Saturday, September 20, 2014

Losing Weight by Losing Weight Loss Want?

Question 1: Are any of you at a place where you'd kinda like to burn some fat, get a little leaner? sQuestion 2: have you been here before? where you've lost it, had it down for a bit but now you're back? Question 3: the scale therefore is a big part of validating progress: must weigh X; a good day is seeing scale go down; a bad day is scale goes up?

Ya, that's me, too -(loving that withings wifi scale...) except my mind is starting to change about the scale.

For context, here's my eating base line:
eat protein, eat greens each time i eat - have healthy fats during the day. that's about it as foundation.

For the past little while - 50 days - via the Precision Nutrition Lean Eating approach -

i've been doing two things:

1. Amping back into resistance, with endurance for active recovery, and intervals

2. and just focusing on, what to me have been some novel basics to add to the above greens/proteins/fats:

- eat **slowly** - that's a biggie
- eat to 80% full;

Here's what i'm noticing over the past 50ish days: weight is not changing at all. I mean. nada. it goes down it goes up - all within one pound, within any given week.

BUT girth measures are going down. Not rapidly, but unequivocally. Steadily. Weekly.

I have begun to use a tape measure each day i weigh in.

And we know what that tape / weight measure means, don't we?
Yup, there is a fat reduction that's happening and a lean mass improvement.

What's the big deal surprise about that, you may be asking?
Lots of people when they start trying to lose weight think they're not making progress cuz the scale isn't changing, but their measures are.


But here's the deal: i'm not approaching this process to think "diet" or "i have to lose X pounds by Y" or that i have to eat less.

i'm just exploring a process.

History to This Practice Change

See, about 22 m. ago i was as lean and strong as i've ever been. Took me about four months of training for a lifting challenge and being radical about food in order to make weight for this competition.

i used a pretty extreme approach - the "modified velocity diet" - (you can see that all on begin2dig here). I certainly proved to myself that one could both lose weight/burn fat AND get stronger at the same time. Bully.

The big PN approach/question is "and how's that working for you?"

I just got schooled.

Plain and simple, it wasn't working for me.

What i found was that after this amazing experience, the weight started climbing back up.

And yes, i believed that the expert knowledge is that one can't stay competition lean all the time BUT - but! Really?

I didn't feel great. It was like that comp kinda took the sauce out of me. Burnt out. Kept working out, but not with the vim.

Last year i switched from resistance to endurance training - just to explore that - spending a lot of time on the bike. I enjoyed it - maybe needed a break - and the bike was an interesting place to recover.  My resting heart rate dropped in a big way, too. And so what? well

Didn't like the weight gain of 7-8 pounds from competition weight. On a small person that's not insignificant. It was a familiar weight, but not a desired one. In the past i'd always felt better about 5-6 pounds lighter. Again, for a small person 5 pounds ain't nothin.

And looking at my records, i could see that i have gone through a variety of strategies to get lean, to get to that happy weight. and that all of them have worked.

For about four months.
maybe again you think 5-6 pound - meh - big deal.

I think it's a sign.

What does that sign say?

"How's that working for you?"

This question could quickly be followed by the definition of insanity: to repeat the same thing over and over (try yet another lean speed attempt) and expect a different result.

The other strategy that PN proposes is "try the opposite" 

The opposite of my previous approaches would be - stop going for a "quick fix" - i hadn't thought that's what i'd been doing - because since about 2007 my foundational approach is as above: greens and protein each feeding opportunity, healthy fats. But then i'd try eating only within an 8 hour window and that would work for awhile. or only eating one meal a day. with protein shakes the remainder. or fasting once or twice a week etc. And that all worked. Until it didn't.

Try the opposite - of focusing on weight loss

In this case, with the PN Coaching approach, opposite is letting go(*) of weight loss and focusing on a new relationship with food and movement practice. I've tried all the other sane stuff, so why not? The commitment is - you will achieve your results; but just let go and trust the process. The process is a year long. Not four months. Three times that - a year.

