I can’t believe I’m writing about weight loss the day after Thanksgiving. I am still full.
Last week, after hanging out in the upper 130’s for 4 days straight, I woke up on Saturday morning feeling very ready to be done with all of this. I was plain old tired of trying to lose weight and felt ready for a break.
Given I had similar feelings less than two weeks ago at the end of Week 7, I knew I needed to get to the bottom of where these feelings were coming from. I don’t really mind calorie tracking, it’s easy once you get into the habit of it. But there are some aspects here that are starting to wear on me. I’m tired of feeling too restricted with food in order to keep my calories low enough to for weight loss. I’m tired of feeling bummed if the scale doesn’t show me the numbers I wanted to see. I’m tired of worrying about looking like a failure if I don’t deliver results because I’m writing about my weight loss publicly.
So on Sunday (11/18) I decided that I was simply going to maintain my weight for a while. If I didn’t lose a single pound in the coming week, fine.
Doesn’t it figure that I lost two pounds this week, weighing in at 137.4 yesterday, down from 139.6 last Friday at the end of Week 8? Classic. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m very pleased with this!)
(Also, I’m sure I do NOT weigh 137.4 today after yesterday’s big Thanksgiving dinner, three pieces of pie [totally worth it] and two glasses of wine. I did not step on the scale today to confirm or deny this suspicion.)
A Modified Approach
I really did let go of any expectations for this week. I gave myself permission to stop worrying about whether or not I lost any weight. This was exactly what I needed. Really, I just want to ease my foot off the weight loss gas pedal and stop trying so hard. “9 months on, 9 months off” as they say in regards to postpartum weight loss. Kaz is not even 5 months old yet, I’m already below my pre-pregnancy weight and am getting very close to the weight I want to maintain. If I take a step back and look at the big picture, things are going well. I don’t need to put so much pressure on myself. Now that I’m comfortably back into the 130’s, I’m ready for some change and to come at this from a different direction.
Since I truly don’t mind food journaling, I’m still counting calories. As I’ve mentioned before, I use The Daily Plate to track calories. I let their software calculate how many calories I should be eating based on my height, age, current weight and daily activity level. Up until last week I had it set to “lose 1.5 lbs” a week and they set my calorie allowance at about 1200 calories. I would then input any exercise I did, and calories would be added back to my daily allowance, as well as an estimate for calories burned through breastfeeding. This is where things have changed.
Let Exercise Be Your Calorie Deficit
Back in early October at the end of Week 2 I shared this article about exercising less for more weight loss. I think about this article frequently, and the importance of finding your exercise “sweet spot” when it comes to working out when you’re trying to lose weight. This is key (for me, at least) because you want to exercise enough that you burn a decent amount of calories (about 300 based on this article), but not so many that you need to eat more because you’re hungrier than usual due too much exercise. I’ve definitely found that if I burn more than 500 calories through exercise, I am hungrier than I otherwise would be and can easily over do it with food if I’m not extremely mindful.
So my modified approach is to start eating at “maintenance” (about 1900 calories a day) and let my calorie burn through exercise (and breastfeeding) make up my calorie deficit, whatever that might be. I’m not worrying about “how much I’m burning” and how many calories will be added back into my daily calorie allowance after a work out. Some days my calorie deficit will be more, some days it will be less, whatever it will be, it will be. This week I kept my calorie consumption right around 1900 every day and didn’t log my workouts or breastfeeding calories like I did in Weeks 1 – 8. I didn’t over do it with exercise and therefore didn’t feel hungrier than usual, so I was able to stay at 1900 calories with ease.
The funny thing is, nothing has really changed. Thanks to nursing (300 – 500 calories a day) and exercise most days of the week (200 – 400 calories) my net calories are still probably somewhere around 1200 – 1500 a day, which is where I need them to be for weight loss. But what has changed is that I’m no longer thinking about weight loss in terms of net calories. I’m being mindful of calories consumed, fitting in exercising when I’m able and leaving it at that. If I only focus on eating to maintain my weight, any additional calories I burn through exercise and/or nursing are sort of like dropping coins in a piggy bank. Eventually, it will add up to something substantial and the weight will continue to come off – perhaps a little more slowly than before, but this OK with me.
Frankly, it’s just much easier think:
“I get to eat 1900 calories today. If I eat a little under that or have time for a workout, I’ll reach a calorie deficit. If I don’t do either of those things, at least I’ll maintain my weight.”
“AHHHH I only get 1200 calories today! I MUST work out so I can eat more than some water and a Triscuit!”
The Bottom Line
If you skimmed past all of my mumbo calorie jumbo, the message that I’m excited to share is that sometimes a change of perspective is all you need to keep going. This new approach is very much “six of one, half a dozen of the other” because ultimately the only thing that has changed is the way I’m thinking about it.
