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Newbie Checking in with Numbers!
01-29-2015, 12:42 PM
Post: #1
Newbie Checking in with Numbers!
Hi Everyone!

I've been working my way into EM2WL for a few weeks. After posting in the My Fitness Pal forums, a friend suggested I post here for a little more help figuring out my numbers.

What makes things a little complex for me is that I'm doing a lot of low intensity cardio. I'm a runner and did the Runners World Half Marathon in 2013, but I haven't run in over a year. Before 2013, I'd had over 10 years of trying and failing to get back into running after a knee injury kept me off my high school track team my senior year.

I want to get back into running, but I started the year out of shape after a lot of health issues in 2014. I took Hal Higdon's Aerobic Base Training plan, adapted it for walking, and tweaked the numbers based on how many miles per week my fitness tracker said I'd done the two weeks before I made my plan.

Because of bad weather issues, no gym membership, and having to share one car with my husband, my walking miles are step-based. Based on data from my Garmin Vivosmart, I figured out the average steps I take in a mile (2250). I keep a baseline goal of 10,000 steps a day, and any miles I log are additional. Today is a 2 mile day, so I'm walking a total of 14,500 steps. My walking speed is moderate at 17-20 minutes per mile. I'm just under 5'3", so that's a decent clip for a short girl.

I also added in other low-intensity work to address issues I've had in the past: Pilates, Yoga, and a basic ballet class routine. Each of those addresses similar issues, but in different ways and different areas.

I do strength training using the New Rules of Lifting: Supercharged. I'm on Basic Level 1.

Cutback weeks are scheduled every 5th week, with miles going down by 75%, strength training is dropped, and other workouts are also dialed back.



Here are my stats:

Gender: Female
Age: 31
Height: 5'3" (technically, I'm only 5'2.75")
Weight: 138


Next Week's Training Plan:

Sunday: Rest (10,000 step day)

Monday: 4 mile walk (19,000 step day), Yoga (30 minutes of hatha), ballet (50 minutes)

Tuesday: 3 mile walk (16,750 step day), Pilates (20 minutes, beginner/intermediate), Strength Training (30 minutes, NROL Beginner Level 1)

Wednesday: 4 mile walk (19,000 step day), Yoga (30 minutes hatha), ballet (50 minutes)

Thursday: 2 mile walk (14,500 step day), Pilates (20 minutes, beginner/intermediate), Strength Training (30 minutes, NROL Beginner Level 1)

Friday: Rest (10,000 step day), Yoga (30 minutes of hatha)

Saturday: 6 mile walk (23,500 step day), Pilates (20 minutes, beginner/intermediate).

Note: I do Pilates on my long walk day because I'd find myself going through my Pilates moves while I was stretching, even though I hadn't meant to. It felt like it was what my body needed. Yoga is scheduled on my Friday rest day because it feels like a perfect match for stretching my muscles 24 hours after a strength training session. Same thing as the Pilates - I found myself wanting to do it because of how my body felt.


Nutrition Numbers

BMR: 1310-1312
(Mifflin-St. Jeor puts me as 1310; using Scooby's calculator with MSJ selected, I'm getting 1312)

Activity factor: Based on discussions in the MFP forum, we're currently guessing at 1.9. This was tough to figure out because of the limited definitions for activity factors. I have about 10+ hours of low to moderate intensity exercise. Workouts are scheduled 5-6 days a week. For 5 days a week, I have a lot of workouts going. On my rest days, I still keep that baseline of 10,000 step goal, and those are the days I'm doing more around the house. I stay at home with my 2 year-old son, and our small house has 3 floors, so a day at home involves a lot of stair climbing. But, my workouts are all low-key. In a few weeks, I'll be transitioning into spring training, so the volume of my workouts will go down, but the intensity will go up. In March, I'll transition into a Couch-to-5K program, modified to include cutback weeks.


If the 1.9 activity factor is correct, here are my numbers

TDEE: 2494
10-15% cut: 2120-2244

I have MFP set for 2244 right now. I eat 6 meals a day and try to keep most meals between 350-375 calories (food is weighed for accuracy). My afternoon snack has more calories because I workout during my son's nap, and there is a bigger gap between afternoon snack and dinner. Other than that, I try to keep it consistent. I eat mostly whole foods and don't use a lot of condiments or sauces, but I still love food and have no problem having some ice cream at the end of the day.


Macros: 45% carbs, 25% protein, and 30% fat.

I tweaked that yesterday because 40:30:30 was giving me a really high number for protein (168g) and I was having trouble staying below my carb limit, even though I already eat low carb due to a gluten intolerance. At 45:25:30, my protein goal is 140 grams.


