Is Fat Loss Impossible?

I’m careful about the messages I repeat in my head because I believe that we can think things into reality. So, I don’t like saying, “I just can’t burn fat.” However, my recent running streak and radical lifestyle changes in order to reduce my fat percentage and return to my usual adult weight have been so stunningly stagnant that it seems that thought just might be true. There’s a lot of truthful facts below and some of it may be TMI. However, this project is a science experiment of sorts to me, more about health than vanity, and simply can’t be expressed without the honest and transparent facts.

Before:

Me and Savannah, Running Buddies

Me and Savannah, Running Buddies

Starting weight in June: 179.

Normal adult weight without being 8 months pregnant: 155.

The 30 pound weight gain came on suddenly 3 years ago, along with migraines, thyroid symptoms and one doctor’s opinion that the beast chasing my heels is MS. Another several at Mayo reminded me that’s a subjective diagnosis with symptoms that can often be managed by lifestyle.

Goal: become fit and strong again, stave off auto-immune disease, lose 10-15 lbs, and fit into my favorite blue dress again

Age: 42

Perimenopausal symptoms: 3 years. Having 2-3 periods a year, thicker in the belly, and gray hair coming in fast. Blood work does not indicate perimenopause. I am sometimes anemic.

Previous dietary experiments tried, most under a doctor’s care, the ones treating my Hashimoto’s and hormone imbalances:

  • The Virgin Diet, 6 miserable months: no chicken, dairy, eggs, legumes, olives, gluten, or sugar.
  • Gluten free: 1 year
  • no alcohol: frequently, each time between 2-8 weeks
  • Low carb: 6 months

I take a Thyroid pill, an acid blocker, and a vitamin D supplement.

I already eat a primarily whole foods “diet” that avoids chemicals and artificial ingredients. I don’t drink soda. Before June I almost never ate breakfast and usually averaged 1200 calories a day. I’m active but work in a job with a lot of sitting and workouts have been sporadic.

In June I started a running streak because running has always meant excess weight slid off my body easily. I have never had an issue shedding weight before the last 3 years. The goal: run for 100 days, watch my food intake, try to eat clean, and maintain a 500 calorie deficit. I do sometimes eat candy, I love good food and will always eat bread and wood-fired pizza, and I want a moderate life.

Days 1-50

I averaged 3 miles a day in the summer heat, 1300 calories a day, and with additional yoga work outs about 3 times a week.

Day 50 check in: weight 179, clothes all fit the same.

I did a Facebook Live as part of the challenge to do something new. I shared my calorie targets and got a heap of feedback from weight lifters and fitness buffs who weren’t starving all the time like I was. I decided to try a new approach.

I got a food scale for My Fitness Pal, found a protein shake that didn’t have nasty-ass Stevia in it (BioChem Chocolate), and had my body fat/muscle mass calculated.

35% fat, 16% muscle, 47% water. That means according to the charts, I’m obese.

Days 50-100 of #100runningdays

averaged 1 mile of running with 1 hours of weight lifting using Jamie Eason’s Live Fit Trainer on Bodybuilding.com.I had to learn how to do most of the movements, we joined a gym, and I have an awesome best friend who is doing the same program with the opposite goal: she’s trying to gain.I calculated my TDEE, which raised my calorie count to 1800. I started tracing macro’s with high protein, lower carbs and fat. 5 meals a day, always breakfast, and sometimes I have to have a cheeseburger or I’m going to cut someone. I’ve never had hunger this primal.

Day 100:

weight 179. Clothes all fit the same. Body percentages all the same.

Non-scale changes: 2 periods in 50 days. Noticeable changes to my metabolism. Hormonal fluctuations feeling like 10 years ago. Running longer distances without walking. Very energetic and feeling strong.

Favorite lesson learned: to make time for my health every single day. I didn’t take any days off during this streak but there were 3 days where my “run” was actually a timed session of running in place. Those were days when family demands were just too high to take an hour to go run. But it was interesting to see that family was the ONLY thing that pushed it out. I was able to move everything else in my life around enough to make regular windows for self-care and fitness. That felt so healthy!

Post running streak: a fitness trainer suggested cutting my calories back to 1500 while keeping the protein and fat high, carbs low during this fat-burning time. I added in high-intensity cardio intervals 5 times a week and a long run with a friend one day a week. Protein target for macro’s is 140, Fat is 60, Carbs are 80.This is my eating plan right now, except for one week I took off all exercise and controlled eating in order to rest. I had some french fries. A few times. And, I had some fun with bourbon.

1 month later:

weight 179. Body percentages all the same. Clothes fit the same. 3rd period since the return of them in August; the healthiest cycles I’ve had in years. Hair no longer falling out. Health is good. Lifting progressively heavier and running longer. No headaches.

Plan for the future: go for a year to see how and if things change. #summertosummer. Maybe by June my body will have readjusted to the healthy patterns.

I started a 30 day plank challenge and on my first day, blew my expected ability by over a minute and a half. That was fun. When I posted some thoughts on FB I got a lot of encouragement and support, all very consistent that this non-movement of the metrics isn’t uncommon.

Right now:

2 Minute Plank

2 minute plank, Day 1 of the challenge, after doing Day 40 of Jamie Eason Live Fit and 30 minutes of HIIT cardio.

 

It’s Already Hard to Get Up and Run on the Second Day

I was staring at the ceiling but with my eyes closed– have you ever done that? I was seriously debating not getting up to run on DAY TWO under the reasoning that we are planning the beach tonight after work and I could run then.

Which, often gets cancelled if our work runs late. The chances are pretty high that if I put it of in the morning that it’s not going to happen. Day 1 would have be Day Only. And then my phone blitty-blipped with a Map My Run notification reminding me to get up and go.

Sigh. I don’t like running. I do like sprinting but not when it’s hot. End of June in Florida is HOT, even at 7 am. As soon as the sun is up in Florida the cicadas are scratching in the pines and the birds are getting their whole day accomplished before 9. Once it’s full on morning even the animals know to keep in the shade. The cat will lay aimlessly under the bushes and flick the tip of her tail and watch a squirrel walk on by. Neither of them will bother to play chase.  Why? Because running takes too much work!

And yet, there am I, running dangerously close to 8 in the morning with a deliriously happy post-heartworm treatment pup who thinks this is a great new game we’re playing. True, I’m not alone. While the real runners were up before daylight and are probably chugging back peanut butter protein kale and raisin smoothies by the time the sun is up, I’m out with the elderly folks walking their powder puff purse dogs.

Day 2 discovery of something pretty.

Day 2 discovery of something pretty.

I need to remember my “why”.  I’m doing this to lose weight because I’m on the threshold of “fat in my forties” or “toned in my prime” and I’m chased at the ankles by two diagnoses that are maintained through lifestyle. Gaining has been consistent, hormonal, and hard to control for the last 4 years no matter my best efforts at gluten-free, paleo, sprinting, fruit water, Fitness Pal discipline and only part of that is because there were also lots of birthday cake and red wine french fry appetizer pizza and beer days in between. The other part is that because I don’t like real “exercise”: I like playing outside. Playing is fun. Working out is not. Working out is work.

So why run? The first time I gave consistent running a try, I was 19. French fries and fruit punch pounds slid off my body faster than cold butter on Florida pavement in July. The results made an impact on my mind and convinced me that when it really matters, start running. It’s possible that had more to do with being 19 than in the mile I put in each night.

We’ll see. Day 2 of #100runningdays is in the books. We even found a pretty side trail right here in our suburban boredom. Also, #runwriterepeat.

Day 2

A run/walk pace that allows time for sniffing.