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Smart Dieting – how to not sabotage your goals.

June 23rd, 2011 Comments off

I’m not saying that I have everything figured out, a good review of my blog posts on the matter should prove that fairly well. 😀

But I had a light-bulb moment this week, and when I shared it on the Lose-It! forums and on my friends feed it got a lot of comments and questions.  So I think it’s probably worth reciting on the ol’ blog too.

Besides the wonderful LoseIt! forums, there is another website I’ve been visiting and listening to that advocates a smart form of dieting.  It’s Fat2Fit Radio which has a weekly podcast that discusses the progress of one of the hosts, entertains letters from their fans, and dissects a ‘weight-loss’ fad just about each and every week.  Their philosophy is a bit upside down from LoseIt!, so it was initially a bit confusing trying to reconcile the two worlds.  My light-blub moment prompted me to make the following YouTube video (live with my voice!)

 

If you can’t sit through a boring 3 minute lecture, let me sum up.  Fat2Fit asks you what you current weight is and what your weight-loss goal is, and then give your a page with your current BMR, and a table of calories of what you should be eating at your goal weight for a variety of activities.  Fat2Fit’s philosophy is to eat today like you are at your current weight, and by doing that you end up eating like your a thin person for your weight-loss duration, and you just keep eating that way “for the rest of your life”.

LoseIt’s philosophy is to find your current BMR, apply a standard activity level and deduct your weight-loss plan from that to get your daily calorie goal.  So as you lose weight your calorie goal decreases and you slowly adapt to eating less and less.  When you reach your goal weight, you move to Maintenance mode and that includes a jump in calories that can be quite large.  The other issue is LoseIt!’s formula is just an arithmetic problem, and doesn’t account for the possibility that you might be eating below what is healthy for your body.

What I’ve done (and many other people that come to LoseIt!! as well) is start up with the maximum amount of weight to lose, and just keep it there.  Progress is usually good at the beginning then begins to slow down.  After a while weight-loss stalls and people get frustrated.  My theory is that many people (not ALL) have driven the equation below their BMR and are in the middle of starvation mode.  The quick fix is paradoxically, to eat more.  The problem is LoseIt! has no tools to help you determine this on your own, so the forums are filled with the same frustrating question: “Why am I stalled??!?!” and the answer usually is “Eat more!” and the response is usually… WHAT?!?!? you’ve got to be KIDDING ME?! I’m trying to lose weight!

So we need a tool to help us understand what might be happening with this “starvation mode” or more properly eating below your BMR for an extended period of time. This is where Fat2Fit’s information is helpful, but also confusing because they have a different philosophy to how to eat than LoseIt!

The number we want to keep an eye on is our BMR (another issue is that they both use a slightly different formula to compute BMR so the numbers don’t match exactly).  We want to eat above our BMR and below our Activity Level adjustment.  The confusion is that LoseIt! doesn’t display our current BMR, and that Fat2Fit’s calorie recommendations aren’t associated with our current BMR, but with our goal BMR.

So, lets get into the math.

Here’s my current LoseIt! goals:

Weight: 282
Weekly Plan: 1 lb/week
Calorie Goal: 2734 calories

To get my BMR I need to add back my weekly plan goals, and reverse LoseIt!’s Activity Level Adjustment.

2734 + 500 = 3234 / 1.45 = 2230 calories per day.

So my calorie goal is good, I’m above my BMR and below my Activity level of 3234.  So I should lose about 1/lb week if I hit those numbers.

If we look at Fat2Fit, we get a slightly different number (because they use a different mathematical formula to calculate BMR.  We plug in our numbers and they give us the following:

BMR: 2464 (see it’s a bit higher)

But then they give us a table with the following:

Activity Level Daily Calories
Sedentary 2591
Lightly Active 2969
Moderately Active 3346
Very Active 3724
Extremely Active 4102

First time I read that, and I was just as confused as anyone, because I didn’t read the fine print.

Based on how much activity you do on an average day, the calories in the right column will be the number of calories that you will be able to eat at your goal weight. If you start eating those calories right now (eating like the thinner you), you will eventually become that thinner person. As you get closer to your goal weight, your weight loss will start to slow down. It is OK to eat a few hundred calories less per day (200-300) to speed up your weight loss at this point.

So the numbers they’re giving us are a good range of numbers to eat.  But what should we make our LoseIt! calorie goal?

This is what I’ve determined. The Lightly Active Activity Level is what LoseIt! applies to everyone as a standard (and it’s fairly accurate in the tests they’ve done with volunteers).  So what I’ve decided to do is first set my Lose It! goal so that it comes close to the Lightly Active – Daily Calories goal (I’m actually under that by 200 which about the margin of error induced by the different equations).  Then I plan to eat my exercise calories (which would correct for the additional activity I add by my running training and bicycle commuting).

I’ve done this for the month of June, and my numbers end up right on goal.  So I’ll continue to track this and blog more as I continue fiddling with the controls.

Why I weigh-in daily

January 19th, 2011 Comments off

Seems like it’s a popular topic on the LoseIt! forums, so here’s my chance to tell my story.  I started losing in April, on weight-watchers and used the scale at the gym to record my weights because I was too heavy for our old scale in the bathroom and it wasn’t reliable at all. 

