Monday, May 11, 2009

WTF, Seriously.

I have found something new to bitch about. Just ask PhizzleDizzle - poor thing has been listening to me whine about this for like a week now. 

I am getting tired of all the conflicting information to be found on the internet and elsewhere regarding weight loss, nutrition, and exercise. It's all Big Business, especially since the so-called Obesity Epidemic took hold of the media. Which means I can't believe a fucking thing I read anywhere. So I am turning to you, science blogosphere, to help me make heads or tails of this shit. 

Here's where I'm at and why I'm doing this: I am not overweight by BMI or any other standard. However, I have been slowly creeping up to that margin for a couple years now. I figured this out by noticing that many of my pants stopped fitting me the way they used to, and many of them no longer fit me at all since last summer. I have much more junk in my trunk right now than I would like. This is NOT about trying to shrink into an ideal body shape - this is about getting back to where I was. 

I have gone from doing pretty much nothing to working out 6 days a week. I have cut calories not by eating less but by eating smarter. For example, instead of chowing down on a half a bag of Doritos, I have traded them in for whole-grain tortilla chips with sea salt and fresh salsa. Or salad. Or cucumbers and celery. Instead of eating frozen pizza for dinner, I make a sandwich with whole grain bread, lean turkey or chicken, some mayo, lettuce, and a pickle. 

In terms of exercise, I went from nothing to doing 3 miles every other day on the treadmill - my goal was just to get to 3 miles, so if I was hating it I had motivation to do it as fast as possible, ie., spend more time jogging or running than walking. On average, I've been doing those 3 miles in 45 mins. (Remember, I'm a smoker.) On the off days I've been combining power yoga with situps, pushups, weights for my arms, some Pilates moves, and occasionally chin-ups. 

I've been doing this for about 5 weeks now. I was seeing my weight fluctuate by 3lbs nearly every day, so I bought a new scale in case my old one was fucked up. Switched from analog to digital this weekend. If the new scale is accurate (which it should be), my old scale was off by 5lbs and I am actually 5lbs heavier than I thought I was. (You can imagine how happy I was to find that out.) Which means that now I have no idea if I made any progress AT ALL over the last 5 weeks, whereas I had thought that I had lost 2lbs for good before the fluctuations started. 

So I talked to Phizzle about my frustration. She tells me that in terms of calories burned, my treadmill has been lying to me. So when it says 450 calories for 3 miles, it's probably more like 300. Fuck! My first thought: "But still, I went from nothing to 300 calories burned - doesn't that count for something???" So I started looking shit up. I found an article at Runner's World that said running burns more calories than walking, despite the widespread belief that no matter how fast you go, you're still burning 100 calories per mile. I was like "Yay!" until I realized that meant I needed to jog and run more. "Booooo!"

I hate the treadmill. (See my last post.) So my mission this past weekend was to find some new activities. I narrowed it down to either a stationary bike or rollerblades. I love skating and according to the internet it burns many more calories than biking and works muscles that no other exercise gets to. I bought some sweet-ass rollerblades friday night, bought the new scale yesterday. I also borrowed my mom's Wii Fit last night. 

When I came home from my mom's, I changed into some lightweight clothes, set up the Wii and was weighed by it, then got on the scale. The numbers were EXACTLY the same, down to a tenth of a lb. (Mind, you, the scale read 2lbs less than it said before I left to go to my mom's, before eating filet mignon and then skating with my brother for 20 mins). I was like "shit, that's fine with me."

So I turn off the Wii Fit, grab my skates, and go out skating for another 35 mins. I come home and get on the Wii Fit for a full hour. I did every single activity on there at least once, including all the strength training and aerobics. During the hour and a half of exercise I consumed about 15oz of water. When I'm done on the Wii, I have it weigh me again. It tells me I've lost 1.5lbs since 9pm before I went skating. I get on the scale, and it tells me I've GAINED 3lbs since before I went skating and worked out. WTF, seriously?? (Same clothes, just in case you were wondering.)

How could the numbers go from matching exactly to showing a 4.5lb difference in a matter of hours? How am I supposed to keep track of progress if the numbers aren't consistent?

