The False Epihpany
When I started writing this thought, I was convinced that I was burning more calories than the actual number of pounds I was losing. I was so convinced that I wrote the following:
“I had a moment of epiphany today while working out; I realized that what I read in Gary Taube’s book Why We Get Fat must have some truth. If losing weight was truly as simple math equation I would be losing weight on consistent weekly basis. From where I’m standing the theory of calories in versus calories out can’t be the entire picture if it were easy as that statement I should have lost weight every week since the start of my evolution. The fact is I have been expending more energy than I have been consuming which means that I should be losing more weight than I actually have, in fact let’s do the math.
I’ve been adhering to a strict diet plan of about 2000 calories a day, some days I go slightly over and many days I fall below that number. But to play it conservatively let’s say I eat 2250 calories a day, which brings my total weekly food consumption to 15,750 calories. Now my resting metabolic rate based on my age, weight, and activity level is 3,235 calories for a lightly active person, which means that in a week without any exercise I am burning 22,645. You ad in the 9-10 workouts a week, and say that I only average 500 calories per session, which amounts to 5,000 calories in a week. To lose 1 pound theoretically you need to burn 3500 calories, so in an average week I am burning 25,880 calories yet only consume 15, 750 calories each week leaving me a weekly deficit of 10,130, which means I should lose 2.89 lbs every week. “
The reality of the situation is that through last week I am losing an average number of pounds per week which is higher than 2.89 lbs that I calculated above. In fact after 12 total weeks of work and 64 lbs of weight loss I am losing an average of 5.3 lbs a week.
Unfortunately the weight doesn’t come off consistently every week, it comes off in spurts. Its demoralizing when a great deal of effort is put forth and the result is nada. I end up losing weight for a couple weeks at a time, and then plateau. In the last two weeks I lost weight one week, and lost nothing in the second. In the last two week cycle without any changes in the number of workouts or what I ate, the result was drastically different.
I know that my workouts aren’t the problem, in fact they vary so much week to week, and day to day I don’t think my body can get adjusted to any particular routine other than the time of day. Ultimately it leads me to believe that something hormonal, and something deeper in the body has a lot more to say in whether or not it will convert fat cells to energy, or expel waste. The human body is wonderful at adapting to circumstances, so the plateaus I experience must be part of some deeper system related to either the endocrine or some other system related to the production and expenditure of energy in the human body.
Of course if you stop eating all together over a period of time you will wither away and die, so the absolute certainty of the principle that excess energy consumption produces excess weight, while deficient energy consumption causes the body to breakdown its own tissue to create energy is something I realize is just part of this process, yet I still firmly believe that there has to be significantly more to how the body uses fat storages and then decides to add to them. Otherwise why is that body builders put on bulk and muscle instead of fat. They are clearly doing something to stimulate other components of their bodies to turn all those excess calories into usable muscle.
I know what I am presently doing is working because I am losing weight, and building muscle tissue yet there has to be some mechanism which makes the process more efficient, so that I can lose weight each week. If it’s not possible to lose weight every week I want to know why, and what I can do to reignite whatever system puts the weight loss on hold.
I believe that weight loss is far more complex than a simple math equation; it’s can’t be a simple energy equation like calculating gas mileage, or maybe it is, and I just don’t realize the time needed for the body to make changes which is why week to week the weight loss seems to fluctuate, but over the course of the entire story the average tends to reveal what is expected for the rate of loss.
I am now am convinced that in order to lose weight you have to eat fewer calories than the body uses for energy. What I am not convinced about is whether or not this idea is the entire picture, as the changes in hormonal and chemical levels in the body muscle greatly influence when and how the weight is removed. This is the piece of the puzzle which I seek more information on, so that I can have full comprehension as to what changes are occurring in me from a weekly basis.
Until then I am stuck with being a disciple that the key to weight loss is to burn more calories than you eat.
The Daily Recap
Morning Crossfit Session
My morning session with Liz at Crossfit was not what I expected, as the last three sessions have all been Metcon workouts. We did start with a short Metcon type warm up of 8 minutes, doing 8 reps of Thrusters, 8 reps of Push Jerks, and 8 reps of ring rows. Liz didn’t count how many revolutions so I’m not sure how many times I did the work in 8 minutes. The bulk of today’s work was about focusing on heavier weights and only doing 3 reps at a time, we worked on I three new moves.
