Posted by: draknor | May 22, 2012

Crash Diet: Day 1 (& Weekend Review)

The “crash diet” has begun! (for context, see this post).

But first, my extreme weekend of running.  I did a 20 mile race Saturday morning.  Now, if you’ve read some of my previous posts, you know I’m no stranger to distance races. In fact, this is the third year I’ve run this specific race.  But yet this year was my worst.  Yes, it was hot (hit mid-80s by mid-morning). No, there’s little shade on the course & there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  But more than anything, my heart wasn’t in it.  I didn’t really “show up” for the race.  I couldn’t “dig deep” to find the motivation to keep running.

I stopped running, and my body was like “Uh, what’s going on?”

It’s true — my body was in fine condition to keep running.  Sure, I had some tightness in the hips and glutes, but by mile 10 or 11 my body knows what’s going on and is used to it.  I had no injury, no cramping, nothing to slow me down.  Except my mind.  I basically sort of gave up — even considered aborting completely & just giving up.  I go through those kind of mental waves when I run long, hard distances like these — but this time, I couldn’t rise above it.  By mile 12 I was walking, and I didn’t stop walking until mile 19.  My legs had the energy to keep running, my cardio was well under limits, but psychologically I just couldn’t push myself.

And I was okay with that.

The truth is, it had been kind of a busy week, mentally & psychologically.  Emotionally, too — I had a tough, but good, conversation with my girlfriend right before the run, after going to bed the night before angry & frustrated.  I want to say that’s never a good idea, but sometimes it is — hard to resolve issues when you are mad AND exhausted!

And so I finished in 4:08:20 — worse than the first time I ran the race. But I finished.  I made the decision that I would finish the race, walking the rest of it, and I did it.  And I’m satisfied with that.

Sunday was much more fun — friends & I did a 5 mile “mud run”, which consisted of 12 obstacles throughout the course, including a giant mud pit at the end.  I took to that pit with gusto — I need to post my picture later because I looked pretty amazing, covered in mud head-to-toe!

That also reinforced something — running with people is much more fun & enjoyable than running alone.  You support each other and you keep each other going.  Much harder to give up or give in when you have a team.  And I think that’s true for life, as well.

Anyway, important side-note here — anyone that is just doing cardio to lose weight, or is just using the scale to gauge results, is wasting their time.  My heart-rate monitor says I burned 3500 calories on Saturday, and 900 calories on Sunday.  My scale weight:

  • Saturday morning: 198 lbs
  • Saturday afternoon (post 20 mile run): 194 lbs
  • Monday morning: 200 lbs

Two important take-aways from this:

  1. Scale weight is useless in the short-term.  I did NOT burn 4 lbs of fat doing the 20 mile run, but I did lose a LOT of water. And given my weight Monday morning, I re-hydrated all of it & then some over Saturday night & Sunday.
  2. Cardio alone is a waste of time for burning fat.  I ran for 4+ HOURS on Saturday, and burned 3500 calories (which is approx the energy-equivalent of 1 lb of fat).  If I was trying to lose 16 lbs via cardio alone, that would be 16 weeks of running 4 brutal hours every weekend – and that’s assuming that I actually burned 1lb of fat somewhere in that +- 6lb weight fluctuation.  And hope I don’t injure myself.

So if cardio isn’t enough, let’s check in with my first day of my crash diet.

I had aspirations of doing all my meal-planning & shopping on Sunday, but after two days of heavy exertion, all I wanted to do was lay on the sofa & watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer — so I did 🙂  So Monday morning I sat down to figure out the numbers:

  • Daily protein goal: 200 g
  • Assuming I eat 4 meals / day, that’s 50 g of protein per meal
  • Along with fibrous vegetables, my daily calorie goal is 800-1000 calories / day.

My one regret is that I wasn’t tracking my diet in the week or two prior to starting, but I feel safe to say I was probably in the 2000-2500 calories/day range.  And probably ~100-150 g protein / day.  So now I need to not only eat about half as much food in total, but about twice as much protein.  Since the goal is to keep total calories down, avoiding fat is also critical.

Put simply, there is NOT a wide variety of lean protein sources.  My meals are going to be pretty predictable for the next couple of weeks.  Breakfast will be egg whites w/ spinach (or some vegetable), fat-free cheese, salsa, and cottage cheese on the side.  For the rest of my meals, I picked up a bunch of chicken breasts, lean red meat, fish, and vegetables for salads or stir-fry.

Eating out will be a challenge, since there are very few no-carb options.  Yesterday for lunch I had a Med Salad with two chicken breasts, and no pasta, at Noodles & Co.  It was good, but higher in fat than desired (and I don’t know exactly how many carbs, because their nutrition facts don’t split out the pasta separately).  I had a late dinner yesterday at Qdoba – a naked taco salad with steak.  Again, too high in fat when I added cheese & sour cream, but also I knew I wasn’t going to get a 4th meal in.

And that’s my other challenge — historically, getting 3 meals in a day in was a challenge & didn’t happen regularly.  So 4 meals @ 50 g protein / each, or 3 meals @ 66 g protein / each, is going to be difficult.  Not impossible, but something I will definitely have to work on.

Otherwise, I felt pretty fine yesterday — a bit hungry in the afternoon since breakfast was light (hadn’t gone shopping yet), and the Med Salad w/ 2x chicken really didn’t fill me up like I expected.  I went to a networking event and had to pass up cupcakes & pizza & free beer — actually not as difficult as I expected.  Disappointing, because I love those things, despite being a bit hungry, I wasn’t really tempted to partake.

I did notice a low-grade headache forming by evening — I suspect this is due to not eating carbs, and my brain chemistry starting to switch to ketosis (where it burns ketones from fat cells rather than sugar from carbs).  I remember this discomfort from the last time I experimented with no/low-carb last year. The key is to keep drinking plenty of fluids, so I’m carrying my water bottle with me all the time now.

I weighed in this morning (Tuesday, day 2) at 197.2.  Not a meaningful result yet, considering that I’m down 3 lbs from yesterday, but I had a 6 lb swing on Saturday (198 => 194 => 200).  I’m still really just dealing with water weight fluctuation at this stage of the game.

I’ll keep posting updates every few days.  I took “before” pictures yesterday and hope to get those up soon too!