I read online that a person burns 1 calorie for each liter of oxygen consumed. I hypothesize from this that a smoker would then burn more calories than a non-smoker because we need more oxygen to do the same workout. I have no idea if this is true or not. Does anyone know?

I can't possibly cut down my calorie intake any more than I already have without starving myself. I cut out all of my empty-calorie booze after I figured out I was consuming about 3,000 calories per week of Smirnoff Ice. I don't drink any soda that isn't diet and I always use splenda in my coffee. I eat a hell of a lot more fiber than the average person my age. I eat a lot of vegetables and only eat red meat on special occasions. I drink a decent amount of iced green tea. I drink water. I generally don't eat a lot of refined carbs, only the whole-grain variety. 

I really don't know wtf else to do. I have never in my life had this problem. 3 years ago, I dropped 5lbs and 2 inches off my waist by speedwalking on the treadmill for 35mins every other day before my wedding. I once lost 3lbs just by adding Benefiber to my coffee every day. 

Why might I be stuck? I need some science here, not dieting tips. The only thing I can think of is that I'm not eating ENOUGH calories every day, and my body is hoarding them instead of burning them because of all the exercise. But if I start eating more, that renders the supposed rule of losing weight (burn more calories than you consume) entirely bullshit. I can tell that my metabolism has sped up - I'll be hungry after I'm done on the treadmill regardless of what I had for dinner, so I eat a salad. By the time I go to bed, my tummy is growling again, but I ignore it until morning. 

Seriously, science. Why isn't any of this working?


Ambivalent Academic said...

Whoa JLK!!!!!

Hold on there lady! First, I can sympathize. I'm in the same boat as far as getting back to where my clothes are comfortable.

Second, you are spending WAAAAAYYYY too much time and energy obsessing about all the little details and calculations and especially the numbers on the scale.

Third, as someone who takes a long-view to her athletics, I can tell you that weighing yourself daily (or worse several times a day) is a Very Bad Idea.

So, here's my advice (since you asked).

1 - The number on the scale is SO NOT THE POINT! Since you are exercising more, you WILL be gaining muscle. Muscle is denser than fat you you should expect to gain weight while dropping inches. So if you're freaking out about gaining weight on your new exercise/healthy food regime (which is a great plan by the way), it's because you're looking at that number in the wrong way. Also, your weight can fluctuate by SEVERAL POUNDS over the course of a day. This means that weighing yourself every day or several times a day is not giving you any useful information. I weigh myself once/week - same day, right out of bed before breakfast. That's as standard as you can make it and even that isn't perfect.

2 - That being said, keeping track of this number CAN be useful if a) you don't abuse it (see above) and 2) you find it motivating (at some point, the weight gain:inches lost should level off a bit). For this to be useful to you though you need to standardize your measurement. Find one scale and stick to it. None of them are perfectly accurate and what you really want to know is relative change since the last time you weighed yourself (which should be now more than once/week).

3 - If you're still hungry post-workout then there's a chance your body wants to hoard a bit. In addition to the salad add some protein - chickpeas or beans are my favorite. You want your tummy to feel sated, not growling, when you go to bed.

That's my two cents and you might want to take that with a grain of salt. I'm also struggling with creeping pounds, but I can attest that when I make the time to eat right and exercise sufficiently (which is exactly what you're doing) that does work for me.

Just stop freaking out. Let it happen. Don't obsess over the number on the scale. Know that it will get bigger before it gets smaller. Your waistline will get smaller in the meantime. Chill the fuck out already!

Anonymous said...

Quit weighing yourself all the time. Once per week weigh and measure yourself record it in a list so you can compare over time.
Food diaries help too. You're exercising more, so you may be eating more than you think.

Weight loss takes time.

Ambivalent Academic said...

Oh and one more thing re: diet soda. Sometimes this can backfire. You're consuming something that tastes sweet and this tells your body to expect some calories on the way (Wiki "ghrelin"). But of course there aren't any. For some people (like me) this can trigger craving more food to get those calories that your body was expecting. I've just taught myself that I don't like sweet food. Seriously, even my chocolate is bitter. Instead of soda, drink water or fruit juice. No tricks. No trying to find those calories elsewhere.

