Friday, July 19, 2013

The definition of insanity

Have you ever known an athlete to cut calories in order to increase performance?

Of course not.

Why...why then was my go to approach to losing weight to cut calories? Why am I even concerned about weight for that matter? Does the scale tell me anything about what I see in the mirror? Does it determine what clothes fit me? Or how much I can dead lift or back squat? Does the scale determine my energy level after an hour and a half of intense training?

Nope, not at all.

We've all seen pictures like this:
And we all know more muscle equals a higher resting metabolic rate, thus a fat burner in it's own right and...duh, it is much more pleasant to look at in the mirror.

So why did I sabotage my body's ability to develop muscle by cutting the energy it needs to do so?

Because that's what they have always said to do. Because that is what has been stuck in my head all my adult life even though I have read and understood the lunacy of it.

A friend linked a site called Eat to Perform.  I have been reading and devouring every word on their many pages and forum.

My fat percentage results (Bod Pod) from January compared to today prove everything they talk about on their site. In January my body fat percentage was 30.8, today it is 31.6. That's right. After six months of working out 3x's/week (taking a couple weeks off here and there) and cutting calories when I was "being serious about my weight loss," I managed to gain fat. I also gained 1.2 pounds of muscle so my resting metabolic rate has gone up by ~20 calories. (More muscle equals more calories burned while you are at rest).

For the last two weeks I have been working out 5x's/week. Today was the first day I followed the eating advice I found on Eat to Perform. I ate over 100 grams of carbs around my workout and felt a tremendous difference. I felt stronger and didn't experience the after workout drowsiness I had become accustomed to when I was only eating 1200 calories/day (if you've wondered where I've been, I've been sleeping...literally!).

My new goal date is still September 1 - six weeks from now but my goals have changed dramatically. Instead of a weight goal, I will do another body fat analysis to track my progress. I will also be focusing more on my performance at the gym. And though I won't be posting before and after pictures, this testimony is one I hope to have in six weeks. Notice she weighs six pounds more in her "after" picture than in her before picture.


  1. Well done. I just mentioned over at Sunshine Mary's how the conventional low-calorie wisdom on diet is counterproductive if your hormonal balance isn't perfect, and got the usual, "Oh, you just have to eat less and exercise more" response (implying, of course, that anyone who's heavy is a lazy glutton, and probably lying about it).

    Sigh. If I weren't such a nice guy, I'd console myself with the fact that it'll catch up to them one of these days too.

    1. My Bod Pod results are proof that "eat less exercise more" is bunk. If you take a look at my "goal date" post, upper right hand corner of the blog, you can see what I've been doing since the beginning of May (eating less and exercising more), and I not only held on to fat, I gained it. I'm seeing this as the "red pill" of nutrition.

  2. Good to hear you are paying less attention to the scale and more to your body fat and gym performance.

    Know you do Crossfit, as do I... I would also suggest taking some body measurements. I typically measure the following: bicep, shoulder width, chest, waist (around navel), hips, thighs, calves. I only measure them every 3-5 months just to see if there is any gain / loss in those areas. And as you mentioned, the progress pics, I typically take those when I remember about every 6-8 weeks.

    Keep up the good and hard work!

    1. Thank you, I appreciate that. I'll be doing my measurements and pics Monday as I officially start my new goal. We're doing PR's next week at the gym so that will tie in nicely as well as a (re)starting point.

      The key, of course, for anyone reading this is the realistic amount of strength training someone is doing. If you're not committed to a strength program (not just cardio), then weight loss will remain a roller coaster ride. You can not build muscle without lifting heavy things, you can not continue to lift heavier things without fueling your body, you will not maintain weight/fat loss without increased muscle mass. Cutting calories will fail and you will regain anything that has been lost - and what you'll have lost will be more than just fat, it will be non fat body mass.

      You CAN NOT cut calories and expect optimal health.

  3. Sarah's Daughter,

    Try not to be discouraged. Even if you didn't lose body fat, you've gained muscle and your clothes are probably fitting better if your body is tighter. Plus, I'm sure that you are feeling better.

    Are you sure that the BodPod results are accurate? If not, you can always ask your doctor to do a skinfold caliper test to measure your body fat.

    I generally don't comment when I see women on the blogosphere talking about skipping meals and counting calories to lose weight, since I'm not a nutritionist. But, I can say that I don't count calories and my body fat is low enough where my abs are clearly defined even after having several children and being in my mid 40s. At some point, I will post before and after pix on my gravatar to show other women that anyone can get in shape if they work at it.

    Like you I do a mix of cardio and strength training and I find that I'm in optimal shape when I cut out processed food and eat a good variety of healthy grains, low-fat dairy, veggies, fruit and lean meat (plus a nightly glass or two of wine). I usually eat three meals and two to three snacks a day and never let myself get hungry as that only leads me to binge later.

    Lisa in Vermont

  4. Thanks LiV.

    My clothes are fitting better and I've undergrown a lot of them. :) Yes, I feel fantastic!

    From what I've read, the BodPod is one of the most reliable body composition analyzers available.

    I plan to write more of what I've been eating. I've joined the Eat to Perform forum and have been communicating with the moderators. I've adjusted my macros for optimal fat burning and am eating them at the times they recommend. I am never hungry, in fact, I'm struggling right now to eat the amount they recommend (which they've said will take some time since I'm coming from a calorie restricted diet). The best thing about eating the whole foods is that I do not have cravings at all. There are candy bars and chips around the house that used to call my name, but since I've been eating this way, I haven't even thought about them.

    I'm not sure if I'll post my before and after pics but I plan to post my progress in numbers.


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