Yesterday was my 80th consecutive day logging in and tracking my food with My Fitness Pal. It's been an interesting almost-three months. I am not sure I could ever go back to counting points or carbs or any of the other things I've done in the past to try to lose weight. I've learned a lot already in that short time, but still, things have stalled. At first I tried to ride it out - I was adjusting, I'd had a bad day here or there, I was bloated, I weigh myself too much, etc etc. All true, of course, but still just symptoms of a bigger problem. After going into serious research mode recently, I kept coming back to a scary truth: my metabolism is kind of fucked up. I continued to try to push through it, but I have run out of patience.
Extreme restriction is not the answer. It's tempting, it's my old faithful. But it doesn't work. I believe that the body is a machine which needs fuel to perform - be it pumping blood or thinking or taking the stairs or running. In fact, the cycle of binge-restrict I have lived in for well over half my life is likely what caused the issue in the first place. My body simply doesn't know what I want it to do anymore, so it hasn't been doing anything.
I came across a group on MFP called Eat More to Weigh Less. I've been reading just about everything I can find about it. The basic idea is that I need to reset my metabolism by upping my calorie intake for a few weeks and then cut back down from there. It's absolute terrifying, but I feel I have to try it. Ever since joining MFP I've heard about the benefits calorie-upping, and using your BMR and TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) to calculate your daily intake (as opposed to a somewhat arbitrary assigned number). I've been reluctant to try it, convinced that I could just keep going and power through this plateau. But after 80 days and still feeling stuck, it's time to take the leap. I feel a little like I am closing my eyes and stepping off a cliff, but you've got to have faith. After years and years of harming myself for the sake of the skinny, I am willing to try just about anything ... at least anything healthy.
This post in particular resonated with me. They may as well have been sitting in my living room and talking directly to me. I had tears in my eyes reading it, and that's what pushed me over the ledge. What's the worst that can happen? I continue to maintain? Well, I'm doing that already. I gain a little? Been there before. It's incredibly scary, and it goes against everything that's ever been drilled into me about dieting and losing weight, but I feel compelled to at least try it.
There was this, especially ...
*If you've been a low cal "binge-er" (eating low cals for an extended period of time, then having a "binge" ever so often in moments of "weakness"), then expect your body to react negatively at first. It will assume that this is just another one of your "binges" and that "starvation" is just around the corner, thus the desire to hold on to everything that comes through. Once it senses that it will receive regular feedings, it will react accordingly by actually letting go. Remember, your body does not give a darn about your "weight loss" goals. It has one goal- survival. It's up to you to convince it that you're on the same team, and it will stop fighting you.I mean holy crap. I've been living that cycle for as long as I can remember, even to the extreme of an eating disorder. I've been my own worst enemy, even when I've had the best of intentions. I've never been very good at losing weight (even though I really get the principles behind it), and it all fell into place as to why. I need a reset.
My TDEE seems huge: 2570 calories. Pardon me while I pass out from shock. I feel better knowing that it includes 3-5 days of exercise a week, but the number still blows my mind a little. I was able to get close to it yesterday, but only because of a really heavy dinner (thanks, frozen pizza). I can already tell that it will take planning to get to where I need to be, but that doesn't really phase me. Truth be told, I am just as excited about this as I am nervous. It's fear of the unknown, since it's a total paradigm switch, but at the same time it opens a door on a whole new opportunity.
It's an easy assumption assumption to make that I will only be able to consume such a seemingly high amount by falling back on bad bingey habits, but in reality for this to work I still have to focus on cleaner, less processed foods. Lean protein, healthy fats, whole grains. Sound familair? It doesn't mean I am going back to the days of Taco Bell and whole bottles of wine. It's not a free pass. I might be eating more, but I will have to eat well. The best part about this is that it gives me the freedom to really experiment with everything I've researched and learned over the years about clean, whole that have been really difficult to fit into a low-calorie diet.
It's more than a little scary, no lie, but the excitement is winning out. I am fully expected to see at least a small gain in the initial weeks, but then it should level out again. I am okay with this. Considering I haven't seen much movement in either direction for a couple of months, 8 more weeks of maintenance (which I am actually controlling instead of just muddling through) doesn't seem like too much of a challenge. Worst case, nothing happens. I try something else. Best case, I whip my metabolism into shape and I can move on with the rest of my life. What's eight weeks in the course of a lifestyle? Goodbye diets. I can't claim I am on one anymore. 2500+ calories a day shoves that idea right out the window.
Here's to trying something that scares me. But at the same time, I am more excited to take on this challenge than I have been about my WLJ in a really long time. I am feeling inspired, and that's just fantastic. Keep those fingers and toes crossed for me!