Today was the week 4 weigh-in for the great TDEE project. (Full details of what I’m doing here.) My current stats:
Current weight: 246.0 lbs
Weight change this week: -1.2 lbs
Average daily kCal this week: 2396
Over 4 weeks @ 2400 kCal/day
Total weight change: -5.4 lbs
Average weekly weight change: -1.35 lbs
Average daily kCal: 2405
My fitbit estimates that I burn ~ 2800 kCal per day on average, which is well within normal for a moderately active woman of my height. According to the company, the fitbit’s estimations get more accurate over time the more you wear the fitbit, log your food, and track your weight, so my guess is that ~2800 kCal is pretty close to my TDEE. That would make 2400 kCal per day a deficit of ~400 kCal per day, a safe, sensible deficit that ensures moderate weight loss over the long term.
However, this week’s calories could be pretty inaccurate as I ate out 4 times, and tracking restaurant meals is a challenge. So I’ve decided to give myself one more week at 2400 kCal before deciding what my next step is. It’s certainly not going to hurt me to stay at 2400 for one more week — at a 2400 average I’ve consistently lost weight while enjoying plenty of cookies, ice cream, chocolate, and mac & cheese, not to mention holiday mega-feasting at Christmas and New Year’s Eve — all in addition to my more typical “healthy” food (which I also enjoy!).
Heads up: from here on, this post is about disordered eating, feelings, and eating the food, so stop here if that doesn’t interest you.
Intentionally eating more food has been nothing short of life changing for me. I realize I probably sound like one of the zealous restrictive-diet-adherents clogging up your facebook newsfeed. But here’s the thing: I’m not on a diet. The beauty of ETF (“eating the food”) is that there are no rules and no restrictions — you just figure out your total daily energy expenditure and then eat whatever you want to meet that goal. Yes, some foods are more nutrient-dense while others are more calorie-dense; some foods are easier to digest than others; some foods contain more fast-release energy while others contain more slow-release energy; different foods contain different macronutrient profiles. But these are facts about the composition of the food, not value judgements about which foods are “good” or “bad”, “clean or “dirty”.
The more I’ve read about eating disorders, the more aware I’ve become about just how disordered my eating has been my whole life (which makes me really sad). I still don’t think I’ve ever had a full-blown eating disorder; I don’t meet the DSM-IV’s diagnostic requirements regarding frequency or extent of bingeing to really earn a diagnosis of Binge Eating Disorder. Nonetheless, so many eating behaviors I always thought of as “normal” are not — demonizing foods and food groups, for one. Although that never stopped me from eating those foods, it fed into my feelings about myself (all negative) and led me to eat more than I needed to (“I’ve already eaten a little of this bad food, might as well eat a whole bunch more of it”). Some other disordered behaviors: avoiding foods I wanted to eat. Intentionally not eating when hungry. Drinking massive quantities of water instead of eating. Eating until I felt stuffed. Feeling guilty about overeating or eating “bad” foods. The only result of all this: I wanted to eat more. And that just made me feel even worse.
I started to get myself into a better headspace about food 4-ish months ago — about the time I started this blog, actually, when I started reading about nutrition and evidence-based weight loss strategies. It took a few months before I felt brave enough to try out ETF for myself. I finally took that step a month ago, and in that month, I have eaten what I wanted to eat, when I wanted to eat it — and I’ve lost weight. If I want ice cream, I dish out one serving of ice cream (real ice cream, not low-fat, low-calorie “ice cream”), giving myself permission to eat more if I really want it when I’m done, because ice cream isn’t “bad” or even something that needs to be limited. Only once have I actually wanted more. The urgency (“eat it now before you get your willpower back”) and the guilt (“how could you be so weak?”) that have always been associated with food are gone. Sometimes I’ll wake up to discover that the BF has eaten “my” leftovers. This used to be a huge source of stress for me but it doesn’t bother me anymore. So I missed out on a little bit of leftover mac & cheese? It doesn’t matter. There will be more another day. If I really want it now, the supermarket is nearby.
To put this in perspective: I’ve been obsessed with, protective of, and guilty about food since I was in first grade — for 25 years. Imagine how you’d feel if you suddenly shed 25 years’ worth of your psychological baggage. Please understand — I’m not saying you have to ETF. You don’t. If you don’t, but whatever you’re doing works for you and you’re happy and satisfied doing it and it’s not causing disordered eating behaviors, keep doing it. But if you demonstrate any disordered eating behaviors (“too much snacking”? mindless eating? bingeing? feeling “hangry”? classifying foods as “clean/dirty” or “good/bad”? falling off/getting back on/falling off/getting back on the wagon?), please please please learn more about eating disorders, and eat the food. I’ve added a sidebar with links to resources about nutrition and eating disorders.
Strength training, foam rolling, stretching
In search of my TDEE