Just sitting here chucking at the title of this post…which is meant to be read to this tune, in case you missed the reference.
This will probably end up being a largely ramble of a post, and it definitely won’t be fact-filled or full of hyperlinks. Nope, I’m going to go ahead and forecast that this post will be predominantly anecdotal. So read on, if you dare…or care.
So I mentioned previously (ok I renounce my declaration that there would not be hyperlinks) that I’d been consciously eating more in an effort to gain some muscle and gently remind my metabolism of how much active people should be eating to fuel their bodies. I thought that maybe I would give a little more detail on this, since I’ve received a few emails since publishing that post that lead me to believe that there are a lot of you out there who are undereaating, overtraining, or dealing with a lot of disordered thinking around food that you think is normal because so many women in your lives are also obsessing about every bite they put in their mouths.
Because I’ve lost 100lbs, I have loose skin on most of my body. Sometimes I forget about it, but mostly I don’t; I think about it every time I jump, run, wear shorts, wave, sit, or bend over. I’d love to say that I embrace my excess skin as some sort of badge of pride for my weight loss, but I don’t. I resent my extra skin for overshadowing every muscle bump I work so hard for, and fully intend to have it removed someday. But until that day comes ($$$!) I am faced with two options: do nothing, OR, build as much lean muscle as I can on my body so that I can look my absolute best with the body I have….loose skin and all.
So I decided, after seeing my marathon photos and crying over how I looked, that I was going to stop putting my body through hours of steady state cardio and start building muscle and training strategically. Oh, and I was going to eat more, too. Take that, body! When I started eating in balance with my total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), I expected that I would gain some muscle, as well as some fat, and that I would feel pretty full in the beginning.
What I wasn’t really expecting is that I would no longer be obsessed with food. I wouldn’t feel physical anxiety around sweets, and I wouldn’t make three trips a day by any candy bowl I could find – even if I didn’t really like the candy – and take as many pieces as I could each time. Oh, and I wouldn’t eat myself sick on weekends anymore. This transformation didn’t happen overnight by any means. Actually, I started eating my TDEE on November 1, 2013 and I didn’t notice that my food preoccupations had lifted until February, 2014…just before I began reducing my calories to drop some of the weight I gained before summer.
In early March, I started reducing my caloric intake by a very small amount, still eating around 2000 calories/day. I began to have days where I would land around 1500 calories/day (gross count) and just run with it, thinking “excellent, now I’ll have an even bigger caloric deficit and lose weight faster.” Recently, after eating a ridiculous amount of candy welllll past the point of fullness, I started reflecting on some recent…tension…in my relationship with food. I realized that after even a small amount of time in a moderate caloric deficit, I was back to circling around candy dishes, making up bizarre protein powder concoctions to replace real treats, and picking up and putting back things at the grocery store because I’m not sure I can trust myself around them.
Obviously there are tons of people out there dieting successfully, so I’m not saying caloric restriction is a bad thing if you’re trying to lose weight. What I’m learning (and I’m always learning about this stuff) is that all of those disordered food behaviours that I thought were indicators of my poor willpower or giant sweet tooth, were really just my body’s way of telling me that I was not properly feeding myself for the level of activity that I was putting it through. I suspect that, having dieted extensively in the past, those 4 months of eating at my TDEE were a real “a-ha” for my body. I ate enough and made sure that I was getting enough protein, fat, and carbs, and the clouds parted. Here comes the sun!
So what do I do now?
Well, I plan to stop borrowing from Peter (skimping on weekday calories) to pay Paul (overeating on the weekend). My plan is to get back to basics – eating enough per day (1750-2000 calories and never netting below my BMR of ~1460 calories) and balancing my macros, even on weekends. I’m going to stop asking “ok, if I want ice cream, how can I make it with PROTEIN!!” and start letting myself have servings of what I want during the week, as long as I’ve met my other macronutrient goals for the day. I’m not sure that this will work – in fact, it could just be that I need to tell myself to buck up and buckle down if I want to shed a few pounds before summer. What it does highlight though, is that for those of us who have struggled with our bodies and weight, a curious mind and diligent observation is critical to our weight loss success, to improving our relationships with food, and to understanding our bodies. Knowing what makes your body tick (and what makes you mind go a little crazy) is the key to an empowered approach to weight loss.
So, that’s my little confession and my $.02 on all of this nutty stuff.
As always, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, or just need an ear. I certainly appreciate you all lending me yours!