And finally, one biologically relevant but unfortunate bit of info. Your metabolism WILL slow down as you get older. There's no way around that. The bestthign you can do about is exactly what you're doing. Exercise + nutritionally valuable food.

JLK said...

@AA - thanks for that. I know I shouldn't be weighing myself every day, I just want to know that my damn scale is accurate. LOL.

In terms of the diet soda thing - I really think that's bullshit. I have not drank anything but diet soda since I was 18. Our bodies adapt to shit all the time - I have to believe that my brain has figured out that almost nothing that I drink that's "sweet" actually contains sugar. I would think, if anything, that it gets fucked up when I actually eat something like chocolate.

And I never crave sweets. I crave salt, usually in the form of cheese. And occasionally starch.

But if you have access to any research articles that show problems with diet soda in long-term drinkers, please send them to me because I'm going off of nothing more than my own logic and reasoning.

Toaster Sunshine said...

I read online that a person burns 1 calorie for each liter of oxygen consumed. I hypothesize from this that a smoker would then burn more calories than a non-smoker because we need more oxygen to do the same workout. I have no idea if this is true or not. Does anyone know?Almost, but not quite. Smokers' lungs are scarred and clogged with tar and crap. Histological examination shows dysplasia of the cilia and smooth muscle. The former means your lungs aren't cleaning themselves as well as the otherwise would, the latter means your lungs are more reactive when you go and up your blood pressure. The tar buildup and alveolar scarring means that smokers' lungs are worse at absorbing oxygen. A smoker and a non-smoker doing the same exercise will both need the same amount of oxygen, but the smoker will need to cycle through a greater volume of total air to extract an equivalent volume of oxygen.

I explained the hormones of metabolism here.

But there's really no simple magic bullet to losing weight. In terms of food, even diet soda isn't doing much to help you out because it will stimulate the appetite reflex.

Think about things biochemically. What types of food does your body have to work hardest to convert to burnable energy? Sugars will be converted into base glucose and either quickly burnt or stored in liver and skeletal muscles as glycogen for later rapid use. Then if there's still sugar it gets reduced into fat polymers. Fats can go right into fat, but they can also be oxidized into glucose and burned for fuel. For some reason that I don't know off the top of my head, the body can break down and burn mono- and poly-unsaturated fats much more readily than saturated fats (probably the latter is more slippery at a molecular level). But above all, protein is the hardest for the body to make into glucose and it also makes you feel the most full. That being said, some meats do have very high carbohydrate contents due to stored glycogen.

In actual grocery store terms, that means no more diet soda and brew your own tea and sweeten with real sugar. Eat whole wheat bread and pasta, but also try other whole grains that are very filling (e.g., oatmeal, quinoa, couscous). Cook with olive oil, canola oil, or real butter instead of vegetable oil or shortening. Don't use concentrated juice.

But with everything I just said above, don't try to obsessively cut out all fats and simple sugar. Have a scrambled egg and bowl of cinnamon-brown sugar oatmeal with raisins for breakfast (or dinner). Put butter and preserves on toast. Try almonds, lentils, beans, and tofu as glycogen-free vegetable proteins.

Above all, relax. Weight loss doesn't happen in a week unless you follow the cholera diet.

Eugenie said...

Weight loss is like Global warming- it's a trend, not an instantaneous change. Your body weight fluctuates throughout the day.

I agree with Anon on the weighing yourself once a week (do this in the morning right as you wake up). Drink more water to make yourself feel more full.

Becca said...

Step 1: Ignore all weight fluctuations less than 5lbs.
If you cannot do this, throw out all scales. Seriously.
The only possible exception is that if you are completely incapable of getting enough liquids during your exercise, you can tell by losing weight during a workout session- pretty much any such weight is just dehydration and a bad sign.
Step 2: quit smoking- exercising is more fun when you aren't having trouble breathing. Science hasn't necessarily figured out what level of overweight starts to be detrimental, but if your BMI is fine smoking is probably drastically more of a health problem (but you know that).
Step 3: be patient. 5 weeks is not very long as these things go.

I'm not sure science has the answers you are looking for. Bodyweight is hugely pleomorphic with respect to response to nutritional interventions and exercise. Also, I have the impression that most studies focus on people who do have problematic BMI (it's not like it's hard to find study subjects in this country).