Letting go of expectations is very freeing too. I’ve felt more relaxed about it all – how cliche that “giving up” probably helped me lose more weight in one week than I have in a while. I must give thanks to those of you who have written to me or left comments about the way you’ve approached calorie counting. Your ideas and reading about what has worked for you has absolutely been a part of my inspiration for the changes I’ve outlined above. Here’s a big virtual high five for you, I’m very grateful for the difference it’s made in my ability to persevere thanks a simple shift in thinking.
Two Other Noteworthy Changes This Week
Significantly Reduced Intake of Grains
With the exception of Thanksgiving (I’m looking at you Dinner Rolls, Stuffing and Pie Crust), I cut WAY back on grains this week. No oats for breakfast, no homemade banana muffins, only a few servings of Ezekiel bread all week. There was very little sugar too. Even though I know eating less grains and refined carbs has the potential to make me feel really good and stops sugar and carb cravings in their tracks, it seems so hard to do it until I finally suck it up and do it. I know it can be impossible to imagine giving up pasta, cereal, bread and more, but if you’re struggling with food cravings (whether you’re trying to lose weight or not), I highly recommend giving it a try, even just for a little while. I have no intention of giving up sugar or grains forever, and I won’t say that I’ll do the same next week. I can’t deny though that I do feel better when I cut back on these foods and notice a significant reduction in cravings and thinking about food as well – I think fewer grains aided in my weight loss progress this week, largely because I wasn’t feeling as hungry and just ate less.
Added a Regular, Therapeutic Dose of Coconut Oil
I think owe coconut oil some credit for feeling reduced hunger this week as well. Thanks to Lisa’s post about the therapeutic dose of coconut oil last week, I’ve continued to experiment with adding more coconut oil into my diet. A lot more. I’ve made Lisa’s frosting nearly every day for a week and a half now – this is my new breakfast! I. Love. It. I made her Peanut Butter Chocolate Cups this week, which is essentially a make-ahead version of the frosting. I made these with peanut butter and a batch with almond butter too, I also made a smaller version with mini muffin papers, like so:
I store these in the freezer and have been popping them before a run or when I’m feeling snacky in the afternoon and need something relatively low in calories to hold me over until dinner.
I’ll share my version of Lisa’s recipe in the coming week with my method and some nutritional stats too.
I hesitate to write about this experiment with coconut oil because it seems like a pretty radical thing to do – eat 2 – 3 tablespoons of OIL every day?! My first reaction was BLECH, quickly followed by “are you kidding me?” But then I started to read more about it and tried it for myself… now I’m hooked.
Yeah, that’s right. I’ve been eating a giant brown blob of coconut oil, almond butter, cocoa powder and a little maple syrup for breakfast everyday. And it is delicious.
Brendan Brazier has a bunch of coconut oil recipes in Thrive and Thrive Fitness, I’ve used coconut oil for energy gels in marathon training before, the wonders of coconut oil aren’t exactly new to me. What is new is eating the therapeutic dose every day and discovering how much energy it gives me, AND how satisfied it leaves me feeling too. That frosting is like a rich, decadent treat! For breakfast! There’s more to say on this topic, I plan write post dedicated to coconut oil soon for those of you who might be interested to learn more. If you jump ahead and decide to try some of these things for yourself – you get a thumbs up from me! Just be sure to choose your coconut oil carefully.
(i.e., don’t run out and buy the cheapest jar on the shelf.)
For now, here’s one study that showed coconut oil can lead to a greater rate of weight loss than olive oil. Is it just a coincidence that I lost more weight than usual the same week I vastly increased my coconut oil consumption? (I didn’t find this article until yesterday!) I guess we’ll see because I plan to continue.
A few other articles I found on Coconut Oil as well:
Here is the run down of stats from the week, as usual.
Net Calories: –
Net Calories: 1267
Exercise: 4.5 mile run, 42 minutes
Net Calories: 1978
Calories Consumed: 1895
Exercise: AM Run, 3.5 miles, 30 minutes
Calories Consumed: 1958
Exercise: 30 minutes Pilates + Yoga
Calories Consumed: 1875
Exercise: Rest (if you call running around like a mad woman getting ready for Thanksgiving, “rest”)
Calories Consumed: I am thankful for a day off from calorie counting (among other things)
Exercise: 4 mile run, 39 minutes
Weight: Today I am thankful I moved my weigh-in to yesterday morning.
If you celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday, I hope you had a fabulous holiday! And for everyone else, I hope you had a splendid, normal Thursday. As always, please feel free chime in with your thoughts and experiences too, I love to read about what’s working for you.