Weight Loss Ticker

Monday, April 28, 2008

Week 65 Weigh-In

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Last Week's Weight: 258.8 lbs.
Today's Weight: 253.4 lbs. (-5.4)
Total Lost: 126.6 lbs.

Fat Ratio: 23.9%
Lean Mass: 192.8 lbs.
Fat Mass: 60.6 lbs.
Waist: 48 inches

Wow!!! I just don't get it. I can't imagine that I lost that much last week. I didn't just lose in pounds, but also in waist size which translates to body fat ratio. I sure didn't starve myself this week or anything. I did ditch that other eating plan, but I am still using the whey protein. The only thing I can figure is that I was bloated or something. There must have been some water weight involved in this loss.

I know. I know. Some of you are thinking, "What's with all the second guessing. I would be elated with 5.4 lb. loss. Who cares why? This Half Man guy is a real idiot!"

Well, I am thrilled. I am happy that things are on track. But, I also want to remain realistic about what is happening to me and my body.

I looked back to my first few months of weight loss. I could not find a time that I lost more than 4.8 lbs. in a week. That was when I was in the 300's which would be the time I would expect to lose more week to week. I know at some point I did lose more than 5 in a week. That only happened once or twice, and I don't have time to search my archives any more. I should have made use of labels (Doh!).

The bottom line is that I am much happier with my previous (and now current) eating habits. I feel good. I had a great 7 mile run on Saturday. This week, I plan to up that 8 miles. And to top it all off, I had a freakin' 5.4 lb. loss and a 1 inch waist loss. I am just one tenth of a pound away from losing one third my original body weight. Actually, it will be two tenths since that's how my scale weighs. I am sure that next week, I will be two-thirds man, lol!

"Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out."--Robert Collier

Living Fit Is My #1 Job!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Losing Fat or Gaining Muscle: More or Less Calories?

I didn't intend to blog about this subject, but the response to my last post triggered my curiosity. Should I avoid muscle gain until I hit a healthy weight? Are losing fat and gaining muscle mutually exclusive endeavors? What role does metabolism play? Well, I am not a doctor or a dietitian. I just have a curiosity in what I am or should be doing.

The Mayo Clinic website has a nice succinct article concerning metabolism and weight loss. "Metabolism is the process by which the body converts food into energy." The calories not converted to energy are then stored as fat.

Basically 76-85% of our bodies' caloric requirements are fixed. Our bodies require calories to carry out all the normal functions such as respiration, digestion, and pumping blood. The calories we need for these things does not change much.

What does change is that 24-15%. I am not sure, but I think this means that if you are fairly inactive, putting a butt groove in the couch, popping open a beer, and scarfing down some pizza rolls will only account for 15% of your caloric needs. On the other hand, if you are an Olympic athlete learning to run with a gas mask, this number is closer to 24%. In other words, the more active you are, the more calories you burn (DUH!).

Of course, losing fat is all about creating a caloric deficit. However, there is a danger of losing muscle as well. When muscle is lost, your body requires less calories which messes with the whole deficit stuff.

From this article, I gather that the calories our muscles require are part of that 76-85%. This adds a valuable wrinkle to our equation. The more muscle mass, the more calories our bodies require. Therefore, more muscle + more activity = Higher metabolism.

So what is the wrinkle in our equation? Well it's not the metabolism equation, but the fat loss equation. According to another article I read, we need to have a calorie surplus in order to gain muscle. Now, it seems that if I want to increase my muscle, I need to eat more calories in order to do so.

Well, how in the world does the body know whether to convert the extra calories into fat or muscle? I used to joke that my fat was simply undeveloped muscle. How can I gain muscle and not fat? Shouldn't gaining muscle help me lose fat since the body then requires more energy?

Well, I have not come across any credible articles that address this issue, although I didn't search long or hard. My guess is that the surplus to gain muscle is not truly a surplus. I think that it is the energy your body requires in order to build muscle and therefore is not surplus.

Now the BIG question is, "Can the body build muscle while burning excess fat?" Can the body take the amino acids to build muscle leaving the organs and such to draw energy from our excess fat?

If you think this stuff is confusing you should read the definition of metabolism.