Regarding diet soda- Methinks the jury is still out. From a scanning of pubmed (I liked "Nonnutritive sweetener consumption in humans: effects on appetite and food intake and their putative mechanisms") I'm guessing that diet soda doesn't help most people loose weight. It also may be wise to ingest it with other food (so the "sweet taste" = "incoming energy" signaling mechanism is still useful). My parents are convinced artificial sweeteners cause cancer (due to aspertame coming out when they were young). They also smoke. People are totally irrational.

JLK said...

@Becca: In terms of the smoking, I'm guessing you've never been a smoker. Quitting smoking is HELL on the lungs and exercise becomes much, much more difficult as your lungs try to clear themselves out. It takes at least 6 months of absolute misery before you begin to feel better. I know this, because I've quit before. Twice. For a year each time. I do intend to quit smoking this summer before my husband comes home, but now is just not the time. Once I get back in shape and get my body healthy, I think it will be easier to quit smoking than it would be right now.

JLK said...

While we're at it, can anyone explain to me WHY your weight can fluctuate by 5lbs in a single day??

See, I have a need for logical understanding when it comes to all of this. I want to know where that weight goes when I'm suddenly 3lbs lighter in a matter of hours. Or where it comes from when I'm 3lbs heavier in the same time period. It's not that I'm obsessed with the readings on the scale - it's that I feel if I know more about what's going on, I can more efficiently take care of my body.

Ambivalent Academic said...

I have never found a scale that I would consider accurate. They all have calibration problems. I exceed the limit of our laboratory balance, otherwise I would consider that fairly accurate.

Our bodies adapt to shit all the time - I have to believe that my brain has figured out that almost nothing that I drink that's "sweet" actually contains sugar.Yes, our bodies adapt to all kinds of stuff and your brain may be well aware that sweet != incoming energy.

But your brain isn't actually the problem!

It's the hormones released by your gut that talk to the receptors in your pancreas and tell them to get ready for sugar, etc. They don't really listen to reason (just biochemistry and other hormones) and they are the major controllers of your metabolism. I'm not a nutritionist, but from the endocrinology side of things, this stuff is pretty solid. Toaster's post does a nice job of explaining I think.

Ambivalent Academic said...

While we're at it, can anyone explain to me WHY your weight can fluctuate by 5lbs in a single day??IF you can believe the numbers on the scale it's just waste and water (this includes sweat and exhaled water vapor which add up to more than you might think). This is compounded by the fact that scales are not terribly accurate and can fluctuate a bit themselves. It really is that simple as far as I'm aware.

JLK said...

@AA - Keep in mind I'm not arguing, just really curious. My understanding of how this all works from my biology instruction is that the chemicals in your digestive system essentially analyze the contents of what you eat/drink, and signal other chemicals accordingly. Therefore, if what's in your stomach doesn't contain sugar, your body doesn't respond to it as if it were sugar. Just like how your body doesn't metabolize whole grain carbs the same way it metabolizes refined carbs - it basically has to find out what's in your food before it can react.

The only argument then would be to include the brain, but you've removed the brain from the equation in your last comment. What I'm trying to understand is why my body would think that my diet soda contains sugar when it knows from years of experience that I do not consume liquids containing sugar.

Professor in Training said...

1. Give up smoking.

2. See #1.

3. Read the ACSM’s position stand on how to lose weight through diet and exercise here - let me know if you can’t access it and I’ll email the pdf to you. You need to maintain a healthy caloric intake for your body to function (~1200-1500 kcal/d) but increase your activity levels to at least 500-1000 kcal/day.

4. With your diet, first of all, stop drinking sodas. Period. The “diet” sodas are often worse for you than the regular ones and they are all full of high fructose corn syrup - despite the pro-HFCS tv ads, it’s not good for you. The American Dietetic Association has some good practical suggestions for diet modification here and here. There are several websites available where you can calculate your dietary intake relatively accurately.

5. Ignore your scales and forget about your BMI - concentrate more on waist, hip and limb circumferences and how your clothes fit. Body weight and BMI are only good for comparing to population norms and don’t take into account body composition.