Looking back at my MFP data from earlier this month when I was logging exercise to make sure I would net above my BMR, I was usually around 1900-2200 food calories per day. From late December to mid January, I lost 17.5 pounds. I wasn't crash dieting because I knew about netting above my BMR at that point. The first 10 pounds came off when I wasn't even watching my food intake - I was just moving more.

Right now, my weight is hovering around 137.5-140.5. It's usually right around 138-139 from day to day. I'm okay with it staying there for a while. I know losing 17 pounds in one month was significant for my body and I'm fine giving it time to adjust. I'm actually fine keeping that weight so long as my body composition changes to being healthier. Lately, the tape measure has been showing gradual improvement in my problem areas and my clothes are fitting looser, so that's really encouraging.

I'm trying to figure out the best estimate for my TDEE and cut numbers. Even eating above 2120, I'm still getting very hungry at regular points throughout the day, but I'm not sure how to judge my needs based on the data I have.


Thoughts and suggestions would be very much appreciated!

Thanks,
Michele

"Start by doing what is necessary; Then, do what is possible; Suddenly, you're doing the impossible." - St. Francis of Assisi
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01-29-2015, 03:25 PM
Post: #2
RE: Newbie Checking in with Numbers!
I've already chimed in on MFP (mymodernbabylon) so I'll see what others have to say. But welcome!
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01-29-2015, 05:59 PM
Post: #3
RE: Newbie Checking in with Numbers!
(01-29-2015 03:25 PM)mrsukyankee Wrote:  I've already chimed in on MFP (mymodernbabylon) so I'll see what others have to say. But welcome!

Good to see you here!

"Start by doing what is necessary; Then, do what is possible; Suddenly, you're doing the impossible." - St. Francis of Assisi
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01-30-2015, 08:15 AM (This post was last modified: 01-30-2015 08:19 AM by AnitraSoto.)
Post: #4
RE: Newbie Checking in with Numbers!
First of all welcome! So glad you have found us over here!

Sounds like you have really done your research! In regards to all of the exercise, I am assuming that you are doing it because you really and truly enjoy doing it, because that certainly is a lot of activity (time-wise). If you love it, keep it up, but some of it could be safely eliminated, if you ever feel pressed for time, or like you aren't truly getting enjoyment out of it anymore...

As far as the calculators, remember, they are all just estimates, nothing more. Guesstimates. Every body is different and every body processes food and exercise differently. Although they can give us rough estimates of our daily caloric needs, chances are, we will never be able to dial in exactly on that number... In fact, personally, I feel that the most value in the calculators is getting that first baseline number to use as a guideline. Also, when dealing with people who have trouble comprehending that they need to eat more than 1,000 calories a day, the calculators can help them see it in black and white. It sort of "shocks" them into seeing that they have been under-eating, and that their real caloric requirements are actually much higher..

Otherwise, those calculators just give us estimates. **I am just speaking hypothetically here, and not directing this example at you...** For example, even if you calculated your TDEE to be 2,000 calories, you may not be able to eat 2,000 calories without weight gain due to years of severe caloric restriction Years of under-eating would most likely result in a suppressed metabolism where you were maybe even seeing gains eating 1,000. In this case, the long, slow process of a metabolic re-set would be the best option in order to get the metabolism back up and running to where the calculators are saying you should be... (again, this is an example only..) Just because the calculators say you should be able to eat at 2,000 calories to maintain doesn't necessarily mean that that is the case...

My point in that last paragraph is to drive home the point that calculators can just give us their best estimates, nothing more. The *real* way to find out how your metabolism is running is to test it -- real time. It can be time-consuming, but is by far the most accurate way to figure out the caloric needs of each individual person. It is also a lot less stressful than continually calculating, and second-guessing the calculators, wondering if you are using the right one and why you get different answers from each one...

So, right now, maybe just try to evaluate your situation and "tweak" it to figure out your true TDEE. Eating at your current level, are you losing? If so, then you are certainly eating below TDEE. Gaining? Then most likely over TDEE (or dealing with a suppressed metabolism..) Feeling ravenous? Try eating more.

Personally, I would just look at your current caloric intake. Are you still losing? Maybe try adding 100 calories to your daily intake and continue to monitor. After adding that 100 calories, if you are still losing, then try adding another 100. You can continue to do this slow, methodical increase in intake until you start to see true gains on the scale. At this point, dial it back by 100 calories or so and continue to monitor. By this trial and error method, you should be able to find *your* true TDEE, not one given to you by a calculator (which would only be an estimate anyways...)

