The Downill/Upward Slide

I haven’t posted in a while. My weight has been stable, I’ve been doing 24-hour fasts one or two days a week. I didn’t regain the 9 I lost when I did the 4-day fast, which makes me think it was real fat I lost, not just water.

I’ve also been struggling with loathing my body. I want to love my body, I just have SO much baggage – a whole lifetime’s worth.

This morning I went for a run and I was trying to focus on thinking about my entire journey, not just the last 10 years. Because over the entire arc of my life, things are looking pretty good. Over the last 10 years, I am NOT happy. Since I passed 40 it’s been a long downhill (or rather upward) trajectory. I gain weight and nothing I try seems to change it.

Yet, if I consider where I started (weighing ~400 pounds) I should be ecstatic – I’m still keeping 175 pounds off! I just want to be 25 pounds down from where I am. But nothing I do is working, now that I’m 43 my body simply won’t tolerate further attempts to lose. I’m tired of it all.

I do wonder if other people who have lost massive amounts of weight hit a similar wall. I think it’s hormonal. I wonder if others in my boat have a similar situation where they are able to maintain a huge loss for 10+ years but then once they hit 40 (or 50, or whatever their personal limit is) and suddenly the hormonal changes take hold and nothing they do can keep them from gaining a certain amount. At least I appear to be holding the line here where I am (for now). Maybe evolutionarily speaking, holding 25 extra pounds is something my body needs to do at this age? It doesn’t seem right to me, but there are so few people in my situation that it’s hard to have any basis of comparison.

Advertisements

More Numeric Ruminations

Last week Trystan commented here that despite the number on the scale, I still do a healthy lifestyle better than almost anyone. I am hugely proud to hear that, but also it reminded me that people don’t just come here because I’m specifically keeping off 200 pounds (because I’m not), but for other reasons and living a healthy lifestyle may very well be one of them.

So, today I’m going to ramble about last week’s numbers. Last week I burned 3,780 calories in exercise. That’s well above the 2000/week recommended by a lot of programs – almost double, in fact. All that, and I even took Saturday as a rest day! How did I get there? Well, I could break it down and tell you that represents 305 minutes of activity (a little over 5 hours) that week. That’s an average of 12 calories burned per minute, but I don’t exercise in averages. A majority of my exercise was at a high intensity (running, kickboxing), which using my ballpark calculations I estimate at 14 calories/minute. The rest of it was at moderate or medium intensity (walking, yoga, weightlifting), which I ballpark at 8 calories a minute. These numbers are based on my weight and change when my weight does – when I weigh less I burn less per minute, when I weigh more I burn more. Most days I do 40-60 minutes of exercise.

I also did a great job last week at journaling my food intake (except Saturday which was unusual). I saw a steady downward motion on the scale – started at 224.5 on Monday morning and by Sunday morning I was at 221.5, excellent progress.

Yesterday I went for a long, hard run. I didn’t have anywhere to be, and the usual symphony of bodily complaints was at a mere whisper, so I decided to go for it. Not my longest route, but a portion of it which was 5.5 miles and included a serious hill in the middle. It is a steep, high hill and I don’t attempt it very often because it is HARD. But when I do attempt it I have only a single goal – to not drop into a walk on the way up it. That’s it. That’s the only thing I want to accomplish on that run. On Sunday I powered through and made it up the hill, then back down again. By the end my legs were burning pretty hard – not only a longer run than I have done all year, but a seriously strenuous section in the middle. That run took me about 90 minutes, and burned ~1260 calories. I took a long nap after that run. Yesterday I consumed approximately 1600 calories all day. Pretty good in/out ratio there!

So naturally, as you can imagine, I woke up this morning to the highest weight I have seen in years – 225. That’s right, running  shoots my weight up. Always. Running harder than usual will spike it higher than usual. That’s just how it goes. Maybe not for everyone, but always and without fail for me. At this point I’m just looking at the numbers out of objective, scientific curiosity. “Oh, huh, that’s a surprising number to see after yesterday. Wow. Body, you never fail to confound me.”