I suspect that our amazing bodies can both lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. I suspect that the trade off will be a slow gradual gain of muscle and a slow gradual loss of fat. Also, I suspect that there is probably a point at which too few calories will stop muscle gain and start muscle loss. Similar, I suspect that there is a point at which too many calories will stop fat loss and start fat gain.

Bottom line, the mayo clinic article recommends weight training while losing weight in order to gain calorie hungry muscle. I think it is quite obvious that if my goal is fitness, weight training is important for a whole host of reasons including fat loss. I think you can do both.

What do you think? Do you know of any article or studies on the subject of losing fat while gaining muscle?

Living Fit Is My #1 Job!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Week 64 Weigh-In

Last Week's Weight: 256.4 lbs.
Today's Weight: 258.8 lbs. (+2.4)
Total Lost: 121.2 lbs.

Fat Ratio: 24.9%
Lean Mass: 194.4 lbs.
Fat Mass: 64.4 lbs.
Waist: 49 inches

Grrrr. I am not sure exactly why this happened. I must have eaten much more calories this week than I realized. With this morning's weight, I decided to jettison the eating program I have been trying. It came from Muscle and Fitness Magazine and was supposed to help me get lean rather than bulk up. Mostly, I was trying to figure how to use whey protein.

My conclusion concerning this eating program is that it is for someone whose weight training is much more intense than mine. There were other things that I didn't like about it such as the amount of protein (in addition to the whey) I had to eat every day was quite high. There was precious little fruit. There were too many eggs. I like eggs, but it called for 2 whole eggs + 4 egg whites every morning. Finally, it required an evening snack.

I gave it go for 3 weeks. I don't know what my weight change was the first week since I didn't weigh until afterwards. The second week I lost one. This week I gained 2.4! I noticed that I developed cravings which I had not experienced much on my journey.

So, I am going back to my previous eating habits with a modification. I will consume 2 scoops of the whey protein after each workout, but reduce the amount I am eating at my snacks. Hopefully, this will work. If not, I will dump the whey protein.

I may be a little down, but I am by no means out. In fact, my running has been terrific. I hit a new level with my running. Previous to my last race, my pace was in the high 11's. Beginning the week before the race, I was starting to run in the 10's. At the race, I ran a 9:37 pace. Since then, I have been running in the mid-10's. Last Thursday, I ran 45 minutes at a 9:54 pace. Saturdays are the days I run longer distances. I had been running 6 miles, but I want to increase that over the next few months. This past Saturday, I ran 7 miles and still had a pace of 10:32. I feel great about that.

"Pain is weakness leaving the body" -- saying I saw on a marine corp. t-shirt.

Living Fit Is My #1 Job!

ADDENDUM: Just to be clear, I was not trying to BULK UP. The eating program from Muscle & Fitness was not billed as a bulking up program, but as a fat loss program. Since, it included the use of whey protein, I thought I would try it. I wanted to add the whey protein in order to preserve my muscle mass. Secondarily, I wouldn't mind building a little more muscle, but this is a very distant second. I figured that this program would help me understand how to use whey the right way and jump start me back into healthy eating. It did accomplish both those goals.

So, I have ditched the diet. I had NO eggs this morning, just a bowl of Grape Nuts with some walnuts, ground flaxseed, raisins, and milk. I did have some whey protein after my weight training, but that replaced my morning snack. I haven't gone through the entire day, but I already feel better about the way I am eating.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Week 63 Weigh-In

Last Week's Weight: 257.4 lbs.
Today's Weight: 256.4 lbs. (-1.0)
Total Lost: 123.6 lbs.

Fat Ratio: 24.9%
Lean Mass: 192.6 lbs.
Fat Mass: 63.8 lbs.
Waist: 49 inches

Woohoo! A pound is a pound is a pound. Not much else to say right now. I am trying to plan out races for the next few months. I even plan to run in a race while on vacation in June, lol. I am nuts!!!!

"The way to gain a good reputation, is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear. "- Socrates

Living Fit Is My #1 Job!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Body Image

I have never really understood the concept of body image. Wikipedia has an interesting article. This particular sentence seems as good of a definition as any:

Essentially a person's body image is how they perceive their exterior to look, and in many cases this can be dramatically different from how they actually appear to others.