Once you have found your true TDEE, then figuring out your 10 or 15% cut is easy peasy... And, you will know that you are eating at the highest level possible prior to taking that cut. When using a calculator, you may still be under-eating, if you are underestimating your exercise and daily activities (which many of us do...)

Absolutely there is value in calculators such as Scooby, and they are perfect for giving us that starting point or initial target intake, but in the end, finding out *your* real numbers often comes down to trial and error. The good thing is that it seems like you are in this for the long haul and have a solid understanding of the whole process. If I were you, I would just put the stress of the calculations behind me and concentrate on your *real life* results... You are doing great!!

Again, welcome! Can't wait to see how you progress!

Anitra Soto
Team EM2WL
ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer
ISSA Certified Specialist in Senior Fitness

My EM2WL Journey: http://eatmore2weighless.com/never-too-old-anitra/
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01-30-2015, 02:16 PM
Post: #5
Big Grin RE: Newbie Checking in with Numbers!
(01-30-2015 08:15 AM)AnitraSoto Wrote:  First of all welcome! So glad you have found us over here!

Sounds like you have really done your research! In regards to all of the exercise, I am assuming that you are doing it because you really and truly enjoy doing it, because that certainly is a lot of activity (time-wise). If you love it, keep it up, but some of it could be safely eliminated, if you ever feel pressed for time, or like you aren't truly getting enjoyment out of it anymore...

As far as the calculators, remember, they are all just estimates, nothing more. Guesstimates. Every body is different and every body processes food and exercise differently. Although they can give us rough estimates of our daily caloric needs, chances are, we will never be able to dial in exactly on that number... In fact, personally, I feel that the most value in the calculators is getting that first baseline number to use as a guideline. Also, when dealing with people who have trouble comprehending that they need to eat more than 1,000 calories a day, the calculators can help them see it in black and white. It sort of "shocks" them into seeing that they have been under-eating, and that their real caloric requirements are actually much higher..

Otherwise, those calculators just give us estimates. **I am just speaking hypothetically here, and not directing this example at you...** For example, even if you calculated your TDEE to be 2,000 calories, you may not be able to eat 2,000 calories without weight gain due to years of severe caloric restriction Years of under-eating would most likely result in a suppressed metabolism where you were maybe even seeing gains eating 1,000. In this case, the long, slow process of a metabolic re-set would be the best option in order to get the metabolism back up and running to where the calculators are saying you should be... (again, this is an example only..) Just because the calculators say you should be able to eat at 2,000 calories to maintain doesn't necessarily mean that that is the case...

My point in that last paragraph is to drive home the point that calculators can just give us their best estimates, nothing more. The *real* way to find out how your metabolism is running is to test it -- real time. It can be time-consuming, but is by far the most accurate way to figure out the caloric needs of each individual person. It is also a lot less stressful than continually calculating, and second-guessing the calculators, wondering if you are using the right one and why you get different answers from each one...

So, right now, maybe just try to evaluate your situation and "tweak" it to figure out your true TDEE. Eating at your current level, are you losing? If so, then you are certainly eating below TDEE. Gaining? Then most likely over TDEE (or dealing with a suppressed metabolism..) Feeling ravenous? Try eating more.

Personally, I would just look at your current caloric intake. Are you still losing? Maybe try adding 100 calories to your daily intake and continue to monitor. After adding that 100 calories, if you are still losing, then try adding another 100. You can continue to do this slow, methodical increase in intake until you start to see true gains on the scale. At this point, dial it back by 100 calories or so and continue to monitor. By this trial and error method, you should be able to find *your* true TDEE, not one given to you by a calculator (which would only be an estimate anyways...)

Once you have found your true TDEE, then figuring out your 10 or 15% cut is easy peasy... And, you will know that you are eating at the highest level possible prior to taking that cut. When using a calculator, you may still be under-eating, if you are underestimating your exercise and daily activities (which many of us do...)

Absolutely there is value in calculators such as Scooby, and they are perfect for giving us that starting point or initial target intake, but in the end, finding out *your* real numbers often comes down to trial and error. The good thing is that it seems like you are in this for the long haul and have a solid understanding of the whole process. If I were you, I would just put the stress of the calculations behind me and concentrate on your *real life* results... You are doing great!!

Again, welcome! Can't wait to see how you progress!

Thank you!! I'm not starting from severe diet deficits, but I am fairly sure that my metabolism has been off for years. I used to have a very healthy, strong metabolism with a lean figure and clear hunger/full signals when I was younger, but I struggled with disordered eating in high school. I wouldn't have qualified for a diagnosis of anorexia, but I started to go down that road. After that, even when I got back to eating "normally", my hunger signals were never the same. It was only after that dark period that I started dealing with weight fluctuations and occasional gains.