I started reading a new book I bought on Rianh’s recommendation last week, The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung. I’m about halfway through, so nobody spoil the ending for me (the butler did it, right? It’s always the butler!), but so far it makes a lot of sense and I am hoping there will be a “how to do this” section in the back, because I will probably want to give his ideas a try. What do I have to lose, other than all this fabulous and exciting fat?! I’ll keep you posted as I go.

No Secret Solution

I talked to my primary care doctor last night, I wanted to check and make sure there wasn’t some super secret doctor trick she knew for when you’ve wrecked your metabolism like I have. Here are the things she knows about which we discussed:

  • Weight loss pills. We both agreed they would be totally pointless. You take those pills, you maybe lose a few pounds, then you stop taking them and it comes right back. I’m not looking for a short term fix, I’m looking for a long-term way to live in my body.
  • Surgery. I’m not looking for a short-term fix, and most people who have the surgery lose weight then gain it back after some time (just like most people who use any other method). The surgery won’t fix anything you don’t change in your lifestyle, so in the end it’s simply an aid (for some) to kickstart a healthier lifestyle. I’m already kicking ass on a healthier lifestyle. Pointless.
  • Classes. Going to a “healthier lifestyle” class is pointless for me. I could teach the class. I should be teaching the class. Some 24-year old recent nutrition program graduate who lost 20 pounds and discovered the gospel of eating right and exercising last year isn’t going to have anything to teach me and might make me homicidal.
  • Life coaching. Ha. I’m already doing the things they’d coach me to do.

My doctor is great, but there’s really not much out there for people in my position. And there aren’t many of us, so it’s not like there are a lot of studies or literature on cracking this nut. I have exhausted the available science on the matter.

What to do? I don’t know. I guess I have to just keep moving forward and see where I land when my body stops adjusting up. Journaling, exercising, eating healthy. Yesterday I did 40 minutes of yoga/pilates. The day before I ran 3 miles. The day before that I did 35 minutes of kickboxing. The day before that I ran 3 miles. Whoopee. Go me. Today I’m thinking I’ll go for a walk in the sunshine later, we’re having very nice weather here right now.

Wednesday my husband and I tried out a new restaurant in our neighborhood – Mongolian Hot Pot. A++would healthily eat again. A pot of boiling broth, and meat and veggies you cook in it. It’s almost impossible to NOT eat healthy there. Lean meat (you can get scallops, shrimps, chicken…or red meat too) plus piles of veggies sounds pretty damned healthy to me. And tasty too. They have locations all over California, and a few other states. If it sounds good to you I’d totally recommend it for a healthy restaurant meal.

Benefits of Exercise That Aren’t Weight Loss

This morning as I prepared to head out for my run I started thinking about how every few months friends of mine discover exercise and put on a large show of posting every day about how hard they’re exercising and how far they have to go to their goal – be it weight loss, a certain distance run or biked or rowed, or something else. They charge hard for a few weeks or months and then I never hear about it again, until the next time they rediscover exercise.

Meanwhile I’ve been back here quietly exercising every day all along. There’s not much excitement or glory in it so I almost never post on social media about my workouts. How boring would that be? “Did my workout again today, just like yesterday and the day before and the day before.” And yet what I’m doing is what I hear people say they’d like to emulate – getting regular exercise. Why is it so hard to maintain year after year?

One of my theories is that people focus too hard on the weight-loss benefits of exercise, and that is not sustainable. There are basically two ways it can go when your only reason for exercising is weight loss:

  1. You reach your goal, and stop exercising. Not right away, of course, but over time skipping workouts seems fine because, hey, I reached my goal I should get to relax now! And that’s a slippery slope that leads to getting out of the habit and one day realizing you don’t exercise anymore and haven’t in months or years.
  2. Exercising doesn’t result in weight loss, so you give it up. If you started exercising, but didn’t change your diet, this is a very likely scenario. Losing weight is about 80% intake and maybe 20% exercise. If all you did was start running on the elliptical 20 minutes a day, but only lost 5 pounds before it stopped coming off, you’d probably stop bothering because it wasn’t giving you the results you were looking for.

