I had written earlier about some setbacks. It’s interesting – when you are a person with some size and you choose to move a lot…and you’re 41, you seem to be managing different minor/major issues one after another.
It started with me running, a lot. And biking. And lifting. But mostly because I was running/walking a combined 20-30 miles per week. After about 8 weeks, my foot said…”enough”. 8 weeks later, I still have a little pain in my left foot, but it’s just something I can’t run on. The limp has subsided. Well, early on in my foot pain, I wanted to keep moving. I took my dog for these long 2 mile walks, with a broken foot, and limped. So then about a week into this, my back locks up with back spasms. Here I am flopping around the kitchen floor in agony. I’ve never had the cramping sensation like that in my back, which felt like a twist/squeeze that essentially took me to the ground in .06 seconds. About a week to 10 days later, with lots of muscle relaxers and ibuprofen, is when I needed to wipe the slate clean and have another go at this.
A few of my friends suggested I take up swimming as a good way to keep the exercise going without the impact of running. I headed towards my local JCC and signed up. LOVE the place.
I also did something I have never done, and use a trainer. They gave you three free sessions, but I then signed up for more. I wanted a fresh look. What is that thing about the definition of insanity doing the same things over and over and expecting different results?
One thing of interest was eventually she boosted my water from 3 quarts to 5. Drinking that much water is a challenge…but guess what, Buttercup? If you don’t have the proper amount of hydration for your body, fat burning and muscle building and a lot of other things don’t work so well.
Another thing she did was switch up my ratios. With all of the running, biking, and walking, I wasn’t doing a ton of resistance training. This changed. I was at the default for MyFitnessPal of 50% of calories through carbs, 30% fat, 20% protein. So this seemed to work well for me with properly fueling for long runs, recovery, etc. I was usually pretty close with this, sometimes I was a bit over the 50% carbs. Well, a big adjustment she made was changing my carbs from 50% to 40% and boosting my protein from 20% to 30%. You’d think this is simple. Just eat more protein!!! Well, it wasn’t. The big problem I had was that if you’re a little shy on your protein, you just can’t pop some nuts or peanut butter because you are introducing a lot of fat calories. I had to slash the amount of carbs, but I also needed to add protein without all of the baggage of fats. I mentioned my issue the other day, and the trainer suggested protein shakes. Uhhhh….duh! I didn’t even think of that.
One thing to note in the last month or so. My weight has not dropped, not one ounce. It hasn’t gained either. But there are some interesting effects:
- I’m now essentially drinking 10 pounds of water per day. I want you to think about that. 5 quarts, at about 2 pounds a quart. So, since my weigh in there, I’m probably carrying another 2-4 pounds of water. I’m ok with this.
- Since I’ve bumped my protein, my foot has been feeling better. I feel that with all of the exercise I was still doing with a bum foot, there wasn’t a lot of protein to go around and help repair it. While I still have some issues, it is a LOT better, almost immediately, after the change.
- Also since I’ve bumped the protein, things have slimmed out on me, I’m feeling a lot stronger with my workouts, and my face has slimmed a bit. I feel like I’ve been adding some of the precious “lean body mass” why burning through fat.
- There’s an interesting game to play where it seems like I’m “threading the needle”. I’m eating an exact amount of calories with a specific ratio and exercises to trim fat off while maintaining and building muscle. If you watch a lot of youtube videos, you start to get confused. The concept of “weight loss” but reduction in calories only can tend to convert that precious muscle into glycogen to fuel you. Where you think you’re burning fat, you’re burning muscle first. This has an effect of reducing strength and your basal metabolic rate (BMR). for many years, I’ve done the low cal diets in many shapes and forms. Those don’t end well. So the game here it seems is a slow, gentle movement – add lean body mass, properly hydrate at all times, get the macros lined up more friendly to a lifter….and (drip…drip…drip)…slowly chew the fat off of me while improving my BMR and physique with lifting. Most videos from the best pros I’ve seen caution this is extremely hard to do. Many years ago, you just heard “add lean body muscle” and burn fat!! Well, it’s a lot, lot harder than it sounds. Why? Imagine you cut calories TOO much. Many moons ago, this is what I did. You watch these TV shows where people are losing 10-15 pounds a week, then your SO looks at you like a lazy piece of shit if you only take off 1-2 pounds. There’s a LOT of nerd science going on here. If you drop TOO many calories and don’t hit near your BMR, your body starts to burn….muscle…and some fat…to produce glycogen to fuel your body. Yes…muscle. If you ADD calories…you will create a surplus and MAYBE some of this surplus goes to adding muscle, but it’s more than likely going to wind up as fat. This is where resistance training comes into play. And exercise.
