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ANARIE Posts: 13,192
10/26/13 1:23 A

I'm a little confused. Are you still trying to lose? At 5'2" and doing serious weight training, I should think 120 would be pretty much the right weight.

I don't have a scientific answer, but I can tell you that I had the same experience. When I was below 20% body fat, I had to carry a protein bar in my purse because I would run out of fuel completely-- to the point where if I was out shopping, I couldn't safely drive myself home. That doesn't happen when I'm a little heavier-- I can miss a meal and be fine.

One of my close friends in college was a woman who was just naturally tiny, but muscular. She weighed about 20 pounds more than anyone believed, but it was all muscle, not a gram of excess fat. And everyone who knew her knew that you had to always be prepared to get food for her if she started to get hungry. Road trips came to a screeching halt if she ever said, "It's past lunch time." She was a calm, pleasant person who turned into a gremlin if she missed a snack.

So what Russell said about not having reserves makes total sense to me. Your body knows when you need fuel.

BREWMASTERBILL SparkPoints: (31,088)
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10/25/13 12:16 P

Let's just say that hunger is an extremely complex system that is not well understood. I think we're really just starting to identify the players. Leptin and Ghrelin are two hormones that have been getting attention recently. Leptin inhibits appetite and is stored in fat cells. There are some theories that the fatter you are, the less leptin you have, therefore hunger is increased. This could account for some of what you're experiencing. You're leaning out, but staying the weight as opposed to your pre-lifting days.

When you have a lot of time and your attention span is long, google leptin and ghrelin.

JENNILACEY SparkPoints: (81,972)
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10/25/13 11:44 A

And Russell, I think you're right and it is that simple. It's probably a combination of putting too much physical demand on my body, while on too large of a calorie deficit for being at a healthy weight, with little back up fuel from fat stores.

I think I'm going to cut my training back to 3 days a week, ease off on the cardio a bit and eat more. I have been experiencing symptoms of overtraining these last few weeks, sore all the time and taking longer to recover.

Edited by: JENNILACEY at: 10/25/2013 (11:47)
JENNILACEY SparkPoints: (81,972)
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10/25/13 11:05 A

Icedmeter- That's actually a fab idea. Especially since we're getting into the fall/winter months, my favourite time of year to cook. I haven't been experimenting near as much in the summer because I just tend to be more busy. Blogging about my cooking exploits would be a great hobby to pick up in those stir crazy colder months. Thanks for the idea!

RUSSELL_40 Posts: 16,826
10/24/13 7:48 P

Yes. patience. Losing 2 lbs a month may seem very slow, but most people overall do not lose 24 lbs in any year. Stick to the 1800 calories, instead of he 1600 where you feel hungry, and be happy with 1-1.5 every 25 days. Even at 1.25 every 25 days, that is 18.25 a year. You will hit goal weight eventually, and aren't overweight enough that it could cause diabetes, or heart problems, so now you are able to be patient, and work on it for cosmetic reasons, not concern for health so much. You'll continue to get healthier, but it isn't a danger anymore, so just relax, and have some nice steady, slower weight loss, and coast into goal weight.

ICEDEMETER Posts: 1,332
10/24/13 7:08 P

You just hit on what might be the most difficult thing: patience!

I wouldn't be surprised if the muscles that showed up during weight-loss and doing the Shred weren't already there, and just became more efficient - and more obvious because of the fat loss. I'd bet that you were pretty strong and active for most of your life, so you'd have had a good set of muscles in there to start with.

It can be really tough to put away the scales (both the food scale and the body scale) and trust that you really DO know what you're doing! That you're taking a tracking break is a good thing, and I think you'll find that your body will catch up with you over a few months. Just try not to panic too soon!

Strong thoughts to you (and I'll be bugging you for your review on the 5-3-1 in about 6 months or so when I can get back to lifting)! Oh - and please at least blog about any great recipes that you find, even if you're not tracking them (you find some of the best food ideas....)

