The Problem With Exercise...

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The problem with exercise is that it makes me sooooo hungry! Ever since June, when the weather turned nice and I started exercising more, it has been extremely difficult to stay inside my calorie goals. And probably because of that, my weight loss has come to a complete and utter standstill!!

I am using weekly averages so as not to become too fixated on one bad day, nor to rejoice too much on a good one. Here is what I see: I started Spark in the first full week of April, and I did great until mid-June. That is the first time my average caloric intake went over my basic metabolic rate or 'BMR' number (with the 20% Spark adds for light, normal activity). From there on, the number of weeks that were 'over' just kept coming. I did get back down under my BMR for 3 weeks, but ever since mid-July, I have been 'over' every single week!! I am now averaging 11% MORE calories than I was in the first 2 months of my 'diet'.

Now, on the 'burn' side, here is what I noticed: I stepped up my activity even more as soon as summer arrived, taking more walks, bike rides, and lately, lots of hiking. My average weekly burn has increased 30%, especially since hiking is hard work and burns a lot of calories. BUT the trouble is, you need to feed that furnace!

Now, you might think ''Oh, 11% extra calories eaten but 30% more burned off, that is good! You must be losing weight!'' Alas, NO! My weight loss has been completely stalled since the beginning of July, more than 2 months now! The way the math works is that since you eat a whole lot more calories than you can burn off in specific cardio exercises (I don't mean BMR sustaining calorie burn), just 11% more calories is a lot on the 'intake' side (almost 200 calories in my case), but 30% more burn is only 120 calories since I was averaging about 275 calories a day (60 minutes of cardio). That leaves me with 80 calories more per day that aren't going away, but they should just be slowing me down, not stopping me altogether from losing weight.

According to the food and exercise trackers, I am still creating a deficit with exercise, just less of one. Now, I lost 7 pounds in the first 2 months when my calories eaten were under my BMR. But I have lost NOTHING since, even though I should have lost nearly another 7 pounds according to the calorie difference reports. I am so bummed about the scale is not moving at all! And I know I am not just converting fat to muscle because my measurements are also not changing.

Does anyone else out there have this problem? Is it because my BMR is already fairly low (1630) so that eating less than that is just too much to ask when you are exercising like mad? Or is this the typical 'plateau' of the last 20 pounds to lose before you reach your goal weight?

I don't know what to do about this situation. I read somewhere that weight loss is 70% what you (don't) eat, and 30% exercise. I hate to give up a healthy habit like exercising, but if it is making me that hungry - I mean to the point where I don't feel well if I don't eat enough on days when I hike - , then perhaps I need to go back to just taking relaxed walks and concentrate on lowering my caloric intake again so I can be below my BMR like I was in the Spring.

Any suggestions are most welcome! Thanks!!!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I eat things like nuts, dried fruits and protein bars while I am hiking in the mountains. Not really conducive to milk or a smoothie, but I certainly could bring carrots and cucumbers. I have been working hard and doing well at getting enough protein to make sure I don't affect my muscles. But boy oh boy do I feel so hungry! Will definitely try more fresh fruit and veggies. I would like to keep hiking, as long as I don't starve!
    3550 days ago
    Do you do multiple meals with snacks? I find that by eating crunchy things - apples, mostly cucumbers, I am filled and I always have a post workout smoothies. It has kept the hungry's away.
    3550 days ago
    Do you do multiple meals with snacks? I find that by eating crunchy things - apples, mostly cucumbers, I am filled and I always have a post workout smoothies. It has kept the hungry's away.
    3550 days ago
  • JMAC23
    When you increased your exercise did you go back and enter that change in the fitness tracker because if you do that they up the number of calories you can eat. If you eat too few calories, it can cause you to go into starvation mode which would prevent you from losing weight. You don't necessarily have to give up exercising, you just have to enter in the average calories you are burning per week so that you are also eating the right amount.
    3550 days ago
    I always try to have a cup of milk or low fat chocolate milk after my workout. Maybe that would help stave off the hunger.
    3550 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.