I've had a recent email exchange with SOULOFWELLNESS who had some questions about the steps I took to remove a lot of weight (body fat).
I really like her questions, because they show that she is putting a lot of effort into understanding this monumental task she's set for herself. I see that as a sign she is likely to succeed - especially because so much of this process has been one of discovery for me. I've had to learn a lot about myself and about nutrition and about the various forms of exercise, and had to come up with individual solutions that work for me.
I like her questions so much that I've decided to post them here, with my answers, in case anyone else finds them helpful or thought-provoking.
1.) Since starting what is the main thing you personally have learned?
That I need to track my food. Not only to control my intake, but to understand patterns in how I feel, what gives me energy, what makes me hungry, what triggers binges, what I can't stop eating at "just one," etc. Yes, tracking is a PAIN IN THE BUTT. I hate it. I’ve done everything I can to make it less painful ( LoseIt.com
app on my iPhone & iPods, scales at home and work and in my purse, etc. etc. etc.) I consider this just something I have to do, the way a nearsighted person has to deal with glasses or contacts if they want to be able to see.
2.) If you knew then what you know now, what changes would you have made?
That's a hard one to answer, because so much of my self awareness and mental approach to this whole fitness thing has evolved. I didn’t have the knowledge, tools, and experience back then that I do now. I had to learn about myself by tracking stuff - weight, % body fat, food, exercise, etc. and watch the effects. I also had to read and learn about how food and exercise affect metabolism, weight gain, loss, and maintenance in people, etc.
I can say what things I think I did right, that led me here, though, so maybe that will help?
A. Tracking my food. All of it. Every day.
B. Weighing myself regularly and using a weighted average like the one at physicsdiet.com
so the fluctuations wouldn’t wig me out. For more information about weighted moving averages, you can see teams.sparkpeople
C. Lifting weights AND cardio, both. On a fitness class schedule, so once my routine was locked in, it became a habit. As things got easier I found ways to challenge myself more, eventually sometimes switching to harder activities.
D. Logging everything somewhere I could see the progress in a graphical format and make sense of it ( physicsdiet.com
E. Having realistic expectations of how the weight loss would go if I stayed on the plan. The difficulty of getting weight off is proportional, not in terms of actual pounds. It is roughly equally difficult for everyone to lose 5% of their body weight. For example, it is about as hard for me at 153 to lose 8 lbs as it is for someone who is 350 lbs to lose 17 lbs. This is why they scale the losses on shows like The Biggest Loser. www.sparkpeople.com/mypa
F. Setting up frequent milestones that were only about 5 lbs apart, or less. This way I always had another milestone to celebrate, just around the corner.
This is a war won in tiny little battles, day after day after day. I found it really helpful to always have a carrot waiting just around the next bend.
3.) Correct me if wrong here, but.... From what I see you are high protein, low carb and low fat? Did I understand that correctly?
I’m not sure what my diet would be classified as. At the beginning I just started with trying to make my nutrition pie chart look like the RDA one at the bottom of the Spark tracker. Later I explored more of a South Beach Diet approach. For most of the year I lost 160 lbs I ate pretty equal percentages of carbs and protein and very low fat.
Now I’m aiming for these numbers each day:
at least 150g protein
at least 40g fiber
at least 50g fat
less than 100g sugar
I kind of settled on this after watching how my body responds to stuff. I’m working with a dietitian now to see if we can reintroduce more starches (complex carbs) into my diet. Macronutrient ratio is the sort of thing that you can tweak and refine forever. And your requirements change depending on where you are in the process.
4.) Your eating plan - Has it lowered any lipids? I have high cholesterol and am nervous about high protein. We are fed so much by media and such about what is best.
Getting my body fat down overall has definitely made my numbers look better. See this table:
Higher amounts of protein help me personally eat less overall (because protein is so filling). In general I seem to do really well on a low glycemic index type of diet. So for me eating a lot of protein helped with the overall goal of getting rid of body fat, which helped with my general health.
5.) Ohhh speaking of protein, I noticed you also use Whey... Now is that once a day or more often?
I supplement with protein powder when I need more lean protein in my day. I often have a shake after a workout, and sometimes mix some protein powder in with my Greek yogurt. I’d say on average I have about 1-2 scoops of protein powder per day. While it’s usually whey, I also sometimes use rice, hemp, pea, or soy protein, just to get some variety. I also use protein bars, especially for emergencies. Here are some blog posts I’ve written about protein and whey supplements:
6.) After beginning your lifestyle, when was the point you noticed you had more energy?
The amount of energy I have goes through phases. It sort of snuck up on me so I can’t put my finger on a specific date. Whenever I start a new exercise regime at first it’s sort of hard and I have to force myself to do it. Over time it gets easier, and then one day I’m like, “Gee, I can’t WAIT to go over there and pound out some miles on the bike (or in the kayak), lift some heavy weights, etc.” And I stop and go, “Whoa. when did THAT happen???” I suspect it takes at least 2 weeks of consistently doing whatever it is, to feel that way.
The amount of energy I have also is greatly affected by whether I’m getting enough sleep. Even if I’m eating well and doing my workouts, if I’m not getting enough sleep I lose motivation, start making unhealthy decisions, etc.
If you would like to follow SOULOFWELLNESS on her journey, here's a link to her Spark Page: