08/07/2011 Official Weigh In

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  1. Reveling in the win and thanking James G for an awesome “last chance workout”.
    Lou, are you sure being this obsessive and weighing daily is good for you? (I admit, I have been obsessing too and usually check mid-week).

  2. Okay Louis, I have been reading your blog for the last few weeks and thinking about commenting. I’ve been thinking to myself who the hell am I to tell you what to do or think. But over the last 10 years, I have struggled myself with many of the battles you are facing. Although I am a stranger, sometimes you need an outside perspective to pull you through. I will give you my story and background below for reference but this is really about you.
    That said I am going to be as blunt as you are and call it as I see it. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and get your head out of your ass. By all accounts you are a success. Success is not measured by your daily weight and weight loss. If it was you would need to be on Prozac to keep a level head. Success is all aspects of your life on the whole and from your blog you have nothing to complain about. Now no more pity party and let’s look at this with a positive attitude and I will explain what is going on with you.
    My Story
    In 1999 I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I was on the high side of a weight lifting cycle around 260 with my normal weight between 210-220 (think 5’11” running back, solid great shape). I ate my way through chemo and radiation to end up in the 320 range when my treatments where over. On my 1 year post treatment checkup, I weighed in at 370. Did I mention that I went back to working out 6 days a week 2-3 hours a day? On review, they determined that they radiated my thyroid and put me on a thyroid replacement medicine. This was follow by a 500 calorie liquid diet which took me to 310 in 2 months. Restricted calorie rapid weight loss diet, it doesn’t get any worse to screw up your metabolism. Two months later at 298, I started to eat solid food. A month after that I was 315, a month later 330. 330 has been the bane of my existence for the last 10 years. Weight loss for me isn’t effort or will power. I find both of those relatively easy.
    Over the past 10 years, I have tried most diets. Weight watchers with my wife, biggest loser materials, personal trainers, and 20/20 at the ProClub in Seattle. 20/20 was the best as it reminded me of what you did at Fitness Ridge but in your everyday life. It is a 15 week program with an additional 12 week of maintenance where you work with a doctor, a nutritionist, physiologist and trainer 3 times a week. Even with all the support and structure I initially lost 30 pounds and then slowly put it back on by the end of the maintenance period. That was 7 years ago. In the 7 years since 20/20, I have worked out at the ProClub and stayed in contact with Dr Perkins. I am in there so much working out, playing basketball and taking the kids to their games, I have become friend with a lot of the people who work there.
    Last September I decided that I had had enough. Everything around me kept saying that it was just will power and effort. If that is all it is then, screw it why am I still fat after 10 years! Damn it, I am going to lose the weight. I cut my calories to 1200-1400/day (which you know can seem like next to nothing…) and increased my workouts to 4+ hours 6 days a week. I got down to 310 and broke my foot in October. Over the next few months, I ballooned up to 357 pounds. That was February 2011. My foot didn’t heal, I was told to stop walking on, just shut it down. I was still flabbergasted on how I put on 47 pounds in just a few months of inactivity especially since I was carefully watching my calories and worked to very rarely exceed by BMR of 2600 calories/day. Theoretically putting on 47 pounds without exceeded my BMR seemed impossible. I learned later that it is very possible. My understanding of the laws of metabolism was wrong.
    In March, I finally got the boot off my foot. The doc said the foot is not quite healed, gave me a bone stimulator and said if you can take the pain, go ahead and work out. Best case the stimulator works and the bone heals. Worst case you break the foot completely and we will put a pin in it. In any event if the foot doesn’t heal, the doctor would have to break the foot, put a pin in it and I would be non-weight bearing for 12-14 weeks. In May the bone eventually healed without surgery.
    From the time I started to work out again to the end of April I went from 357 to 310. I followed a Fitness Ridge type program of 1800 or less calories with 5-6 hours of exercise a day. I did the same thing for May and ended up 310 pounds on June 1st. While I was up at PT for planter fasciitis, I ran into Dr Perkins. I told him I was stuck at 310. He was stumped as well. Since getting to really know me over the past 7 years, he came to the conclusion that something was wrong. He referred me to a metabolism/endocrinologist specialist at the University of Washington who had just given a talk he attended, Dr. Anthony DeSantis.
    It took me a few weeks to get into see Dr DeSantis but when I did he explained what was going on with my body. It doesn’t change anything in the past but it gives me ammunition to fight my mind when things don’t go as planned and helped me build a plan to keep the weight loss moving. In general he updated my understanding of weight loss and helped me understand why I (and others) struggle at time to lose weight. Today I fluctuate daily between 288-294. My weight is probably 291 +- 3 pounds. Salt, training/weight lifting, food digestion and stress can all change my weight on a daily basis. I am going for 2-4 pounds loss a week but I am being careful not to shut down my system. See below….
    The rules of weight loss
    The laws of Thermodynamics rule. Calories in – calories burned = net loss or gain. It is really that simple, you can’t fight the laws of physics. It is the application of calories in and out that is complicated.
    The so called fast metabolism