JENNILACEY SparkPoints: (81,972)
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10/24/13 6:21 P

I am a bit of an oddball, I guess. I found it very easy to increase strength and muscle even while on a 1400 cal intake. In fact, the majority of my gains were made while on a calorie deficit and while losing 1-1.5 lbs/week. I even became pretty muscular while I was doing the 30 Day shred and lifting 5-15 lbs weights! Maybe I'm some sort of a genetic freak? lol I was actually wondering the same thing; if it has anything to do with gaining muscle while on a deficit. Not sure how that works either.

My stomach has been flattening out quite a bit these last few months and is only 1/4 larger than it was at my lowest weight of 107 lbs. I went up to 27 inches when I gained back 15 lbs after reaching my original goal weight but now I've been maintaining 120 lbs and have been dropping inches, down to 26 1/4 inches as of recently. My stomach also looks flatter than it was at 107 lbs and 26 inches. I did gain inches in my chest and hips but I wanted that! I had shrunk in those areas far more than I wanted to.

At 107 lbs I was 33-26-33
At 120 lbs I'm 35-26.25-35 and my bottom sure hasn't gotten fatter, it's grown more firm and I lost the sag.

That's why I'm guessing I had a fair bit of muscle gain/fat loss during that gain and now while maintaining. Yes, part of it has got to be loose skin... it's saggy and wrinkly. I'm guessing any fat I'm still carrying there will sort itself out over the next year of lifting even if I do eat at maintenance and I'm not losing weight. Part of me just wants it *now*. haha but patience will persevere. The loose skin I may just have to learn to accept. I just don't want a little pot belly poking through my clothing but I am starting to lose that even though the progress may be slower than I'd like.

I have had it up to here with the calorie counting, sigh. I'm actually on a vacation from tracking right now (for the last 2 weeks) and just roughly estimating calories. I haven't been weighing myself near as often either. I think you might be right. Perhaps it's time to put away the scale entirely, just go by body measurements and eat when I'm hungry. Maybe that will undo any metabolic damage I've done in the last year of being on a deficit. Even if I do gain a little more than I want during the Fall/Winter, who cares? I'll just cut in the Spring and hopefully have raised my metabolism back up again and it will be easier. I won't use it as a free-for-all but treat it as a learning experience in intuitive eating.

Edited by: JENNILACEY at: 10/24/2013 (18:42)
ICEDEMETER Posts: 1,332
10/24/13 5:50 P

You know, I have to wonder if the apparently slow weight loss is because your body actually is building muscle, even with you eating at a deficit. You are continuously increasing your lifts, and the only way you can be doing that is if the muscle is increasing. Yeah, ok, your existing muscles can get more efficient, as well, but with the increases you are doing I'd doubt that could explain it.

I also kind of wonder if the belly isn't left-over skin from the pregnancies, and might either take a few years to shrink back, or might just be permanent.

I'd want to talk it over with a sports dietitian, but what would you think about trying an experiment for a few months? If your body has gotten so incredibly efficient, then maybe a few months eating over your maintenance calories, but in muscle-building range might be a good thing. It would mean tolerating adding a few pounds, of muscle and not fat, but should leave you the same size or smaller, and might get your metabolism working at the level that your muscle mass indicates that it should.

I never lifted while eating at a deficit, so never checked in to the implications of that. It may be that you've got a bit of a battle between the higher efficiency / lower metabolism of weight loss and the higher metabolism of increased muscles --- and it may take a few months of eating at or above maintenance for your body to figure out that it's safe to lose the efficiency again.

It's a tough call to make, which is why a chat with someone educated in this area would be a great idea.

Oh - and I'd hardly call your life sedentary! Busy Mom is NOT a sedentary lifestyle!

Honestly, I was the queen of protein when I was lifting (and will be once I'm allowed to lift again), and didn't weigh myself for months --- just focused on increasing the lifts and not being hungry. You've already got a great handle on eating healthy foods, you've got your fitness plan in place --- maybe put the scale away for a few months, focus on feeling great, and see where it takes you?

