Wednesday, March 6, 2024

One Month of Our New Plan Under Our Stretched Belts

Well, it's officially been a month since we started back to regular tracking and a new to us approach.  The approach was basically taking 11% off of our TDEE maintenance calories, making sure we got in a gallon of water per day (for a woman who could barely choke down 16 oz of the stuff, this was quite the goal), making sure to get in at least a walk on high cal days as well as cap them.  We also tried to make a 100g per day protein goal if possible.  (That was about a 30g jump for us which can be harder than you think.  By no means were we wanting to resemble anything keto.  Not our thing.)  We got a cheap but well reviewed smart scale that gave us our body fat and other metrics.  I have to say this was CRUCIAL determining our starting point for TDEE maintenance calories.  Without it, if we hadn't had that metric, we would've been 500 calories off which would've been catastrophic.  

As many of you know, I've been dealing with absolutely wicked plantar fasciitis/calf issues for 2 months now.  There is very slow progress but definitely still in a crapload of pain especially after workouts that lasts all night.  I'm trying shockwave therapy and massage so I'll just need some bullets to bite while I get that done and hope for the best.  That condition has made it very difficult being able to get in more steps and focusing on NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) which is why I got my floor bike.  If I put my hand on my knee while I'm cycling, the watch counts each rotation as a step and it goes toward my step count.  I've burned up to 600 calories if I'm watching a movie or something so it's been helpful.  I'll admit I wasn't as good with it as I could've been all month in February but I've made it a priority going into March.  I've been able to do strength sessions but I admit leg day is a beeotch for 1-3 days after.  I can't do a reverse lunge because the muscles are so locked up.  I need to really dig the hell out of my calf and try to get whatever is bunged in there unbunged and keep it that way.  As my chiro always said, "it's all connected."

So I guess I'll break it down by everything we've kind of put into action.  

Food:  I found Coach Viva videos on YouTube a little over a month ago and honestly, the things they said made so much sense to me.  I'm coming off of years, well over a decade now, of doing exactly what all of the calculators say I should do calorie wise and over the past 4 years or so, it just has not worked the same as it used to for me.  Throw all of the grief stuff on top of it and my body is furiously holding on to EVERYTHING.  The jist is that you take your maintenance calories from a TDEE calculator and subtract 11% to get the calorie target.  The biggest thing is making sure you know what your body fat percentage is to enter into the calculator or else the maintenance calories will be off by 400-500 calories!  This is where that cheap smart scale came into play for us.  So once I entered that, it showed me what I should be aiming for based on their theory.  Most calculators give you about a 30% deficit and do all of that freaking your body out thing and trying this method sounded both logical and doable.  I also aimed at getting in more protein, not keto, just more protein because I always struggled with that and didn't pay a whole lot of attention.  Meal prep some high protein breakfasts a few days a week with proper nutrition has been nice on the days I don't have to think about it.  On actual prep days?  Well, we'll get to that.  Staying close to the target calories has been much easier but not felt like I was so overboard that I was doing more harm than good.

Exercise:  Because of all of my foot/leg issues, February was a month of testing where I was and seeing if I could eek out some walking.  I was able to and I could get a 400 calorie burn on those days but I paid for it the rest of the day.  Part of that problem, I think was trying to cycle through different shoe inserts.  I've always used Spenco but it became very apparent not long after the start of the pandemic that something changed and their insoles were not the same.  I started having different ball of foot issues and everything spiraled from there.  (I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact I hadn't done PT in years and let my strength go to that of an 80 year old. 🙄)  I have just now switched back to Spenco's as a hail Mary before looking into customs since they did so well for me for a long time.  We would walk 4x week mostly outside on a flat path (sometimes a few WATP's thrown in) and two strength sessions per week.  I make sure I subtract 50 calories from all workouts as I know those numbers aren't accurate and I also don't log my floor bike/NEAT calories as the Mr doesn't.  I also really don't eat back any part of those calories even though most nights I have 400 calories "remaining" after logging formal exercise.  I will say due to about a 2 month break at the holidays and January on consistent exercise and zero strength training, we've paid the price, dearly.  Both of us are really struggling to get back to any kind of pre-grief strength and even that wasn't super great.  This?  This is worse than I've ever gone through.  No strength and horribly pained shoulders so bad I can't even reach behind my back to hook my bra which has never been a problem.  This is not the middle age I signed on for.  I really hate that we're still very far behind as far as our recovery of previous strength.  We're both still using 10's for overhead presses and my left shoulder is none too pleased.  It also barely let's me do 8's on lateral raises which have always been my weakness but I could usually do 10's.  So the climb back to what I feel is basic functional strength is slow and painful.  Our schedule forever has always been high cal day on Saturday and no exercise that day - full day off from everything.  We switched that to rest days on Fridays (the day before weigh in) and making sure we get a minimum of 300 calories on a walk somewhere on Saturdays.  It feels good to get out and helps with digestion so we'll definitely keep up with that.

