In limbo..

I had a bit of a breakdown moment at the beginning of April. I wanted to eat everything. All the time. I didn’t, but I really wanted to. It scared me, because I felt like I’d been eating well/enough and not really struggling with hunger much this entire time, and then suddenly, the Hunger Within took over.  I didn’t want to undo my progress. I didn’t want to bring back the diabetes symptoms. I was pretty worried, and then I became worried about being so worried.

I went looking for answers to my new dilemma, and a few trusted weight loss veterans told me I should simmer down and try eating at maintenance level for a little while. That, essentially, I should take a break from dieting. So, I did. Because of this, I’m only 2lbs less than I was over a month ago, but that’s okay. I feel better now, and I feel like I can pick up where I left off without any major issues.

I’m still a little off-balance where my anxiety about losing weight is concerned, so I’ve really been trying to focus my attention on building strength instead of the number on the scale. The problem is, I have a very limited set of equipment with which to accomplish that — a set of adjustable dumbbells with a total weight of 40lbs, and my own body weight. I’ve been looking into joining the YMCA and applying for the po’ folk discount they offer, as well as considering a few other options.  We’ll see what I can come up with.

The main realization I’ve had is that I now know that I want to start lifting heavy weights. Often. I want to be strong, and I want to find out what my now much lighter body can really do.  I’m borderline obsessing about it, which is actually a good thing, because that means I won’t likely give up on trying to make it happen any time soon.

I’ve been following a couple great fitness blogs written by science-loving skeptical reasonable people who are very into keeping shit real. One of which is gokaleo.com. She’s a badass, and when I grow up, I want to be just like her. She is also one of the people that has inspired me to want to lift heavy.

So, this is where I’m at… in this odd sort of holding pattern situation, with very little to report, but a whole lot to say, anyway. Thanks for listening.

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Eat more to lose more…

I just keep learning more and more about effective and healthy weight-loss, and I am kind of loving it. Finally, I think I actually might understand it.  I have chipped away at that fossilized 1980s fad diet mentality, and I think I might now see scientifically-sound daylight.

If you don’t know about eating at your BMR or under your TDEE, and you are interested in losing weight, please continue reading. If you are totally hip to all this, or are a lucky bastard with no weight to lose, just skip to the bottom and cheer for my weight loss. :)

The most important thing I’ve learned is to always eat at, or above, your BMR. Your BMR is your Basal Metabolic Rate. Go on, click it. Calculate your BMR. It’s kinda fun. It’s almost like checking your horoscope, only less full of shit.

Okay. Got it? Now, never eat fewer calories than the top number on that calculator. Why? Because your BMR is the rate at which your particular body burns calories every day just by being alive. If you were bedridden in a comatose state, your BMR represents the minimum number of calories it takes to keep all of your internal organs functioning during a single day. Eating below this number is risking sending a “famine” alert to your metabolism, and thus setting weight loss in slow motion.

Another important number to keep in mind is your TDEE, or, Total Daily Energy Expenditure. If you use the calculator I linked above, you should also have the means to calculate your TDEE (the bottom number). It is based on your typical daily activity level. This number is the total number of calories you burn on an average day doing your average activities. If you work out every day, factor it in. Every other day? There’s a way to adjust it. Hours spent sleeping, standing, walking — factor all of it in.

For weight loss, some folks like to subtract 15-20% from their TDEE number and eat that many calories per day. Some folks like to eat at their BMR number (like me). Some slightly above it.  The key is to never eat under your BMR, and to not eat over your TDEE. If you are looking to maintain your weight, you eat at your TDEE number.

As you lose weight, your BMR number lowers, as well. So, you need to go back and recalculate your BMR every 15-20lbs lost or so. When you start a diet by eating at your BMR, this allows you to have steady, healthy weight loss every week, with a much smaller chance of plateauing as you begin to encroach on your goal weight. You are eating well the whole time, and hunger really stops being an enemy. It’s kind of extra-awesome.

