Summer Maintaining Update

I’ve been maintaining since early July, that was when I stopped going to HMR Phase 2 classes (I’d bought a series of 12 for a skills tune-up), and things are going really well. I’ve gone back to my old system where I don’t weigh myself every day because it messes with my head, and instead I focus on doing the things I know I need to do, which are:

Feelin' fly on Saturday night!

Feelin’ fly on Saturday night!

  • Exercise for about an hour, 5-6 days a week.
  • Eat in a maintenance mode pattern every day/as much as humanly possible.
  • Allow occasional indulgences and enjoy them.

So far it’s working very well. Bullet point 2 above is really the key – I eat a very predictable pattern of foods which is easy for me to fall back upon just about every day. If I indulge myself some evening at a party or restaurant, I’m back on track the next morning because I have an easy, repeatable pattern for food that is simpler to follow than not.

I know that I’m maintaining because my measurements haven’t changed, and my clothes still fit the same. I went out for a friend’s birthday dinner Saturday night and felt pretty damned good about myself and my body for a few hours, then realized that those moments are becoming more of the norm than the exception. If what I’m doing is causing me to finally find some body love and quiet the berating voices in my head, I call that success.

I’ve spent the summer in an unsettled state regarding my job, but clarity is coming soon and I should have that settled within the next few days. That will be a relief and potentially a whole new set of challenges and pressure in my life. But in a good way.

Weekly Results and a New Thing: Crossover Drills

I went to three parties this weekend – two barbecues and a pool party, so naturally I didn’t expect to lose anything this week. I did, however, follow the plan I laid out on Friday, sticking to fruits and veggies and lean protein, eating before, avoiding alcohol, and exercising each morning.

I wish I could say that I avoid alcohol in an effort to maintain my weight, because if that were the case then I could occasionally plan to indulge. No, after years of experimentation and trial, it’s become clear that one of the fastest, most pervasive migraine triggers for me is alcohol of any kind. I can perform a complicated pharmaceutical regimen occasionally if I feel an event is worth it, which allows me to drink without an immediate migraine, however I can’t use it too often, and it doesn’t always work. So it’s mostly not worth it.

I’ve been thinking, lately, about how to engage more of my leg muscles when I run. Mostly running uses the muscles on the front and back of your thighs. But there are also muscles along the inside and outside of your thighs, and those don’t get nearly as much work during  a run (they get some, I know because if I stop for a while then restart they are sore). So I started experimenting with crossover drills. Basically, I pick a block with evenly spaced trees, and I go from one tree to the next leading with my right side, then at the next tree I switch over and lead with my left side, so I’m moving facing sideways instead of facing forward.

I can do about 3 sets of those per run, because man they are hard! They really take it out of me – both the physical movement, which is new, and the mental effort required to do it without tripping myself! Also it’s fun and I think I look like a Srs Bzns Athlete when I do it. Even though I’m just doing it going down the sidewalk and the only ones who see me are oblivious cars passing on the road.

Oh, this week I was down .4, almost a half pound (missed it by a tenth). I didn’t expect to be down at all, what with all the socializing and festive eating (which I mostly didn’t partake of) over the long weekend, and my home scale hovering in the same general region all week as if I’d plateaued. Four-tenths of a pound is well within the margin of error, but I suppose if the margin keeps moving slowly downward that’s good for me. Total loss since March 25th is 13.6. I don’t want to do any of the things that might move the needle down any faster, because I’m right at the threshold now of where I might start to enjoy my life less were I to do those things, and I’m not willing to decrease my happiness for faster weight loss. This has to be sustainable.

Results: I don’t even know what week now

I’ve lost track on this current push to lose 20 pounds. There were two weeks that I was on vacation that I’m not counting because I wasn’t tracking, then I think I’ve been back three or four weeks? The day after I got back I was up 3.2 pounds, the next week after that trip I was down 5, then the next week I was up 2.8, then this week I was down 3.4 pounds.

As I mentioned last week, things are kind of up in the air right now with big changes happening in my life, and last week was an absolute emotional roller coaster that still hasn’t coasted to a stop. I spent most of last week and the week before with a giant knot of stress and worry in my belly. I was not in the least surprised to be up 2.8 pounds last Monday due to the anxiety hormones my body was producing. I’ve heard anecdotally that stress makes the body hang onto water, or something. Plus my birthday was that week and I had some champagne and a cupcake.

Anyway, I think maybe I should stop tracking weeks and weekly change and just track total against my goal. So far I’m down 13.2 pounds – loss continues! My loss rate is slowing as I approach my goal, but also I’m not killing myself with calorie restriction and over-exercising, so I’m not expecting a fast loss. I now have 6.8 pounds to go to my goal. I don’t think I look any different, however my clothes fit again and that is win enough for me – that’s honestly the major thing I wanted out of this!

