It's been awhile since I've posted and I won't make any excuses, I've gone on and off plan over the past few months, been back on since mid-March. Regardless, I just needed to vent somewhere.
I am sick of waking up in the morning to a stomach bulge I distinctly remember NOT having last summer. In a moment of weakness and frustration, I began looking up the cliched "lose belly fat fast" tips that clog the internet. Fortunately I let my head get in the way of my bad intentions, and the first thing I read I just critiqued with a simple "That's stupid, that'll do the opposite of what you want."
Then I got to some more "legitimate" pages (i.e. WebMD) and further got fed up to see I've been doing all the tips/tricks already! Part of me is proud that without looking anything up I knew what to fall back on for healthy eating, but it leads to slow/healthy weight loss, which is frustrating at the moment for reasons I don't feel like going into tonight.
The problem with slow weight loss is, ok maybe I'll lose 4 pounds in two weeks or so, but THEN, if I have ONE day of poor eating, *poof* there goes my past two weeks.
04-08-2010, 12:18 AM
Okay... you have to stop overthinking it! One day of bad choices is not enough to gain 4 lbs. It's not worth throwing it all out the window! Four lbs in 2 weeks is also pretty good weight loss! I'd LOVE to see those kinds of numbers.
Sometimes after I've had a mistake day I retain water for a few days and it all drops off at once. Just keep at it, you will see results! What kind of plan are you following?
04-08-2010, 12:21 AM
man, i hear you. since i started in december it's been slow and steady. i'd finally broken the 190 threshold, went to the beach for a day, and BAM! the first time i've gone up. what the heck? it can be really frustrating, to feel like you're always thinking about it and working towards the goal, i.e. health... i look forward (if it ever comes) to the magic moment when i no longer have to think about portion size and calorie counts and it will just be the lifestyle i have.
keep on keeping on. now is definately not the time to stop!
04-08-2010, 03:04 AM
if I can make a light-hearted (or call it stupid) comment, I am thinking: wow, I have ALWAYS had a bulge.. I can't even picture my belly flat.. I don't even believe that is possible, sometimes.. so since you know you were like that, keep working, you can be like that again! At least *you* can be SURE of it :)
04-08-2010, 05:50 AM
I've struggled with my belly all my life. One of my most prevalent memories of childhood is my Mom telling me to pull my stomach in. A couple of years ago, I was 119 lbs, she patted me on the belly and said "Now you just need a panty girdle".
I have a quite marked sway back. Lordosis. Unless I make a point of standing up straight, my middle enters a room first. I'm not very thick ... but ...
I remember distinctly learning that good abs are made in the kitchen. I learned it here at 3FC. I learned the difference between belly fat, real abdominal muscles, and skin.
I got down on the floor and poked around at my middle. I found the muscle (we all have it) I found the fat and think I discovered what was just skin.
Alas ... it's all about fat loss.
This was both enlightening and frightening.
I don't mind ab exercises. Some of them are fun. But ... eating clean enough to melt all the fat between my muscles and my skin? Oooooo .... that sounds hard!
A couple of things that are actually making a marked difference to the fat layer of my belly (and yes, I learned them here at 3FC) are cutting down on grains and artificial stuff. And moving, of course, burn that fat for fuel.
04-08-2010, 08:19 AM
I am also having issues with belly fat, and that is the main area that I want to reduce weight in. I've heard that cardio is the best way to lose it, because it will produce overall weight loss. But does anyone have any other suggestions?
04-08-2010, 08:26 AM
Actually, one day of bad eating shouldn't make a difference in fat loss on weeks of good. If anything, it should actually improve it.
I know this sounds crazy, but I've found this to be true.
I posted this somewhere a while back:
In fact, it doesn't really help if you starve yourself that way, because your body will adjust to the lower energy input, because it thinks there's little food available. So basically to ensure its 'survival', it will adjust its metabolic rate.
The problem is that you might lose weight temporarily (even though this might also include lean mass and not just fat), but eventually this will come to a halt (once the body has adapted to the lower calorie input).
