Project Weight Loss: Week 2

October 5th, 2012 | Posted by Alison Spath in Weight Loss

Well, it’s the end of Week 2 of my little Project Weight Loss here.  Last week at the end of Week 1 I weighed in at 146.0.



(Did you hear me shouting HOORAY at 6:30 AM, EDT today!?)

I was VERY happy to see 144 on the scale this morning, especially considering I haven’t seen those numbers in that order since I was three months pregnant. I didn’t even care that it had a “.8” behind it. In fact, I wouldn’t have cared if it said 144.99999!

This week I want to chat a little about fitness and the importance of not over doing it when comes to exercising with weight loss in mind. Exercise can absolutely aid in weight loss efforts, but too much exercise can backfire too.

I really liked this article, For More Weight Loss, Exercise Less, which illustrates how a lot of exercise isn’t necessarily better. It sites an interesting study with three groups of men who were all asked to keep their eating habits the same without any purposeful dietary changes. One group was asked to not exercise at all, the second group was asked to exercise for 30 minutes a day (or until 300 calories were burned) and the third group exercised for an hour a day (or until 600 calories were burned).

The results?

By the end of the 13 weeks, the results were both expected and unexpected, the researchers reported. Not surprisingly, the sedentary group saw no changes in their weight. The men in the high-intensity exercise group lost an average of 5 lbs., but while weight loss was expected, the researchers said these men lost about 20% less than they would have anticipated, given how many extra calories they were burning. Even more surprising were the results from the moderate exercise group: these men lost an average of 7 lbs. each, 83% more than what the researchers would have guessed based on calorie expenditure alone.

So the guys who exercised less lost more weight! And the guys who exercised more didn’t lose as much weight as they had expected.

One theory behind these results is that the men who exercised more “were probably compensating for their exercise by eating more food”. I know exactly how this happens, and maybe you do too.

Oooooh I ran 1000 miles today/exercised for 1000 minutes/swam 1000 laps! I’m starrrrrving! I burned so many calories today I can surely eat everything! I can eat anything! Bring me my ice cream sundae in the trough!

This is exactly why some people gain weight during marathon training or why you might not be losing weight despite exercising like a mad man. If you’re trying to lose weight and are not tracking how many calories you’re taking in, it’s easy to eat back all those calories you burned during your long work out session, especially if you feel like you “earned it”.

The take home message here is that it you don’t need to exercise a ton in order to lose weight. These days I’m aiming for 30 – 45 minute work outs, 4 to 5 days a week. This works out well for me with a new baby in the house because I do not have an abundance of time for exercise. And on the weeks when even 4 days of exercise is a challenge, I remind myself that your diet plays the biggest role toward being successful at weight loss over the long term anyway.

In short, focus on eating well and just be active when you can, the weight can still come off.

I’ve managed to get two runs in this week (3.5 to 4 miles each), a couple of bike rides, plus one day with this lady:

Ripped in 30 with Jillian Michaels

Ripped in 30 is perfect for the days I can’t get out for a run or bike ride. It’s short enough that I can squeeze it in during one of Kaz’s naps or first thing in the morning on the days I happen to get up before him.

Some days I get a bike ride in by myself, and other days I go with one of the big kids.  It’s nice to have some one-on-one time with them, and it’s exercise for both of us.

Bike Ride with Ava

When I ride with the girls it’s slower going and less intense for sure.  Sometimes we have to walk up the hills in the parks we ride through, sometimes we have to find a bathroom, sometimes we stop and point at things.

A Curious Ride

But these rides are less about burning calories and more about being active together.

For a quick look at some food from the week, this is my typical salad these days. I eat one of these most days of the week.

A Salad Meal

Beneath that bowl of vegetable goodness lies 2 Tablespoons of Annie’s Goddess Dressing

Annie's Goddess Dressing

+ a tablespoon or so of apple cider vinegar.  This saves me from having to spend a boatload of calories on dressing with all that greenery and makes it easier to mix it up and coat all the salad vegetables with dressing.

Once everything is loaded in, I stir it up and make a fine salad mess.

A Salad Mess

With two hard boiled eggs, one carrot, half a red pepper, broccoli, red leaf lettuce, spinach, 2 Tbsp of hemp seeds and 2 Tbsp of dressing, this whole bowls works out to be about 430 calories. (For the record, I do not count the calories in green, fibrous vegetables.)

You will not hear me say “You know, I’m still a little hungry” after eating that gigantic thing.

(And oh yes, I totally eat that whole gigantic thing.)

One snack I’ve been eating regularly these days is a 1/2 c 2% greek yogurt, 1/4 c Bare Naked Vanilla Almond Crunch Granola, 1 small sliced banana and about 2 Tbsp chocolate chips.

Afternoon Yogurt Snack

You can skip the chocolate chips to save 100 calories, but I’m sorry, I am totally eating chocolate every day.

That snack adds up to 400 calories, which is pretty hefty for a snack. Just as long as you account for those calories within your daily calorie allowance, it doesn’t really matter how many calories a snack is.

We also ate at a pot luck picnic over the weekend and I ate exactly what I wanted, including apple crisp and other desserts too.  One meal isn’t going to make or break your weight loss efforts, the same way one meal isn’t going to help you lose all the weight you want to either.  It’s what you do over the long term that allows you be successful or not.