Looking back through my posts, I started the current push on March 25th, so it’s basically been three months or twelve weeks. That’s a pretty slow rate of loss, but who cares? For something I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life, it’s more important that I find and establish a routine that I can stick to and that is adaptable to different situations – travel, weekends, holidays, regular ol’ workdays. When I set up a system that is flexible enough to stick with despite big changes and many different types of days, then all I need to do is live and my body will do what it is supposed to do, and be where I want it to be.

Yesterday I needed a quick workout because I didn’t have much time, and I found this Cardio Bootcamp Boogie workout from my favorite YouTube trainer – 25 minutes, can be done in very little space, and intense enough that my clothes were soaked through by the end. Check it out if you need a quick travel workout (or just some inspiration at home)!

Maintenance “Swing Range” Numbers

This week in class we’re talking about Emotional Eating – you know, that thing you do where you feel sad, or lonely, or angry, or stressed, and you eat a whole box of cookies and ice cream mindlessly due to that uncomfortable feeling?

Well, emotional eating is not my problem. Oh, I assure you, I have eating problems, but not that one in particular. My problems run more to social eating, opportunistic eating, and portion control. So this module about emotional eating isn’t doing much for me, other than a good reminder. But any time the teacher asks what our particular foods are that we run to for comfort and soothing, I got nothing. Everybody has different reasons for their eating issues, I just happen to have this one under control (although it took years of work). These days when I need comfort I can usually find a non-food method, or eat something that’s allowable under my program (fresh, ripe stone fruits right now are rocking my world).

So instead of talking about that, I’ll give you a snapshot of how my week went on the scale. Last week, it went:

  • Monday: Baseline weight for the week (up 3 pounds from before trip)
  • Tuesday: -4
  • Wednesday: +3
  • Thursday: -2.5
  • Friday: +2.5
  • Saturday: +.5
  • Sunday: -2
  • Monday: +1.5
  • Monday afternoon before leaving for class: +5 (!!!)

This is why it’s generally not a good idea to weigh yourself every day once you’re in maintenance. Once a week is sufficient, because these swings are the opposite of motivational. I mean, yeah, it’s great when you’re down 4 one day, but when you’re up 3 the next and you didn’t go on a binge…it’s kind of infuriating. What’s even more frustrating is on none of those days did I step outside my program. I was doing everything perfectly, and I got wild, ridiculous swings. THIS IS NORMAL FOR MAINTAINING. People think that when you’re maintaining a stable weight you actually have a stable weight. This is not true.

Oh, and last night at class, when I did my official weigh in? Down 5 pounds for the week. Totally unexpected after that mid-afternoon check-in! I’ll take it (although there’s a little voice in my head pointing out that with such a large loss there’s a good chance I’ll have some of it come back next week because it wasn’t “real.” Thanks brain!). Three of that was just my body re-adjusting after the cruise, the rest is solid progress – I’m down 12.6 officially, less than 8 to go to my stretch goal!

What’s your normal day-to-day “swing range” in maintenance? Four to five pounds seems to be mine. Frustrating, but at least I know about it and that it’s nothing to freak out about. Theoretically.

Week 5 Results: Surprise! Meat Puppet is Defective!

I stayed on target all week, no slips or eating off-plan, as I expect of myself. I had 49 servings of fruits/veggies. I had 37 meal replacements. I burned 4,340 calories in physical activity. I averaged a net caloric intake of ~754 calories per day. As you can see, I met and exceeded all of my target goals.

I spent the weekend medieval camping, and despite vast amounts of tasty temptation, I stayed on program every single minute of every single day. You could say I ROCKED IT. I will say it. I rocked it. I am feeling so good about how I handled this weekend with my prepping and my planning. After last weeks astounding physical activity numbers and dismal result on the scale I was expecting that the “check was in the mail,” so to speak, and I’d see a great loss this week. Are you ready for my amazing result??

I was up .7 pounds. I gained.

I’m getting really sick of your shit, body. This meat puppet I use to drive my brain around is defective and I’d like to trade it in on a new one that works now please. If you have never understood the feeling of impotent rage, this is it. To do everything right, to be absolutely immaculate in your execution, and to still fail is the embodiment of situations that inspire impotent rage. I feelz it.

Alright, now that that’s out of the way, taking an objective look at the situation, there are three options when one is plateauing:

  • Eat less
  • Eat more
  • Exercise harder

Two of these three options are not feasible for me, as I’m already eating as little as I can get away with, and exercising as hard as I can. So my coach has recommended that I try the other one. I will eat more to try to fuel my body into realizing it is not starving. I will also reel back the exercise a bit because perhaps I am overdoing it there too.

This is so weird to me, you guys. In my thirties, what I am doing now would absolutely work to get me the results I expected. It no longer works. Welcome to my fully wrecked metabolism, courtesy of aging and genetics. I don’t know what works now, but I am going to experiment and find out.

