Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Vacation dieting

I was on vacation the past two weeks and thus away from my routine. My plan for the trip was to:
  1. avoid tracking my calories because it would drive me crazy, and
  2. not gain any weight.

Instead, I was going to focus on eating normal-sized portions and limiting my alcohol intake to "special occasions". And by that I mean, not drinking heavily every day. I was on vacation after-all and vacation means boozing.

I got back Sunday night and the verdict is...I'm down 1 pound!

That's honestly shocking because I only exercised once last week, drank a BUNCH of margaritas, ate double portions of fish tacos, and spent the rest of the time sitting under a palapa on the beach. So I didn't move much and consumed a lot, which is not conducive to not gaining weight.

Granted, the first week of vacation was very exercise-heavy (2 hill runs and a 3-mile run in California, and then 12-miles of running during Tough Mudder in Vegas) so maybe that evened things out a bit. But I'm still kind of shocked by the loss.

The Roommie and I next to my second favorite palapa, a day after finishing Tough Mudder in Las Vegas

When I weighed myself out of curiosity on Sunday night after getting home, I was up to 201.0 lbs, which is 7 pounds more than my weight when I left. I was really bummed about that because that's an insane amount of poundage to gain in 14 days. And I didn't think I had strayed from my plan all that much. All the anxiety I've been having about not being able to maintain a normal calorie intake to stay at a lower weight came roaring back. It was disconcerting.

Monday morning had me at ~196 and today I weighed in at 193.5 lbs. I discounted Monday's weigh-in because I was only three days removed from drinking (my weight is all over the place within three days of alcohol) so the "official" post-vacation weight remains at 193.5 lbs.

We'll see if this downward trend continues once I weigh-in tomorrow but regardless of what the scale shows, I'm really proud of myself for eating normally enough while on vacation without feeling deprived at all. Actually, I could've had a few more beers on the beach but I stayed away because a) I was getting sick and didn't need to impede my immune system's work by consuming alcohol, and b) I get super dehydrated after even one drink these days (I'm getting old) and didn't want to spend my vacation hungover on top of already being sick.

In short, it appears that living a life without needing to calorie count all the time is totally doable for me. There are still things I need to tweak and learn about my body before I can go into legitimate maintenance mode (and lose about 50 more pounds) but it's reassuring to know that I can count on myself to know when to stop eating.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Frustrations with my weight-loss, or lack thereof

I've been getting frustrated with my progress lately since the scale hasn't moved all that much in the last week. And by "all that much", I mean, at all. I've lost a measly four pounds in March, which doesn't seem like enough for all the effort I've been putting into this.

So I decided to take the plunge and get another BodyMedia Fit, because my old one (previously called a GoWear Fit) broke. I don't plan on wearing it on my arm like it's technically recommended because I hate answering questions about what it is. So I'm going to put it in my bra instead, which is just about as accurate as the armband as I've concluded from my not-so-scientific experiments with my old GWF (now BMF).

The only real thing that's been holding me back from getting another one of these is that it's not accurate for bike riding, which is my main source of exercise. So all in all, it won't give me a good number for most of my exercise because I've been biking a lot lately.

But what it is good for is my daily calorie expenditure. So anything I burn on top of just living my life is bonus in my book even if it is a bit inaccurate.

Since my weight-loss has been relatively slow (1.0 - 1.5 lbs/week) I've been worrying that once I drop down even more weight I will stop losing because my metabolism will slow down with the lower weight. And I really can't go below the 1500 calories I'm currently eating without going insane. With this BMF, I won't have to guess all the time about how much I can eat to still lose weight because it will (hypothetically) tell me how many calories I've burned in any given day. And then I'll be able to adjust my food intake accordingly.

Also, I can't stay on a tight calorie budget all the time because I'm starting to feel deprived, which is something I've been trying to avoid with this weight-loss effort. For example, yesterday my roommate had a panini with salami and cheese and all I wanted was to have some as well. But my calorie budget didn't allow for it. I had had a few too many beers on Monday so in order to keep the week's calories under 1500 daily, I couldn't allow myself another cheat day.