Where things are now, I've lost 17.5 pounds since late December. Even though I'm just now figuring out my EM2WL numbers, I know I wasn't eating at a severe deficit when I lost that weight because I knew about keeping my net above my BMR. The first part of my weight loss (first 10 pounds) happened over the holidays when I wasn't even trying to lose weight. I was just moving more because of my new fitness band.

With my current intake, I haven't seen any gains. Things have basically leveled off over the past few weeks, but that only happened after I tripled my protein intake and started strength training. I think my body is adjusting to the new weight and probably packing on muscle. I started this year very out of shape and way too low on protein.

Given how quickly my biceps and abs are shaping up, I'm pretty sure my body is rebuilding. I may actually need to eat more for a while happy

As far as the volume of exercise goes, what I'm doing now is not long term happy I have a high volume of low intensity exercise for now, and I've carefully worked up to that. In a few weeks, I'll switch to a different training plan where I'll dial down the volume and crank up the intensity. Because of my injury history, the idea of my current training plan is to safely build a strong foundation so my body is ready for more intense work later on.

Thanks for your thoughts and encouragement!!
- Michele

"Start by doing what is necessary; Then, do what is possible; Suddenly, you're doing the impossible." - St. Francis of Assisi
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01-30-2015, 03:06 PM (This post was last modified: 01-30-2015 03:08 PM by nineateseven.)
Post: #6
RE: Newbie Checking in with Numbers!
Note: Although I tripled my protein intake a few weeks ago, I lowered my carbs so my calories stayed in the same range. That's right around when my weight loss leveled off. I'm honestly not worried about my weight staying the same because I know weight isn't a sound measure of health. The tape measure is more important to me.

Mostly, I'm checking in with my numbers because I want to make sure I'm headed in the right direction as far as fueling my body properly. There was one commenter on the MFP forum with other spreadsheets who said my TDEE should only be around 1881 because my workouts are low intensity. Two other EM2WL friends on the forum disagreed, and one of those friends PMed me to suggest I visit the forums over here to get a perspective from certified trainers.

I love food (@mrsukyankee can vouch for what is in my MFP diaries!) so I won't have a problem eating more or adding more calorie dense foods to my diet. Happy to. I just don't want to overload or under-fuel my body since it's a little hard for me to judge my activity level with so much low intensity activity.

"Start by doing what is necessary; Then, do what is possible; Suddenly, you're doing the impossible." - St. Francis of Assisi
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02-01-2015, 04:11 AM
Post: #7
RE: Newbie Checking in with Numbers!
Thanks for the update... It really sounds like you are off on the right foot!

Like I said above, finding your true TDEE tends to be a lot of trial and error. Despite all the different calculators and spreadsheets, each person is truly an individual. Like you said in the below comments, it is hard to just activity levels accurately, and even if you are completely accurate, that doesn't mean that your body and your metabolism will act and respond according to the books:

"Mostly, I'm checking in with my numbers because I want to make sure I'm headed in the right direction as far as fueling my body properly. There was one commenter on the MFP forum with other spreadsheets who said my TDEE should only be around 1881 because my workouts are low intensity."

"I just don't want to overload or under-fuel my body since it's a little hard for me to judge my activity level with so much low intensity activity. "

Again, you will probably find that it is a lot of trial and error. Beginning where you are today, tweak your calories up (or down, depending on what phase of the process you might be in) and notice how your body reacts. Take it slow and let your body guide you. Although it was quite some time ago, your past dieting history may have resulted in a suppressed metabolism, and with the gradual addition of calories, this can be reversed. At least you have your calculations to give you a rough idea of where you might/should be, but figuring out if these numbers are accurate for you can be where the challenge is - use them as a guideline and just listen to your body. When in doubt, I always recommend bumping your intake up, rather than down, and truly challenging your metabolism to run at peak levels .... I mean don't we all want to eat more? laughing

You are doing awesome, and can't wait for updates!

Anitra Soto
Team EM2WL
ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer
ISSA Certified Specialist in Senior Fitness

My EM2WL Journey: http://eatmore2weighless.com/never-too-old-anitra/
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02-08-2015, 12:37 PM (This post was last modified: 02-08-2015 12:42 PM by nineateseven.)
Post: #8
RE: Newbie Checking in with Numbers!
(02-01-2015 04:11 AM)AnitraSoto Wrote:  Thanks for the update... It really sounds like you are off on the right foot!