6. The caloric expenditure the treadmill is displaying is relatively meaningless. Buy a cheap heart rate monitor (Polar is the best and this model is one of the cheapest and the best ... it’s the one I’ve got so I can recommend it from personal experience) and judge your exercise intensity and caloric expenditure using your own body weight, heart rate etc.

7. You’re not doing enough exercise and you’re not doing it at a high enough intensity. If you’re going to walk, go for a much longer distance or increase the grade on the treadmill. If you’re running, start by running/jogging at a pace that you can sustain for 20-30min or start by running/walking for 5min running, 5 min walking until you can run for an extended period.

8. Add more resistance training to your routine. Hit the major muscle groups - quads, hamstrings, calves, core/trunk, upper back, shoulders, arms - and do light weights at high reps (2-3 sets of 12-15 reps per set - you should aim to fatigue on the last couple of reps). If you’ve never been to the gym before, hire a personal trainer or bribe a friend to help you out for one or two sessions to get you started.

Shoot me an email if you want more info or help.

Ambivalent Academic said...

OK - that was a little over-simplified and you caught it. Here's the thing - all those gut hormones and pancreas hormones etc. hormones are your endocrine system. Your endocrine system also includes parts of your brain (pituitary and hypothalamus) which also receive and secrete hormones that can then influence the rest of the endocrine system - they all talk to each other. The hypothalamus can also be influenced by sensory perception (i.e., tastes sweet) to kick all this crap off, but it's very cyclical the way these things interact...not linear at all. And it interacts with your autonomic nervous system.

So the brain isn't removed from the equation entirely...but we're not talking about the part of the brain that "knows" stuff. This isn't about thought, or conscious awareness.

It's very important to note that the parts of the brain that participate heavily and directly in endocrine signaling are NOT the cerebral cortex, i.e. the "thinking part". So while you (your cerebral cortex) knows sweet != calories, the parts of the brain that deal with all of this don't and they keep doing what they do, releasing gut hormones and directing your metabolism to gear up for sugar. no sugar shows up so this signals for an increase in appetite, and then you're craving more calories to satisfy your geared-up metabolism instead of tricking it into thinking that it's sated.

PhizzleDizzle said...

The reason why your weight can fluctuate so much is because of your intake/output. i don't have scientific backup except for personal anecdotal experience and the knowledge that water is heavy.

1) a liter of water is 2.2 lbs. don't mix up fluid ounces and weight ounces, they are measuring different things. anyway, if you drink anything, your weight will go up. i tend to drink a lot during the day, so i am way heavier at night than in the morning.

2) obviously, during the day you eat food. and i eat a lot.

3) you also pee and poop, which brings your weight down.

4) depending on what you ate the day before, you could be retaining water due to too much sodium. which *i* tend to compensate for by drinking a crapton of water, which makes my weight go up even more.

in my experience, my weight can change 5 pounds in a matter of hours. which is why i don't give a crap about ANY measurement except for my standard measure: on my scale, after i wake up, after my pee, before i intake ANY food. the numbers themselves don't matter to me, only the trends.

i do try to weigh myself every day, but only because the last time i neglected to weigh myself daily i gained a ton of weight (as I told you) because I didn't notice. so now I try to just keep track so if i get a bit off, i can nip it in the bud. However, i am able to weigh myself daily because i happen to not be an obsesser in this regard - and i only start to freak out if i sense that a 2 week long weighted history of my weight is up 3 lbs or so. otherwise, i don't give a crap. if you are unable to not obsess, i'd also avoid weighing yourself every day and just do it every week. BUt same thing, in the AM, after you pee (and if you morning poop, then after that), and before you eat or drink anything at all.

anyway, I'm with PiT. your intensity doesn't sound high enough. i mean, really...3 miles at 45 minutes is really negligible in terms of exercise. it's kind of like we were talking about - i bet your basal metabolic rate is hardly ANY lower than that. ie you're spending all that time on the treadmill for a net calorie burn that's like...nothing. i would imagine you should aim for 3 miles/36 min. (which is still pretty leisurely) but that ought to bring you much more gain without making you want to die. if you feel like you want to die, you really aren't. smoker or not. if you can't handle that, run at 5.0 pace for two minutes (JUST TWO!!!! you can do that!) before walking for two minutes. Repeat. At least 10 times.

