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hi guys! i've got some questions that i'm hoping y'all can help me figure out.

a little about me: female, 5 foot 2, 116-ish lbs. currently eating a caloric deficit of 1300-1400 calories a day, exercising 7-13 times per week.
i started working out and eating healthily a little less than a year ago. it was really slow progress at first because, honestly, i didn't know shit. but i learned a lot and lost a bunch of weight, making significant progress towards my goal of 19% body fat. [i started at 30% and dropped down to 24-ish%, where i currently still am.] during that time, i became much stronger than ever before, and i feel that i can handle a pretty decent amount of physical activity. however, since that initial drop, i've leveled out and stopped progressing. i've gotten bored with my diet and my workout routine, and i'm looking to mix things up. which is where you come in!

here's what i'm thinking:
M/W/F - Viking workout in the morning [http://neilarey.com/workouts/vikings-workout.html], climber's workout OR a trip to the climbing gym in the evening, jogging program [http://neilarey.com/running/the-long-run.html] thrown in there where ever it'll fit.
T/Th and Sat/Sun - jogging program, maybe with a few trips to the rock climbing gym or a day of swimming at the lake added to the mix on an irregular basis.

the intermittent fasting would mean no food between noon and 9PM, and i would eat more on M/W/F than the rest of the week, as well having the macros broken up differently. [obviously more protein and carbs on heavy workout days, stuff like that.]

what do you think? what kind of calorie count do you think i should take on? what would an ideal macro break-down look like? i'm not too worried about it being too much exercise, but i am worried about not hitting that food target just right. it seems that i'll be doing really well with eating my deficit, but then i'll go crazy eating sweets and pasta and stuff, and i think it might be because my body isn't getting enough of what it needs, so it rebells. thoughts?

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level 4 elf ranger
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I'd definitely try focusing on eating more whole/unprocessed foods before you worry too much about the timing of the meals. IF can leave you feeling really hungry at first. In terms of numbers, I'm concerned that with the sheer amount of workouts involved in your days, you might actually be eating too little. How long are your workouts generally? Is there any reason you're working out so much?

 

I'm afraid to offer you a good number to aim for in terms of fat/carbs/protein, so I'll leave that for those who understand the macros better.

 

19% bodyfat is a great goal to have and I'm sure you'll bust through eventually, but I think you might want to add some weight training in there when you can. Can you make any of the bodyweight workouts involve weights (freeweights or even just holding a jug of water to begin with)?

Pixie Ranger Drunk on Tea~ (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧

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Hey mevre -- your question is actually a really complicated one, because if you're eating at that type of deficit and plateaued, it sounds like you've probably really burned out your metabolism.  And fixing it is going to be a long, slow process, and you're probably not going to enjoy how slowly it's going to have to happen.

 

I would recommend two resources for you:

1) Precision Nutrition's Guide to Fasting -- because more is not necessarily better in this area, and this resource will explain a lot.

2) Biolayne's videos on metabolic damage -- start at the bottom and work your way up

 

If you still have questions afterwards, ping this thread or PM me and I'm happy to chat more. :)

You gotta experiment to find out what works for you.
PM me with any questions about, well, anything! :)
Current challenge: Catspaw Starts Strong

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thanks guys! good stuff to think about.



Ceasefire - the reason for the number of workouts is simply because i want to. i enjoy them and i like feeling active, especially now that i have a desk job. however, the workouts i do are usually pretty dang short: generally no more than 20 minutes each.

also, i've been doing IF for quite a while now, and been eating almost zero processed anything for even longer. but i'll take a closer look at the days of lazy eating and see what's going on, just to be sure.

and yes, i could add weights to my workouts, i just really don't want to. i sort of hate using them in general... though, maybe i could learn to love them like i did with running... i dunno. will have to try that out and get back to you. this brings to mind another question, though. after reading Steve's articles for some time, i became under the impression [and am still under the impression] that fat loss can happen with any kind of workout, and you don't have to use weights. is that not accurate?



catspaw - the workouts i do are one Tabata HIIT session every morning [alternating sprints and burpees from day to day] and a 15-ish minute bodyweight routine OR a trip to the climbing gym in the afternoon, sometimes with a 5-10 minute easy jog thrown in, and only a jog or two on the weekends. so the caloric deficit i've been at has been much more sustainable than what it might have initially sounded like. i've been consistently eating 500 calories fewer than my BMR every day, or eating more and approaching my BMR more closely. basically, i lost a little bit, and then lost interest in my workout and diet, which i think is the reason i've stayed at the same place: i don't care to push myself anymore. at least not with the particular tools i have been using. so having said all that, i don't think i've burned my metabolism out [at least i hope i haven't!] what do you think? and if you agree that i haven't burned it out, do you have any advice or ideas about where to go from here?


