Weight Loss Support - Could use your thoughts re: eating...

12-01-2011, 06:31 PM
Any thoughts that anyone has here would be so useful for me.

When I first started this at 344 pounds, I concentrated on portion control and some exercise. I didn't count calories or use any program. That worked great until I went under 200 pounds. I felt that my weight loss was going too slow so I started to count calories and weigh things.

For the last 3 months I've been eating about 1300 calories a day. I am still losing weight - slowly, but losing it. I don't feel hungry, I'm sleeping pretty well and I don't feel run down. However, I work out twice per day. This would be a typical day of exercise - run 4 miles at lunch and then come home and spend 45 minutes doing body weight exercises.

I've had a couple people opine that for this amount of exercise I'm not eating enough. I ran my numbers through some calorie calculators and put in "moderate" for exercise and just about every one told me to lose 1 per week I should be eating 2000 calories per day (!!)

So yesterday I purposefully ate 1700 calories. I felt stuffed. My extra calories were all from good things - a little extra milk, some extra sweet potatoes, extra chicken, an apple. Today I ran at lunch and I felt so strong - 4.5 miles - was it the extra calories or just a good run day? I don't know.

I am afraid - very very afraid - of upping my calories and gaining, especially since I'm so pumped getting close to goal (which won't be 150 BTW, I'm looking at 130 now). Is this a trial and error thing? What are your thoughts?

12-01-2011, 06:43 PM
What's your rate of weight loss?

12-01-2011, 07:08 PM
You know, if you up your calories and you start to see a gain, you can always go back down again! I think it's easy to get trapped in an all-or-nothing mindset, but if you go up a pound (or even half a pound) on your increased calories, drop back down. I can't imagine 1300 calories a day is enough for that much exercise, though! I haven't lost NEARLY as much weight as you have, so I feel kind of silly giving you advice, but one thing I have noticed with me is that sometimes if I kick it up on the calories for a bit, I won't gain, but then when I come back down on the calories I see a big loss more quickly. I also think it sounds like you're adding calories the right way, but if you're having trouble getting in another several hundred calories, what about stuff like nuts or peanutbutter or a glass of wine or a few squares of nice dark chocolate? You know, all the things you've been avoiding for all this time because they are calorie dense and don't fill you up so much? Best of luck and WAY TO GO!!!! Care to share any pointers?

12-01-2011, 07:18 PM
I don't have anything to add. I just wanted to say --

OH MY GOD YOU ROCK! Congrats on such a fantastic and mindblowing weight loss!

12-01-2011, 07:29 PM
It's all a trial-and-error thing. There is no food plan on which you're gauranteed the results you want to see.

Eating for weight loss, and eating for other heath issues too, is pretty much always a matter of trial and error - experimentation. And to experiment, you have to be willing to risk an undesired outcome. And that's ok - you just have to be prepared for results you don't like - and have a plan in place to deal with unwanted effects.

I've learned that I can't be so afraid of gaining, that I refuse to try anything different.

But it's ok - even unwanted results aren't irreversible. Gaining a little is NOT the worst thing that can happen, and you have the power to prevent a temporary, small gain from becoming a large permanent one.

Remember that you do have control of the gaining - you can't wake up tomorrow 150 lbs heavier. Also remember the physics of weight loss - it takes at least 3500 extra calories to make an extra pound, so at 400 extra calories a day, it wold take you 9 weeks to gain one pound, so you've got time to experiment without risking significant weight gain.

12-01-2011, 07:47 PM
As you get closer to your goal weight you can up the calories around your weight workouts. Right now I doubt it matters much.

Having said that you could very well be over training your body and whether you are or not I'd depends on your intensity and your days off (if any.)

If you're doing 4 miles at 15 minutes a mile that is quite a bit different than if you're doing 4 miles at 8 minutes a mile.

Body weight exercises can also be done quite intensely or not.

You also don't mention if you're taking any days off, or not.

If you're working out too intensely and you're not taking any time off you're definately headed for trouble.

Assuming your goal is to get down to your goal weight ASAP and in a healthy manner is to keep your calories the same and modify your exercise. My personal suggestion would be run (jog) at a low intensity pace 5x a week and lift 3 times a week with real weights doing a full body routine focused around compound lifts.

12-01-2011, 08:14 PM
I see this question all the time and my advice is always the same, try it if it doesn't work after 2 weeks then drop your cals back down. No harm - what's to be afraid of?

Also for what it's worth, for me to lose weight my sweet spot is around 1700 cals, give or take and I lose about 1-2 lbs a week at that range. So yes, eating more and losing weight is possible, however, it doesn't work for everyone - so as someone else mentioned - it's all trial and error.

12-01-2011, 08:48 PM
You guys have given me some things to think about, so thanks! If I wasn't losing at all, I think I would be more open to switching things up, but I am losing about 1 pound per week. Actually, looking at the challenge in another thread, in the last 10 weeks I have lost 17 pounds so maybe I'm doing well - I just want to be doing it the right way. I intellectually know that if I gain a couple pounds I can lower calories again, but emotionally it terrifies me.

John, I run about 15 miles per week at 10 minute miles and just this week I'm upping my miles a little. I run 4 days per week, weight lift (with my Bowflex) 3 days per week, and do a variety of workout videos (30 day shred, Zumba, kickboxing) and a lot of core work. I almost never take a day off but I will if I feel I need to. It adds up to about 90 minutes per day.

12-01-2011, 09:05 PM
I know what you mean about being afraid to eat more but I think kaplods is right about being willing to risk a negative result. It's hard for me to do because it means having a certain amount of faith in myself, not something I'm all that good at.

I got stuck a little while back and eventually increased my calories a bit and it seemed to help. My weight went up a little once or twice, but always came back down within a few days. Your exercise routine sounds pretty intense and you need fuel to do all of that.

