10 June 2015

I've lost a little bit of weight--just a little. It's a very slow process, and as much as I would like to speed-lose, it'll be more likely to stay off. I've done the whole drop it quick, gain it back thing, and I don't want to do that again. I'm thinking long-term, not just being able to squeeze into a smaller size by next month.

My health has been in the forefront of my brain the last few months, and while I've inched my way toward eating better and moving more in the last couple of years--I honestly have--it was just time to really do something proactive.

The swimming is mostly for fitness; it's the one cardio activity I know I'll routinely do without feeling like I'm being punished. I still love walking, but swimming is a lot easier on my body and I feel like I get a better workout in the pool. It does burn calories--I use a waterproof heart rate monitor to give me an idea how much and I get roughly 500 calories burned in 2400 meters--but it's only a small part of the equation.

The crux of it really is simple: calories in, calories out. No, it really doesn't matter what form those calories take, not as far as weight loss and gain goes. A calorie is a calorie is a calorie.

You'll feel better if you eat better food, but you really can lose weight eating crap. I am choosing to eat less crap, eat more real food. But in the end, calories count.

If you want to lose weight, it doesn't do much good to just declare yourself to be limited to 1200 or 1400 or 1600 calories; the amount of food that's right for me might be too little for you, or too much. You need to have an idea what your Basic Metabolic Rate is (BMR) and your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) and calculate an eating deficit based on that.

Easiest way to find those numbers is to use an online TDEE calculator. IIFYM has a good one, I check it every now and then there (sometimes the page looks screwed up, with ads inserted into the middle of the calculator...just scroll down and you'll be able to enter all your data.)

An example: a 45 year old female who is 5'7" and 250 pounds and who exercises 3 times a week has a BMR of 1814 calories a day and a TDEE of 2494. That means that her body burns 1800ish calories a day just to stay alive...what she would use up lying in bed, not moving. To maintain her body weight at her activity level, she needs to eat 2500ish calories.

To lose weight, figure out how many pounds a week, and figure out a deficit based on the TDEE. Want to lose a pound a week, cut 500 calories a day off that. Two pounds, cut 1000.

So she would eat about 1500 calories a day to lose 1.5-2 pounds a week. And ideally, no matter how badly she wants to drop weight, she would also not routinely go under 1200 calories a day.

The body needs fuel. It needs food. Not eating is not an option.

And yes, it can be any food. If you want all your calories to come from fast food, if you stick within your calorie counts, you'll lose weight. You might not feel fantastic, but you can lose weight.

Why the difference in how you feel? Simple. The better the fuel you fill up your tank with, the better your machine works. And your body is a machine. A tankful of cheap assed crap won't hurt every once in a while, but over time...yeah, you'll feel it.

But I've tried that and I can't lose weight counting calories!

Yeah, you can. You're not immune to biology. Your body works the way a body works; if you eat to many calories, you gain weight. Eat under your TDEE and you will lose.

But I counted them, I really did!

It's very, very easy to under-count. If you're counting and not seeing results, you're either misjudging serving sizes or not understanding serving sizes. Sure, Applebee's 7 ounce sirloin clocks in at about 270 calories...but the ribeye at the steak house? Yeah, that's going to be a whole lot more. 

And if you're cooking at home and don't have a grasp, get a food scale. Measure your food exactly for a while. You'll get the hang of it.

But I have issues! I have a slow metabolism! PCOS! Wonky thyroid!

Doesn't matter...and I've used that excuse. If you have genuine metabolic issues you'll have to adjust your TDEE number downward, but only by a couple hundred calories. And if you have a genuine medical condition, see your doctor. Get it addressed. Get on the medications that will help.

I know that particular pain; I have a laundry list of issues. It took a few years to get onto the right dosage of Sythroid, but that in itself was never in my way. The only thing in my way was me.

I eat at a normal-people TDEE that should have me losing about 1.5 pounds a week, but I'm losing about half a pound. And that's fine. I know why it's slow and I know that if I lose it slowly I have better odds of it staying off. I'm also not willing to eat less.