Because you don't see results anymore, you stop the diet. But the worst thing is that by then, because your body has adapted and burns less than it normally did, you now create a calorie surplus much easier when you start eating 'normally' again... which of course gets stored as fat.
So starving yourself is really not the way to go in the long-run, and will eventually actually make things worse.
So like you said, it's much more 'sane' to keep eating, to give your body the idea that there's plenty of food available, so it'll feel it's safe to keep burning calories.
Still, you do need to create a calorie deficit to force your body to tap into its fat stores for energy, so you need to deal with a paradox:
- You need to create a calorie deficit while tricking your body into thinking it's being overfed.
Here's how you can do that:
- Start exercising... Whatever you can do on a regular basis is great.
- Have lower calorie days on which you consciously create a calorie deficit.
- After 3 - 5 lower days, have a higher calorie day. And feel free to have that dessert on such a higher calorie day.
This way, the moment your body is going to adapt to the lower calorie input of the lower days, you give the signal that there's plenty of food after all, so it doesn't have to adapt.
And then lower days follow again, on which your body keeps burning calories because its metabolism stays high due to the higher calorie day and the exercise... which means it's forced to tap into its fat stores to compensate for the energy deficit.
- Another thing you need to do is eat regularly throughout the day. So don't starve yourself and have 1 or 2 big meals. It's much better to eat smaller meals spread across the day. Or 3 meals and 2 healthy snacks in between.
- Make sure you focus on whole and unprocessed foods. And try to have a source of lean protein in each and every meal/snack.
- Make sure you have some good breakfast!
- As a general rule, try to 'eat clean' for 90% of the time.
That means that if you eat 5 meals a day, you'll eat 7 x 5 = 35 meals per weak. 90% of that is about 31 meals. That means you have 4 meals a week to 'screw' your diet. It's best not to completely indulge, but you can definitely feel free to have something you truly enjoy.
This can make sure you'll be able to stick with your diet, because you'll be able to regularly cut yourself some slack.
And besides, if you plan these 'cheats' on your higher calorie days, they may even work in your advantage.
But of course, this approach works best if you exercise regularly.
As for belly fat in particular, spot reducing isn't possible, so you just need to make sure you get into a process that will continuously have your body tap into its fat stores, without adapting to a lower energy input (which would eventually stop you from getting results).
For me, it always helped to include strength training or resistance training as a basis, to retain my lean mass (which burns calories).
Then I create a structural energy deficit as described above (low calorie days and high calorie days). The added benefit is that I can strategically plan for moments that I eat "bad" (i.e. I plan that on the high days), so that it actaully works in my advantage.
To add to that effect, I often eat low carb on the 'low calorie days', and higher carb on the 'high calorie days'. Or I just eat low carb all day long on the high calorie days, and then have one meal that I eat anything I want.
Through the combination of low carb and exercise (including weight training), I deplete my body from glycogen. This means that when I do indulge in a big meal with bad carbs, most of it will be used to replenish my glycogen stores anyway, so they don't turn into fat.
Plus, as said, this gives my body the signal that there's plenty of food available and no 'famine' is coming up, so it's safe to keep burning calories and keep my metabolism high.
Keep this up long enough and your belly fat will disappear.
Hope that makes sense... ;-)
04-08-2010, 08:59 AM
The problem with slow weight loss is, ok maybe I'll lose 4 pounds in two weeks or so, but THEN, if I have ONE day of poor eating, *poof* there goes my past two weeks.
THere is no way you will gain four pounds in one day. If your MAINTENANCE calorie intake is (choosing a random number) 2,500, you'd have to consume 16,500 calories to do that. You would probably end up in the hospital because your stomach would be ready to explode by then!!