You've done such an amazing job. Kudos to you.

12-01-2011, 09:34 PM
. . . sometimes if I kick it up on the calories for a bit, I won't gain, but then when I come back down on the calories I see a big loss more quickly . . .

This has happened to me as well. Also, although I was not regularly weighing myself while I was on losing calories, I did notice that when I increased my calories in October because I wanted to start maintenance, I seemed to drop a "chunk" of weight. It seemed as if all of a sudden, my clothes got looser, and everyone started commenting on how "skinny" I was getting.

I think it's worth a try to increase your calories. As another poster mentioned, you can always lower them if you start gaining. But when you make any sort of calorie change, be sure to give it 2-3 weeks to be sure that the loss/gain is not just sodium, water weight, etc.

12-02-2011, 01:02 AM
John, I run about 15 miles per week at 10 minute miles and just this week I'm upping my miles a little. I run 4 days per week, weight lift (with my Bowflex) 3 days per week, and do a variety of workout videos (30 day shred, Zumba, kickboxing) and a lot of core work. I almost never take a day off but I will if I feel I need to. It adds up to about 90 minutes per day.

As long as you have light days (which are similar to days off) than you may not run into any problems. Just be cautious - you will not always realize that you're over stretching.

Every thing I've ever read about exercise has discussed the importance of taking time off. Cortisol can build up slowly in your system and wreck havok. Over reaching can lead to injury as well and then you'll be forced to take off a lot more time than you want.

12-02-2011, 01:14 AM
Hey John could you expand on the cortisol build up? This is really interesting and would love to hear what the symptoms of that would be and is a quick rest the remedy?

12-02-2011, 04:01 AM
Hey John could you expand on the cortisol build up? This is really interesting and would love to hear what the symptoms of that would be and is a quick rest the remedy?

I'm not an expert on this topic but I have a basic understanding of it. Exercise is stressful to our bodies, and reduced calories adds to this. The combination of the two without any rest makes it easier for cortisol to build up. Most people don't train hard enough to have to worry about this but what the OP is doing (90 minutes a day) is definately enough if she isn't taking days off when combined with reduced calories.

Chronically elevated cortisol levels can cause muscle loss, insulin resistence, reduced kidney function, hypertension, reduce immune system function, lower growth hormone levels, reduce connectivity strength ... bottom line is our bodies are well adapted to handle short term stress. Long term stress just messes us up. A good book you can read on this is "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers (http://www.amazon.com/Why-Zebras-Dont-Ulcers-Third/dp/0805073698)".

What often happens is that a person will stall in their weight loss because they're retaining water as a result of cortisol. (This could even be affecting the OP right now) How many threads have you seen where someone talks about how much they're working out and limiting their calories and yet their weight is stalled. Happens all the time. Some folks are wired in such a way where they will just push it further... more exercise, fewer calories. At a certain point symptoms will start to be displayed.

The syptoms displayed are often reduced stength, reduced endurance, injury, illness, fatigue, etc. Crazy enough when people get these initial symptoms some even push harder ... that's when you read things like all of someone's hair falling out ...

Rest is the answer. How much rest depends on how long you've been over doing it. From what I've read two weeks of no exercise beyond walking (which is not stressful) is enough for most cases.

The bottom line is if you're exercising hard you need calories to support it. So if you're dieting at a steep deficit you shouldn't also be exercising hard 6-7 days a week because sooner or later you're going to pay for it. If you're doing a VLC type of diet (like the IP diet phase 1 for example) you really shouldn't be doing much more than walking because your body simply can't recover.

12-02-2011, 04:47 AM
I do agree with JohnP with regard to overtraining and undereating. BTW JohnP, thanks for sharing your knowledge of cortisol build up.

I cannot really offer advice, I can only tell you my experience. I am also a jogger (15-20 miles a week) and in general have an active lifestyle - I have no car, so I'm also walking or cycling to do daily tasks, such as grocery shopping, and 1300 calories is not enough for me. I eat approx. 1700 and I am still losing. It seems like you get more exercise than I do, so I would think upping your calories makes sense. However, your bodily metabolism and composition is radically different from mine insofar as you have recently lost almost 200lbs and I was maintaining for a couple years around 175.

In addition, I am almost 30 and tall'ish. I hope my experience helps!

Good luck! And in echo of the others: your weight loss is quite amazing and inspiring!

12-02-2011, 07:46 AM
Thanks for that information, JohnP. I had no idea. I am currently exercising 6-7 days a week for at least an hour per day and on some of those days, I'm exercising two hours. However, a good deal of that is walking at a moderate pace (I have a homemade tread-desk). So, for example, on Wednesday, I walked on my tread-desk for an hour (3 mph, elevation 4) and then went to the gym for a pretty intense body bar class. Then, on Thursday, I did about 70 minutes of walking (same pace & elevation). Today, I'm going to a bootcamp class in the morning, doing some housecleaning, and then will get on my tread-desk for an hour.

That is my general schedule for most days of the week. If I take Sundays off, do you think I'll be okay (i.e., I don't want to risk the effects you mention)?

To the OP, it seems that, based on the comments here, you should try increasing your calories. Why not give it a go & see how it works?

12-02-2011, 08:07 AM
If you're losing 1.7lb a week on 1300, then you should lose 1lb/week on 1650 which is still a very respectable rate of weight loss. Why don't you give that a try and see how you feel?

12-02-2011, 08:43 AM
Great info, thanks John!

12-02-2011, 10:02 AM
I think you've gotten a lot of great advice, and I agree the most with the ones that said your body is used to lower intake...and when that happens you plateau.

Mainly what I wanted to say was CONGRATULATIONS!!! You're such an inspiration.