First I learned the proper deadlift. I have done deadlifts before, but this is the first time I’ve done them and felt the work in my hamstrings. What Liz pointed out which was different, was that the bar has to start closer to my shins, right above my shoelaces. Then my starting position was to start in an almost half squat position, with my back as straight as I could keep in that lowered position. The motion is simple; I had to drive from the legs pushing my body to an erect position. What was different in technique is that I was trying to focus on keeping the bar at the center of my body.
Second I learned the Sumo Deadlift Upright Pull. Again the starting position is the deadlift, but my feet where in a bit wider stance with my feet flared further than on a regular deadlift, also my hands were inside my knees whereas with just a deadlift my hands sat outside my knees. The motion starts with the drive from my heels again, but it is a more powerful movement, because you are rytting to lift the bar up to your chin. Essentially your legs do all the work with the your hands holding onto the bar as it moves upward.
Sumo Upright Pull Liz
Sumo Upright Pull Lou
The third new motion I learned was the back squat. I have done these with other trainers, but never taught the proper form. The bar started a bit lower on my back, just below the shoulders. I also had to really focus on getting just past parallel. It was great to do a squat and feel like I was doing it correctly, as I really did have to drive my heels into the ground, and use my hamstrings as the starting point for the movement.
After today’s workout I am starting to drink the CrossFit Kool-Aid. I like the theory and philosophy of mixing up short intense cardio workouts, with heavy weights. At the same time I think I still need to perhaps join a boxing gym like LA boxing because I do enjoy the extended cardio workouts. I also believe that the prolonged cardio burn helps to burn my stubborn fat. I realize this contradicts what I wrote yesterday which I had read online form Crossfit and Clarence Bass’s website.
Clarence Bass is probably the baddest 70 year old man out there; if you see pictures of him on his website you wouldn’t think he was older than his late 50’s. He is apparently a guru in the weight lifting community, and reading his posts he is intelligent, and extremely knowledgeable about getting “ripped”. I am reading through many of his posts about weight loss. He’s a believer in doing short intense cardio workouts, say 30 minutes at 80-90% of your anaerobic threshold, also he feels that interval training is the easiest way to achieve those levels in a shorter period of time.
I am going to incorporate more intervals training, to work the intensity level of my cardio, but I still crave extended cardio workouts in the context of something like boxing. I am like everyone else an hour on a machine just plainly sucks. I keep thinking of it as paying my dues to lose weight.
After Crossfit I had lunch with a mentor of mine, who I met through his need to rent a place near a metro station. How often does a tenant become a mentor? He is insightful, and helps turn the lenses of my life in a way that creates focus and clarity. At lunch I had a Skirt Steak salad which was fantastic, with beef purchased from Polyface farms. So my shout out goes to the people of Polyface for producing beef, which not only makes me feel better but just tastes better.
Evening Sessions With Ali
My evening workout session was with Ali today. I introduced Ali to a Metcon workout. He likes it. I told him what I wanted to today and explained to him the principle behind Metabolic Conditioning, I just felt as if I needed a more cardio intense workout, so I told him the format, and he put together the routine.
We started with 15 straight minutes of boxing, it went by so fast I didn’t even realize that ¼ of the session had already passed. So his Metcon routine was simple, first Bosu Mountain Climbers for 1 minute, 1 minute to pull a piece of weight lifting equipment around the gym, 1 minute of assisted push-ups on a rail, 1 minute of step-ups with punching a 10 lb weight, and 1 minute of oblique overhead bar twists. Then I would have 1 minute of rest. I did this circuit 3 times.
Following the third revolution, we did some more boxing. Another solid 15 minutes, incorporating kicks, and I pushed Ali down the aisles of the gym as if he was a football sled. We ended the session with a final 7 exercises each done for 1 minute. The first part included the 5 exercises from his Metcon and 2 exercises he added to make sure I was awake.
I felt like puking on three separate occasions, in fact I could taste the chicken I had before my workout, it was the most intense hour that I’ve had since my last session with Sam in Malibu. It was hard for me to get it together in time to go to my core class. Mentally exhausted is how I felt.
The core class was done outside today because the weather was fantastic. We did quite a bit of work on the TRX, doing planks with your feet in the handles of the TRX. This makes the plank exponentially harder because your legs can’t support much weight. By the end of the core class I was spent. No more fuel left in the tank.
I am extremely happy about all the workouts I have had this week, it feels like I’m firing on all cylinders, and making physical progress, which probably means I’ll end up with another donut for the number of pounds lost this week.