Friday, February 20, 2009

+21.2 (∆ +1)

Two days ago, my scale was at "+19" and seeing my weight inexplicably go back up again is rather demoralizing. And look, I already know the theory:

  1. Due to the body's natural ebb and flow, weight loss on a day to day basis is effectively meaningless.
  2. If muscle mass in increasing and body fat is decreasing, then weight might stay the same... or even increase.
  3. A more meaningful trend to follow is average weight loss over weeks.

Despite knowing all that, seeing my weight go up is still disappointing. Here's why:

Last week I decided to make up for not getting to the gym all week (my pesky daughter had a cold all week so I was effectively stranded at home until she got better). During this last week, I had read that the body's base metabolic rate (how quickly the body burns through fat) stays higher for longer if you workout for as much as an hour. You don't have to work out for 60 minutes straight, but a workout of only 30 minutes during the day will return the body back to its previous metabolic rate 90 minutes later whereas a one hour workout will return the body back to its previous metabolic rate 5 hours later—i.e., after an hour's workout, more fat is being burned for five hours after that even if all you're doing is watching TV.

My workouts have been steadily increasing in length. In the beginning, I went for only 15 minutes just to get into the habit of going. I went two to three times a week, did 15 minutes on the treadmill and then hopped in the pool. The 15 became 20, then 25, then 30 and so on until I got to 45 minutes and had to nix the pool altogether. From there, I increased it by one minute until, by last week, I was at 54 minutes. When I read about the benefits of 1 hour workouts, I thought, "Well, what the hell? Let's try it for a week!"

So here I am, almost a week after kicking my own ass on the treadmill and I appear not to have made any progress at all. Quite to the contrary, it feels like I'm worse off than before.

The truth is, I've been eating poorly this last week. Pizza and burittos. Maxing out my calories a few times, probably because I feel like I'm owed a little fun. I'm still coming under my daily net calories (meaning, I've been eating 200 extra calories every day, but my workouts are 500 calories, so my daily net is -300), and even if I eat more for a day or two, my weekly net calories are still under budget. Yet, I can feel my mind rebelling and pushing back. Every day, I feel a stronger need to have an extra portion. Maybe it's because I'm working out more, but it's probably also because my mind is impatient about seeing results.

The good news is that, even if I happened to be the same weight I was a week ago, my overall weight loss is still trending downwards. I used to be at +33 a month ago which equates a 2.6 pound weight loss per week, over two and a half times my original goal of one pound weight loss per week. When you look at it like that, it's hard not to feel a twinge of excitement again about seeing "+0" at the top of this post.

In any event, I'm determined to see some results from a week's worth of treadmillin'—for the rest of this week and next, I'm going to go back to my original daily budget of 1950 calories AND keep doing my 60 minute workouts. At some point, the weight is going to drop. It has to. It's simple math.

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