Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Self Indulgent Navel Gazing Numbers Frenzy

Ok, so I’m having a bad day.  Went to bed grumpy, didn’t get enough sleep, woke up grumpy, didn’t have time for a workout to shake the grump, and people are grumpy and yelling at each other here.  Needless to say, this is not a banner day.  Oh, it WILL get better at 5pm when I leave work and get dolled up and go to the monthly Yelp event but I almost don’t even feel like it right now (however, nothing a little primping and whiskey can’t cure).  What’s at the root of my bad day?  What could have turned it all around this morning?  I hate to admit it, but it’s the scale.  We’re usually pretty good friends.  He’ll tell me the truth, I’ll thank him for telling me the truth and measuring my progress.

Today, I cursed at him.  He pretty much said to me, “Yeah, I know you’ve been busting your butt for a week and a half now.  I don’t care.  Here’s a disgusting weigh in number from February for your efforts.”  Yes, I last weighed in on 2/12 at 154.8.  Le sigh…

I think the problem is that I’m making the effort.  I understand when I’m letting lose a little or half-assing it, but I am really trying.  Last night, my fiance and friend decided to have some cocktails.  I refrained because I was being good.  They went out to the diner and got chicken fried steak and hashbrowns at midnight and then after hit the bar.  I kept my calories at 1320 for the day, and sipped crystal light all evening with crushed ice.  I tried to go to bed early but shit just kept going wrong and I couldn’t fall asleep.  Not a good preface to stepping on the scale and seeing a number from the way back days.

MizFit yesterday did a great post on Overtraining (and Undereating).I am so glad I trained for and ran my half marathon.  It put things into perspective.  There is a time and a place for intentional overtraining (2 hour runs?  30 mile running weeks with 60 mins+ cross training, 2 full body weights sessions and 2 yoga sessions? yeah…).  After the initial “omg I’m done what’s next” freakout, I realized that my body was happy to crank it down a notch or 5.  I won’t stop racing, but I will be much more responsible about my workouts between race training.  I’m still “working out” most days but way less intense, and mostly fun stuff.  It really got me thinking about my eating – am I really undereating?  Is that even possible?

The eating thing is what’s tripping me up and I know it’s my achillies heel.  The only way I’ve succeeded thus far is if I count calories and find the number I can ingest and expend and lose weight. I am hesitant to remove any foods/food groups from my diet.  Eliminating anything from my diet makes me crazy.  When I can have a taste of the ice cream or a bite of the brownie, 9 times out of 10 I’m fine.  When I can’t even have a bite, 9 times out of 10 I get grumpy and rebel until I get what I want.  I generally eat healthy (in my opinion) and am trying to take myself down from “whatever I feel like” to about 1200-1400 on weekdays, slightly more on the weekends (like 1700-1800).

So I am asking, nay, pleading, for your advice.  Analyze me.  Don’t worry that you’re not an expert/doctor/trainer, I run everything through my common sense filter and I won’t do something just because you say to.  But I’d like to put it all out there and see what suggestions you have for me.  Stop reading here if you’re not interested in a bunch of numbers and just leave me a nice encouraging comment, please.  Persist at your own peril.

My workouts last week (estimated calorie count in parentheses)..

Monday – full body weights and practicing dancing for 25 minutes (84+ weights)
Tuesday – 20 mins yoga and 40 mins leisurely bike ride (313)
Wednesday – 30 mins intense cardio, arms, swing dance class for 60 mins (653 + weights)
Thursday – 30 mins intense cardio, abs and legs, salsa dance class for 60 mins  (602 + weights)
Friday – 30 mins intense cardio, 20 mins yoga (643)
Saturday – Zumba for 60 mins, water volleyball for 40 mins (641)
Sunday – relax

Total burnt: 2936 calories, or an average of 419 per day

This is my food from last week…

Monday – zone bar, mongolian grill (3 oz chicken, 1/3 cup white rice, tons of veggies and some sauce), grilled fish tacos at home with black beans on the side, a peach, two hershey kisses, and a dum dum lolly. 1321 calories, 173g carbs, 32g fat, 89g protien.

Tuesday – luna bar, homemade tuna sandwich on sprouted grain bread, otter pop, homemade meatloaf with 93% lean ground beef, homemade mashed califlower/potato mix, and veggies, 2 peaches, a lo cal fruit smoothie for desert, and 1oz tortilla chips as a snack. 1377 calories, 189g carbs, 35g fat, 88g protien.

Wednesday – 0% greek yogurt with 1/3 packet of oatmeal mixed in, leftovers from the meatloaf the night before (same portion), homemade 9 layer burritos (with 93% lean ground beef, refried beans, rice, low fat sour cream, and veggies/salsa), 2 peaches, 1 oz beef jerky, 1 hershey kiss, and 1 oz vodka (one weak drink).  1408 calories, 166g carbs, 38g fat, 108g protien

Thursday – luna bar, taco salad (made with basically the same ingredients as the burritos sans the tortilla), veggies and tilapia filets, piece of sprouted grain bread with light margarine, apple, a cup of broccoli, and 3 oz whiskey (I made the conscious decision to forgo the rice I was going to have with dinner and have a few drinks instead).  1236 calories, 100g carbs, 39g fat, 79g protien.