I have no problem with this understanding of body image. It seems to me that with this definition you would have a good body image if your perception was close to how you appear to others. But I normally hear that having a good body image is liking the way your body looks no matter how it looks.

I must confess that under the first definition I failed when I was at my heaviest. I knew I was huge, but I didn't think of myself as big as I actually was. In fact, I did my best not to think about my body and its size. After all, the real me is not my body...right?'s what's on the inside that counts, isn't it?

We all grew up with those lessons through stories like the Frog Prince, Beauty and the Beast, Shrek, etc... They all taught that beauty was the result of love, not looks. For a fat person, they identify themselves with the ugly person. Anyhow, i ended up simply ignoring the way I looked because after all, only "shallow" people worried about those things. That was the lesson I learned.

Now, there is something to be said for the "beauty is only skin deep" lesson, but I applied it poorly. For me, it was excuse to be lazy about my health. After all, people should only be interested in the "real me."

Not only was I fighting against human nature, but I was denying myself. I am not separate from my body. I am a flesh and blood person. I am not just a part of my body, nor is my body just a part of me. I am my body...I am my mind...I am my soul. The real me is not one of these separated from the other. While I may distinguish these parts of me, they are me (I am sure there is some philosophical system that describes what I am saying better). When I ignored my body, I was ignoring myself.

A year ago, I would have argued against this vehemently. In retrospect, I see the fallacy of my thinking. The result was a poor body image, but not in the way most people use that term. I knew things were bad, but I did not grasp how bad they were. Simply looking at a picture from right before I started my journey drove that point home.

As far as liking how my body looks, I must confess that I cannot remember a time that I liked how my body looked. You see, my weight problems began when I was a young child. I was overweight when I started grade school. When I say that I never liked the way my body looked, I am referring to the blubber. I like height. I like my feet, my legs, my hands, my arms, my torso, my neck, my face, and my head. Sure there are one or two things I would change if push came to shove, but I am not bothered by them. What I don't like about my body is the excess fat.

I don't think it looks good. I think it looks terrible. While I have a lot less of it now, I still don't like the way my body looks. I like it better. A year ago, you would not have caught me without a shirt. This year in Florida, I had no problem taking my shirt off to go swimming. I didn't go walking around without a shirt, but I did go swimming. That was a big improvement.

The difference was not that I learned to like my body the way it was. The difference is that there was much less fat on my body. Now, I don't plan to be that guy that runs around all summer with no shirt except when necessary. But when I lose a lot more weight, I won't be embarrassed to take my shirt off.

At this point, I still don't like the way my body looks. There is a lot of fat. I believe that I am being realistic...more so than when I was living unhealthy. However, I think most people would agree that a "belly flop" and "man boobs" are not attractive. I don't think they are.

I think I have a good body image, that is, I have a realistic body image. I am sure that many will think that I have a poor body image since I don't like my body the way it is. I don't know if I am right or I am wrong, but I am glad that body image is not a key motivator for me. Fitness is my motivation. An improving body image is the side effect.

Realizing that my body is a part of who I am, ironically, is a spiritual experience. I thank God for this body he gave me. It is truly a gift. I have abused this gift way too much. I have not treated it as the gift it is. Now that I am understanding what a truly marvelous gift it is, I am treating it much better. One day, I hope I get it into proper condition. I am so thankful that I have this body to enjoy for the rest of my life, even if I don't like the look of the blubber that is currently on it.

Living Fit Is My #1 Job!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Eating Healthy to Eating Poorly..and Back Again

Okay, so over the month from hell, healthy eating waxed and waned. After my wife went into the hospital with pneumonia, some very nice people from our church brought us meals...every 9 days worth...comfort food type meals...with deserts...yummy homemade desserts.

Still, I did pretty good. These were just the dinners. I ate healthy during the day and at dinner, I ate small portions. I also ate a little dessert. This was fine except for two things:

First, I was not yet exercising as much as I had previous to my illness. I still was getting back in the swing of things. Therefore, I was burning less calories and my metabolism was probably not back up to were it was.