Giving Myself a Year

Taken from the perspective of a year, not seeing weight go down (not seeing it go up either) is easy. Given that i'm used to results in four months, i have a few four month cycles in this process. I'm not even half way through the first four months of this process.

And what i'm finding, as said, is this interesting shift to a new measure that i find i am coming to value more than the scale, and it's my myotape.

Have you ever had a sprain - ligaments ripping? Have you ever broken a bone, too? Which took longer to feel like it had really repaired?
For me, it's been the connective tissue stuff, and it can be really depressing when it feels like it takes so long to get going back to strength.

But you know, we most of us get it: tendons have less blood supply than bones; it's longer for stuff to move around in that tissue to knit it back together, etc etc. It takes time; needs lots of rehab.

Turns out we may need to think about our bodies adapting to new food approaches in a similar way - that it take way more time than we think it does but the effects are more resilient when we take that time

New science suggests that there are reasons why sudden weigh loss is hard to sustain - or almost impossible, and that yo yo'ing is nearly inevitable - because our hormones (those pesky middle managers) take time to adapt to change too.

That also makes sense: if something happens in our bodies quickly - like getting freaked out or being without food, or say really extreme - having the air to our lungs cut off - our bodies will try to compensate to protect us.

Now imagine that we've been perceived to have been starving ourselves - that restraint relaxes - what are the messages going to be?


Slow Down: time to adapt.

So perhaps what i'm learning is to give my body time to adapt, hormonally, to some subtle changes in eating and moving.

Here's the thing: for a person who really does only have a few pounds to lose, and for plain health reasons has absolutely no need to lose them, that weight loss is not going to happen quickly.

The losing a pound or two a week, not on.

And right now, from the girth measures, it seems i'm reducing fat and putting on lean tissue. Nothing radical but not nothing, either.

That's kind of exciting.

Try the opposite - of the scale

The opposite says let go of the number on the scale and focus on  what i'm doing
And there's a new measure for that. The tape measure.
In my oppositeness i'm not using calipers right now either.  Just girth. the classic "is my ass getting smaller?"

And other things i'm noticing:
My relationship to food is changing: i'm eating slower. And with this i'm eating less, by not reflexively getting seconds - whether veggies and protein or not - just no on the seconds and not missing it.
There's hormonal reasons for that working, too.

I'm still trying to get the real feel of eating to 80% of full. But i'm noticing that i could likely stop sooner than i do. And i'm ok with just noticing that right now.

An unexpected AH HA moment

It's as said only near 60days in - so why am i writing this now?
Because i saw something that gave me pause - that made me think this approach is actually having an effect that i would not have noticed.

I saw a video of myself from feb. Feb 14 2014, and i know exactly what i weighed that day from my geek records.

youtube - ogilvyLabs - feb14, 2014

I saw another video of myself from Aug 26, 2014 after i'd been doing this approach for 40ish days.

 ogilvy in5 experiment with m.c.

I weighed about 2 pounds in the second vid than i did in the first, but
personally, i think the second video looks leaner in the face.

Heavier but leaner (looking). Hmm.

So, as said i'm only into this process about two months. But i'm enjoying all these new perspectives, and how calm this approach is to just let go of (another pn focus shift) the OUTCOMES (i must weigh X by Y) and just learning and trusting the BEHAVIOURS - to get towards those outcomes. or not. Those may change from extentional (i weigh x) to intensional* (i'm getting leaner and stronger).

IT's feeling like an interesting experience, and i've been given a boost to say ok, yes, tending towards the right direction - i'm willing to keep exploring this.

SO to answer "how's that working for you"

the answer is "really well, thank you. different, but a good different...willing to keep going...better than the alternative"

SO far sane, calm, easy - all feels better than extreme, driven, wiped out.

Will keep you posted. Happy to take questions, too.

(*a little Montegue Semantics there)

ps - a related paper i co-authored about how scales work - or don't - called "there's no such thing as gaining a pound"

(*) and a note about "letting go" around goals.

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