on the other end, i do think your'e probably not eating enough. hoarding is no good. AA and I agree, a smidge of post-wrokout protein will do you good.

if you watch the biggest loser (which i love), you see the trainers getting pissed all the time that the contestants try to lose weight by working out all the time and not eating anything. this one kid was just not losing any weight until the trainer made him eat significant balanced meals that week, and then he dropped like 13 lbs suddenly.

however, i think the eating more may have to come after you up your intensity. i didn't realize you were doing 3 miles in 45 - and in the interests of brutal honesty that's not going to really do anything at all for you. if you hate the treadmill that much, you'll probably just have to find another activity that really really makes you sweat.

Labness said...

I will not get into the science too much, but if you can at all afford it, try rock climbing as a new activity. I believe it is the perfect sport.
It uses your own weight to strengthen your muscles. It requires endurance AND a high level of motivation, but the pay-out is the feeling of satisfaction you get from climbing something you've never been able to climb before. Since the learning curve is so steep, you will see your results (skill-wise) after just 2 visits, and that gives a lot more short-term motivation than a treadmill.

Some universities have these gyms indoors, while others have discount systems.

At the very least, try it once with a friend. You just may get hooked! I got my entire lab into it!

Toaster Sunshine said...

Alternate sweaty activities:

Rowing. Toaster likes to kayak, and when I can afford to I like to rent a kayak with pedals (just places to brace your feet, they don't do anything else) and paddle upstream a couple miles.

Racquetball. The fastest way to burn through fat is to alternate sprints with walking, which racquetball certainly does. And it's not as boring as 1 treadmill 1 place.

Walking. I walk home fairly often, and I make a speed of about 12kph.

Kickboxing. I tried this, and it gave definite results, but I am NOT coordinated enough for this.

Mountain biking. No walking your bike uphill.

Swimming. But swim kilometers, not just a couple of laps.

Hope said...

3 miles at 45 minutes is really negligible in terms of exercise.

Gotta disagree w/this. If you’re not someone who exercises regularly, walking 3 miles every day or every other day will make a difference. It did for me. I lost 40 lbs. over 10 mos. almost two years ago and have kept it off. In the beginning, in terms of exercise, I wasn’t doing much more than that. I did watch my caloric intake (1350-1400/day). JLK, do you know how many calories you consume on a daily basis? I ask because you don’t mention this, and sometimes, healthy foods are actually not lower in calories than bad foods. I’m not saying that it doesn’t matter which foods you eat – your body needs healthy foods to function well. But total calories consumed are important.

As for weight fluctuations, I agree w/what’s been said already. I weighed myself every day, graphed the results (I’m just that nerdy!), and the 3-4 lb variation was evident. Don’t fight it, just accept it. And don’t waste your money on a fancy scale.

PhizzleDizzle said...

Hope, first congrats on your weight loss! That's great! And you are right, I did not provide enough context for that comment. I have met JLK in person, and IMHO she does not have that much weight to lose, and i know her target is < 10 lbs....I don't have "science" to back this up either, but in my experience more weight can come off with light exercise when I am way over my normal...the closer I get to my personal normal the harder I have to work to lose and i usually (always?) totally fail when I get under the "just 5lbs more" range. JLK is young, hip, and not even remotely obese so I think that for her, 3/45 is hardly sufficiently taxing for losing a few pounds. If she had a lot of weight to lose and was completely sedentary, then I can see how 3/45 would make a big difference, but as it stands I don't think that's the case.

JLK, I hope the blogosphere is helping! Like I said, I think you look good, but I totally understand the need to keep the "creep" in check. I hate the weight creep phenomenon.

Hope said...

PD, thanks for your comment. Based on JLK’s previous treadmill post, I assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that her exercise routine, though comparatively light by most standards, was somewhat taxing for her. It’s true that the more one weighs, the more calories one burns doing a given activity. But “light exercise” is not ineffective when you have just 5 lbs to lose, it’s just really, really slow. I think it took me about 4 mo. to lose those last 10 lbs – sometimes I wondered if they would ever come off. But they did; I just had to be patient. Perhaps I could have sped up the process by upping my exercise intensity/duration, but I knew that for a number of reasons, that wasn’t the answer for me.