Here’s a closer look at Week 2 to see how the numbers stack up. Remember that Net Calories = Calories Eaten – Calories Burned. I’ll also note again that I’m giving myself an additional 400 calories burned each day to account for the extra calories needed for exclusively breastfeeding my 3 month old, on, top of what I might burn through exercise on a given day.

Friday, 9/28
Weight: 146.0
Net Calories: 1222
Exercise: 40 Run

Saturday, 9/29
Weight: 145.4
Net Calories: 1318
Exercise: 40 Minute Bike Ride

Sunday, 9/30
Weight: 145.0
Net Calories: 1603
Exercise: Rest

Monday, 10/1
Weight: 146.0
Net Calories: 922 (seems very low, but my run + breastfeeding burned 800 calories total… I ate 1722 calories and felt fine!)
Exercise: 40 Minute Run

Tuesday, 10/2
Weight: 145.4
Net Calories: 1833
Exercise: Rest

Wednesday, 10/3
Weight: –
Net Calories: 1140
Exercise: Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30, Week 1 + 35 minute easy bike ride with Ava

Thursday, 10/4
Weight: 145.6
Net Calories: 1495
Exercise: Rest

Friday, 10/5
Weight: 144.8

If you’re playing along at home, I hope you’re happy with your results this week too! How much do you exercise? Do you notice that you’re more hungry or more likely to eat more when you’re exercising a lot? Do tell!

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18 Responses

  • Katheryn says:

    Great job this week! I’m also trying to get back to my normal body after having baby #3, 4 1/2 months ago. I exercise 5 or 6 days a week. I find that I eat better the days that I exercise or are more active. The days that I don’t exercise I feel more tired and more sluggish and eat a bit more.

  • Jennifer says:

    Yay!!! That’s a great weight loss for the week. That does explain the loud HOORAY I heard this morning. :) It’s a great feeling!

    I didn’t lose any this week but didn’t gain either. That probably explains the **** you may have heard. (haha)

    You touched on a topic that’s had me baffled and I just can’t grasp why it’s happening. I’ve found that when I don’t exercise, I lose weight and when I do I either stay the same or go up slightly. I tested this from last week and this week. Last week I didn’t get to the gym at all and lost 1 1/2 lbs, I believe. This week I started back to the gym on Tuesday and went every day doing different things and my weight hasn’t moved. I haven’t eaten anymore than on days I don’t exercise so the only thing I can think is maybe I’m drinking more water. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Very frustrating, although I know that the exercising is toning me and doing so many beneficial things for me but you would think that the weight would move.

    I usually try to go M-F and do strength training on M,W, F and cardio on T, Th. Maybe muscle is replacing the fat? Any thoughts?

    • My own “research” (i.e., surfing the web and listening to Jillan’s podcasts) has me believing that when you work your muscles in a new way, especially if you feel sore, there is some fluid retention going on in your muscles as they repair themselves. That is what I think is happening when the scale doesn’t budge or goes up when you’ve worked out hard or in a new or different way… it’s fluid. You should be seeing a downward trend over the long term, but the day to day weight fluctuations are probably water. These is my non-professional thoughts!

      • Jennifer says:

        That makes sense.

        My plan for next week is to change things up a bit. Instead of the strength training 3x a week and then cardio 2x, I’m going to do all cardio and see what that does. Just trying to make it different so my body doesn’t just expect the same thing every time. :)

        I may even count calories for the week, too, because you never know how things add up, right? I might “assume” I’m where I need to be but I could actually be over or under.

  • Leslie says:

    Good job this week. I lost weight too! Still trying to get the food and exercise consistent. Some days I eat great, some days I don’t. Some days I exercise, some days I don’t. I am enjoying your post. Glad your back!

  • Sam says:

    Nice work on the weight loss! I was wondering what woke me up @3am post today and now I know :)

    One quick question, I juice about 2-3 times a week and am wondering how you calculate juice calories. Do you consider calories from each fruit as they are or do you subtract any for the fiber etc that is left out…


  • Devann says:

    I have been running for 30 min. 3x a week and strength training 30 min2x a week. I have lost 5# in 3 weeks thus far. I have been running since June but as you said, diet will make or break you. My weight just kept going up and down when I wasn’t counting.

    Keep up the awesome work Mamma!

  • Devann says:

    Sam, when I did an 8 day juice fast and then did juice intermittent fasting for months, I had made a cheat sheet. There is an equation for figuring out calories as you do subtract a small amount for the city er. I can’t remember what the equation is (found it online after searching real hard) but I could email you the sheet of many veggies already figured out. Let me know if you want my email?

  • Mary says:

    Congratulations on your weight loss :)

    Interesting about the study. I was wondering though if the 600 cal group gained muscle mass instead of fat. Maybe that’s why they weighted more?

    I’m on a trip right now, so it’s hard not to splurge and to find a routine. I guess I’ll embark on project weight loss after!

    • Yeah, perhaps it was muscle gain. You do need a calorie surplus in order to gain weight, whether that weight is muscle or fat… so that could explain it, especially if they were eating more.

      Enjoy your trip Mary!

  • It’s really interesting to see your calorie amounts each day. I’m curious now to see how many calories I’m eating–I have no clue. My goal these days is to get in 4 days of exercise. Some weeks it’s more, some less, but usually it’s right about there.

  • jen says:

    I just had to go back and say that your banana/granola “snack” has become my favoritest breakfast ever! :)