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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Longmont, CO
    Posts
    545

    flab and fitness frustration

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    Well, a few of the ladies around here recommended Nancy Clark's articles on nutrition, available at adventurecycling.org ...

    The more I read, the more I wonder if I'm ever going to get this right.

    My goals are to lose fat and to get stronger and faster with more endurance. Basically to be more fit. It seems like this should all work hand in hand and it should be easy to make everything work together.

    Well, last year, I followed Covert Bailey's advice and went for low fat, ignoring calories. I worked out almost every day. At first, I felt great and had tons of energy. Toward the end of the summer, though, I was constantly sick and I felt exhausted all the time. I did lose weight (mostly regained since then), but the calipers never showed much of a bodyfat change. Granted, I'm not sure we were using the calipers consistently. I'll admit that my workouts tend to be of the lung-busting variety, not the aerobic workouts that Bailey recommends.

    Now, reading Clark's articles, I wonder if maybe the low fat approach was hurting me. She says that athletes are healthier and more capable on 50-80g or more of fat a day; I'd been shooting for 40g or fewer. Maybe my low-fat approach was actually making me sick? But then, I'm not really an athlete; I don't have nearly the workouts that real athletes do.

    I also wonder about other assumptions. Clark cites studies that seem to show that women don't lose fat through exercise. Reading even further, it seems like she thinks that women who want a lean, athletic body are going to find it phenomenally difficult to get there because their bodies want to be fat for pregnancy.

    I'm getting really frustrated. I'm starting to think that women are just built to get screwed. My body is optimized for the one thing I don't want -- pregnancy.

    Er, sorry. Getting back to the topic. So I emailed Clark and said, okay, if exercise can't help me lose fat, what can? She actually responded (yay!) and said that a caloric deficit is what I need. She says exercise maintains, but caloric deficit is what I need to actually lose fat.

    It seems to me that maybe I can't have it all. It seems to me that eating fewer calories than your body needs while also working out strenuously can't be healthy; can it?

    Is it unreasonable to try to lose fat at the same time as I am trying to get my muscles into shape? DH tells me that when he was a high school swimmer, they spent the entire first month of the season breaking down all their muscles, actually making themselves weaker, so that they could then build up their muscles from scratch. That doesn't seem like a healthy, balanced approach. Maybe it works for teenagers; I doubt it's something you'd want to do every year.

    Maybe I'm making this too complicated, trying to rationalize my lack of willpower. I don't know. And I should probably be posing this question (or ramble) to a nutritionist. But I'm throwing it out there. I'm confused. I don't know what to do. I want to get rid of this flab, which can't be good for me, but I also want to be strong. Oh, and to make it even better, another Clark article shows that women tend to get so hungry after exercise that they eat as many calories as they've just burned! Well, yeah, I knew I was doing that. I guess it's reassuring to find out I'm not alone.

    Grrr.
    monique

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    San Jose, CA
    Posts
    1,485
    So is this the point where we have the discussion about being fit (physically, not necessarily looks-wise) and accepting our bodies as they are? I have also struggled with fat in places where I don't want it, while being relatively fit. (I'm still working on getting there.) No matter how much weight I lose, I still have more fat than I want in certain places. I just have to accept that this is where my body wants to store fat, and, short of lipsuction, it probably ain't ever totally going away. (And I've heard even if you have lipo, as soon as you gain any weight back, guess where it goes??? )


    I did the calorie deficit thing (smaller portions and less sweets) and it made a huge difference for me. I was not working out at the time when I lost most of my weight, though. Now I'm working out pretty hard, almost every day, and my weight is pretty much staying static. I'm trying to view cycling as my fun thing, not my weight-loss thing. Does all this rambling make any sense at all, even though I clearly have no real point?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    North Bellmore, NY
    Posts
    1,347
    Hi Monique,
    I feel like you have been reading my mind. Last week I ordered Nancy Clark's Cyclist Food Guide. I didn't order the other one which I felt was more general because I wanted to gear everything that I put in my mouth toward the exact cycling you want to achieve.

    I will be honest and say I do not have a weight problem. Four years ago I wanted to loose that last 5 lbs and ended up loosing 12. I switched to walking on the treadmill to cycling wanting to participate in the Bike NY the 5 borough bike a thon. But I also followed the Weight Watchers eating plan to be a buddy support for my sister who did have a weight problem. The weight just melted away in months and I have kept it off.

    Since then I try to get in cycling at least 4 times a week (trainer at this time of year) but I also want to do my first century. Needless to say I also want to build endurance and muscle. I feel the way to do that is to eat more protein to feed the muscles, carbs for energy. But where do you fit what foods in daily and when preparing for a ride and how much. I am hoping this book will tell me this. By what they said I should receive it maybe even today or by weeks end at the latest.

