Baby steps onto the elevator, baby steps into the elevator…

In the spirit of taking small achieveable steps, have a relevant clip from one of my favorite movies, What About Bob?:

In the great black hole of fitness and health the last few months, on top of irregular exercise, I have not been tracking my food. Some days were nonetheless great eating wise –eat when hungry, stop when full, focus on getting enough fruits and vegetables. But other days were NOT great, and I ate “too much” (to discomfort), or didn’t eat when hungry (“too busy”) or managed only a single fruit during the day (my morning breakfast apple).

Also, almost a month ago, I took off my fitbit. I felt bad about the constant reminder that I wasn’t doing “enough” (which, of course, was completely self-attributed based on guilt; the fitbit is neutral and can’t make value judgements).

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Day 124: ramble on

Strength training today. Feeling strong. Goblet squats 3x5x45 + 2x8x45 lbs among other lifts, and I’m up to 3×17 inclined push ups. I should really try a proper push-up sometime soon.

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Day 120: TDEE project week 4 weigh-in. Plus some cathartic rambling

Today was the week 4 weigh-in for the great TDEE project. (Full details of what I’m doing here.) My current stats:

Week 4
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.

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Day 117: keepin on

Not much going on today. Strength training, house-hunting, reading. I finished two books today (that’s 4 down already this year, I’m thinking I might need to readjust my goal for 2014…). I didn’t particularly like The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, glad it’s done so I can move on to something I might like better. I’m usually pretty good about abandoning books I don’t like but I just had so much I wanted to say about it on goodreads that I felt obligated to finish it.

I had 3 restaurant meals this week (with leftovers eaten at other meals) which means lots of food with inaccurate (possibly very inaccurate) calorie counts. It’s still a couple days till my TDEE weigh-in but I’m really tempted to spend at least one more week at 2400 kcal/day (no matter what happens weight-wise) because this week has been so weird food-wise. What do you think?

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Day 116: some running stuff

Meg Menzies, a runner from Richmond VA, was killed by a drunk driver while out for a jog on Monday morning and her running family has set up a facebook event to raise awareness for running/cycling safety and also as a tribute to their friend. If you’re running this Saturday 1/18, no matter where you are, please consider running in Meg Menzies’s honor.

Today was my first day running in my fancy new kicks. Good news: my toes are in heaven. It’s wonderful to actually have some toe room. Bad news: the foot pain I had a couple months ago in my hiking boots came back. Both times it’s come on when I started wearing the right size shoe and my foot could relax. Back to the podiatrist, I guess. Pretty sure custom orthotics are going to be the answer. Maybe it can wait till April when I have new, better health insurance? It would definitely mean no hikes more than 3 miles till then. 😦

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Day 114: “eating the food”, intuitive eating, and dealing with cravings

Intentionally eating more calories on the premise that TDEE is a lot higher than commonly believed is not my own idea; it’s been around for awhile. It’s often referred to as “eating the food” or ETF. There are a few bloggers I like who write a lot about ETF — especially Amber Rogers at Go Kaleo and her MD friend Joshua Kern at Go Maleo.

“Eating the food” is related to intuitive eating but they aren’t exactly the same thing. Someone who eats intuitively pays careful attention to their body’s hunger and thirst signals. They eat when they’re hungry, stop when they’re full, and eat what their body tells them it wants. Intuitive eating usually results in eating more calories but by definition it’s intuitive–not based on tracking or a specific caloric or macronutrient intake. Authors who write about intuitive eating are Karen Koenig in The “Rules” of Normal Eating and Evelyn Tribole in Intuitive Eating. Someone who “eats the food” may but need not eat intuitively–you can ETF according to a specific caloric or macronutrient profile. I eat semi-intuitively–I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full but I also track calories and protein with particular targets for both, which necessarily dictates what I eat to some extent.

The theory behind both approaches is that if when you experience a craving you actually eat what your body wants you’ll prevent bingeing (on foods you’ll eat now while attempting to stop the craving, and later on the food you’re actually craving when your avoidance behavior doesn’t work), thereby maintaining a healthy caloric intake.

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Day 105: protein

First up: tomorrow is my Week 2 TDEE project check-in. I am so curious to find out what’s happened this week weight-wise. (No judgements, it’s for science…) Tomorrow morning can’t come fast enough! Now back to regularly scheduled programming…

Protein is essential for muscle maintenance, recovery, and growth. High-protein diets help preserve lean body mass in people losing weight. If you’re strength training, getting enough protein is going to help you lift more, develop strength, and build muscle. Long story short: eat protein.

The standard recommendation for daily protein intake is .8-1g per pound of lean body mass. For most women, that means they should be consuming between 100-150g protein/day. I aim for 130-150g per day, and I hit that most days. I’ve tried a few different protein powders and I’m not thrilled with them in their plain form, so I try to maximize my protein intake through food (put protein powder in a smoothie so it tastes good, and suddenly it’s a meal with a lot of calories, in which case why am I not just eating food?). It’s taken a lot of work to figure out how to get enough protein while still eating within my daily calorie allowance and also ensuring I get to eat the foods I actually want to eat, but one thing I can say for certain is it’s been a whole lot easier since I started intentionally eating more calories. (By the way: you’re probably not eating enough.)

An unintended benefit of eating more calories: even on a carb-heavy day (like today), I can still manage over 100g protein without having to try too hard.

I started a Protein page as a way to keep track of foods that make it easier to hit my protein target. If there are any foods you eat more of to maximize protein please let me know, I’m always willing to try something new.

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