The Good and the Bad, and more Nutritional Paradigm Shifting

Continuing my weekly installment in the Strong is the New Skinny Body Transformation Challenge.  Click here to see all posts on this topic.

Exercise is a crappy way to lose weight. Did you know that? I sure didn’t. I’d heard people say things about calories in vs. calories out being too simplistic, and I was like ‘Oh yeah, that’s probably true… sort of… but-not-really-because in the end it’s just physics, right?  Energy in vs. energy out in a system, it’s elementary science. Right?’

Well, no. Actually, it IS more complicated, and my years of training for and running marathons with a good 30 – 38% body fat on me should have been a clear signal that I might want to look further into the equation. But I wanted to keep eating what I was eating, and the exercise made a great justification to keep plowing ahead with a pastry (sometimes) every morning, and treats whenever I wanted them.

I would feel just fine for hours after my delicious breakfast pastry, it wouldn’t be until after I ate lunch that I would crash, and crash hard.  And I’d have the same after-lunch crash when I stayed “healthy” at breakfast with fruit and plain yogurt. So it was easy to stay in denial and avoid figuring out the root causes of my terrible lack of energy, and irresistible urge to snack.

All the while my weight crept slowly ever higher, the snacking urge continued to grow, and the energy crashes continued to deepen. Oh and then there’s the chronic GI issues.  Gas, burping, bloating, heartburn, acid reflux, constipation, you name it, I was almost always suffering with at least one of these if not the whole list.

So all this is to say, here’s something awesomely GOOD: I’ve found the problem, and the problem is sugar, processed foods, grains, and legumes.

Since dabbling off and on in the Paleo diet since last November, and particularly since starting this low-carb thing just about 3 weeks ago, I’ve discovered I don’t have evergy crashes when I don’t eat grains or sugar. I don’t suffer from excess gas and bloating when I don’t eat wheat or legumes. I don’t suffer from heartburn when I don’t eat pastries and Clif Bars and foods with more than a dozen ingredients.

And I’m eating WELL. I LOVE eating this way. This week I enjoyed big salads at work for lunch almost every day, with an awesome variety of delicious things on them, like dry salami, avocado, hard boiled egg, oily sardines, and sharp cheddar cheese (in addition to the lettuce, cucumber and other yummy raw veggies).

Last weekend I cured a big ham from the half-sow we purchased last fall, and we munched on that for dinners all week.  Other dinners this week included brussels sprouts and bacon, fried eggs with veggies, and braised short-ribs.

I put organic grass-fed heavy cream in my coffee or organic full fat coconut milk in my tea every day (or both), and skipped breakfast most days without a twinge of hunger, even after some tough CrossFit workouts.

Oh, and back in the old days, the OTHER problem was too much exercise, which seems like a crazy idea, right?  Too much exercise?  It’s not like I was one of those exercise addicts, working out for 3 hours a day. But there’s lots of evidence that too much cardio is counter-productive to weight loss, inducing stress in your body and causing hunger. And now there’s evidence from a study done on marathon runners, that too much cardio actually CAUSES heart disease (rather than prevents it as we’ve all been told).

I spend a good bit less time now exercising than I did when I was training for marathons, and I’m far fitter, feel stronger and am less injury-prone than I was then. And surprisingly given their intensity, I’m not really famished after my CrossFit workouts, and have been doing fine on the days I skip breakfast.

But, here’s the bad – I’m not really losing weight. (The one weigh-in at the gym at 177 seems to be just the effect of a different scale, at home I’ve stuck around 178-180.) Well, it’s not so bad, really, all of the following is still true: I am stronger than I’ve ever been in my life, I feel better than I have felt maybe ever, and I’m thoroughly enjoying CrossFit, climbing, eating wonderful food, and having better sex with my husband.

But I’d like to see how I feel at 160 pounds. I suspect I will feel better. I have plenty of fat on me that perhaps isn’t doing me a lot of harm, but it certainly isn’t doing me any good. And 20 pounds less fat certainly couldn’t hurt my body-weight work in CrossFit, like push-ups and pull-ups, not to mention climbing.

Next Sunday will be day 30 of this current 30-day cycle that I’m in, where I’ve been eating Paleo/Whole30ish/low-carb plus dairy.  I’ll make some decisions then about how I want to move forward in this project of getting in the best shape of my life.

I have two thoughts about why I’m not losing weight, of which I suspect both are true:

  1. I’m still eating too much. (Well, duh.) This week was proof that my snacking to alleviate boredom impulse is NOT completely handled, so I’d like to do something about that.
  2. I’m gaining muscle. This is definitely true, I’m making weekly improvements at CrossFit and climbing, so I may be burning fat and gaining muscle in equal quantities.  Meaning my body is learning to burn fat and I’m dealing with the excess insulin problem, which is a good thing.

So we’ll see. I’ll keep you posted.

Another little personal tidbit is that Jeremy and I have been trying to get pregnant for a year and a half, and I’m hoping that reducing my sugar and getting my insulin under control helps in that arena as well. Wishful thinking perhaps, since we have very little info at this point and haven’t gotten any testing done yet. But it seems worth waiting a couple more months to see before we spend a bunch of money getting tested and such.

WEEKLY WORKOUT LOG

Monday, March 14

CrossFit – 5 sets of:
3 Back Squats + 5 box jumps
-Use your 5RM back squat weight. (Did 63-63-73-73-73.)
-Use a box height above your hip if possible. (Umm, no. Used medium box.)
-Upon racking the squat, move immediately to box jumps
-Rest as needed between rounds.
WOD: 10-8-6-4-2 reps for time of:
Strict chin-ups (did jumping pull-ups)
Do a there-and-back Bear Crawl between each round (about 20 yards)
Completed in 5:02

Tuesday, March 15

Running – Running partner and I were both tired so just did 2 reps of 1:1:1:1 increasing speed or hill cycles (that’s 8 minutes of running)

Wednesday, March 16

CrossFit – Handstand push ups 3 sets x 5 reps  (I did knees on high box)
WOD:  50 KB swings (53/70)  – did 25 lbs
50 Box Jumps – medium box
1000 M row – subbed .5 mile run since rowers were full
50 ABMAT Sit ups
50 Double Unders (or 200 single jumps) – I did singles
Completed in 16:50

Thursday, March 17

Running – Did 4 reps of 1:1:1:1 increasing speed or hill cycles.

Friday, March 18

CrossFit – AMRAP in 20 minutes of:
– 5 Dumbbell Clean Box Jumps -25/35 (Used 15 lb. dumbbells and small box)
– 10 Toes to bar (still not even close on these, shooting for an “L” with my legs but usually managed more of an “h”.)
– 15 Push-ups (Knee push-ups, but they kicked my ass. These were harder than the box jumps by far, by the end I was snaking my body up off the ground. I guess that’s 120 knee push-ups, so that’s near my max even in separate blocks.)
Completed 8 rounds

Saturday, March 19

Climbing – Worked on a 5.8 and a 5.9

Also, just for fun I worked on my single rep max deadlift while I was at the gym.  I’ve not worked on deadlifts much and just wanted to see how much I could do.  It was fun to find out I could lift 165 pounds!  Not quite bodyweight, but close.  And I loved being the only chick in the weight area and pulling out the 45 lb. bar and piling some big ass plates onto it. Sweet.

Sunday, March 20 – REST DAY


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