Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Dose of My Own Medicine

I haven't vented for a while. I'm due.

In various places, at various times, I've repeated a few related mantras. It's all about the math. Watch the trends, not the numbers. Be patient.

But, and you may be shocked to hear this, I am not perfect. Although I know my mantras to be spot on, well, sometimes they're just not "enough". You start to question things, wondering whether the assumptions you're working with are correct. Do I really have my correct BMR? Do I burn as much as I think I do when working out? Am I eating in my sleep?!?

It's all about the math.
Watch the trends, not the numbers.
Be patient.

To understand my frustration, let's look at the raw data. Sure, I'm out of school so I'm a bit more sedentary than normal. That's why I set my "metabolism" in FitDay to, well, sedentary instead of "seated, some movement". That's shaving nearly 600 Calories off of my calculated BMR. So, of course, I'm upping the exercise. For the past nearly two weeks, I've burned an average of nearly 800 Calories more than I've consumed. So, my weight loss should be continuing as it always has. But let's look at the raw data.
  • June 6: 194.6 (hadn't been following the program faithfully because of end-of-school stuff)
  • June 7: 193
  • June 8: 193
  • June 9: 193.8
  • June 10: 194
  • June 11: 194.8
  • June 12 194.8
  • June 13: 194.6
  • June 14: 194.8 (mega exercise day - burned about 2,000 more than I ate)
  • June 15: 194.2 (ok...)
  • Today: 194.8 (argh!)

It's all about the math.
Watch the trends, not the numbers.
Be patient.

Not helping. Not "enough".

Maybe it's time for a free day. Those tend to help me break plateaus. But, but... I don't want to possibly derail the work I've been doing. I want to charge forward, get as much progress as possible for the summer!

Perhaps I need to cut calories a bit. Maybe I burned more at work than I think. Seriously? Well, maybe. Yelling at kids all day long sure gets the heart rate up. (I joke, I joke. I don't yell at the kids. Much. But they are middle schoolers, so, you know.) So, then, what? Cut calories?

It's all about the math.
Watch the trends, not the numbers.
Be patient.

Still not "enough".

So, I look away from the raw data (which I should't even be looking at, but I do) and review the trends. Weightbot (iphone) tells me I'm losing weight so slowly that it'll take 398 more days to lose 40 pounds. OK, but weightbot really doesn't have a good averaging system. (And, still, according to weightbot, I am losing weight, albeit at the pace of a turtle's funeral procession.) Let's look at the better system: physicsdiet:

The one above is my 30-day progress. See the big red spike? That's what happened when I completely blew off diet and exercise for a few days and engaged in some celebratory stuff at work. My planned maintenance is actually the level line right before the big spike. But still, what does it tell me? I'm losing about 1.17 pounds per week with a calculated deficit of nearly 600 Calories. OK. But that's for thirty days. What about just the past two weeks?

Um, OK. Still trending downward. Even better with an average weekly loss of 1.71 pounds and a calculated deficit of over 800 Calories. Actually, that's pretty on par with what I've been doing. OK, OK, but what about just this week? Certainly I've flatlined for the last week, right? Or, perish the thought, reversed the trend?

Seriously, thank goodness for math. You see, I'd be looking at the bottom of the graph, the data points, and be convinced that I'm gaining weight. But math takes other data into account and reassures me that, even just during this week, I'm losing weight. Sure, only 1.05 pounds per week, but I'm losing, it assures me.

I'm having a hard time buying it.

It's all about the math.
Watch the trends, not the numbers.
Be patient.

I'm trying. I really am. I mean, consider some things. I've (re)started weight training and am pushing myself with tough cardio. Muscle is denser than fat, so that would explain a lack of weight loss. I've started supplementing with BCAAs, which can help with ideal body recomp. That means that I may be reducing muscle catabolism (using muscle for energy rather than just fat) and building muscle enough to look like a plateau. But, it could be any of the less ideal things listed above.

It's all about the math.
Watch the trends, not the numbers.
Be patient.

So, yes. Patience is a virtue. And necessary. But difficult. Sometimes near-impossible. But not actually impossible.

So, I'll stay the course. Give it a few more weeks before I scream in frustration. If nothing else, even if my weight is staying the same, my fitness is improving, so it's not like I'm wasting my summer opportunity.

Honestly, I don't like the taste of my own medicine, but I'll swallow it. Anything else would be madness.


Arnþór L. Arnarson said...

I think you are having a case of life stuff. That is issues in your life besides training are affecting your training. Nothing more natural. Can't avoid life issues even if one would try one's hardest. ;)

You are starting teaching after summer break? Stress? Trials and tribulations? You cant avoid cause and effect, this will affect you.

I like your mantras and I thing you would do great by doggedly sticking to them. But allow me to add another mantra, if you will.
- Have faith.
And here I am not speaking of any bible religious stuff. It is more spiritual or natural or what ever, nothing unnatural, but pure practical living stuff. Have faith in your training. You know you have done it. Have faith in your diet. You know you have it checked. Have faith in the future. You know you are on a roll here. Just look back from where you have come. In short have faith! It will give you courage. When you do a down hill doing speeds that are death defying you need faith. You need faith in your bike, that it wont suddenly fall apart, or that you will suddenly get a flat front tire and woosh down a canyon. Faith gives you courage and a steady hand, it will make you cool under pressure, it will make you endure. Again have faith!

You have a great machine going. Passed experience has proven it. You know this. You have done this. You have stuck to the plan, you have endured. And you will endure. You have the right stuff, I am sure of this. So have faith.

If you are having a difficult and a stressful time you could always ease up on physical training, to lower your stress levels (cortisol). But stick to your diet. I know you know all this, but sometimes it helps to have somebody tell us what we already know. ;)

Don't make big changes. You have a good working machine. Rather do some tweaking.

Lastly and finally, yes you know it, have faith! ;)

Get Fit Quickly! said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I just joined Dailyburn a few days ago - and I've seen your name all over the site - and I have to say, you are SUCH an inspiration to me. I have about 100-150 pounds to lose and I'm terrified of the journey. I've lost 60 pounds before, and then gained even more back, and then lost another 30 and then gained more back. This time I'm really determined to make a change - I'm 27 and its really about time.

I keep looking at the mountain I have to climb to get there - and your progress has made me believe that I can do it.

I really enjoy your blog and will be checking in :)

benzado said...

Hi Karen,

I'm the developer of an iPhone app, FatWatch. It tracks your weight with a moving average, like physicsdiet.com does. It also allows you to import/export weight history as a CSV text file. Based on your post, I think you might find it better than Weightbot for your needs.

If you (or anyone else reading this) like a free download code, send me an email help@fatwatchapp.com.

-- Ben