Thursday, June 24, 2010

Back to Basics

It's time to nut up, folks. I realized on Monday that I've been floundering since April with my weight loss. I lost 15 lbs. pretty quickly, but then I've plateaued like a mother fucker. I haven't gained any weight back [thankfully], and I've made huge strides in endurance and fitness level, but the weight is simply not coming off. And the reality is, I still need to lose right around 35 lbs. to be at a healthy weight.


The gears in my head have been turning this week, and I've been scouring my favorite blogs on the interwebs for answers. How can I be running almost 20 miles a week, and yet not losing ANYTHING?!?!?

Yesterday I decided to read one of my favorite blogs [Body By Pizza] from start to finish. Rachel, [the creator of said blog] has lost 113 lbs., and it goes without saying that she's one of my weight loss heroes. She's also recently completed a 1/2 marathon [you know, like we're training for!], so we're practically BFFs, and she just doesn't know it yet. I figured if anyone had my weight loss answers, she would.

While reading one of her posts I found the basic recipe for weight loss. It's something I've known, but failed to acknowledge for the better part of 3 months now. It always goes back to calories in < calories out. I know this, yet I don't follow it, and I've paid no attention to it.  Until now, that is.  I did the math, and I realized that in order to lose 2 pounds a week [which seems really reasonable, no?], I need to be consuming no more than 1,200 calories a day. Here's the formulas that were posted on Body By Pizza, if you are interested.

655 + (4.3 x weight in lbs.) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x ages in years) = 1615 [this is my personal BMR, which is basically the calories you burn just by being]

Next figure out your Daily Activity Level:

Sedentary Physical Activity Level (desk job, other work that entails sitting down for most of the day). If yes, your score is 1.1

Light Physical Activity Level (on feet/walking around for 1/2 the day or more, e.g. stay at home mothers, salespeople, doctors). If yes, your score is 1.2

Moderate Physical Activity Level (on the move all day with a few limited periods of being sedentary, e.g. gardeners, carpenters, mail carriers). If yes, your score is 1.3.

High Physical Activity Level (constantly on the move with significant amounts of physical labor, e.g. construction worker, farm workers, movers). If yes, your score is 1.4

BMR x Daily Activity Level + Exercise Expenditure [how many calories you burn on a typical daily work out] = AMR [2,176 for me]

(daily AMR) x 7 days = 15,235 calories per week [This is how many calories a week I can eat and maintain my current weight]

(weekly AMR) – 7,000 calories (equivalent to 2 lbs.) = 10,948 calories per week [Seems like a lot until you divide it by 7]....

This translates into roughly 1,200 calories a day. Not much, and certainly way less than I've been eating. I've been tracking my food intake daily on, and I tend to run right around 1,800 cals/day. And that's only if I don't blow it by scarfing down extra crap food.

Oh look, it's me... again....

So, I guess I've taken this information as good news and bad news. The good news: There is actually a reason why I'm not losing weight, even though I'm running more than any person ever should. The bad news: I need to eat considerably less if I ever want to lose weight. And obviously, I DO want to lose weight. I need to figure out how people actually live on 1,200 calories a day, and figure out what said people are eating. I need a better plan. Again.

I'm going to be real here. Next week is not the week to start watching calories. I'm going out of town for vacation, complete with lots of drinking and great food. I'm pretty sure vacation is not the ideal time to start eating way less. If I'm able to maintain my weight during my stint at the beach, I'll be stoked. The week after vacation however, [July 5th, to be exact], should be an ideal time to really start watching my intake.

So I'm looking for ideas. What do the skinny people eat? I'll keep you posted on my findings, and please, feel free to add your own!


  1. Damn you were not kidding when you said you gave me a 'shout out' over at your blog. :) Listen, I am new to your blog and have a lot of posts I need to catch up on before I start uncovering what your 'sitch' is other than training for a half marathon (yes, that DOES make us insta-BFFs) and that you want to lose another 35 pounds.

    I've gotta let you in on a little secret. I lost two measly pounds during the last two months of half marathon training. According to my GoWearFit and calorie deficits, I should have been shedding fat like a machine, yet, it would not budge! It was driving me crazzzzzy. I had to make a choice right then and there: worry about losing a few extra pounds or worry about crossing that finish line.

    I chose the latter. There's just something about saying I ran a half marathon in under 2.5 hours that sounds way more fucking bad-ass than sharing my jean size.


