family members. You have to experiment with your own self. Experiments are fun, so I experiment with my own program a lot. I'm putting on my lab coat now, to review and re-evaluate what I've been doing the last 6 weeks.

My weight loss progress reminds of a kid learning to drive a stick shift for the first time. You zoom forward for a few seconds, then stop abruptly while he jams it into second, then zoom again, only to get whiplash when he stalls the car. And some days he rides the clutch, so you make progress forward, but only very slowly and you think to yourself, "I could walk this fast." Eventually he learns to settle into a nice, consistently forward pace, and the ride smooths out.

I've made consistent upward (or should I say downward - lol) strides with weight loss, and my fitness continues to improve, but "the numbers" haven't progressed in an arithmetical or linear fashion. I'll lose a pound a week for about 3 weeks, then I'll spend 3 weeks at a plateau, only to lose 2 pounds the next week, and another 2 the following week until I go back to the pound-a-week loss. It's a quasi-regular structure, I guess, so I don't get too upset now when I hit those plateau weeks.

One thing that was working for me for the first 15 pounds was maintaining a 500-calorie per day differential between what I ate and what I burned. (Or actually a 3500-weekly differential, based on the idea that 3500 calories burned equaled a pound lost.) I was very careful to either eat less or work out more to make up that differential. It worked for several months, but I was also getting VERY tired, and sometimes I was pretty hungry. Of course, those calorie numbers are just estimates, but FOR ME, in my experiment of ONE, they were "close enough."

Getting a 500-calorie differential is REALLY DIFFICULT! I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who lives a normal life and doesn't have time to do a 2-hour workout every day. I was doing a LOT of exercise (I was always hungry from dancing, so I'd eat a lot of chicken or fruit, which would put me over the calorie count I wanted, so I'd do more exercise, but then get hungry, so I'd eat a lot of chicken ... etc.) I complained about some of the aches and pains from "overtraining" in my blog, so I had to ramp back the cardio and cut back on the food intake instead. But then I was hungry again, and sometimes that led to me not putting in the energy to my dance practice, which was affecting me professionally.

I am really afraid to give up my goal of the 500-calorie differential because basically it has worked for me all this time and I was still losing weight. It scares me now to think of experimenting again because I've gotten so used to seeing the scale numbers declining on their quasi-regular basis. But starting September 1st, I'm going to change my fitness a little, for about 6-8 weeks in the early fall.

Here's the new experiment: I'm going to run 3 or 4 days, and bicycle the other 3 or 4 days. My mom has agreed to loan me her 10-speed, so I can bike outside on nice days and inside on the stationery on rainy days or days when I can't leave. My goal for running is 4 miles twice a week, with a long run on the weekend. For bicycling, I'm going to aim for about 30 minutes each session. That way I can get a slightly longer strength training routine in on bike days. I'm loving how my body feels after yoga, so I'm keeping that 15-20 minutes every night, or after my running. That should leave me plenty of time for dancing and class. And life.

After a couple of weeks, I'll have an approximate weekly calorie burn that I can plug into Spark. Hopefully this will allow the tracker to give me a better calorie needs estimate.

I'm also going to continue eating in the high end of my calories for a while. I need it. I'm also sticking with a high-protein and low-ish carb diet, only really because I feel SO MUCH MORE ENERGIZED when I have a belly full of meat rather than bread. Plus bread is a trigger food for me to overeat. I made crescent rolls yesterday for the baby and ended up eating 4 of them because they were so yummy! Bread is like my dessert. I can eat a tiny slice of cake, or a tablespoon of ice cream and be happy, but with bread, I want the whole loaf! It's a study in self-control when, on the full moons when I make homemade bread, I don't immediately eat the whole thing. Go me! LOL!


By the way, here is (sort of) what I'm working on for the October show. (This is the original recording -- I'm using an all instrumental version) My part starts at about 5 minutes, and continues into the next clip. I am SOOOOO in love with this song!!!!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    emoticon emoticon
    1659 days ago
    Great post! Thanks for sharing. Lots of good thoughts to ponder.

    Training for my half. Not losing very much weight, but my endurance is increasing exponentially. Really trying to be at peace through the plateaus.
    1662 days ago
    We all do experiments. Hopefully yours will work out for you - keep us posted. I can only lose weight when I stop exercising. Once I start to exercise I gain weight. I'm trying an experiment to increase my calories to lose more weight. I can really burn calories one my runs this week was 12 miles long. I need to incresase my long run distance this week.
    1663 days ago
  • DANGEL117
    Your Very Right that different things work for different people. Your plan Sounds Great! Love The Music!!!
    1664 days ago
    1664 days ago
    emoticon Very Well Said!! Driving A Stick IS Hard -- I've Done it!! But just like with Healthy Living, the Benefits and Accomplishment you feel when you Succeed -- FINALLY!! -- is Worth the Hard Work!!
    1664 days ago
    Great analogy! The ups and downs of the process affect us all at times. It never hurts to be reminded to keep us from despair. Keep on dancing! Great song!
    1664 days ago
    Wow! Loved how you associated driving stick to weight loss since I have totally tried unsuccessfully to drive it. As for the carbs, I should try to decrease my amounts too because I am JUST like that! love homemade fresh bread, buns, etc! Great blog!
    1664 days ago
    Nice song! I miss bellydance (even though I was terrible at it.)
    1664 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

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