The hard mental game

For so many years, I’ve been focused on the scale. I lose weight easily when I manage my calories. Sure sure, it’s more about insulin – but calories matter. Ultimately, how much ya eat matters.

For me, it mattered that I eat less. In a calorie deficit. If I did that, I lost weight.

But while my first round 12 years ago included CrossFit, this last round starting in 2020 included no structured exercise. Walking the dogs, yes. 1-6 miles/day of walking! I kind of dismiss that as exercise but it’s absolutely the “right” type of cardio for me. But it was mostly diet – and primarily eating 1200 calories/day, which is no longer even a 500 calorie deficit for me.

But now, at 152lbs and 32% body fat, I’m shifting my focus. I still have a bunch of body fat to lose (minimum 7%, goal: 25% BODY FAT), but! I really want to gain muscle. And I’m doing this in a calorie deficit which is hard. Muscles need food to grow. Fat needs less food to go away. It’s hard to do both at once. So I’m lifting heavy things in a big calorie deficit.

Anyway, babble. I blog to babble, really. To think out loud.

Yesterday, I had a really good food day. High protein. Way fewer carbs than a someone who focuses only on building muscle. Definitely fewer calories (someone bulking eats more, not less). And I had a really good fitness day. I posted my fitness routine yesterday, added 2 miles of walking in the evening. This was my nutrition:

A day of eating

And I expected to do what I always do – wake up to my weight being lower on the scale. Instead, I was up a pound.

In the last 2 years of doing this, I haven’t gained weight on such good days – specifically when calories are low and very few highly refined foods and barely any added sugar (the cold cuts are the iffy thing here). On these days I normally lose .2-.4lbs on the scale. Now that’s not all fat, but it’s a consistent pattern of lower numbers.

Today, I was up. Not a small amount: a pound. I’m so close to being in the 140s – I took this one harder. Normally I roll my eyes at the scale each morning. This one hit differently.

But here’s the thing. I also did an hour of weight lifting yesterday morning. In the evening I did an unplanned, random mobility and light strength session that I didn’t even log. Going by my Renpho, which uses impedance, my muscle mass also jumped yesterday – so did my fat. But… so did my muscle mass.

Now, it’s a bit tedious to consider daily movements. I took my first measurements in 2 years yesterday because I know this challenge. Because I know that seeing my weight go up – even after really good food days – is hard on my brain. Even though I know I’m trying to recomp, and that means that the scale is not my best measure – the shift in perspective from “scale victories” is hard.

And today should be a rest day. But the scale did the “wrong” thing. And it’s not the measurements that matter, it’s the work – the good food, the activity -and my body that matters. It’s how I feel, and how this impacts my life in the longer term.

But it’s a hard shift to make after all this time focusing in the stupid scale.

Brains are weird and challenging things sometimes.

Be kind to yourself!

Starting Strong

I felt depressed & anxious earlier today. We started work on a new memory in EMDR yesterday and while I felt great before therapy, I crashed soon after getting home, and that crash had continued into today.

But…. I’ve been generating a plan to end my fasts by lifting heavy things, then having a protein filled meal. I rested this morning, thinking I’d skip it and be lazy. Depression speaking.

So I got off my ass and at 15h50min into my fast, I started lifting heavy things.

1.5 hours later (54 minutes of working out, rest periods, etc.) with my muscles feeling like jello, I broke my fast on this delicious egg scramble w/ smoked salmon. I happened upon Gordon Ramsey’s instructions for making scrambled eggs (in a sauce pan!!) and have been obsessed with scrambled eggs since. Though I don’t use the cream fresh, maybe I’ll try that later.

And 51g of protein in my meal – critical after what I just put my muscles through.

The results: I feel amazing. The workouts were hard but for some reason, I feel more energetic after the first 1-2 sets and feel able to push harder. I don’t feel depressed now, more… curious. What will I do with the rest of the day?

And very proud of myself for pushing through. 💪

But meeting my protein requirements for this plan is very, very hard on “real food” — so I have protein powder and a Magic Bullet blender coming tomorrow. I am planning on a hefty investment of Vitamix, but I am going to start with this $40 thing to make sure I use it regularly. This can do smoothies, the Vitamix can make anabolic ice cream. Smoothies first. Definitely looking forward to making the anabolic ice cream, too.

It’s a good day. So often the day after EMDR feels impossibly hard; but, lifting heavy things is proving very beneficial in helping with the recovery & processing, while feeling “human.”

Fitness goals: a moving target

Me 10 years ago, 25lbs heavier.

This came up on Facebook today, a memory from 10 years ago. hohum. Now, I weigh 25lbs less than I did in this photo.

And I keep going to the plus-size section. Like, not thinking. That’s just…. where I go when I walk into the stores. I don’t read, or look at sizes – I … find myself there. Then have to stop and go somewhere else.

when I look at clothing that will fit me, it looks like it has way too little fabric.

I don’t see the changes in the mirror. I don’t see the changes until I look at old photos.

and this weekend I returned to lifting heavy things (working on progressive overload) and am super sore. I’m still at 33% or something body fat, so it’s a bit early to do a proper body recomposition – but muscle burns fat, so I’m trying to do a combo of cut fat + build muscle. My current goals are to get real muscle definition: not looking to be super bulky to compete, but I want to see real muscles everywhere. Goal right now is 25% body fat, but I’d like to be lower body fat so that any “higher weight” comes from muscles.

Not doing CrossFit – f that. I got into it in 2010, by 2016 it was considered a cult. It’s super dangerous and stupid. I hate racing. I’d rather do slow, heavy lifts with the best possible form. not sure how I thought “speed-Olympic-lifting” could be a safe thing to do, but it did help me without injury for a while – definitely avoiding that trap now, though, that I know better.

Instead, I’m doing this in short, 10-20 min sessions. Usually, ~3 sets of 6-12 reps each, aiming to lift to muscle failure. These are short and intense, and I can do 2-3 a day very easily, on a work break, even. And for now, on my own – but as I lift heavier, I may engage a personal trainer 1x/week. I’m still at a stage where I can make a lot of progress alone.

Not doing any cardio – only what happens when I walk Eclipse or during these strength training sessions.

Enjoying the new routine!