High cal day:  We used to do the thing where we'd have our high cal day and Sunday still be higher than usual but not high cal day levels and then go back to our 30% deficit the rest of the week.  Now we shoot for 3500 which sounds totally doable, and is, but it's super easy to get away from you if you're looking at two (or three) meals out and a sweet.  That whole 80/20 during the week is harder for me to manage and we like having that break even though we know many people don't agree with that mentality.  We're not doing an epic Dwayne The Rock Johnson style snarf-fest, but not having to make sure I'm getting flaxseed or other forms of bird food in for the day is nice for both of our mental health.  Have there been times we've gone over the cap?  Yep.  The thing is, before, we would've felt like failures, beat ourselves up and gone into a bad mental place.  What turned our thinking around the most was this video that said the more important thing was to average out over the week.  When we would enter our high cal day and exercise, I could do a hypothetical for the week ahead and see where I'd need to be both calorie and exercise wise to still hit my average for the week.  We put together a spreadsheet similar to the ones in their videos and began tracking a lot of info including lean muscle and body fat percentage thanks to the scale we got.  It gave us more metrics to track which as someone whose mood lives or dies with the scale, was a good thing.  I could see if I lost a pound (less than I wanted) that maybe I lost body fat and put on a little muscle.  Those were big things to keep me out of my weekly spiral of frustration.  Obviously, the only thing that is basically 100% accurate is one of those Dexa scans or Bod Pods but it's more info than we had before.

Water:  Y'all know water has ALWAYS been a problem for me since the beginning of time.  I could easily drink maybe 4-16 ounces of pure water and a few glasses of tea for most of my life.  I would try to get more in, might do well for a few days or a week, slack and right back to practically nothing.  I tried a few times to drink water in the morning and again, do good for a few days but could definitely never make it past two weeks.  I have a 25 oz water bottle on my nightstand and since the beginning of February, I drink it before getting out of bed.  That is a feat.  What is also a feat is I also have finished a 64 oz water bottle each day (a little less on Saturday if we were traveling and I couldn't make it up for fear of having to wee on the road) in addition to my morning and evening tea (28 oz total.)  My goal was to drink a gallon of fluid per day and I've done it.  Y'all don't know what a miracle that really is.  The first week I was a race horse peeing all the time but my body has adjusted.

NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis):  Up to 30% of our calorie burn per day comes from non-formal exercise.  Walking to the office or grocery store, fidgeting, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, etc.  Well, when you work from home and live in a shoebox, the opportunity for doing rando movements outside of your formal exercise is limited.  (Especially if you've got mobility issues at the current moment.)  I bought a floor bike to keep at my side on the couch to try to get more movement in with no impact to my injured feet.  I didn't do so great the first half of the month.  The 2nd to last week, I did I think 3-4 bike sessions and I paid attention to how much movement the Mr's watch recorded while he was at work walking to and from the car several times a day as well as walking the office every now and then.  I made sure I matched it or got close the second to last two weeks of February.  I want to keep that up especially as I start getting treatment for PF, knowing I could potentially need to be off my feet a little on down days.  So 5x a week, I want to make sure I'm doing the bike in addition to any other workouts.  This has always been a weak spot for us since we started this in 2008/9 so I hope incorporating that in will make a bigger difference for me.

Meal prep:  I haven't mastered true meal prep like you see some of those bloggers do but I'm doing what I can.  A lot of that is because of how horrible my legs feel standing for any length of time.  I would gladly do more but standing 6 hours in the kitchen making 3-4 different dishes just doesn't cut it right now.  The most I can do is break it up into parts.  Sundays I will make our egg breakfast for a few days a week.  Sometime during the week, I may make some healthy versions of muffins for a snack made of Einkorn flour, subbing oils/fats for applesauce or bananas, etc.  Then the Mr will throw in some chicken breasts when we can get them on sale and bake them up for his lunch and our dinners.  I might make a turkey mushroom meatloaf to divide up for dinners over a few weeks.  Eventually, I'd like to be able to do everything for the week in one day but until things get better with the feet, I'm doing what I can there.