    It doesn’t exist. Remember you can’t fight the laws. Understanding that you need to burn a calorie of energy if you expend one, everyone’s output is the same. That said you need to look at the other side of the equation to understand what is going on. The calories in are the key. A so called fast metabolism person is really a poor digestion person. The person who eats 4000 calories a day, who never works out and never gets fat, is genetically a weak digestive person. Of those 4000 calories she/he probably only processes 2000-2500 calories and the rest pass unprocessed/undigested. This is like the sensa/alli medicine which claims to chemically bond to the food so it passes harmlessly through your body. The “fast metabolism” person does this naturally and in time of famine will starve. People like you and I eat the 4000 calories and immediately store all 4000 for future use. Let’s pray for famine, the fast metabolism people really bug me.
    BMR, Basic Metabolic Rate and your Set Point
    Did you know your BMR fluctuates massively and it is controlled in part by your set point? I have been tested two times and I thought that my BMR was 2600 calories/day and based upon general understanding that is what it is. What do I mean by your BMR is controlled impart by your set point? Let’s take my most recent 10 year history. Over those 10 years (which I have tracked my weight) my set point is around 330 pounds. When I am above 330, the weight comes off easily. When I am below, the plateaus can be tumultuous. What is happening? My digestive system hasn’t changed above or below 300 pounds; I still get the full 100 calories from a 100 calorie apple. It still takes me 1 calorie to burn/expend 1 calorie of energy. So following the laws of thermodynamics if I am eating 1800 calories and burning 2000 calories from exercise above and below 330 pounds the only thing that can change is my BMR. Per Dr DeSantis my BMR can drop as low as 500-600 calories or rise to 3500-4000 calories based upon my distance from my set point and the external factors I will discuss below. This change in your BMR is one of the primary causes of the weight loss plateau or “fast regain” when you are working to lose weight. Think about this; assume a BMR of 2500, if you are around your set point and you eat 2500 calories and don’t exercise you will stay even. If you lose 30 pounds from your set point in a month, you eat 2500 calories; you burn an extra 2000 calories through exercise, you will stay even as your BMR will probably be hovering around 500-600. Lucky you, in the latter case, if you take a day off from exercising you can put on a close to a pound eating the restricted diet.
    Strategies
    What can you do to help keep your BMR as high as it can be? There are some basic thoughts but in all circumstances you have understand that working through plateaus are a necessary evil to lowering your set point over the long haul. Your body strives for constancy; it doesn’t like big change and will fight to avoid it. I have been reading your blog and you have a lot of strategies, on food and conditioning. I am going to focus on breaking through the plateau. They claim it takes 2 years at a set weight to completely reset your set point. As you are trying to lose massive amounts of weight that just isn’t going to happen.
    For me (remember I have been working out 4-5 hours/day…sound familiar),
    • the doctor tripled my thyroid medicine- no one knows what my thyroid level was before I had cancer but the amount of replacement therapy I was on was considered almost placebo. My number was around 3.5 and rising yearly. He want to bring it down under 1.0.
    • they told me to do less aerobics- I have to break the cycle in which my body thinks that it is continually looking for food. I am doing so much low impact aerobics, my body thinks that food is scarce. Change to more interval training and sub some aerobics for weight lifting
    • increase my weight lifting – two fold, do more anaerobic activities which makes the body think that food is plentiful and more muscle mass increases the “normal” BMR. Note: through body scans I have over 200lb of lean mass.
    • vary my calorie intake – keep the body guessing. Don’t be afraid to hit 2800 healthy calories on high exercise days. Take in extra protein on lifting days. Don’t go crazy, keep to 1800 in general but mix it up.
    • Get food in the system first thing in the morning. You know this one, start the furnace. If you have to hunt for food before you eat in the morning, you are telling your body to drop your BMR and conserve energy.
    • Keep the calorie deficit in check – don’t run too much of a deficit. If you do you will shut down your BMR. Remember if you are burning too much through “distance type” aerobics, your BMR will drop to save the energy for hunting for food.
    • Rest your body – when you feel like you are breaking down and not getting stronger, back off. Your body is shutting down, lowering your BMR and trying to conserve energy as opposed to repairing itself. Eat a little more for a day or so, back off the aerobics, do some intervals or just veg out…them come back with a vengeance
    A couple of other thoughts on fluctuations; the bigger you are the bigger the fluctuations. The food you eat can have a major effect. You can hold 2-3 pounds of water based upon the overall sodium content of what you ate. You can hold 2-3 pounds in your digestive tract. When you are doing anaerobic activities you can gain 2-3 pounds of blood (lifting weights can increase your blood mass/volume temporarily which can come and go and last for a few days at a time). High stress can shut down your BMR which you can see will cause your to have a calorie balance in the wrong direction. On days of heavy aerobics you lose a lot of salt and show a water weight loss, your body will over correct itself in a yo-yo effect and gain back the water loss and a little more for next time. Bottom line is don’t get caught up in daily or even weekly fluctuations.
    Remember you will run into plateaus. You have to fake your body through them. For lack of a better analogy, think P90X muscle confusion crap. Keep changing it up on your body. I am no expert but I have been searching for the last 10 years. Logic and the laws of physics/thermodynamics along with a leading metabolic researcher seem to make sense. I will let you know how this works out but I am through searching for answers right now. I am going to prove the doc’s hypothesis one way or another. All the time remembering, the doc has proof and he has seen plateaus last for weeks. You just have to attack them and outlast them like everything else.
    Good luck skinny
    Joe

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