Friday – zone bar, chicken pho (vietnamese chicken noodle soup with bean sprouts and broccoli), bbq’d chicken, rice, coleslaw, 2 peaches, 8 oz vodka (we hosted a party that night).  1793 calories, 169g carbs, 16g fat, 110g protien

Saturday – zone bar and a peach, salad bar (a huge veggie-ful salad with lowfat ranch, a cup of minestrone, half a cup of butterbean, some grilled veggies, and a small 1/2 cup of soft serve), Saltgrass steakhouse (bread, salad with half the ranch they gave me, veggies, 5 grilled shrimp, 5 fried shrimp).  1724 calories, 180 carbs, 79g fat, 79g protien

Sunday – Apple, homemade pancakes with sugar free syrup and margarine, 2 slices bacon, 1 small potato shredded to hashbrowns (with PAM), homemade chicken caesar wrap (lo carb wheat tortilla, chicken, olives, bacon, lettuce, cheese, low fat caesar), peanut butter puffins and chocolate almond milk, plum, shared a 100 calorie popcorn, and a sugar free popsicle. 1217 calories, 189g carbs, 36g fat, 58g protien.

Average 1439 calories, 166g carbs, 39g fat, 87g protien.  I would probably add about 100 calories per day because I am a notorious nibbler and just due to food tracking error.

So sure there are some obvious nitpicky things.  White rice instead of brown (restaurants don’t always serve it and it’s near impossible to get my fiance to eat it and he does a lot of the cooking).  Give up the alcohol (no way, jose).  Give up the sugar (I really don’t eat much of it though.  One small sweet per day and maybe some soft serve once a week).  All in all, I really don’t think I do too badly there.  Day by day I might have some slipups but overall it evens out (16g fat one day, 79g the next).

The math *should* even out.  1539 eaten – 419 burnt = 1120 net calories per day.  A sedentary person of my height and weight should be eating about 2000 calories per day to maintain their weight, so that’s creating a 880 calorie deficit per day.  Truth be told, I should be seeing a 1.75 lb loss at this rate with my math.  It’s not happening.  I don’t like it.

So I did some more surfing and this seems to be one of the better calorie calculators around.  Instead of estimating what level of activity you think you do (I think half marathon training is active, someone else out there probably thinks that their mile per day walk to starbucks and back is active, who’s right?), you can also input your exercise.  I generally have my butt planted on a chair if I’m not doing something I would count as exercise, so this works for me to be sedentary but put in my sweat sessions.  It also counts weights for calories which is something my beloved sparkpeople doesn’t do.   I’m considering utilizing this next month as a guide to how much I should eat – put in yesterday’s activity and that will tell me how much I should eat today.  For example:

Monday – 2584 calories to maintain.  Subtract 750 (deficit to get 1.5 lbs loss per week) = 1834
Tuesday – 2253 -750 = 1503
Wednesday – 3089 – 750 = 2339
Thursday – 3255 – 750 = 2505
Friday – 2343 – 750 =1593
Saturday – 2611 – 750 = 1861
Sunday – 2014 – 750 = 1264

This is saying I don’t eat enough, and I should increase my calorie average to 1842 per day at this activity level.  To lose 1.5 lbs a week.  1000 calories is the most one should go into debt per day (losing 2 lbs per week), even then I should be at 1592.  This seems crazy to me.  Am I really just not eating enough?  Should I take the leap of faith and add a bunch of lean protein and good carbs and fruits and veggies and good fat to those days when I’m hanging tough around 1300?  What specifically is missing in my diet?

I am calculating myself into a tizzy, and would love some input.  My sanity depends on it.  I am willing to do what I need to do to give it a good college try (for the most part – you can pry my whiskey from my cold dead hands, you’re not going to convince me potatoes are evil, and I will not give up my once weekly rice noodle pho).  I’m looking for a suggestion that involves moderation, not absolution and abstinence.  I wish I had a giveaway to reward you for even reading this far, but I will give away my eternal gratitude for any help here!


It’s A Nice Day For A Island Wedding…


The New Plan…


    Check out my Resources page:
    Check out how I figured out how many calories to eat a day:

    and note this: i have done what you’ve done and calculate things out to ‘t’ just to go two weeks without a budge and then all of a sudden will lose 2 pounds the next week. I have also noticed that if i cut calories drastically (to 1200 and under) and still work-out, i will lose weight for a little bit and then come to a complete halt — you need to eat enough to lose weight! sounds counter-intuitive and then you ask “well how much is enough to lose weight” and the answer is “wait and see.” i know that is an annoying answer. Lately, for me, eating about 1800 calories a day and working out 6 days a week with at least 30 min cardio a day, i have been slowly but steadily losing weight. You could also be GAINING weight with MUSCLE. that has happened to me too and that is a great thing! I know it’s hard not to be a scale-whore, but we’ve got to realize that there are so many arbitrary little things that the scale takes into account and so many important things that it doesn’t take into account.
    Here’s a good question– how are you FEELING? If you feel like you are starving half the time, you probably are and that’s not good. But you also shouldn’t feel like you’re eating a little overboard either. I’m sure i’m no help and for that i apologize…Just know i’ve been there and am STILL after SIX years there learning and re-learning how to work this all out and live a balanced life :/