My point about watching the caloric intake carefully was motivated by my failure to lose weight several years ago. My approach then was to substitute all junk food with healthy food and exercise like hell. During my second and ultimately successful attempt, I realized that with my healthier diet, I was still consuming significantly more calories than I thought. So I made some tweaks … and thankfully, my body responded.

chall said...

JLK> The running and walking burning calories... I think you are thinking about the talk "walking for 60 min will burn fat!" but running will always burn more overall calories. But 'people' might be more likely to be able to power walk for 60 mins than keep up running for 35 mins?!? And then you burn fat if you keep a good intensity (~60-70% of your max pulse) for more than 30 mins, compared with the cardio traning you get from running.

I would recommend PiTs (I think it was) suggestion on walking/running fast for 5/2 mins and then walking more normal for 2 mins, and then repeat for about 5-10 times. That will keep the intensity although not being as hard on your body as running 30 mins in a row.

And yes, it will most likely take a long time but please measure yourself instead of staring at the weight. I haven't lost a pound yet, although I have lost more than 2 inches in my waist the last couple of weeks.... ;) not really sure on how I will loose weight but i'm keeping the hope since it is a slow process.

And I am in the "loose the diet soda since it messes up the glycogen storage, aka fat burning center". Good luck!

JLK said...

Wow, lots of comments to respond to! Here goes:

@AA - I know I'm not in the hard sciences, but I DO understand how the endocrine system works and I know quite a bit about the brain. My argument regarding the diet soda thing is based on the concept of habituation - I'm trying to determine if it might be applicable here.

@Phizzle & PiT - 3 miles in 45 minutes has me sweating my proverbial balls off. Literally dripping. My goal has been to get a little faster every day. But I can't run for 2 minutes straight. I can jog in place for like 5 as I've found out from the Wii Fit, but I can't do it on the treadmill. Like my father and grandmother, I have tachycardial arrhythmia and I therefore have to be kind of careful when my heart rate gets going. Walking at 4mph brings my heart rate up to 180bpm after about 1 minute and a half of that speed. My pulse becomes irregular at about 120bpm. Anyway, my point is that I can't get faster until my heart gets stronger, and that's what I'm working on.

@Toaster - my only option for kayaking around here is the Connecticut River. And that's not going to happen. I'm probably going to end up doing martial arts this summer with a friend, which should be great.

@Hope - thanks for backing me up on the exercise thing. I also was trying to make the point that going from nothing to 12 miles per week regardless of speed has got to be doing SOMEthing, even if it's slow progress. You asked about my calorie intake - I'm taking in no more than 1200 calories per day. The switch to healthier foods has involved trading in doritos for celery, white bread for whole grain, egg salad for lean turkey. Oh, and Smirnoff Ice for Tom Collins. LOL. I'm watching the calories pretty intensely, which sucks, because I really love mayo.

PhizzleDizzle said...

i forgot about your heart thing - in that case, then you really should talk to a doctor. i don't have any medical expertise and i don't want you to hurt yourself so i'd forget everything i said :).

Ambivalent Academic said...

JLK - I didn't mean to be condescending with my endocrine explanation. Since we aren't having a real-time discussion, I'm doing my best to estimate the most effective explanation based on a wild guess about how much you know or don't. I figure it's better to err towards over-explaining things than assuming more background on the part of the receiver. No offense intended by dumbing it down. Since habituation is pretty far outside my area of expertise, I don't know how much the leptin-ghrelin loop is affected by that. Based on what I'm dredging out of my memory, the evidence for habituation is conflicting and not terribly well-explored, though some studies suggest(ed?) sensitization may be a bigger influence than habituation.

Given the uncertainty and the possibility that artificial sweeteners could negatively impact metabolic rates (not to mention function as mutagens) I choose to steer clear of them.

JLK said...

@AA - I think I know you too well by now to think you were being condescending, so don't worry about that. I just abhor the idea that you might think I'm severely lacking in certain areas of knowledge. LOL.