    I know I am not offering the info that you probably wanted to know, but just thought I would share my info and maybe can offer you more in the future. I am not sure which Nancy Clark book you purchased.

    By the sounds of other posts we many of us are thinking in the same direction. Maybe with others imput we can all put it all together and be headed in the shape we want to be in real soon. I also felt I was or am making too much of all this and confusing myself to no end. But I am sure I will have it figured out soon.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    California Bay Area
    Posts
    62

    Losing weight vs. fat, etc.

    Well, I have to agree with the post that says at some point we have to accept the bodies we have and not torture ourselves too much trying to get someone else's. Now having said that I do understand trying to do some improvements. I didn't think I had more than a couple of pounds that I needed to lose but I decided to try and help my husband lose some weight and ended up losing about 10 myself. We followed the Weight Watcher's points system and I made our dinner's using their recipes. They're very yummy for the most part. I dropped my body fat from 28% down to 22%. I haven't seen Nancy Clarke's book but are we sure she isn't targeting the 20-something year-old women who have never been pregnant and can lose weight effortlessly? Maybe my point here (hopefully, I do have one) is eat healthfully, watch out for excesses anywhere, exercise regularly and enjoy your life. If you end up losing some weight or fat or both, great but don't make yourself miserable trying to do it. Mark Twain said, "If you can't make 70 by a comfortable road, don't go."

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    North Bellmore, NY
    Posts
    1,347
    I completely agree with Cruziegirl. I am not sure if this got reflected in my original post, but, eating and bike riding is not necessarily to loose weight or keep the weight off, but more for fitness and being able to do the things that I enjoy easier. If choosing a different food or eating more of a type of food is going to make climbing that hill or riding a longer distance just a little easier I think that is a good thing. I am hoping that is what Nancy Clarks book might reflect and for all I know I am doing those things already. I will be happy to give an update once I get and read it.

    Try to keep in mind that we all want our bodies to be the best they can be individually. Not to get off the subject but sort of an example. I had my first bone density test recently and it did not come back very good. So I am on fosomax along with the calcium pill I had been taking. Needless to say I am incorporating at least a glass of milk a day (never even realized it has a nice amount of protein in it) and maybe by some chance I can reverse the problem. And you know what, sometimes I just may want that piece of cake and cookies to have with that milk.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    165
    You might find this article by Chris Carmichael (aka Lance's coach) helpful, I already posted it in another thread:
    http://www.roadcycling.com/news/article900.shtml

    Except for when you first start out, you can't easily build strength while restricting calories, you kind of have to do one or the other.

    That said, last year between April and August I dropped my body fat 3% while increasing my lean body mass 2 lbs. I lifted weights three times per week and rode four times per week. I ate a balanced pescetarian ("pesco-vegetarian") diet with plenty of veggies, a decent protein source and some fat at every meal, I got a wide variety of low-gi grains, and tried to stay away from trans fat and highly refined sugar. I'm concentrating now on ramping up for the coming season, and although I'm back eating meat (though for one or fewer meals per day) I'm sticking to the same basic regimen and feeling really good about it. It looks like Nancy Clark's advice is pretty well in line with my favorite nutritional guru, Andrew Weil (http://drweil.com/).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Richmond, VA
    Posts
    22
    bounceswoosh, do you weight train at all? I found that building muscle helped me to get leaner and stronger and also helped me to burn more calories. I did the calorie deficit thing when I was losing weight a few years back, but once I started riding a lot and competing, I started getting dizzy and faint. My body NEEDED those calories. I was bottoming out too often.

    It sounds like the low-fat method was not right for you. I don't think any one eating plan is going to work for everyone. Listen to your body and try to be moderate in your eating.

    Now I just eat as much unprocessed food as I can, with lots of veggies, fruit, good fats and carbs. I don't eat much meat and I limit sugar. I don't eat any artificial sweetners. I've maintained my weight loss of nearly forty pounds for three years and try not to worry about a little extra fat.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    314
    I hear ya! I have limited my calories to 1800 this week and was eating 2000 last week and I KNOW it is less than what I had been eating and I have lost nada! I haven't had meat in 2 days, altho I did eat a couple of boiled eggs. I am eating whole grains, fruits, veggies, minimal sugar, my treat now and then is 2 kisses, 35 cals. each, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.

    Now that said I lost 40 lbs doing Atkins! might be that I need more fat I don't know, I am eating some fat and not really counting the fat but staying away from the obvious unhealthy sources.

    I have been training for a year now weights and all so I am pretty darn fit but still ahve this belly and back fat that I would like to lose, I just know it will help with my running. Maybe I need to cut back more I don't know but at 1800 I stay hungry a good bit of the day, to make matters worse I have low blood sugar and have to eat often or I feel bad. I have already eaten 1230 calories today and I feel ok now, but I have a hard spin session tonight so I will burn a good deal of those off. I don't know that I could eat less w/o feeling terrible, oops, my tummy just started grumbling!!!!