In order to keep at it over time, one needs to come to an appreciation of the benefits of exercise apart from weight loss. That’s how I get my body out of bed on a Sunday and run 4 miles even when I don’t particularly want to. I’m long past exercising to lose weight – at my age I’m exercising to keep my weight stable and for the other benefits, such as:

My own personal top reason is pain management – my body hurts less when I exercise regularly. I consider exercise to be my regular talisman against the aches and pains of aging. Like brushing my teeth morning and night, it’s just something I need to get done so I can get on with my day. The other benefits are a nice bonus. What are your reasons for exercising?

Shoevolution

I’ve been running since 2002, I think. In all that time, I’ve been almost exclusively loyal to Asics running shoes. I think I tried some Brooks back in 2006 once and didn’t like them, and I may have tried one other brand, but I always came back to Asics.

But something happened recently. Last year or so I bought my usual Cumulus model running shoe and it felt…cheap and thin. The padding was thin and it felt like the pavement was punching me in the sole with every stride. I just kept running in them, though, because I’m a very accepting person, and I just thought, “Oh that’s how running is for me now. Ok.”

The next time I was ready to buy running shoes, I read up online reviews, and decided to level up to the Asics Nimbus line, which is touted as having more padding. “Great,” I thought, “more padding sounds good since the last ones didn’t feel much padded at all.” Uh uh. Yes the new shoes had lots of padding, but it was all give and no spring. It felt like the shoes were swallowing up my momentum with every step. Squish. Squish. I powered on though – “Oh that’s how running is now. Ok.” Plus I’d spent over $100 on these shoes so what was I going to do? Wear them out, is what I did.

But this time, just last month, when those momentum-dampening Asics wore out I thought maybe I would try something new. I don’t know what’s going on with Asics, but I’m pretty sure they’ve lost a loyal customer.

So I read up online reviews on running shoes, I visited my local running store (they were “out of shoes” in my size when I went in so that was a waste of time, they’ve lost my business), then I bought online. Based on reviews, I bought a pair of Brooks Ghost 9s. They get good marks for people with my specifics (position, padding, distances), and the Asics – both lines I’d recently worn – no longer do.

I got them in the mail last week, laced them up, took them for a spin with excitement building and…found that there was a persistent ache in the outer edge of my right foot for the first mile or two. I noted the information, then ignored it because everything else about the shoe was perfect – padding and spring were aces! I laced them up again the next day with a hope it was just my feet getting used to the  new shoes.

Nope. Same pain on day two, getting more painful not less. I was distraught. I’d spent $120 on these shoes and they were hurting me! As a last-ditch effort I went to the bricks-and-mortar location of the running store I’d bought them from and asked if there was anything we could do, knowing that I’d already worn them on two runs and wasn’t going to be getting my money back.

They put me through the full fitting experience (walking on a treadmill, standing on a sensor pad, sizing, etc.) and determined that the shoes I had should be the right ones for me. So they made me some custom insoles by heating up insole blanks and having me stand on a special squishy machine on them. I was dubious that such a simple solution would solve my pain problem, but willing to give it a try.

This morning I took my Brooks Ghost 9s out for a spin with my new custom insoles and…no pain. I’m so happy now! Custom insoles can make a huge difference! I had no idea until today.

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.

Slow Runner Solidarity!

I’m a slow runner. You’d probably call what I do jogging? My friend Denise, another slow runner, calls it slogging – slow + jogging. I’ve been a runner (using that term loosely) for 12+ years now and I’ve never tracked or worked to improve my speed because I couldn’t care less how fast I run. I track my time – I aim to run for 40 to 60 minutes each time, so I can know how much I’ve burned.

But sometimes if you call yourself a runner but don’t care about pace or speed you start to feel a little bit isolated, and maybe like you don’t deserve the label if you’re not trying to go faster. Speed seems to be the only thing other runners care about! Everybody posts their race times, their treadmill paces, how much faster they are going each week! But I still don’t care about improving my speed. I just don’t, because I’m not a competitive person, and I’m not running to win anything.

Therefore I was excited yesterday when a friend posted an article that vindicates all us slow runners!

Slow Runners Come Out Ahead

This article makes me so happy! Finally, a little bit of science shows that what I’m doing is not just ok, but possibly absolutely right! I’ve long felt that if I’m running at all, I’m doing what my body needs me to do. So, friends, let’s get on out there and slow jog! I’ll be the one getting passed by the speed walkers, and I’m ok with that!