Like I said above, finding your true TDEE tends to be a lot of trial and error. Despite all the different calculators and spreadsheets, each person is truly an individual. Like you said in the below comments, it is hard to just activity levels accurately, and even if you are completely accurate, that doesn't mean that your body and your metabolism will act and respond according to the books:

"Mostly, I'm checking in with my numbers because I want to make sure I'm headed in the right direction as far as fueling my body properly. There was one commenter on the MFP forum with other spreadsheets who said my TDEE should only be around 1881 because my workouts are low intensity."

"I just don't want to overload or under-fuel my body since it's a little hard for me to judge my activity level with so much low intensity activity. "

Again, you will probably find that it is a lot of trial and error. Beginning where you are today, tweak your calories up (or down, depending on what phase of the process you might be in) and notice how your body reacts. Take it slow and let your body guide you. Although it was quite some time ago, your past dieting history may have resulted in a suppressed metabolism, and with the gradual addition of calories, this can be reversed. At least you have your calculations to give you a rough idea of where you might/should be, but figuring out if these numbers are accurate for you can be where the challenge is - use them as a guideline and just listen to your body. When in doubt, I always recommend bumping your intake up, rather than down, and truly challenging your metabolism to run at peak levels .... I mean don't we all want to eat more? laughing

You are doing awesome, and can't wait for updates!

Thanks! I went with a goal of 2400 calories last week and tried to make sure I didn't go more than 200 under that. Last week was kind of tough because some of the old disordered eating thought patterns kicked up into high gear again. That's always a danger when I try to lose weight, and I've had to cut short a lot of my previous efforts because I got too close to going over the edge and had to walk away to keep myself safe. But I know I need to find a way to get my body to a healthier composition because the reality of where my body has been in the past few years was triggering unhealthy thought patterns, too. With a weight of 155 at a doctor's appointment in mid December, my BMI was 27.5 and I was solidly in the "overweight" category. God bless my doctor because he's never talked about my weight at any appointment, but just seeing that number was triggering. On the other hand, with my metabolism revving up again I'm feeling hungry more often and that's triggering. rolling eyes A big part of the unhealthy thought patterns I dealt with revolved around associating hunger with being mentally strong. It's not even a voluntary association. It just happens when I get too hungry where my mind suddenly switches from, "Eat food now!" to, "You know, most people can't handle being hungry, but if you can, that must mean you're tough. You don't really need to eat... and you know that means you'll lose weight." d'oh I hate that, but it's where my mind goes and I have to actively fight back.

I was able to reach out to a few friends on MFP to ask them to keep an eye on my food diary and told my husband so he could hold me accountable in person. Kept my calories closer to where they needed to be, and had great results at the end of the week!

Weight was at 138 (within my normal fluctuation), and I'd lost half an inch in my trouble spots. The best part was that this past week was a cutback week with my workouts. That meant I was eating more calories and working out at a level that would have made my TDEE much lower. My weight was stable and my measurements went down! That was such an amazing thing to see. I think that combined with all of the encouragement I've been getting from EM2WL friends is really going to help me breakthrough some of the mental obstacles I've dealt with before.

This coming week, I'm starting my next training phase which focuses on strength and speed: 3 days with a half hour of strength training (New Rules of Lifting) and 2 days with a half hour of fun, high speed cardio like Zumba. I'll still keep two rest days and will continue with my Pilates, Yoga, and Ballet - all at low intensity, and only because my body feels so refreshed after those workouts. I've got 3 weeks of that planned before my next cutback (easy workouts only and no strength training).

I'm planning to go up to my full (estimated) TDEE for those 3 weeks. I'll keep an eye on the scale and pay attention to my hunger signals. If I'm feeling hungry, I'll eat. Unless I see a major gain, I'm not planning to reduce calories during those 3 weeks.

Thank you so much for your advice and encouragement!
- Michele

"Start by doing what is necessary; Then, do what is possible; Suddenly, you're doing the impossible." - St. Francis of Assisi
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02-09-2015, 10:58 AM
Post: #9
RE: Newbie Checking in with Numbers!
How awesome is this??! Fantastic update! I am sure your body is loving being fueled properly, and your positive results mean less stress. Less stress is a good thing!! Love it ... keep up the fabulous work!

Anitra Soto
Team EM2WL
ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer
ISSA Certified Specialist in Senior Fitness

My EM2WL Journey: http://eatmore2weighless.com/never-too-old-anitra/
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02-10-2015, 05:12 AM
Post: #10
RE: Newbie Checking in with Numbers!
Yay you! I love seeing your progress on here and MFP. You're rocking it despite the mental mind@£$£ that comes with an ED background. You can do this!
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