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SOULOFWELLNESS' insightful questions

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

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:

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Going back over your old blogs. Lots to learn from you!

    2603 days ago
    Thank you so much for these answers and thinking enough to post them. I eat those noodles as well, because I needed a sub that would keep my blood sugar stable. I so appreciate this. Thanks
    2632 days ago
    So helpful! Thank you!! emoticon
    2632 days ago
    Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us! It's so insightful to see what has worked well for those who succeeded!

    2633 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/1/2012 11:55:09 AM
    2633 days ago
    Wonderful summary of your "secrets" (hardly! thank you...!) to success!

    Really appreciate your sharing...will save for reminders and to pass along to others as well!

    2633 days ago
    Love your answers. I'm not where you are in the process and yet so many of my answers would have been very similar.

    Tracking food as necessary the way glasses or contacts are; that is such a great comparison. I know I found it easier when I viewed it as tracking ALL the nutrients, tracking the when and why and what, and not just calorie-counting.

    And the way the journey evolves is something else that even I didn't expect. So so many times I hear (or say it myself) that a person is surprised to be doing or liking something they wouldn't even have considered when they first started. Who would expect to hula hoop or kayak or do zumba when just walking to the mailbox is tough? Something we know works NOW may not have been workable early on before we were ready to make the change.

    I'm going to link your blog on one of my teams because I think it can help others as well.
    2633 days ago
    Another great blog with a whole lot of info and resources: you are the "SOULOFGENEROSITY" with the time you spend on such detailed and helpful responses! Love both the rigour of your thought AND the inherent modesty of your scope: "this is what worked for me", not claiming some kind of universal wisdom. (Although I'm suspecting it's fundamentally what works for most of us).

    I'm gonna try some protein powder, thanks for the idea!

    And agree totally that the fundamental is: track the nutrition!
    2633 days ago
    Thanks for sharing that discussion. I am always tweaking my macronutrient percentages to see what works best for me. I have seen in a lot of places that each of us is "an experiment of one" when it comes to weight loss, and I think that is very true. It helps me though to read what works for other people and maybe modify what I am doing to see if what you do might help me.
    2633 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.