But I had also refereed three games on Monday and in doing so I had sprinted/jogged/walked 4.5 miles. So some of those calories had been burned off, I just didn't know how many. Having a BMF would've given me that information and would've allowed me to see if I could hypothetically eat some of the calories I had burned and still be under my deficit totals.

I've been so strict lately with my calories because I haven't been losing any weight and it's incredibly frustrating. So I'm trying to stick with the allotted 1500 to see if that will make me lose the weight I expect and it's been really hard and restricting. I don't want that feeling and I also don't want to be guessing all the time about what I should be eating and how much I should be exercising. So this takes all the guesswork out and allows me to live my life pseudo-normally. At least that's the hope.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Balancing weight-loss through cycling with the need for run fitness

I've been getting overwhelmed with the amount of fitness I need to do for the various activities I participate in and I can't seem to find a good way to consolidate workouts. For example, for refereeing, I need to work on my run endurance and speed but I much prefer to ride my bike than to run. And I also lose a lot more weight when I bike than when I run.

I've noticed that when I referee, I run out of gas towards the end of the game so I definitely need to work on that. So far I've been sticking to one run hill workout a week and biking the rest of the days, with a game of reffing thrown in there somewhere. It seems to be working well enough because I am faster and have more endurance than when I first began refereeing this winter/spring. But I have a long ways to go before I'm "match fit" as they call it.

To develop that match fitness, I need to run more and I've been thinking about adding another hill day and/or a long run/interval day. But I can't work out hard for more than 5-6 days a week because my body needs the rest so these runs cut down my number of biking days, which would suck because I really love to bike.

With that in mind, my biggest question is if cycling will have any sort of benefit for running, whether it's an increase in endurance or speed. Either one works for me. I haven't been able to find a straight answer so I guess I'm just going to have to experiment and see what happens.

Here is someone's post on a biking forum about his running and cycling:
And depending upon whether your running speed is limited by muscle-strength/efficiency or aerobic-capacity, cycling will help you in different ways.

For me, my legs never get tired on runs less than 10-miles at TT speeds (I played soccer for 15-years). However, getting faster running speed requires working on my aerobic system. Doing hill climbs and tempo workouts on the bike definitely helped my running speeds. :)

Also, I find that I can lose weight faster by riding my bike than by running. About 6-8lbs/month with cycling vs. 4-5 lbs/month with running. Lower weight helps in both running and cycling.

And another person's opinion:
I credit cycling with vastly improving my baserunning ability in softball, I went from someone who had to hit the ball well into the outfield to get on base to someone who can out run a slightly misplayed 5-3 infield hit. Made all the difference in bringing my average up to something close to respectable.

I'm not saying that training for sprinting wouldn't have acomplished the same thing, but it sure wouldn't have been as much fun.

I guess all this comes down to the question of, do I want to get fit for refereeing at the expense of losing weight? With running, I do lose weight but at a much slower pace than if I was biking, as the above poster mentioned. So I guess I have to decide what I want to focus on right now.

I think currently my priority is weight-loss and to do that I need to bike more. It seems that biking a lot will improve my aerobic fitness and in a roundabout way also give me more running endurance because of less weight on my body. Maybe once I reach my goal weight I'll focus more on running? We'll see.

So I think the solution is to do one run hill workout a week and one long run/interval training a week as well. If I have a game to referee then that can count as the long run/interval training day. The other three to four days of exercise will be biking, with hopefully one hill workout on that as well. I've found that I can't do more than 6 days of exercise in a week because my body can't handle it so that's going to be the breakdown for now.

This schedule looks good for now and the weeks when I follow this plan tend to make me happiest. I end up pretty tired, but it's manageable and actually somewhat enjoyable. Other variations either leave me drained or unhappy, neither of which is sustainable in the long run. So I'll stick with this for now and amend as I need.

By the way, I hate how I have to amend everything about my workout and food plans. I wish I could just stick to one thing that works instead of having to change it up all the time with changes in my weight and fitness level.

That's another reason I can't wait to hit maintenance in 50+ pounds...I won't have to worry about balancing weight-loss with fitness and will instead be able to work on the latter exclusively. Then again, by that point I'll want to add some significant strength training and figuring out how to do that most effectively will be another can of worms to sift through!