Sleep:  My sleep sucks.  Period.  Always has.  I've always been a 6 hour a night sleep girl like my mama.  I desperately want more but the situation with both neighbors being demons from hell, I am constantly on edge because I want to attempt to get to sleep before demon #1 begins slamming for an hour between 11pm-12:30am.  That is earlier than I have been getting to sleep for years and most nights, I fail.  I can't go to bed before 11pm, not in me.  As I calculated all of my hours of sleep over a 34 day period that I tracked, I averaged 4.6 hours per night.   Mmm hmm.  So you can see that sleep is a major part of my problem as well.  As a doom scroller or doing something to occupy my mind to keep me from grief spiraling, I was often up most nights until 1-3am.  I made a conscious effort to try to go to sleep by midnight.  The night's I got worse sleep is when I'd have the Golden Girls on and try to get sleepy listening to it.  Sometimes I would get sleepy and then when I'd turn it off from the flashing commercials and such, I'd be wide awake.  I made an effort at 11pm to turn off anything with commercials and find a dark scenic ambient YouTube video with rain, snow or whatever and no music so it was just basically white noise and dark while I finished up reading or scrolling for the night.  I had to take Solitaire off the phone because it's tied to Mom's death and playing it wasn't good for me mentally.  I have a LONG way to go to improve my sleep.  I am keeping some tryptophan supplements on my bedside so that if I'm having ZERO success getting sleepy that I can get a little help since melatonin does nothing for me.  It's an ongoing struggle I hope to one day conquer.  

So what were our results with this plan?

The Mr lost 7 lbs in a month and I lost 3 lbs.  I'm very happy for him and clearly everything is agreeing with him.  I'm less than thrilled with my results as this isn't different from a normal month for me before implementing this new approach.  What happened to all of the amazing things that were supposed to happen when I drank a shit ton of water?  I was supposed to get better skin, poop like a champ and have all of this energy.  None of that happened for me.  The tweaks I made with doing the bike more consistently were made later than I can give a full report on.  What stopped me from ramming my head into a wall is knowing I lost just shy of 1% body fat and added .5% of muscle.  Moving in the right direction and I can't expect a ton of muscle building when I had to use such low weights so I'm hoping for better results in March.  

I'm not going to quit or change anything other than the bike being consistent 5x week as well as adding Senobi breathing 4x a day.   I also know I'll be doing shockwave therapy which is designed to produce inflammation for healing purposes with no allowance to take any anti-inflammatories so I need to keep that in mind for this months numbers.

If you read this far, thanks.  I appreciate you! 😊


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  1. It's been a good change so far just having the extra information that scale gives us. I'm glad to be getting the extra protein in too. I do need to do better on my NEAT especially at work but my water intake is on point. Plenty of stuff to track but at least now if I don't see a weight loss I can see what else might have moved instead and that's helpful. I would say so far so good on the changes made!

  2. That is great that you created a plan and stuck to it, and got all kinds of information. Setting up those daily habits and seeing changes that are different from just the scale number are all very encouraging. You're already a few days into March and following your plan wonderfully. You guys are doing GREAT!!!!

  3. I lost 64 lbs in 2019, and one of the things I did was have a "cheat" day every week. I tried not to overdo it and usually had a sensible breakfast but if I wanted pizza and potato chips and a chocolate bar I had it with no regrets. As time went on I had either the pizza or the chips because I really couldn't eat both. Then came COVID, I slipped on ice and fractured a bone in my back last year, and now I have 40 lbs put back on and my activity is not great. It's so damn hard, I feel I've been doing this my entire life and I'm so tired of it. You give me hope when you share your struggles and what you're trying, that I can get back to it too. I feel you on the 3lb loss, it's so frustrating when you're trying so hard.

    1. I'm so sorry you are dealing with coming back from that injury. It's hard enough on it's own much less when you're having to deal with something like that. I'm with ya. If you'd told me when we started this and were losing consistently that we'd STILL be struggling with this crap, it would've been a hard motivator to keep going. We were doing all of that crap so we wouldn't be in the situation we're in now. *Looks down at my 'house crocs', floor bike and double sided roller that remain my constant couch companions.* We're in this together girl!


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