Doing it wrong…

Yep. I’m doing it wrong.

I have learned some very interesting, preconception-shattering, eye-opening facts over the past couple of days. I am a diet failure, and here’s why:

First of all, the website caloriecount.about.com is where this all began. I had used it a few times to find out nutritional information of foods, but eventually I realized that this website had all of these wonderful dieting tools available, free of cost.

So, I started plugging in my information. I obtained my personalized daily calorie intake goal, I was able to calculate how many calories I burned at rest and with exercise, and was given a realistic goal date with which to achieve the goal weight I had entered. Really good stuff. But it gets better.

The food log: You enter your meals into the food log, and it calculates all of the caloric and nutritional information of those foods, then gives you an analysis of your progress so you know throughout the day what nutrients you need to eat more or less of, as well as how many more or less calories you need to eat.

The activity log: It lets you select your exercise type, the intensity and duration, and then calculates how many calories you burn. Once you add it to your daily log, it then integrates that information with the rest of your totals.

The forums: This place is jam-packed full of knowledgeable health nut/weight-lifting/personal trainer types.  Really friendly, really helpful, really supportive environment. I have had every question I’ve asked so far be answered by multiple people — clearly, succinctly, and with compassion. There can be lots of varied opinions, especially about exercise routines, but those really come down to personal preference, anyway. The important thing is that the mainstays of fitness are universal, and the forum is all about doing things the right way for health, not quick results. I like that.

So, after logging my food and exercise for two days, I began to realize that I was falling way short of what my recommended calorie intake is. I was befuddled by this. I kept checking my numbers and recalculating to make sure I was getting the appropriate suggested daily calorie intake amount, and I was.

Pointedly, the analysis interface displays something called “Daily Net Cals”. I had no idea what that meant, so I opted to ignore it completely, and naively hope it didn’t pertain to me. It then became clear that I should be very concerned about this number after a quick peek in the forum. It is important, because in order to maintain steady, healthy weight loss, one should aim for a deficit of -500 Net Cals a day. Anything more than that, and you are basically making your body think it is starving, and it will start conserving fat stores instead of burning them. Your metabolism slows way down, and your energy levels drop off.

A mere -500 Net Cal deficit every day for a week will consistently result in the loss of 1lb a week, because the body requires 3500 calories to be burned in total for 1lb of weight loss. Obviously, hitting -500 Net Cals on the head can be difficult, so a slight variance is okay, say, -400 to – 700 or so is ideal.

So, why am I doing it wrong, you ask? Because I’ve been cruising around with Net Cal deficits of -1200 to -1500 every day for nearly 2 months!!!!! My metabolism is probably non-existent right now, and my weight loss has been tapering off due to this huge oversight on my part. I really had no idea I was not eating enough. I never felt hungry, and I thought the less I eat (within reason) and the more I exercise, the better the results. So. Stupid.

Now, bizarrely, I must eat more in order to lose more weight. It seems counter-intuitive, and everything in my body and mind is resisting this new information, but the facts are quite clear and the science is irrefutable. The funny part is that I don’t even know how to eat any more than I already am! I apparently just need to find good calorie-dense foods that are still low on the Glycemic Index (for the Diabetes part).  I’m struggling to sort that out as we speak.

This also leaves me in a lurch in terms of my exercise routine. I will have to eat even MORE to make up for the exercise calorie burn in order to maintain a -500 deficit. I have the option to stop exercising until I figure things out, but I would really not prefer to do that.

Had I known I could gorge myself daily and lose weight like this I would have done it years ago. My brain was still stuck in some 1980s low-fat fad-diet time capsule of misinformation. It really doesn’t work that way, and I am so glad to have been shown the light.

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4 thoughts on “Doing it wrong…

  1. I thought I’d check out your blog that I saw on your CC profile, and am glad I did! I am in the same boat…It blew my mind to learn that I should be eating 1200 calories more a day -almost double what I’ve been eating! How? What? Are you kidding me?!?!? I’m glad I’m not the only one in this position, and it makes me feel better to know that someone else made the same BIG mistake!

    • You are definitely NOT alone on this one! In fact, by what I can see from most people on that site, there are many yet that still don’t understand. After being told that I need to eat the equivalent of my BMR number, I did a little more poking around, and found out that even just the BMR can be considered too low. Not only am I not sure I can stuff more food in me to meet that number, but I’m really not sure I can afford that much food every day! lol In any case, I’m sure glad to have found that group of people, and I hope to hear more about your experiences. I read your profile earlier, and I can totally relate on so much stuff. Looking forward to talking more. Thanks for visiting!

      • I’m going to focus on adding calories in a healthier way, and in the cheapest and easiest way possible. One idea is cooking with olive oil again. I haven’t used it at all because of the high calorie content, but I guess that’s what I need right now and there are countless health benefits to consuming olive oil. I’m also going to cook with nuts more I think. I have a recipe I love for pecan crusted honey mustard salmon (can also be used on chicken), so I’ll be pecan crusting away! I work best if I make a plan for my calories, and for my 2700 a day I came up with 600 breakfast, 700 lunch, 800 dinner, and 3 200 calorie snacks throughout the day. I might start eating regular cheese again, and get some extra protein there also. I mean, 2 oz (a small chunk) would be a good 200 calories and would have some benefits too. I might start buying more avocados and bananas too, and maybe add peanut butter to oatmeal or toast. I don’t know, this is going to be tough!

  2. That salmon sounds AMAZING. I eat salmon when I can afford it, but chicken has been my mainstay for months now. I would love to get my hands on that recipe! ;) I already use a lot of olive oil, and I find adding avocados to just about everything is also helpful. I’ve been eating these Planter’s Trail Mix pouches for snacks (250 cals), and they are working out well to fill in some gaps.

    I, too, am realizing that I might need to ditch some of this low-cal stuff in order to achieve daily intake numbers. Isn’t that so backwards? lol It sounds like you are well on your way to getting things in good order, though, so hooray!

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