If you eat on a calorie deficit, gaining ONE pound in one day would be just as hard! Think about it, if your maintenance intake is 2,500, that's 17,500 calories a week to maintain. If you're eating 2,000 per day (500 deficit), that's 14,000 a week. That means in one day you would have to consume 2,000 (deficit amount) plus 3,500 extra (to equal the maintenance 17,500) PLUS an extra 3,500 on top of that (an extra pound). About 9,000 calories in one day. Personally, I'd feel sick as a dog after about 3,000 to 3,500 cals in a single day.
04-08-2010, 10:14 AM
In an attempt to learn a lot about my body while I've been doing this process over the last 4 months I've done a lot of weighing using three different scales multiple times of day, before/after workouts, morning/night, etc...
At the strong risk of TMI this is what I have learned.
1. Without doing anything extreme my standard water weight can vary by as much as 4 lbs. I.e. I can have a 4 lb fluctuation within a 8-12 hour perios (usually overnight) with no other variables like food or waste. I can also easily sweat out 3 lbs of water at the gym.
2. Heavy exercise (I lift a fair amount) causes me to carry 2-4 additional lbs of water on top of #1. If I don't work out for 3 consecutive days my weight usually drops by 2-4 lbs, then pops back up the next day after the gym.
3. TMI: I easily carry 3-5 lbs of waste at any given moment. Whenever I feel really "empty" I am usually at least 3 lbs lower than "normal".
4. Clothes vary another 1-3 lbs.
So I consider my true weight to be kind of a mid-point of all of the above. Right now my official weight (where I try to do similar time of day/circumstances/etc) is 202, but I have seen a number as low as 196 and as high as 208 in the past 7 days!
All of that to say that you are wrong about 1 bad day wiping out 2 weeks of effort. But not that the reverse works as well, your scale might go down for many reasons other than fat loss. If I don't go to the gym for 3 days my scale weight goes down, but that doesn't mean I'm doing anything good for fat loss...
04-08-2010, 10:37 AM
Take it from me, one day won't make any difference in the long run. My problem is that I use one or two bad days to give up and go back to overeating.
As for belly fat, I hear you. I am an apple shape and it's appalling to me that not only do I have a huge belly bulge, but I have no waist whatsoever. On the good side, my hips and backside a pretty small. Basically, when I lose the weight, I'll have a more boyish frame. Which is fine with me. When I was skinnier, I liked to wear men's jeans.
04-09-2010, 10:11 AM
Thanks everyone, your words were all uplifting. My favorite plan is South Beach, but I find it difficult to stick to Phase 1 to the letter, so I've been trying to keep roughly to Phase 2. I exercise regularly (run, walk, pilates, yoga) and try to get in the antioxidant rich foods (blueberries, green tea, dark chocolate in moderation, red wine, pomegranate...) a couple times a day. I haven't wanted fast food in a relative while. I try to keep it healthy, I buy local or organic (in that order) chicken and low-fat dairy products (ever had farm-fresh yogurt?? yum!).
Anyway I'm also one that weighs every day, I have for years (sadly, since I'm only in my early 20's). @ambpure I too have found the eat a little eat a lot method does well in shocking my body to kick up the calorie burn. :)
My primary concern at the moment is that in a few weeks I leave for a field project called Vortex2, where I will be chasing storms for 7 weeks. I haven't had much luck explaining this to most people on this forum, because the responses I've gotten have been "you just have to make sure you plan your meals." Not only do I not know where I will be for each meal, I don't actually know if we will have a restaurant around or if our (literally) only option is a mom and pop shop that serves deep-fried food. Or a gas station. Some days I might not get to eat dinner until after midnight. We don't have a home base, so I can't stock up on goodies and keep them in a hotel room, we have to travel lightly. I love my work, but it is a disaster zone for healthy eating *and* exercise (squeeze in a run between getting in at 1a.m. after driving 600 miles and having to be up by 6a.m. to do it all again!)
Thanks for letting me vent, you are all so supportive!
04-09-2010, 12:25 PM
I hate the say this, because it's not particularly encouraging, but you can't spot reduce. Your belly will shrink when you lose overall fat. Situps are great, but they will only tone the muscles *under* the fat.