I'm mostly just frustrated because I don't think anyone, scientist or no, has any fucking clue about weight loss and the like, and therefore people like me are subject to a lot of speculation presented as fact and straight up misinformation.

I mean, supposedly calorie deficit = weight loss. But if you actually continue to burn more calories than you consume, you will DIE. Hence anorexia and bullimia. We know that dieting doesn't work in general. We thought that more water was a great thing, turns out it's not. High fiber is the new thing, and I'm all aboard with that one, but who knows if in 5 years we find out it causes cancer or some shit.

The biggest thing that everyone touts these days is "avoid sugary drinks!" But then, out of the other side of their mouth they say "And avoid artifical sweeteners!" Well, wtf. I can't drink water all the time, I don't want to. Splenda, in my opinion, is a fantastic substance.

**Side note - to the commenter above (too lazy to look) who said something about HFCS in diet soda - I checked the labels, there is no HFCS in Coke Zero or Sprite Zero (my beverages of choice) ***

I'm an evidence-driven gal, which is why all of this nonsense is making me crazy. Show me that Splenda-sweetened diet drinks cause problems in the metabolic pathways, and I will stop drinking them. But there are so many individual differences in these things that I'm not sure anyone will ever be able to come up with a definitive plan for diet and health. There are people who live on bacon, red wine, and a pack of smokes a day who live to be 102 years old. There are people who live healthy, work out, never smoke or drink who drop dead of a heart attack at age 40.

No one knows, but no one will admit they don't know. I look at the artifical sweetener thing like I do the autism/vaccine thing - where is the evidence? How can these people tell me to drop my calorie intake and avoid sugary drinks and at the same time tell me that diet soda might be making me fat? HOW? If you want to tell me it might be making me diabetic or hypoglycemic by stimulating insulin production when there are no sugars to break down, I might believe that. (By "you", I don't actually mean you, I mean "them.")

I might have to put up a new post....

Ambivalent Academic said...

Yeah, I think that I was going for the hypoglycemia thing. Turns out that there's tons of evidence for all the things you're wondering about...just that none of it is very consistent or conclusive.

Becca said...

Nope, never smoked. Just lived with smokers for 17 years- so I can tell you all about how much getting away from secondhand smoke helps your lungs function though.

Also, fiber does cause cancer.
At least in populations that already have polyps (they think keeping things moving is good, but when that movement irritates an already inflammation-prone bowel, that's bad).
But in any event, it doesn't cause as much cancer as smoking. But you knew that.

Candid Engineer said...

Quite the thread here. I just wanted to offer the suggestion of keeping a food and exercise diary. That's what I did last summer when I wanted to lose 5 pounds because my pants weren't fitting. I actually loved doing this because it appealed to the scientist in me- I put everything in an excel spreadsheet.

I estimated how many calories I actually needed each day (for me, maybe 1700?), and used to calculate the calories of everything I put in my mouth, and there is also info about estimating calories burnt from various exercises. Then I calculated my energy balance at the end of the week. Weekly caloric deficit = 7*1700 + Calories burned through exercise - Calories consumed. You need a deficit of 3500 calories to burn a pound.

I just loved this because I tried to lose one pound per week. If I saw my eating habits weren't the best in a given week, I knew exactly how much exercise I had to do to make up for it. Of course, this is all a pain in the ass, esp. if you make something like a pasta bake with 10 ingredients, trying to figure out calories per serving, but in the end it really helped me.

JLK said...

@CE - what you describe is exactly what I want and have been trying to do. That's where the frustration is coming from - I'm trying to figure out where the math is going wrong because otherwise it doesn't make sense. I mean, just opting out of the Smirnoff Ice cut 3,500 calories per week out of my consumption.

But on a brighter note, I learned today that I have lost an inch from my waist. Nothing on the hips yet (goddammit), but at least now I feel like I have SOMEthing to show for all this shit.

Anonymous said...

One thing to consider is how long it took for you to gain weight. For example, people who have spent something on the order of 10 years steadily gaining weight should not expect to drop all the weight in 6 weeks. I'm not saying you are, but visible results will take a while and invariably there will be a "plateau" effect, which will make it take even longer than you'd like it to.

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