  2. I really appreciate the advice!

    Ok, that formula on your page looks quite reasonable – and it had me at 1679. I know that below 1200 is a no no, and that I need to eat enough, it’s just finding what works again – once I’m getting results the sticking with it just comes naturally. I don’t mind gaining muscle at all. I’m just doubtful that it’s the case this time as I’m going to less frequent and intense exercise than I was before. But maybe that’s the case even so. Different muscles perhaps?

    I think it’s also taking a while to my body to shift out of half marathon training mode and into weight loss mode. I was hoping that it would just start falling off but it just hasn’t. There definitely is a recovery period and I didn’t respect that at first.

    Feeling – ok. The first week was pretty miserable but this week I’m pretty good. I’ll get hungry a little before lunch, and then a little before dinner, and I’ll sometimes have to quell cravings but anytime I’m genuinely hungry, I give myself permission to eat. If it’s more than I planned for the day, I’ll make sure it’s healthy.

    I just want to finally get to forever maintain mode. I’m good at that. I like that part. Every time I’ve given myself permission to stay at a weight for a few months I’ve done it effortlessly. It’s just the losing I hate doing…

  3. Wow. Plateau busting is one of the hardest things to do for ourselves, much less other people. I have totally been in your shoes sister and – honestly – will be there again. Some things that have helped me in the past:

    watch your salt. Your gain could be attributed to water weight.

    watch your hormones. TOM is everything for me. Even if you are on bc that makes it so you don’t have a cycle, you are still probably having hormone fluctuations.

    watch your… carbs. I know. But playing with your macronutrient ratios can make a difference. Up your fat intake, drop your carbs. NOT eliminate them. Just reduce. Try a Zone proportion (40-30-30) to start with. Heck, you’re already doing all that math, the macronutrients shouldn’t be that much extra work.

    watch the sugars. You know alcohol is a sugar. No one is saying you can’t have a treat but maybe have the sweet OR the alcohol.

    All that said, I do think your cals are a bit too low. What they say about undereating is true. Listen to your gut. Just reading your menu made me hungry.

    PS> I love all your dance classes! I wish I could dance every night too…

  4. Thanks Charlotte! I was hoping you’d comment cuz I know you are a numbers person like I am. 🙂

    Salt – yeah, I know. It’s low on my priorities but I do try to not use much salt in cooking at home, but I am a sauce freak and going out to eat you have little control – so…yeah.

    Hormones – this is not usually one of the weeks I gain because of TOM (that’s next week/the week after), so I can’t blame that.

    Carbs – while initially I have to say I cringed, I think attempting a 40/30/30 ratio is reasonable. Especially if I bring my calories up by adding fat and protien instead of changing the core of what I’m eating.

    Sugar – this was a DUH moment. Of course alcohol is a sugar but I haven’t been treating it as such. So sure, once a week I can splurge on that big sundae (or drinks) that’s about 500 calories and work it in, but I shouldn’t also be feeding myself a diet of regular sugar too.

    I’m thinking the plan is going to be, going forward, 1700 calories (as long as my activity stays up) at a 40/30/30 ratio. Looks like when I go grocery shopping I’m going to be buying a lot of greek yogurt and other protien filled snacks. Maybe I’ll even allow some nut butter into my house to get the good fat going on.

    This is scary though. I feel like I definitely need to track EVERY BITE that goes into my mouth at least for a few weeks to make sure I’m getting what I should. That’s more than I’ve ever aimed to eat while tracking, so…yeah.

    Thanks again for the ideas.

  5. I wish I had some brilliant insight to offer. All I can say is that I can relate. Went to a nutritionist, and she said that one reason the weight isn’t dropping off more quickly is that I’m not eating enough protein. But Sparkpeople would tell you if that were true in your case.

    Um… have you checked out the thyroid levels? Are they in the normal range?

  6. I was eating at the low end of my protein range on spark (and fat too), but I’m going to try and eat closer to the high end (while keeping the carbs at the same level I’m at now at the lower calorie range. Giving it two weeks to see if that’s the key. I gotta say, I’m loving the feeling of lots of protein – it makes me feel like I’m full, but not bloated.

    Last time I had everything tested I was fine. The weight came off no problem until September last year and then since I hit 170 its been slow going. I’m going to go get a checkup soon anyway, but I doubt it’s that. I think I’m just close to my goal and it’s super tough. But I won’t give up! I just want to do this the RIGHT way.

  7. You have such smart commenters; I wouldn’t know what else to add 🙂 Your question made me think of Jillian Michaels’ podcast – she gets this kind of question a lot. Most times the answer is people aren’t eating enough for the amount of exercise they do. She often suggests bumping up the calories (not hugely – about 200 per day) particularly on the days you exercise when you need that energy.

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