The gym scale worked great, and I had great success.  Usually tried for the same day of the week, but the time would vary, morning to mid-afternoon as my schedule changed.  But it was in convenient, and after moving to LoseIt! in June my rate slowed dramatically.  I thought it was the normal plateau so I kept doing what I was doing and making small adjustments here, a bit more running there.  Travelled a lot in the Summer which I justified some of the slowness in just the environment of flying, staying in a hotel, and the stress of being away from home.

image In October I expressed frustration that my weight-loss rate was really slowing down, and I wanted to mix it up a bit.  We bought a new scale at Wal-mart and I started a month long experiment on daily weigh-ins.  This chart shows the raw data of the daily weigh-ins since I started.  Noisy is the word for that data, and imagine how I felt emotionally each morning. Up = Bad mood.  Down = Euphoria. Same = Grumpy.  It’s crazy to look at that data as a snap shot.  Our bodies take in a lot of ‘stuff’ over the day, The Hacker’s Diet uses the figure of 14 pounds of ‘stuff’ goes through our system daily.  So a snap-shot scale weight is almost meaningless without context.

Which is why I don’t really care about those numbers.  Well I do care, but only as they relate to the over all trend.  You’ll notice the fits and starts at the beginning of the dailys, I’ll give you a hint, the first spike was Halloween, the second Thanksgiving weekend, and the third smaller spike, right after the new year.  But the spikes, over time have gotten less volatile, and I think that’s the discipline of looking at my daily weight as it relates to the trend. 

image

Here’s the same data with a 10 day moving average trend line overlaid in red.  Not near as manic as the daily weigh-in, and some early warnings become apparent in the data points (I didn’t start using a trend until after Thanksgiving the tall spike in the middle).  Armed with the trend-line early warning system (above trend weigh-in check out routines, and re-evaluate habits) I got through a 15 day vacation at the end of the year without a major plateau and buckling down when the work/school routine started put me right back on track.  So if you’re going to weigh in daily, use a trend of some kind to relate to your data, and don’t ride the emotional roller coaster of daily weigh-ins.

I also noticed that my Monday’s were almost always up, and my Tuesday’s were almost always down.  So I thought to myself, what if I changed to only recording my weight on Tuesdays. image I’ve gone back and made a chart of the Tuesday weigh-ins along with the trend points for those days.  The blue lines show the Tuesday weigh-ins for the same intervals as above.  The red-lines show the trend values from the daily-weigh-in (they’d be different if applied to only the weekly data).  The point I’d like to make here, is that for me I’m not sure I’d have really gotten the feedback that’s been valuable in finding and changing small habits if I’d only looked once a week.  As I noticed back around Thanksgiving, high-sodium and not enough water will spike me in the wrong direction.  On  this chart it just looks like a small little uptick, and I wouldn’t have really thought about the bad habit, and the rest of the graph might be a lot flatter if I didn’t make that connection.

The changing of my lifestyle isn’t a one thing, one time event, it’s lots of little changes, realizing portion size, the importance of water, the effect of junk food on my plan, emotional eating, etc.  Each of those came at a different time, and only when I had the data-points that gave me more direct feedback on the results of those choices.  If your reading this, your body is different, my results are NOT typical, so you need to do the work of checking in regularly to your patterns, finding your triggers and then finding solutions to change the way you react to your environment.  That might mean weighing in daily, or weekly.  That might mean just logging your foods for now, trying to just eat your maintenance amount of calories.  You’re in charge, and you can do anything you set your mind to.

I’m gonna celebrate, dammit!

December 9th, 2010 1 comment

Because 42 pounds lost was my goal, and I did it!image

That said, 42 was my initial goal, I’m not done yet!  And with all I’ve learned about that blasted trend line I’ve gotta keep up the momentum to have that trend weight get under the 300 mark (still will happen this month, so long as I keep drinking water!)

So while I wait for the trend to catch up to the scale, I’m considering my next steps, I have a wacky idea in mind, that should be a fun way to mix it up a bit in the next few months.  So stay tuned.

Meanwhile, a small soliloquy on why 42 pounds was my goal (despite the 43 stated in the above picture, I didn’t want to use a three-digit number starting with a 3 as a goal.).

I turned 42 last December.  I read Douglas Adams’ Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy when I was in college, so I understand the significance of the number 42 being the ulitmate answer to life, the universe and everything. [Aside: the question being what is 6*9 merely a distraction, this universe’s question shall remain a mystery, see here).

In January my favorite television show LOST started it’s final season (something that should be blatantly obvious to my two readers, but I write to a larger audience!), which I progressed through in a state of joy and sadness.  At The End, I realized I needed something other than television (though I still love me some TV!) to be important in my life.  About the same time as LOST’s finale, my lovely and HAWT wife started on Weight Watchers, she asked me gently to do it with her, because trying to plan meals alone on the system was hard.  So I started Weight Watchers, and then after my free period expired, I started using LoseIt! Both of these programs give you a goal weight, which is a stumper.  All I really new back then was I didn’t want to be as heavy as I was, but as far as a discrete number… clueless.  So I fell back on the LOST numbers: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42.  I chose the biggest, because with my initial weigh-in that would put me under 300 pounds.  No I’m looking at all the progress and trying to find a next big number… but I get ahead of myself, stay tuned!

Sometime after I started on controlling my calorie intake. [Aside: that sentence is a laborious way of avoiding the word “diet” – for which I want to avoid because so far I haven’t eliminated any food sources, just how much of the calories I ingest.] I also wanted to increase my calorie outtake.  So I started the Couch to 5K program, which gently guides a couch potato like I was into a somewhat steady runner.  I pegged a date to run a 5k in September, and was committed to getting that done.  I ran my first 5k in 42 (and a bit more) minutes.

See there is that number again.  42. I love the number 42!  The next jean waist size in my cross-hairs? You guessed it 42! (from a 48 mind you…)

So with hitting the 42 pounds gone, I’m gonna celebrate!

Now, where did I put my celery?

Categories: Life, Losing It Tags: , , , ,