Here are my real “weightloss” goals that have nothing to do with the number on the scale:
1) Be able to see my muscles in my arms even if I’m not flexing
2) Be comfortable working out in a sports bra
3) Have a lean enough body that I feel like I’m not carrying too much extra weight while I train for my 50-miler. A lighter body is kinder on the joints.
Is it time for me to finally give up on the scale entirely like the rest of the world does? YES. But…but…I put SO MUCH VALUE on what that scale says, I’m not sure I could just give it up. The other reason I depend on the scale is this: I am not a consistent eater. I have good days and bad days. And since I don’t know my metabolism in this body well, I kinda don’t know what to expect on the scale. People talk about “caloric intake to maintain weight” and I don’t even know what that is because my weight has been fluctuating for 2 years. (Yes. I know. That’s unhealthy too.) It might be worth me considering some beta-alanine then, I’ve heard it helps promote a healthier balance and builds muscle and burns fat.
You would think this would show me how ridiculous it is to depend on the scale for anything, but nope. It just makes me attached to it that much more.
But…I think it’s time to give it up. I think, at least for a little while, I need to try something else. I’m so close to where I want to be, I need to find a more dependable way to track my progress than on the scale. I need to track my speed, my strength, and my appearance. So, I’m going to go with other measurements and I’m going to use photos. Then I’ll track them every week until school starts back up. My original goal was to get down to 130lbs by the start of school. My new plan is to monitor my speed, strength, and my appearance all while tracking my eating. Then, on the first day of school, I’ll step on the scale and see where I’m at. Here is my baseline, I’ll check everything again at the end of the summer.
Weight = 143.1
Right Arm – 11.25
Left Arm – 11
Right Calf – 14
Left Calf – 13.75
Right Thigh – 23.5
Left Thigh – 23
Hips – 37.75
Waist – 35
Body Fat – 27% (Just based on wrist, forearm, waist, hips, weight)
John Hunt 3-mile run: 29:39
(This is part of a weekly trail run I do with about 140 other people and they have a real clock so it’s easy to monitor.)
Here’s what else I’d like to do. I’d like a way to monitor my strength but our boot camp doesn’t do the same thing on a schedule ever day/week/month. I’d like to have 5 excercises, all that work on different general muscle areas, and to so how many I can do of those each week without stopping. Or how many I can do in X amount of time. I was thinking: Push ups, Weighted Squats, Side-Arm Raises, Twisty crunches, and Weight One-Leg Leg Raises. (I make up a lot of my exercise names.) I’ll start that next Monday to give me a baseline and post those results as well.
The most important part of this initial assessment – I took a front and size picture this morning in a sports bra. I’ll take the same picture every Monday. I didn’t suck in (WANTED TO!) and this will hopefully help me monitor the real changes in how my body looks instead of what the scale or some arbitrary BMI number says. I’ll spare you those pictures right now.
In order for this to work, however, I really have to monitor everything. Food, drink, and exercise. I need to understand my metabolism. This article talks a lot about building muscle (something I’m still trying to do in some areas) but also talks a lot about caloric intake and metabolism. I’ve been having a hard time figuring out what my caloric intake should be. That great article basically tells me that I should be eating 2200 to maintain my weight and that takes into consideration my “active lifestyle” so, to lose 1lb a week, I should be eating 1700 calories a day. But, here’s the thing, as a runner my daily exercise routine varies greatly so using an “average” caloric intake doesn’t quite work. Let me tell you why: After I run 16 miles on a Saturday, I want to eat a horse. And I should be allowed to eat that horse! I hear that understanding the difference between catabolic and anabolic exercise is really important if you want to lose weight more efficiently. I hear that it is a good idea to avoid catabolism and focus on anabolic exercise to promote weight loss and muscle gain. It might be a good idea for me to add some weight lifting into the mix as well to allow me to eat like a horse!
Apps like “My Fitness Pal” let me start with more of a BMR type calorie intake level (basically calories that would sustain me if I sat on my ass all day) and earn more with exercise. To lose 1lb a week it tells me I should start out with less than 1300 calories. So, on a day when I run and do boot camp, I’ll be able to eat 2200 calories like the previous article says. But, if I want sit on my but and rest, I only get 1300 calories. I decided this was probably the better way to go for someone who burns so many more calories on one day than on others.
I am going to try to stick to this plan simply because, without my daily step on the scale, I need some way to at least feel like I’m taking steps in the right direction. I don’t know if the measurements or photos will show a difference of a pound a week, so I need to hold onto something that will make me feel like I’m doing okay. That I can stick to it. So, if I stay within these guidelines hopefully that will work.
The article talks a lot about eating for building muscle, but it talks about eating in general too. I loved a lot of it:
Sleep… a lot… every night. In an ideal world, everyone working on building muscle would be getting 8-10 hours of sleep every single night. If you can’t, feel free to throw in a nap whenever possible. Really though, just do everything you can to get as much sleep as you can. Your body will definitely need it, and not getting enough of it will definitely hinder your progress. For the most part, I sleep about 7 hours 4 nights a week, and 8-9 hours the other 3 nights.
THIS IS ME. I really try to live by this schedule because I can tell the difference in so many ways. Supposedly this is key for building muscle and for preventing injury on a run. Think about it, if you’re tired, your muscles are tired. If your brain makes dumb mistakes when missing sleep, your muscles will do the same thing too. Not react as quickly. Or even just your own decisions about where to put your foot or how to adjust your stride, those decisions won’t be as strong. To build muscle…to prevent injury…the key is SLEEP. And I really try to put this a top priority. I can’t as often as I’d like, but I do sacrifice tons of domestic responsibilities just for an extra hour in bed.
SO. This is what I’m going to do. Track my food. Not just calories but protein, fat, carbs. Try to get a lot of sleep. Try to drink more water. I’ll log my exercises better so that I can view my net caloric intake a week at a time. So, if I don’t have the scale telling me I’m losing weight, hopefully I can trust I’m creating a leaner body because THE MATH IS ON MY SIDE. Because, let’s face it, I’m a numbers girl. I’m a math geek. I need some way to quantify something. I have no idea if weekly measurements will tell me anything.
Anyone else want to join me? I’d love to be able to check in next week to see if anyone else notices any differences in the photos/measurements. Like – if you stick to your “diet” plan (I hate using that word!) that MyFitnessPal or whatever app you choose gives you – and you don’t notice a change either…Can we go get a bunch of beer together? I just think it would be nice to have someone else say, “Well, I had half an inch drop on my left calf! That’s progress!”