I’ve got nothing but time, and my very own laboratory (body) to experiment with.

According to everything I read, a diet made up of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and complex carbohydrates should be the gold standard for healthy eating. However I may not have been getting enough of them. So, this week, more fruits and veggies, more of everything. I’m aiming to net in at around 1000 calories per day, so I need to up my caloric intake of healthy foods, and maybe cut back the exercising a bit.

Another thing that actually buttresses my suspicion here that I am not getting enough fuel (despite averaging a total of ~1400 calories per day, netting in at ~700), is that last week I was desperately depressed. I took things that weren’t big deals on their surface and overreacted myself into a deep hole of despair. When does that happen? When things are out of whack. Perhaps I didn’t have enough energy to keep an even keel. I could be wrong. We’ll find out next week I guess.

Week 4 Numbers: More Data Acquired. Dammit.

I stayed on target all week, no slips or eating off-plan, as I expect of myself. I had 50 servings of fruits/veggies. I had 37 meal replacements. I burned 5,540 (!) calories in physical activity. I averaged a net caloric intake of ~614 calories per day. As you can see, I met my exercise goal and exceeded it (goal was to burn 5000 calories this week).

You might expect that I had a fantastic result on the scale this week. If you do you either haven’t been coming around here long, or haven’t been paying attention. I lost a half pound. The math says I should have lost 2 at the very least. So, I stand by my previous statement about a slow metabolism and my disparaging comments about the Mayo Clinic (wankers). That brings my total this push to 7.5 pounds down. Woohoo I guess.

My coach says it’s probably a case of “the check is in the mail” and it’ll show up next week. Maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t. The thing is, when it is, I usually don’t get both weeks worth of payoff next week. And that’s some frustrating BS let me tell you.

To work SO HARD this week for so very little to show for it would normally be massively depressing were I not already battling some epic level depression this week. As it is, there really wasn’t much further for things to drop emotionally, so I was like, “Mmm hmm. Sure, why not?” when I stepped off the scale.

My plan for the coming week is to scale it back a bit. Obviously reaching new highs on the exercise portion of the equation is not helpful, so I will reel it back a bit to a level that has worked before. I think that 3500 to 4000 calories per week is really my “sweet spot” where exercise is concerned. It’s the level where my body needs to be to maintain or lose. Going much higher hasn’t produced desirable results so that’s an experiment I don’t need to repeat.

Other than that – please send cute pictures of kittens. Bunnies or puppies would also be acceptable.

Exercise Challenge Speedbump

I set myself a challenge to reach 5000 calories burned in exercise this week. Actually, the class I attend had a challenge for everyone to push themselves at physical activity. Since I’ve been hitting 4000 the last couple of weeks, I figured a stretch would be to aim for 5000. Then I did something that could have derailed me.

Tuesday morning I did the Straight Up Strength workout, because strong muscles are important. If you watch this video the deadlifts start about 16:20 and they’re paired with some rows using the heavier set of weights. I used 15 lbs. I hadn’t done deadlifts recently, and certainly not with 15s, but of course I did the full sets because I’m not a shirker! You maybe see my error. I woke up Wednesday morning and the back half of my legs were in agony. So sore! Much DOMS. Oh my glutes and hammies were shrieking. They settled down a bit as I got moving, but not a lot.

I was determined to get the run in that I’d planned for Wednesday though, since I googled about running when sore and it said it’s fine if you don’t plan to push distance or speed, and it doesn’t hurt more after the first mile. So I plotted a 3.5 mile distance instead of the 4.5 I’d hoped for and went anyway. I can’t say that was my best call, or that it felt nice, but it didn’t hurt more after the first mile. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about soreness, it’s that there’s virtually nothing I can do to make it run its course any faster than it will so I should get on with things despite it. But, I didn’t get the long run that I’d hoped to add to my numbers for my challenge this week.

Thursday morning I woke up just as sore as Wednesday if not more so (you know it’s bad when the sitting motion hurts so much you’d rather stand, and when  you do sit it hurts because you’re sitting on those muscles!), I went out for a walk to try to loosen things up, instead of the usual intense workout session I do in the mornings. It was ok, but yesterday was more sore than I’d like to be. I called it a rest day and my morning walk was all I did for physical activity. I even took a nap in the afternoon after work.

This morning I finally got my longer run, and it felt so good! There’s something about a rest day that really works. Everything felt good. Sometimes when you run it’s a slog and you spend the whole time looking forward to the end. And some days everything lines up and your body is ok with the running and you feel like you could keep on going forever. Today was one of those good days. I’m still a little sore in my legs from Tuesday, but only very mildly so.

Right now I’m up to 4050 calories burned this so far week (Monday through Sunday). I have 950 to go, which is easily doable as long as I stick to my usual habits this weekend. I’m on track to meet my goal!