As I mentioned HERE, I met with a nutritionist a week ago, and I felt it was worthy of it’s own post and not just lumped into an update. So, here we go.
His first instinct when I was talking him through everything was “why do you need me here?” because I’m pretty knowledgeable about this stuff. However, it was pretty clear I just needed some direction – I had fallen to “paralysis by analysis” over the last few years with all the things to try: grain free, meat free, clean eating, organic, etc. Not that any of those things are bad, but they’ve distracted me from the core of weight loss.
I had forgotten about the basis of calories in/out (kind of) and hitting macronutrient goals (because if I’m not eating many carbs, they’re totally off). I’m going back to tracking to that stuff. Nothing is off limits as long as I’m hitting my macros. That’s kind of a relief after the crazy experiments I’ve put myself through the last few years.
The goal is:
- 100g protein (about what I eat now)
- 40-60g fats (a lot less than I’m eating now)
- 25g fiber per day
- variable carbs to fill out my calorie goals depending on training levels
For the next month, while I’m not really training, I’ll be aiming for about 1500 calories per day (my current basal metabolic rate is around there).
After a week I’ve realized that:
- 1500 calories is the first goal. If nothing else, I need to do my best at stopping my intake once I hit this.
- Next is macros. If I am eating super clean, I have no problems hitting this. Days with some booze, or not as clean eating – I just do my best and get as close as I can.
- Next is food quality. I’m not completely turning away from organic food, and I’m not stuffing myself with simple carbs, but I’m not avoiding them completely. For example, I went looking for some bagel thins, and the ones with the most fiber were actually the white everything bagels. I’m sure I’ll want to pay attention to this more during season when hitting my macros will be SUPER EASY but at 1500 calories? I’ll take what I can get.
Losing Weight and Training:
He also said that the ability to not lose weight easily while training hard is legit. In fact, he cautioned me against trying to pull the hours I am and try to take down weight. One at a time – either training hard or weight loss. Can’t have both in a healthy way. I tried to eek out the “well, what if I just kept a smaaaaall deficit?” to which I got the eyebrow.
I guess I minimize the amount of training and effort I give because there are so many people that do so much more, but after describing my normal schedule, he was like… yeah… that’s enough that you need to be eating a lot of calories and carbs to sustain that. It was nice to have permission – though it does feel weird – to consider myself an athlete. Without an asterisk.
This will probably be the HARDEST head shift. Since I was… 12… I’ve always been in a state where I have been at least passively or actively trying to lose weight. Make the scale go down. And now, starting in August, I will not be doing anything in my eating or training with intentions to the scale number fall. It will be OK to maintain my weight at whatever it is at for many months. That’s both exciting and terrifying.
The good thing that should keep me from trying to be stupid:
- Muscle gains (which I honestly care more about than losing weight) are still possible – and the way to get them are eating enough and weight training. Ok, ok, I will lift heavy things throughout season. Promise. Please yell at me if this falls off.
- He said that honestly, my training should be sucking with the levels of carbs I’m eating. I actually had a pretty great year! If this is sucking, I can’t wait to see what fully fueled feels like!
He wants me to try some intuitive eating approaches as well to see if that will help me. Honestly, the first two weeks seem to be enough working on the calories or macros, but once that’s second nature, I’ll give this a try (though, Skeptical Quix is skeptical that this will do much for me).
I’m supposed to log the time of day I’m eating, how I feel when I’m eating, and my fullness on a scale of 1-10 (1 = I have to eat now or I will pass out and 10 = I will literally explode if I have one more bite) before and after. I’m not logging this, but I’m definitely keeping it in my head.
The goal with fullness is to eat when I hit 2-3 and stop when I hit 5 when trying to lose weight, and more like 6-7 when I’m in season. For me, stopping at 5 (not hungry but not full feeling) is hard but I’m finding that stopping at 5 sustains me for a lot longer than I think it will.