That's a key...know what you're willing to do. Know where your Oh Hell No point is. For me it's 1500 calories a day; I don't routinely eat under that even though I know I would lose easier.

You swim, you exercise, I hate exercise. So I'll never lose anything.

You really don't have to exercise. It's just calories in, calories out. Exercise helps burn more and help you feel better, but you don't have to just to lose weight.

I still recommend it...but find something that doesn't feel like punishment and does feel like fun. Get a video game system and play fitness games. Take Zumba classes. Martial arts. Dance in your own house to the music you like, and dance like no one's watching.

Your heart will appreciate it.

And here's the bigger thing, the one my doc tried to pound home: you're more than a number on a scale. If you eat well and stay active, and if you feel healthy, then keep doing what you're doing. My doc would rather see me eating better foods and keeping up with the swimming and adding other activities to my routines than sitting back and just trying to drop body mass.

I do want to lose body fat; I do want to do it slowly and get to a weight that feels good to me; I don't want to make it my life's mission. I don't have "bad days" but I do have days where I've eaten a little more...and that's not a big deal. Life's too short to be too restrictive. I also don't have "cheat days." If I want something I normally wouldn't eat, I eat it. It's eating, not cheating.

I don't like the cheat-day mindset...but you do whatever works for you.

TL;DR: you are not the number on the scale, but if you want to see that number decline, it's calories eaten versus calories matter what.


Anonymous said...

yeah, not taking weight loss advice from a fatass.

Cary Hillman said...

That last comment was uncalled for. Always has to be one in the crowd. I actually find your advice quite interesting and we'll thought out. You've found what works for you and you're sharing it. Thanks!

debzy said...

Seriously, "ANONYMOUS"? Why would you say anything even remotely like that to Karen of all people? And hiding behind an anonymous mask. People like you sicken me. There's no reason to be evil and nasty. I don't get it. Just go away, already.

One Fat Girl And Her Thoughts said...

~~~Anonymous Anonymous said...
yeah, not taking weight loss advice from a fatass~~~

Usually I read without commenting (a 'lurker', I believe it is called), but I could not let this pass.

Putting aside the callous crassness of your words and their intent, I feel it necessary to point out that only a 'fatass', as you call it - current or former - can properly understand how much of a struggle the ongoing battle between mind and body (with food as the unfortunately necessary weaponry) that people can find themselves facing.

Someone that has never faced such a battle, for whatever reason, cannot begin to hope to understand it, no matter how well meaning or supposedly well qualified they are. It simply isn't possible; because they haven't lived through it. You cannot ever fully understand anything that you haven't personally lived through.

So, actually, K.A. Thompson (or as I will always affectionately think of her, Thumper) is precisely the sort of person you would do well to take advice from.

And while we are on the subject; yes, she is indeed quite right.

Yours faithfully,
Alice x
(Another - current - 'Fatass')

Dawn Inchley said...

Congratulations on your awesome weight loss, seriously well done
The advice that you've just given in this post was intelligent and medically sound. I can't believe "anonymous" ( Yeh, how bloody brave) would leave such as awful comment. Maybe they would have been happier if you had advocated a "magic pill"~ take one in the morning, eat whatever you like, and watch the weight full off. Honestly bloody people!!!!
Believe me, you're following a sensible eating and life style plan, and you're an excellent role model for anyone who wants improve their health.

Eileen said...

Wow, perhaps moderation is a necessary evil for blogging. Ridiculous comment from Anonymous.

I've just started on the path you're taking. In January I took a month off work and went away to take care of me. I started walking regularly, tried to eat more whole and healthy foods, and got a proper sleep. I haven't done as well since getting home and going back to work, but I'm down several pounds and feel much healthier and happier than I have in years.

Keep up the good work, and thanks for sharing the link to the calculator.

Mighty Kitty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mighty Kitty said...

Thump, you are a wonderful example for all of us. I have had a weight problem for years. ....lost a lot and gaining it back. My hypothyroid and the medications I had to take for surgically induced menopause and a heart problem were just making it impossible. I plan to follow your example to get more active and just try to eat healthier. That anonymous comment tells you their character not yours! Great work!