    I just got some more books on training so hopefully they will have some eating advise!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Richmond, VA
    Posts
    22
    How often do you work out? If you're really active, 1800 is not enough calories. You shouldn't have to spend most of the day feeling hungry! Your body might be in starvation mode - definitely up your calories and don't stress out too much. It sounds like you're doing everything right.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Longmont, Co
    Posts
    2
    Monique,
    This is the first time Ive visited this forum, and much to my surprise, you live in Longmont too!!!

    Anyway, I think your missing the bigger picture here. I think you should be maybe thinking less about % of fat you consume and more about the types of workouts your doing.
    You say that all of your w/o's are lung burners, and thats not good. It is very important to vary the intensity and duration of your workouts through out the week. What your husbands swim coach was doing is breaking down the muscle thru hard work, but then allowing REST, which is the key to improvement. The workout is only a part of the total package. If all of your workouts are the same intensity (hard in your case) the body never has time to fully repair and reap the benifits of those workouts.
    You didnt mention if you are doing any weight training, and if not (which I suspect) you really should add that into your routine. Many reasons for that, first being that if your not building muscle while trying to lose weight, what you are losing IS muscle, not fat. Also, lean muscle burns calories just being muscle, and its preferred food is... FAT! Another benefit would be that stronger muscle requires stronger bones, so as long as you are getting enough calcium in your diet, you will be increasing your bone density.
    Your body burns more FAT calories at lower aerobic intensity, but that doesnt mean you should keep all workouts at that level, because you will burn more overall calories at higher intensity, so the two go hand in hand.

    After all that, you should also take a look at genetics....sometimes we are programmed to have bigger hips, or a little pooch. We can keep it from getting out of hand through diet and exercise, but we may not be able to ever erase it completely.

    I would write down all your calories for about 3 days, and make sure that you are getting enough....I agree that sometimes we go too low in calories and that will shut your metabolizim down in a heartbeat.
    I second the suggestion on Chris Carmichaels book...very good information.

    Good Luck from a local!
    Jayne

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Albuquerque, NM
    Posts
    3,099
    Just another thought: how are your clothes fitting? Muscle weighs more than fat so while the scales may not move, you may actually be losing fat.
    Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand, strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming: "Yeah Baby! What a Ride!"

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Vernon, British Columbia
    Posts
    2,226
    Quote Originally Posted by Jo-n-NY
    I I had my first bone density test recently and it did not come back very good. So I am on fosomax along with the calcium pill I had been taking.
    Jo, are you doing any high impact exercise or lifting weights? The bits i've read recently indicate that the latest studies show those types of exercise actually do more to increase bone density than calcium! It seems contradictory, but anything where you jar your body around apparently makes the bones stronger!
    go figure

    Namaste,
    ~T~

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    427
    Key things that worked for me:
    Build muscle with strength training (more muscle=faster metabolism, and more fat burn)
    Do not wait until you are so hungry to eat (starvation mode=body thinks your starving and will actually increase your fat storage), eating a little all day works for me.
    Whole foods, once I made this switch I was full with smaller portions and eating much healthier
    Accepting genetics, even though I am fit now, my percent body fat is high (fat will not remove itself from my thighs, no matter how hard I try)

    Also loved all of Dr. Weil's books!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Richmond, VA
    Posts
    22
    Also loved all of Dr. Weil's books!
    Yes, yes, yes. His books are great. Definitely check them out!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Vernon, British Columbia
    Posts
    2,226
    Jayne and Snowtulip (and several others) have said it right:

    -keep it simple
    -eat good healthy food, enough for fuel
    -eat right sized portions (not too big, big enough to satisfy)
    -build muscle
    -change your exercise frequently (short - medium high intensity intervals drop that extra layer of fat way faster on me than long medium-low intensity workouts....but I do both anyway)
    -be satisfied with the quirks of your own body, but continue to work toward your own best you!

    You *will* find that once you reach some magic level of fitness, that the weight will mostly stay off if you're reasonably in tune with your body (you don't have to be super careful), that your body will come back from shortish periods of overindulgence or inactivity and a faster rate, and that you'll feel better, your clothes will fit better, and you'll have a more positive attitude and more confidence than ever before.

    This doesn't happen overnight. It takes building good habits to take place of the unhealthy ones, and time. But it does happen. I have never been as fit as I am now, and, because I somehow reached that magical level, it doesn't feel like work to stay here! I am careful, I must say, to make sure I do exercise that I find FUN and Interesting, otherwise I'd be too busy behind my camera to get the exercise in at all.

    You'll do it! All of you! Yay us!!

    Namaste,
    ~T~

 

 

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