    If losing weight while you train is something you want to do, do it. However, if you find that dropping your calories to 1,200 a day is a little insane (honestly, I could not imagine doing such a thing while banking all that mileage) try scaling back to a 1 lb/week loss instead of 2 lbs. I mean, you're already burning 3350 calories JUST by exercising/training. You might find that a little honesty (if you eat it, LOG IT) can go a lonnnnng way.

  2. You are so right about running being the thing to choose! I might've been jiggling while I did it, but I ran TEN fucking miles this morning. BEFORE work! If I can't feel good about that, nothing will make me proud!

    Thanks so much for your input. You can't even imagine how much we look up to you. Your progress has been amazing and inspiring. Thank you for putting it all up on the interwebs for us :)

  3. 1200 is SO little when training, esp. for your first big race. I think being honest goes a long way (as said above) do you wear a heart monitor so you can see exactly how much you are burning? I lost 4 lbs traing fo rmy half in April..and you know what, who cares? I beat my goal and ran 13.1 miles...I say worry about the weight loss AFTER the race.

  4. No, no, no, no. I could write an essay on why no-one should eat 1200 cals a day (I think I actually did back in grad school). I would begin with "You will be a miserable bitch....and you will not stick to it....then you will be even more miserable" but that is not the main reason. The reason is in your post. Your BMR is 1615. You shouldn't ever eat LESS than you BMR. You just said it yourself. It takes 1615 cals to keep you ticking over. If you aren't eating those then your body will get them 2 ways: (1) breaking down it's own muscle tissue, and (2) lowering your metabolic rate. Muscle is your friend. Muscle is a very metabolically active tissue, it burns lots of calories, even when you are sleeping. You don't want to lose weight by losing muscle mass. Lowering your metabolic rate is not a good plan. Remember your body is still programmed to think it is living in a time when food was scarce. You start feeding it 1200 cals a day it is gonna think the next famine has arrived. it is going to make compensatory metabolic adjustments to ensure its survival, so gradually your BMR will become something like 1400. This will do you no good when you decide that eating like a bird is miserable as all get out and go back to eating normally and now you have a slow ass metabolism. You are worse off than you were to begin with This is the one of the underlying causes of 'yo-yo' dieting.

    Like your other commentators said. Focus on the bad ass things you are doing with your running and your fitness. I know plenty of size 2 girls who would collapse if they had to run a mile (and I'm not exaggerating, I really do). You are ROCKING it hardcore!

    I'll stop droning on now, but hit me up if you have any training or nutrition questions. I do this shit for a living.

    p.s. FGS is Heather right???? If not you probably are wondering who the eff I am :) LOL!

  5. You guys seriously rock SO HARD CORE! This is the kind of information I need. Someone needed to tell me why it's not good to eat 1200 calories a day. I feel better.

    I'm thinking about getting a heart rate monitor to more acurately track what I'm burning.

    Ok, so here's my next question. How many calories is reasonable? 1600 a day?

    Training for the 1/2 marathon is super important, but I'd be lying if I said the weight loss wasn't important too. I need to figure out how much I should be eating in order to optimize my metabolism and have energy for training.

    I'm amazed at the turnabout in my life. I used to run in order to lose weight. Now I want to lose weight so I can improve my running. Crazy.

    Thank you ladies SO SO SO much for commenting. Any advice you can give me is totally appreciated.

    (And yeah, Jazz, FGS is me, Heather. ;-))

  6. Heather, I feel you 100%. I would say my motivation comes about 50% from wanting to be a kick ass runner and about 50% from not wanting to be a fat-ass. That is the brutal truth. Some days I love to run and I enjoy it and I feel amazing while I'm running. Then some days I'd rather stab myself in the eye with a fork, but I make myself run because I tend to eat like a pig in slop and I know if I take my eye off the ball I'll be back up a clothing size in the blink of an eye! Fun, no?

    So these are valid questions, even if you are recognizing your own kick-ass-ness :) I think 1700-1800 cals a day is a reasonable goal. And make that 6 days a week. Everybody needs a day off. I'm not saying take a 3000 day, but if you have a 2000 day one day a week it's not the end of the world. The biggest thing I personally feel would help would be to mix up your workouts. This is a case of do as I say and not as I do, because Lord know I do not do this as much as I should, but high intensity interval training is the bomb when it comes to calorie burning and fat loss. So dust off your Insanity DVDs or do some interval running. I know, it's really not that enjoyable :( but look at Jilian's results! Weight training would be good too.