I’m lucky. I have never had any serious injuries that could not have been fixed or would not have healed. Physically I have been able to train and give a try to any sports I have wanted and after each pregnancy I have been able to start training as soon as I have felt like it. Not that I have wanted to start very early as with little ones it’s hectic enough as it is.
Anyway after giving birth I have started walking slowly around two months and by six months a bit more exercise. I did run quite a lot when I was younger and have continued to run all my life more or less. I have also gone to the gym ever since they became more popular but neither running or going to the gym was very goal-oriented, but more having fun and getting out of the house. Main thing being I have always been active so lack of exercise has not been the reason for my weight gain I understand that now.
Getting to know my body
I have started this “self study” back in Australia getting to know different body types as I was always wondering why it’s so hard to loose fat around the waist and bum and why I seem to gain no muscles no matter what I do. I learned that women have different fat tissues stored in different places than men and there is really nothing you can do about it as it is the evolution way of ensuring there is food around “in case you get pregnant”. Trust me I have tried many time to tell my body there is no need to store it anymore but evolution seems to disagree and it’s been the hardest and last spot to get rid of stored fat for me!
I also learned that some people have naturally more either slow or fast twitching muscles determining what sports you are more inclined to be good at. So no wonder I can keep going for hours and feel nothing and yet anything where you require sudden strength I am completely useless. My body clearly is an endurance body with more slow twitching muscles and again there is nothing I can do about it.
So these body type revelations have enabled me to accept my body the way it is and work with it and not against it. I also have read about my blood type and other similar kind of books about “body types”, but I will not go into more details about them as for me the two above mentioned were the most meaningful ones. I will though mention that after reading about what kind of foods are recommended to my blood type and after I have started to “examine” my body more by eating (or not eating) the “recommended” (or not recommended) foods I must say I do agree with most of them and found that information very useful also. Worth checking if it interest you.
BUT like with everything I consider all these as a sort of “framework” you can work around with. Knowledge gave me more options and helped me to understand how my body may react to different things easier. This all helped me in finding my balance.
Finding the balance
Anyway back to the actual story about my weight loss journey…
So having read a fair bit and having tried this and that I felt I was all the time getting closer to finding the “key to my body”. I after all always did loose weight a bit once I set my mind on it, but the critical thing I think I was missing was as simple as the BALANCE of it all.
I trained too hard and ate too little or ate too much and did not train enough. So I ate the wrong amount and wrong macro nutrients in wrong balance.
After summer 2017 I got totally fed up of myself and I felt like I was not getting anywhere although I ran quite a lot and trained all the time so it did not quite make sense to me. Then I decided to put a stop to it and started marking every single thing I put in mouth into one of these food diary, health apps (there are so many around nowadays) just to see where I go wrong.
I set my target weight loss on the app to reasonable 500 g per week thinking the slower I go, the easier it is to maintain. After a few days, weeks and months my revelations were:
- My portions were way too big
- The calorie intake for loosing weight was much lower than I thought
- The “hidden” and “unnecessary” calories
- The balance of macro-nutrients was completely off
- I had not compensated for exercise days enough
- You can fit so much energy in just 1400 calories a day!
So let’s dig deeper into each of those:
My portions were way too big
I ate for two although it was just me, well not quite, but definitely smaller portions and smaller plates helped to count the calories easier and I realized that I had been eating more than I need to “keep the hunger away”. With less “bad carbs” the hunger did not come so strong, but actually was very tolerable.
The calorie intake for loosing weight was much lower than I thought
The app said that my calorie intake should be around 1400 something if I wanted to loose weight. My total calorie intake I thought was around 2000 but nope, it was actually less (around 1600) so I had probably all the time eaten a bit more than I should have because “I am tall girl”.
The “hidden” and “unnecessary” calories
Counting calories forced me to simplify my menu and what I eat resulting in better quality food. I did not want to fool myself but wanted to be honest, so rather had homemade stuff where I knew what was in it, than bought ready made with dodgy nutrient/calorie figures. I also quickly realized what foods there is no point eating as they have absolutely no nutritional value. Plus it’s all out of my daily total calories if I eat them so again no point.
The balance of macro-nutrients was off
I ate way too little protein and too much fats and carbs. Also my vitamins were not hitting the required targets. So what I started doing is looking at the macros and adding more to what I was still missing for the day. For example if I was missing protein, have one more egg. Missing carbs eat a piece of bread. Missing vitamin c eat an orange and so on. All this helped me to a) learn even more about nutrients of each food b) balance what I put into my mouth better on a daily basis without any apps.
I had not compensated for exercise days enough
I ran at that time around 20-25 kilometers a week with one long run and a gym session on top. I realized I had not eaten more on those days to keep the calorie deficit at around 200-300 calories per day. So if I went for a long run I ate more and had a so called “eat & recharge day”. Basically I all the time made sure I stayed at the calorie target or 200-300 below if I had been exercising (the app added the calories you had consumed on top or your total target so the more you run, the higher the “allowed” calorie intake).
You can fit so much energy in just 1400 calories a day!
With the right macro nutrient choices you can fit so much into just 1400 calories. First when I saw the daily amount the app gave me I thought I can never survive on that and that I will be so hungry. The more I logged my daily food into the app the better I got to know what keeps the hunger away best and started to favor those on my diet.
This kind of goes together with learning about the “empty” and “hidden” calories. No point putting something into your mouth that does not have the right nutritional value you need. After training I tended to prefer eggs as they have lots of protein. I also ate lots of veggies and salad as those you can eat almost as much as you want without them “taking it out” from you daily target.
So for me I think the game changer was the realization that it’s not about avoiding bad carbs and fats but adding more protein and finding the right balance between them all that works for my body (with a little help of modern technology in the form of a handy mobile app).
How I made sure where I am at with loosing weight project and how did I know I have made progress? Check My weight loss journey(s) part III in the coming days…
Want to check background why I wanted to make a change? Check My Weight Loss journe(y), part I.