JENNILACEY SparkPoints: (81,972)
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10/24/13 4:37 P

If anything I've noticed my weight loss seems slow and I seem to gain easily. Last month for example, I ate an average of 1800 cals and only lost about 1-1.5 lbs in 25 days. Which would make my TDEE around 2000 cals. That is basically the calculations I get for my exercise calories burned plus a "sedentary lifestyle". I wouldn't even consider myself sedentary. I'd consider myself "lightly active" but that would mean that I should have lost closer to 2-2.5 lbs during that time. I thought that I was averaging 2200 cals.

Now I'm back at the drawing board because the rate of weight loss (and how easily I seem to gain when I cross the 2000 cal mark) doesn't seem to equate to that TDEE. I did however, lose 9 lbs prior to that in 2 weeks eating an average of 1700-1750 cals but I imagine a good part of that was fluid weight because I ate pretty poorly the month before (lots of sugar!) and that 9 lbs is including a 24 hour fluctuate up 6 lbs after my step daughter's birthday party but now it seems to be slow for what I would expect my TDEE to be.

Edited by: JENNILACEY at: 10/24/2013 (17:27)
ICEDEMETER Posts: 1,332
10/24/13 3:38 P

I kind of figured that you still had reservations about gaining weight, even if it's muscle and not fat. That's where I have no experience, because for me it was always about the strength. You've probably seen it before, but you might want to check this out again and see if it gives you something to think about:

Realistically, I'm thinking that you might want to get your current metabolism checked, since I would bet that it's a lot higher than you think. Powerlifting does amazing things to your metabolism (thanks to years of lifting, mine is still above normal, even after over 2 years of inactivity due to illness and loss of most of my muscle), and you might find that if you start eating to match your actual metabolism and activity, then you'll likely be at much higher calories and still maintaining or losing. Check with your local university (usually the Kinesiology department) and they should be able to do the testing for you.

Good luck in figuring out what balance of weight / strength / muscles works best for you!

JENNILACEY SparkPoints: (81,972)
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10/24/13 2:38 P


I started out doing Jillian Micheals workouts and an extra couple strength training exercises (with lighter weights). Then about 10 months ago I started lifting heavier and around 6 months ago, I began powerlifting. I'm starting the 5-3-1 plan with Periodization Bible assistance work next week so my training is about to become even more intense than what I'm currently doing and I imagine I'll be even more hungry! That's why this question comes up. I have a bit of a fear of gaining more than where I'm at right now. :/

I'm finding it difficult to figure out what I should be doing with my calories. I've been so fickle, I keep going back and forth between fat loss and recomp. but any time I try to go for fat loss... I just wind up doing recomp! My body really seems to like being 120 lbs when I'd prefer to be at 115 lbs. Obviously, I'm not overly concerned to be there as I'm already a healthy weight and have a lean body fat percentage. Just more stumped and confused. I'm guessing it has something to do with 120 lbs being my set point because when I reached 107 lbs my hunger was completely out of control and I was eating everything in sight. When I reached around 120 lbs, the hunger and overeating seemed to subside and I've been settled around here ever since.

I do frequent bodybuilding sites but haven't really asked this question in a forum. I'll do that because I'm probably a bit of a unique case around here since I'm so heavily into weight lifting and not just doing it to maintain muscle mass in weight loss. I'm also probably a unique case around there because unlike most of the men, I still have inhibitions about gaining weight.

I'm thinking of just continuing with recomp. and do my 5-3-1 Plan over the winter months to see where it takes me. Then decide again in the Spring if I want to concentrate on a bit of fat loss before the Summer. Heck, I may not even need it because even though I've been maintaining 120 lbs, I'm still shrinking around the waist which is my main reason for wanting to shed 5 lbs... stubborn belly fat.