Second, the small portions at the start grew larger and larger as the days passed. We had things like lasagna, macaroni and cheese, pot roast, casseroles, etc... I did not keep myself in check very well by the end.

Then came Easter. The is a very meaningful holiday for me. After Church, we all went to an Easter brunch. I over did it a bit even though it was a lousy brunch.

Then, I had a little chocolate and candy.

Then, we went to the in-laws for a couple of days of their cooking.

Then, we went down to Detroit where we ate out quite a bit.

Soon after my wife went into the hospital, I stopped weighing myself. This was not a conscious decision at first. I simply had no time as each day was a mad rush to get myself and the kids ready and get a bazillion other things done. But by the time it got near Easter, I purposely didn't get on the scale because I was fearful of what I would see.

However, I just could not let myself return to my previous lifestyle. During all this I kept exercising and gradually worked my way back to my normal routines. As I discussed in the previous post, things are going very well with running. However, my eating needed to get back on track.

Previous to all the illnesses, I considered adding whey protein to my healthy eating. It's supposed to be good for muscle growth and retention when used with a weight training program. I was unsure exactly how to incorporate it without adding too many calories. I pick up Muscle and Fitness magazine now and then. In one issue they had a diet for fat loss which included the whey protein. I decided to try that and have been pretty much on track ever since.

I am not sure how they whey is helping me, but I bought two large bags from Sam's club and will reevaluate when they are gone. Although, I am not quite sure what criteria to use to evaluate it (I am such a moron). As far as the diet goes, my plan has been to use it for 4 weeks, so I get a better feel for how to incorporate the whey. After that, I may drop the M&F plan and incorporate the whey into my previous approach to healthy eating, or stick with the M&F plan, or work out some modified form. The only thing I really don't like about the M&F plan is that there is very little fruit.

Anyhow, that's what happened. On vacation, I lost weight. With everything that happened last month, I lost a month. Things could have been much worse. I can't tell you exactly why I let things go, I have certainly dealt with increased stress before and managed fine.

Two reasons come to mind.
One is that I had not planned to deal with such a situation, and so without the planning was ill-equipped to deal with it.

Second, I think that meals we were given made me feel like I had permission to repeatedly indulge. I always gave myself permission to indulge occasionally. Somehow receiving the generosity of others in the form of comfort foods removed the occasionally aspect.

Finally, I can't tell you what exactly snapped me out of it. In the past when I have stopped dieting, it was a like watching a train wreck. I knew I shouldn't, but I did it anyways. I even had that same feeling this time. I could tell you all the reasons that went through my mind as to why I needed to return to healthy eating, but I had all those before and failed. I guess what was new this time is that this journey is not strictly about weight loss, it is about fitness. Also, there was the upcoming race. Also, there was the talk I had recently given to my Kiwanis club. Also, there are you, my blogging friends, even if many of you are just lurkers. So many of you have been routing for me, encouraging me, and tell my you have been inspired by me. Perhaps, it was all this and more, but I thank God that I am back to living a fit lifestyle.

I am not sure how I will deal with it if something similar happens again. Maybe, it's simply part of the ebb and flow of life. There will be time when eating healthy gets thwarted and the trick is to figure out how to compensate and look for ways to get back on track as soon as possible. What I have realized as a result of writing this post is that I lost sight of self-respect. I just went back and reread this post. I should read this post once a week. I guess this is all part of the learning process.

It's funny. Running on a level surface is the easiest. You last longer and have a faster pace. If you run on a hilly course, you tire out quicker and run slower. Running up the hills sucks and can be painful but most certainly gets you winded. The downhills all seem way too short. In the long run, the hilly course will make you a better, faster runner who runs for a longer time. I guess this is a good metaphor for life (Have I become a running geek?). Even though I am not happy about the lack of progress (weight loss) in a month, in the long run, I will be a better trekker on this journey of fitness.

Living Fit Is My #1 Job!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Week 62--I'M BACK!!!!

Today's Weight: 257.4 lbs.
Total Lost: 122.6 lbs.