I don’t think how I feel influences my eating, but I’m willing to log it for a while. I don’t tend to eat my feelings. I asked Zliten too, just to make sure I wasn’t just blind to it, and he said that besides getting angry if I DIDN’T eat, I don’t. We say – “I am sorry for the things I said when I was hungry” and “There are very few problems that can’t be solved by putting food in my face”. I know that while racing a negative head translates usually to not enough fuel, and it’s not that far off other times of the day. I can weather just about any storm much better on a full belly.
When I ramp up training again, he suggested that I should be at no less than 400g of carbs per day. That is actually based on the very very low end of the athlete scale for the weight I hope to be racing at in the fall (around 170). For reference, I eat around 150g right now and probably have eaten no more than 200 for the last year even on heavy training weeks.
He said ramping up slowly is fine so it’s not a shock to my system but… holy crap. When he was doing endurance training (college swimming I believe) he was training similar hours to me and doing this ratio and he didn’t gain weight. I’ve read that sort of recommendation before, but I figured that was for… like real legit athletes. Not me. Again, head shift.
During training, I should eat about 2500 calories. 1500 of those should be carbs. While this all sounds crazy for ME, it does gel with a lot of the research I have done.
When I joked that I probably need to eat more cake to get to 400 carbs per day, he said that as long as my other macros were in order, there was no problem with cake or sourdough bread or anything else. In fact, if I try to do this with all whole wheat and fiber horkin’ stuff, I’ll probably make myself sick. It will definitely be an adjustment to eat some of that stuff guilt free, but one I’m looking forward to trying.
He said it should cure the hungriness I feel a lot and that when I’m training heavy, I should never be hungry (and if I am I should eat). He did say that when I’m cutting calories, I probably WILL be a little hungry. At 1500 calories, I’m feeling a managable amount of hunger, which means it’s probably the sweet spot right now. It’s kind of nice to know that it’s OK to be hungry when I’m dieting, but it’s NOT ok to be hungry when I’m training.
2015-16 Season and Changes:
Evaluating my year to come, I’ve had some thoughts.
There’s no way to fake my 70.3 or my two marathons. I need to train for them, and if I’m going to train for them, I’m going to train hard and go for PRs.
However, I can fake random shorter races, I’m probably going to ramp wayyyyy down starting in March. I always race a 10 miler at the end of March, and a sprint triathlon in June. I don’t want to skip them, but I think I’ll be ok going in undertrained and just seeing what I can do. I may pepper in another race or two but definitely nothing long and maybe not at all.
I won’t treat it like offseason, I’ll continue to swim, bike, run, and weight train, but I’ll severely limit the hours I do. IIRC, I was able to do about ~5 hours a week and still lose weight, so I’ll peak at that.
And… if I’m going to do that in March – I’m definitely going to make the most of my August – February. To the point where it’s not detrimental to my marathon training, I’ll probably be racing a lot. There’s a 30k and a half marathon in January, I may see about a half at the end of October, and I may plan some shorter Saturday races with a longish run on tired legs on Sunday.
I’ll evaluate more as the season progresses, maybe somehow the weight will just fall off before then, but I don’t expect it to (since it hasn’t before). I just need to look at next Spring as an extended training block with a purpose.
Some other random notes:
When I said I wanted to LOOK more like an athlete, he was like… you don’t think you do? (I don’t – I definitely feel like I have imposter syndrome at some of these races, especially when I come in top 1/3, quarter, even place in my AG, etc). From August – February, I’m going to do my best to treat myself like an athlete physically and mentally.
He is a BIG believer that the current BMI charts are ridiculous. When they were concepted, women did not regularly exercise and were probably malnourished. That makes a whole lot of sense after considering it.
In summary, for 3 more weeks I’ll be at the lower intake and see if I can make any progress. After that, I’ll be interested to see how a mass influx of carbs works for me, and what carbs my stomach seems to tolerate before hard workouts and races (I may just be eating a LOT of potatoes and corn and fruit some days).
Stay tuned for more updates. I’m sure I’ll be talking about this a lot.