Continuing on from 4 above, my trainer said “hit your BMR for calories, 2880 per day. I’m going to create your deficit in the gym”. It was an interesting concept. I stepped on some fancy scales and I guess the resistance measures came back to show a higher percentage of muscle so whereas my MyFitnessPal defaulted to 2400 for my calories, this several thousand dollar scale told me to hit 2880. Fascinating. For many years when I was younger, I might have tried to target 1400-1600 calories on a “diet”. Today, my “diet” is to eat healthy foods in a specific ratio, and hit 2880 calories. I don’t know about any of you, but have you ever eaten “healthy” for that many calories. Below is an example from a few days ago where I struggled to get all of the ratios aligned.
I wanted to also provide a side note on the protein supplement. I had soy protein from an Alton Brown power bar recipe last year. Apparently, soy protein is kinda bad on the whole testosterone thing. So that’s out. Tasted good though! I got the below last night…
Now, what’s of interest here is I didn’t go buy the $55 tub. I bought a $7 size to try it out. Then I watched videos last night and determined this isn’t good either. If you look on the ingredients, you see milk, soy, and wheat. I found some others I’m going to try that several people seemed to agree might be really good. Ultimately, what this product boils down to is soy problems, it’s cheap proteins, and the next day side effects aren’t desirable. So – I’m going to be making another purchase today. Point is…there’s no harm in trying a smaller size of things to see if you even like it. But, do your homework prior to dropping $55 on a tub of anything. Or, you may end up with soy…and man boobs.
- Beef veg soup. I’ve done a few things here with beef veg soup, but I mixed with the ingredients a bit to not only boost protein, but to reduce the carbs from rice. Here are the below items…serves 14 big servings at 446 calories – 42.2 g carbs, 29.1g protein, 17.9g fat. 1,011 mg sodium, 737mg potassium, 12.1g fiber. You can reduce the sodium by getting low sodium beef stock, I just used the default.
- crushed tomatoes, 28 oz can
- petite diced tomatoes, 28 oz can
- 1 onion, 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, 4 cloves garlic
- 2 TBSP olive oil (to sweat the onions/pepper/garlic)
- 1 pound green beans
- 1 pound baby carrots
- 5 celery stalks
- Italian parsely
- 12 cup beef broth
- 4 cups water
- 4 cups cooked barley (about 1 and a third cup uncooked)
- 3 cups cooked lentils (about 1 and a third cup uncooked). Lots of protein!
- bag of frozen baby lima beans
- Yogurt bowl. One night I had a lot of calories leftover, and I decided to craft a high calorie (relatively) nutritious yogurt bowl to plug in my ratios. This comes in at 893 calories – 49.9g fat, 79.1 g carbs, and 42.9g of protein. This seems pretty high on a lot of accounts. To put this into perspective, that day I had worked out for an hour, hit the elliptical for 16 mins, then swam for 45 mins. I had a good two hours of exercise in and was really hungry. I had eaten my oatmeal prior to working out and had like 1,000 calories left, excluding the deficit from my exercise. Then…this:
- 1 cup Fage whole milk greek yogurt (I have since switched to 2% to reduce fat to get the protein)
- 1 oz almonds
- 1 TBSP honey
- 2 TBSP low sodium peanut butter
- 1 medium banana
- (optional) 2 TBSP chia seeds (this is included in the high calorie count)
- Chicken parm. This is always one of my favorites, but the chicken has a lot of lean protein and I didn’t want the oils to add fat and trans fat by frying it up. With this, I was eating about 12 oz of chicken, 1 cup shredded mozz cheese (low fat), marina sauce, and seasoned bread crumbs. What happened to me this day was going into dinner, I had like 1,900 calories left over, and I had a hankering for chicken parm. This was also before I was able to control my fats with increased proteins. In retrospect, I would have probably decreased the amount of cheese. I also ate this with rigatoni. The entire meal came out to be like 1,800 calories. Now…years ago, I wouldn’t think twice about frying the chicken, eating more pasta, and even adding more cheese like ricotta. I think my overarching point here might be that you can still kinda sorta have your favorites, occasionally – but be smart about it. Plan ahead. Save some of the calories for the meal. Trim some excess calories where you can, without reducing the quality of your meal. This was a great way to add a ton of protein to my day – but I’m also learning you can only absorb so much protein at a time. So – I also should have split this in two meals and enjoyed it over 2 nights. You learn from your mistakes!! But this was yummy…(note – these were really thin cutlets bought as “cutlets”. The total chicken usage was about 12 oz, so these were kinda sorta thin. It didn’t take very long for them to cook.
- Bacon wrapped turkey burgers. Interesting concept. I saw this one the other night on one of my fitness vlogs I watch. It was 4 0z burgers, then wrapped with 2 pieces of bacon. You fry it up a little to get the bacon going, then in the oven for like 25 minutes at 350. It was a concept I found interesting, so I bought 20oz of 93% ground turkey the other day and plan to try this tonight. Because of how my nutrition is planned to end for the day, looks like I have to eat these two burgers each on 2 slices of my Arnold health nut bread and have a boatload of green beans with it. I’ll save the pic for my next writing.