Fat Ratio: 24.9%
Lean Mass: 193.3 lbs.
Fat Mass: 64.1 lbs.
Waist: 49 inches

Too much to blog about for just one post, but I do want to thank everyone for their kind words, thoughts, and prayers. My wife is doing much better. Everyone in the house seems to be healthy (knock on wood). However, last Sunday I had to take my dad to the emergency room. After 5 hours, they finally had him admitted into a room with pneumonia. Currently, he is in a nursing home for rehab as his previously unsteady legs are much worse. I think they will say he needs a walker when all is said and done. I think that is a good thing...if only he uses it. Anyhow, he is on the mend as well.

As far as weight goes, I have come out pretty much even with where I was 4 weeks ago. I am okay with that. I kept up my weight training and running when my health came back, but I did not eat healthy (more about this in an upcoming post). I am back on track now. In fact, I started following a guide from Muscle and Fitness Magazine so as to incorporate whey protein. I figured using this guide would help me understand the right way to use whey. It's only been a week, so I am not sure how it's working. I was able to a lot more this last week in weight training, but I don't know if that has to do with the whey or just from getting back to healthy. I will keep you updated.

Now for my BIG NEWS, my daughter and I ran in another race this past Saturday. She did the kid's marathon. They had to log 25 miles prior to race day. Then they ran a 1.2 mile fun run. There was not official time kept, but I ran beside her I kept track. She improved her pace time over the last race. I am quite proud of her.

I am also quite proud of myself. I reached another fitness goal of mine (see left column) by running a 10k race. The last race I ran was 8k and my pace time 10:36. Since my 1st race back in October, my goal has been to run 10 min miles. That first race was over 11 minute miles. My run on the Thursday before the race gave me hope. I ran 10:27 pace. The reason this gave me hope is that you run faster as a race. The excitement, the adrenaline, and other runners all make a big difference in helping you to run faster.

I held back a bit during the first part of the race. I wanted to run at a comfortable pace so that I would have energy at the end. I was pretty close to keeping a 10 min. pace. When I hit the half-way mark, the time read 30:10. This was close, but no cigar. We had run down hill some, and the finish line was back at the start line so I knew I there was some uphill before the end. My plan was to try to increase my pace after mile 4. I do this by picking out a runner ahead of me and try to pass that runner by the next mile mark.

I picked the wrong runner, sort of. She was increasing her pace as well. She was passing people that I would then pass. She seemed to maintain the same distance ahead of me through that fourth mile. At mile five, I told myself that I need to at least keep pace with her.

The fifth mile did have some uphill, but not nearly as bad as I though they would be. I still slowed down, because I didn't want to waste too much energy with the hill. I was still winded when I got to the top and afraid I wouldn't recover, but I did. Then to my surprise, there were a couple of small down hills during this mile as well. I just let gravity and inertia carry me quickly down this dips. I passed quite a few people doing that. Without realizing it, I passed the girl I had marked since mile 4.

I really wanted to finish with a 10 min pace or better. Somewhere along the run, I got the crazy notion that I would like to finish the race in under an hour. A 10 minute pace would have put me at 62 minutes at the end of 10k. That would be quite a bit faster than the 10 min pace I was looking for. At 257 lbs., I think the 10 min. pace would be pretty darned good. Oh sorry, back to the race.

During this last mile, another girl passed me. She was quite determined and looked quite serious. I wanted to pass her by the end. I tried. I could see the finish line quite a ways off. In the excitement of seeing the end, I poured on the gas a little too soon. I started sprinted (as much as a fat guy can), but couldn't maintain the speed too well. None the less I stuck it out and poured everything I had left into getting across the finish line quickly. I almost caught her. I didn't care. I saw my time.

I don't know why I get so emotional at these races, but I was weeping at the finish line. I was actually quite happy. I reached my goal of a 10 minute that's not true. I crushed my goal. My pace was 9:37!!!!!! I shave almost an entire minute off my previous race pace. AND Dat dat dat daaaa, my race time was 59:42. I finished under an hour. I am so excited and happy. That was a good day and a great accomplishment.

My next goal is to get to a 10 minute pace during my day to day running. Also, I see that there is going to be a triathlon in my town next fall. I am seriously thinking about entering this, but very nervous about it too. I need a few weeks to think it through.

"Veni, vidi, vici"-- Julius Caesar

Living Fit Is My #1 Job!