Weight Watchers’ Points Plus system is based on the BMR/TDEE method. They just came up with a convenient way to allocate calories by using the points. They are the only weight loss system I know of that actually sets people up for healthy, steady weight loss.

Okay. I’m done lecturing and being a boring assface.

I lost 4 more pounds since my last post.  But, I’m not getting excited, because I’ve had a terrible food and exercise week. Felt quite under the weather for most of it (thanks uterus!), and I half-way expect to gain something. We’ll see. In any case, as it stands, I am 5lbs away from a big personal milestone. It can’t get here soon enough.

Diets: My Long History

I was a fat kid. In fact, I was a fat baby. 9lbs, 10oz. I even got stuck during labor, and had to be removed with the salad tongs..  um, forceps.  I don’t really know what it’s like to be “thin”, “skinny”, or even “average” weight. I’ve always had the chub, and I always knew it. My mom was heavy, my aunt was heavy, and my maternal grandmother was heavy. My older brother was heavy, too.  Fortunately, my aunt, mother and brother were all able to have gastric bypass surgery and lose the weight.

I am the last surviving fatty in my immediate family.

My mother, in an attempt to lose her own weight as well as help my brother and I slim down, had us on various diets from the age of 9 onward. Nowadays people would cringe at that, but back then, I don’t think it was frowned upon as much. I remember my first Weight Watchers meeting, and along with my brother, being the youngest people there. It was a very adult environment, and my kid brain wasn’t able to embrace any potentially useful information, mostly because it felt like I was being made to go to school at night, too. I now realize it was probably just easier for my mom to take us with her than to hire a babysitter. But at the time, it sucked.

We fell off the Weight Watchers wagon multiple times, mostly because my mother would bring home junk food in a moment of weakness. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to shoulder my mother with a lot of blame for my weight issues, but the fact is, I was a kid and had no say in the grocery shopping habits of my household. I ate what I was given, and I snacked on what was there, and there were rarely ever any fresh veggies or fruit, but always a big selection of ice cream, chips, soda, cookies, and candy. Make of that what you will. Needless to say, Weight Watchers, the 1980s version, anyway, was not a success for me or my family. I hear lots of great things about it these days, but I’m afraid my bias is too deeply embedded to permit me to have another go at this point.

When I was 14, we all started on Jenny Craig. I liked this program because it forced us to purge our entire kitchen of anything non-dietetic. Our cupboards and fridge were filled with Jenny Craig products, and everything else was reduced fat/calories/sugar free.  We picked up our weekly bags of Jenny Craig food, and had our (sometimes dreaded) weekly weigh-in, and stuck to the program for quite a few months. I lost close to 40lbs on Jenny Craig.

Gradually, however, we started rewarding our weigh-in successes with stops at the fast food joint on the way home. At my last weigh-in, I had gained 10lbs. Eventually, my mom decided that Jenny Craig was simply too expensive to continue with (read: she had some HäagenDazs in the freezer with her name on it, and I was standing by with a spoon of my own), so that is where it ends. I am still disappointed with that failure, because I was quite content on that program, and had I been able to afford it myself, I would have continued on it. Such is life.

I have tried many diets since, all with varying amounts of success. Obviously, any weight loss I did have was gained back twofold. Atkins was interesting, but I never felt healthy despite having lost weight on it. I also grew bored very quickly on that diet, and this is coming from someone who thinks bacon should be canonized. I realized a while ago that what I must do is quite simple: change my eating habits, my lifestyle, and my attitude towards healthy food. Simple, yes, but the motivation was lacking.

Type 2 Diabetes is one hell of a motivator.

So, there is my dieting history, the good, the bad, and the ugly. The effects it has had on my brain and my food attitudes are still working against me to this day. I am in learning mode now, though, and my desire to change those attitudes is stronger than ever.  I feel that I have already taken some huge strides towards permanently changing my food perceptions, but I still have so many miles ahead of me. One step at a time, right?