04-09-2010, 12:39 PM
OP - Storm chasing sounds interesting, but I can see how it will ruin your eating plan. Perhaps you can go into maintenance mode while you are away. One thing I've found when I have only fried food available to eat, I eat less of it. Maybe you can bring some food with you on the trip. Sadly though the healthiest stuff spoils easily.
04-09-2010, 12:52 PM
I still think it's possible, though admittedly difficult, to plan your meals in those circumstances.
Get a backpack with lots of pockets. Fill some of it with non-perishables (canned tuna and a box of crackers, energy bars, even thick-skinned fruits like oranges, individual peanut butter packets (http://www.justinsnutbutter.com/), Laughing Cow non-perishable cheeses, fruit cups packed in their own juices, etc). Whenever you're in a place with a grocery store or good convenience store, restock your bag. Whenever you're in a place without any healthy options at all (like the only food around is a diner with only fried food...although a lot of diners do now offer healthier options than that), you have food you can rely on.
Your diet won't be the perfect sort of healthy whole grains/fresh veggies plan, but it will be lower-calorie and higher in nutrients. And most of these foods are compact...you can pack a week's worth of healthy alternatives in maybe half of your backpack. Even if you need to travel light, having a few alternatives in your bag means that for the meals where you have no immediately available healthy option, you have a backup plan.
Shannon in ATL
04-09-2010, 01:13 PM
I just looked up the page for the Justin's Nut Butter and that has to be the coolest thing I've ever seen. That would be great to pack in your bag for road snacks!
04-09-2010, 01:26 PM
[Taking a moment away from listening, emphathy & advice-offering mode.]
You're going to be chasing storms? How cool is that? You mean, like Reed Timmer does? I have to admit, when I was stuck in a hotel room one night during a hard rain last summer, I watched a program with him & his friends & colleagues chasing storms & by the time it was over, I had fallen just a little bit in love with Reed Timmer. (I know he has a girlfriend, Jene -- mine was a far-off love. Like, "I want a guy who has a little Reed Timmer in him.") I would not be able to do that, but I love watching people who are REALLY PASSIONATE about their jobs getting to do them, since mine is not the kind of job one gets passionate about.
Okay, end of that.
Now. I think Amanda has given you some excellent advice. I do something similar when I am traveling & moving into Unfriendly Food territory. A good cooler with ice is important. I pack up lots of plain nonfat Greek yogurt. I bake healthy muffins beforehand. I get the peanut butter. I get lots of fruit. I hit Trader Joe's & stock up on nuts. (Not trail mix. Just plain unsalted nuts.) And I figure on ordering really really plain fare at the diner. It's not hard to get a grilled chicken breast at such places. Also, it helps if you like seafood. Fish can be an excellent option, if it's not breaded & fried or glopped with sauce.
If you can commit to something like "two out of three meals must be healthy" & make one of those breakfast, then you'll be coming out better than you otherwise might have.
The hard thing while traveling, I find, is not just eating healthily, but not succumbing to peer pressure to eat cr@ppy food. Everyone else throws all the rules out the window. I cannot afford to do that, the way they can. I just accept that & realize I will be the weird, pain-in-the-butt person who is always looking for a healthy option. Groups tend to accommodate various weirdnesses of their members, so they may as well accommodate my "gotta eat healthy" weirdness.
04-09-2010, 01:38 PM
Two words: Portion control. No matter how hungry you are, don't eat "the whole thing."
Good luck! It sounds like an adventure!
04-09-2010, 11:05 PM
Hello everyone, once again, really useful tips! I shared them with another friend that will be out there, she also has the issue of being vegetarian. Her problem is completely opposite--she's already stick thin and doesn't want to become skin and bones from being in the heart of red meat country for 7 weeks.
@saef Reed isn't with Vortex2, but I'm sure we'll run into him again this year. Sean Casey tags along with V2 since he teams up with Josh and company. Those of us that are out there are all slightly off-kilter, I think you have to be for this kind of work. ;)