Edited by: JENNILACEY at: 10/24/2013 (14:47)
JENNILACEY SparkPoints: (81,972)
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10/24/13 1:46 P

Ah ha Russel! That would sense, less fat stores to take extra calories from while on a deficit. I probably would be better off just eating close to or at maintenance. That's basically what my body's been forcing me to do anyways with these added hungry days. My body is still shedding fat because... my waist has shrunk 3/4 in even though I've maintained the same weight. Considering just giving up on these deficits, at this point in the game... they're really proving to be useless.

Thanks for your reply.

ICEDEMETER Posts: 1,332
10/24/13 1:41 P

What an interesting question!

I've never researched it, but I would think that there could be an increase in hunger when you get to a lower body fat, since your body just doesn't have the extra fat stores to burn when you are expending energy. As you were losing, there was still that "resource" for your body to take from, so your body didn't need to tell you that it needed more.

I apologize for not remembering, but were you doing as much strength training during the weight-loss? I know that, even at a much higher body fat level, I was far more hungry when I was consistently doing heavy weights. Your body wants to build more muscle when you're doing heavy strength training, and is going to let you know that it needs food to do that. At the lower body fat levels, there just isn't enough energy available from your fat stores for your body to increase muscle mass.

It's an interesting area that you are in now, since you need to figure out where your "happy" balance is between eating more to build more muscle (which will increase your weight), and eating / working out just enough to maintain your muscle mass as it is.

Have you checked out any of the body-building sites for their opinions? Those with experience in heavy lifting would likely have some good insight on it.

RUSSELL_40 Posts: 16,826
10/24/13 1:14 P

The fat on your abdomen, hips and thighs are storage tanks .. I am 38 lbs above my goal weight, but was originally 197 lbs up. Think about those 197 lbs. as 689,500 calories. Just waiting to be used.

So I started low carb, and my body stopped craving extra food, and I ate less calories. I eat 1800 a day right now, but my SP range is 2110-2,460. I make up the difference by burning the fat on my stomach, which is as nature intended. We can use fat or carbs as fuel, so if we eat too much of either, we don't burn up the stores of energy.

I chose to do low carb, but you can do the same by limiting carbs/calories. Eventually you will start burning fat from your stores. This keeps you from feeling hungry when you are obese, because you are actually using more calories, just not the ones you are consuming.

As you get lower in body fat %, it gets harder to burn that extra fat for energy, since you have less of it, and you need some. Most guys at 10%, or women at 18% are pretty lean, and it would be harder to burn off that fat, and you have a limited amount anyways. At this point you can't make up the calories from fat storage.

So, you have 2 options. 1 ) Be hungry.. not really an option. 2 ) eat more calories to fuel yourself. You are replacing the calories you used when you converted calories to fat, with actual food.

Try adding a snack to up calories, and see if you gain weight. If you continue losing enjoy 1800-2000 calories a day. Some days I eat up to 2,500 calories. Everyone believes that women should be on a 1,200 - 1,550 cal diet, but people vary. You are probably pretty active, and since you bodyfat is lower, you need to eat the calories you no longer get from your body.

I have lost 159 lbs in 53 months, but what actually happened was I burned 10,500 calories of my fat stores a month, or 3 lbs a month. This was caused by a deficit, made up by my own fat. In another 20 lbs. or so, there won't be any fat for me to use, and I will have to up calories to stay active. You are probably at this point, and so you actually have less calories being used by your body, which it expresses with hunger pangs. Eat more!

Edited by: RUSSELL_40 at: 10/24/2013 (13:15)
JENNILACEY SparkPoints: (81,972)
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10/24/13 11:40 A

Simple question: When you have a lower body fat percentage does it affect hunger?

I just don't understand why it was easy for me to maintain a 1200-1550 cal intake when I was overweight but now I am absolutely starving 1-2x days out of the week on an average of 1600 cals at 5'2, 120 lbs and 19.5% body fat. Just curious if there may be a correlation.

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