Thursday, September 20, 2007

Deep thoughts...

Today I finally got over my little weight-related freak-out and decided to enter week 5 of my training with the correct attitude and some realistic goals. I had a little think about what I'm actually trying to achieve and why.

The first thing that I reminded myself is that actually, no matter how I may feel about my body right now, I am a successful fatloss story. I may struggle at times, but I've managed to maintain a 15kg weightloss for 10 years now and that's not all that common. As part of my last university assignment I read an awful lot of studies on long-term weightloss and it wasn't very pretty reading. In 1959 a researcher named Albert Stunkard turned the weightloss world upside down when he presented a revolutionary statistic - 95% of dieters regain the weight they lost and most end up heavier than they started. Since then numerous researchers have made an attempt to overthrow this observation, but even the most optimistic studies put the chance of long term fatloss at about 20%. Of course there are problems. For a start, how long-term is long-term and at what point is it considered 'permanent'? Then there is the glaringly (to me) obvious fact that most of the diets were VLCD (very low calorie diets) which are practically doomed to failure because you cannot possibly stay on one forever. When I was 16 I read a magazine article of a successful slimmer (I think it was a Weightwatchers 'slimmer of the year') that ate 600 calories a day and said that she would gain weight if she ate even one piece of bread over that. Madness! Of course I then thought that I would try to do the same by not eating all day and only eating dinner... you can imagine how that worked out with falling asleep in class and slipping into bingeing at night because I was so hungry! I'd like to see the success stats for a good program like BFL or Precision Nutrition. It's probably closer to 50% - 60%.. from what I've seen.

In spite of officially being a 'successful' weightloss story, I often feel like a failure. The reason for this is because after losing 20 kg, and maintaining that easily for several years I then put in a concerted effort to lose another 8 kg. I counted calories, cut carbs and did a lot of cardio as well as weight training. I took ephedrine to kill my appetite. It was great, I felt super cute... for about a month. In retrospect, there were warning signs. I had a lot of visible muscle but I was pretty fragile - I pulled my shoulder just changing gear in the car! And the moods! I was evil. After I stopped the ephedrine and started to eat 'normally' I gained weight. I gained 4kg in 4 days. If I'd known more, I could have accepted this as inevitable glycogen replenishment and maintained it. Instead I panicked and tried to go back to the regime that got me to under 50kg. I couldn't do it. I quickly regained not only all the weight I had recently lost, but another 10 kg, and it was extremely demoralising. Over the last year, I've shifted 5kg of that weight and gained back some sanity with food. I'm in control, I don't binge although I do tend to overeat on a fairly regular basis which has made fatloss a slow process.

Today I had a think about where I am and what I'd like to achieve. I have to acknowledge that sense of failure that still follows me around because I need to finally let that go and move on. That was a long time ago and I've learned a lot since then about my body, training and nutrition. I'm really enjoying my current training program, which I've designed myself using the principle of maximum EPOC - or, as Alwyn calls it 'Afterburn'. Craig Ballantyne calls it 'Metabolic Turbulence'.. whatever.. it's to do with creating the greatest stimulus in the shortest possible time. The Precision Nutrition system is flexible enough for me to work with in spite of my various food quirks ;) I took some photographs today and was not grossed out as I feared I would be. I'm 'ok' with my weight as I am now, I don't hate my body, however I also know I feel better with less bodyfat, and certainly I want to tighten up my nutrition for health reasons. I've got dodgy cholesterol to look after and also... I'm just not fond of tricep flab. I liked it when I could see my triceps, I want them back. I want to get my bodyfat down a little and become more dedicated to a healthy lifestyle and less prone to slipping back into old habits like comfort eating and a lack of general activity.

Tomorrow morning I will weigh myself and I think a realistic fatloss target for me is about 500g every two weeks. My 'goal' weight is 54kg, which feels totally achievable. I realised that I'd been telling myself I 'must' get back to 49kg, but at the same time I was already dreading the level of restriction I'd have to live with in order to stay there. 54kg won't have me looking like a fitness model, but I know that weight works for me and it does not scare me, so that's going to be my goal. I will also do some caliper readings, but in previous experience, they are not terribly accurate until I'm already below 25% bodyfat. I must be about 27% now. The scales, photo's and 'pantsometer' will give me a good enough idea of how I'm going. I'm not doing a huge calorie deficit, I'm keeping my protein up and supplementing and therefore I'm not really in danger of losing a lot of muscle mass.

So, just to sum it up, and to prove that it really is all about me, me, me on this blog, my current goals are:
* 90% compliance to the PN guidelines.. you know what.. I don't even own a copy of Precision Nutrition! I'm so cheap that I've just picked up the rules through reading JB's articles and, of course, I've practically memorised the Metabolism Advantage. I will buy PN one day, but for now, as you all know, my credit card is in the freezer**
* Train with intensity, don't skip any sessions - this is the part I actually find easy and enjoyable. That post-workout high is worth the pain every time.
* Focus on long-term consistency, food sanity, and an active lifestyle, this is not a 'diet'.
* Shed approximately 500g scale weight every 2 weeks down to my goal of 54kg, adjust portion sizes to achieve this result.

Ok! Finally some sensible goals. By the way, if I start rambling about only eating protein and greens or moaning about slow fatloss, somebody must SLAP me hard and remind me that there is more to life than having the perfect body and that my priority is long-term health and maintaining my sense of humour. Also, I need a bit of butt, so that I can wiggle it when I Salsa. Click here to see my salsa tutors Reuben and Vikki on YouTube. Seriously, don't you just love them?

After you've had enough of old-time Salsa music you might want to check out this clip from the movie 'Music and Lyrics'. Now, some people with religious sensitivities have taken this seriously and gotten a bit offended, but you have to see the movie and understand that this is a character and she is a sort of parody of modern female pop-singers. For some reason I thought it was laugh-out-loud funny, and the song is, unfortunately, too catchy.

** I've had a few requests about some details of how to freeze your credit card. It's really a bit tricky. Firstly you secure it in plastic so that it doesn't get damaged. I don't actually know if being frozen in water would damage a credit card, but I did not want to risk it. Then you fill a receptacle with water. Of course the card will float, so you have to weight it with something. You could just attach a weight to it but I filled a plastic cup with a little water, just enough to weight the card to the halfway mark and then started the freezing. When the masterwork was partially frozen I removed the plastic cup and topped up the hole with more water. Ta daaaah, one frozen credit card suspended perfectly in a block of ice! You don't have to say anything. I know you wish you'd thought of it.

1 comment:

  1. And of course, the bigger the container you freeze it in, the longer it will take to defrost....Something to keep in mind.

    You're the same height as me, and I KNOW we both look fabulous at 54kg. UNder 50kg? Ugh, WAY too hard! Unlike you though, I don't need a butt. Some boobage would be nice, however - could you spare some, please?

    By the way, my slapping hand is poised and ready.


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