thanks again, you two. i really appreciate you taking the time to help me out!

level 4 elf ranger
STR | 6    DEX | 5    STA | 6    CON | 4    WIS | 4    CHA | 8

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i've been consistently eating 500 calories fewer than my BMR every day, or eating more and approaching my BMR more closely. basically, i lost a little bit, and then lost interest in my workout and diet, which i think is the reason i've stayed at the same place: i don't care to push myself anymore. at least not with the particular tools i have been using. so having said all that, i don't think i've burned my metabolism out [at least i hope i haven't!] what do you think? and if you agree that i haven't burned it out, do you have any advice or ideas about where to go from here?

If you want to lose fat, you need to eat less or burn more.  There's really no choice in there.

 

You can do this in a variety of ways, from counting calories, to eat-less tricks (low carb, low fat, only very satiating foods, IF, etc.), to adding additional activity during your day.

 

You don't have to have a 500 calorie/day deficit, but you need some deficit.  Go at a slower deficit if that works better for you.

 

Don't trust online BMR calculators.  They're just a starting estimate.  Begin there and see what happens and then adjust as necessary.  If you're not losing, eat less.  If you're losing too fast, you can eat more.  It's going to take some experimentation.

 

But you can't get around the fact that you need to either eat less or burn more.

You gotta experiment to find out what works for you.
PM me with any questions about, well, anything! :)
Current challenge: Catspaw Starts Strong

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I also want to say that this gets harder and harder the leaner you get.  Especially because you are female.  Our bodies just don't want us to let go of the fat.  So you should think about how much you want this goal, versus what it might take to get there.

You gotta experiment to find out what works for you.
PM me with any questions about, well, anything! :)
Current challenge: Catspaw Starts Strong

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stupid female body! bein' all fertility goddess when i want it to be all elf-archer...  *sigh

so, deficit. got it. aggressive deficit, even [if i'm hearing you right]. well, my first thought is to be a little scared because of a sort of close-call experience i had. if i get my body in the habit of not eating a ton, i tend to never get hungry. so at one point when i was first getting into fitness, i had several days where my caloric intake was in the mid 100's. this was a big wakeup call once i realized how bad news that would be long-term, and i've always been on the side of eating too much since then. so i don't think a little aggression towards my deficit will be a bad thing for now. but i will have to be careful.

when you say "what it might take to get there," are you referring to an unshakable dedication to cutting calories and working out? or is there more to it that i'm not considering? [mental or emotional roadblocks, weird physical quirks that turn up when ladies are getting lean, anything like that?]

level 4 elf ranger
STR | 6    DEX | 5    STA | 6    CON | 4    WIS | 4    CHA | 8

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so, deficit. got it. aggressive deficit, even [if i'm hearing you right].

Nope, not saying that. You have to figure out the deficit that works for you. Too aggressive and you kill metabolism.

 

when you say "what it might take to get there," are you referring to an unshakable dedication to cutting calories and working out? or is there more to it that i'm not considering? [mental or emotional roadblocks, weird physical quirks that turn up when ladies are getting lean, anything like that?]

The leaner you get, the harder motivation will be.  Your body will start producing hormones to tell you that you are HUNGRY.  And compliance will get hard.

 

Also some females find their bodies stop behaving well as they get sub-20%: lose their periods, sex drive, can cause depression, etc.  But basically you have to be more and more on "point" as you get lean: the amount of food you ingest has to be more "perfect" and this is a whole other bag of issues especially if you already come from a history of food issues.

 

Most specifically, you have to accept that this will take a lot of time to do right and sustainably.  This is not a "quickly strip off fat and then life'll be easy" thing.

You gotta experiment to find out what works for you.
PM me with any questions about, well, anything! :)
Current challenge: Catspaw Starts Strong

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interesting. have you personally had any of these problems, catspaw? Ceasefire, what about you? i remember reading in one of your threads that you got down to 19% bf. was it extremely difficult for you? what was your experience like? i know that this journey will vary a lot from person to person, i'm just mostly curious.

level 4 elf ranger
STR | 6    DEX | 5    STA | 6    CON | 4    WIS | 4    CHA | 8

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MEVRE! While I do not know much about the way women's bodies react as they get leaner I do know that I can provide support and wish you luck.
Your choice of workouts down sound bad at all, the viking workout actually looks pretty interesting. I still am here to clasp my hand on your shoulder and shout like Mikey from Rocky.
"YOU CAN DO IT, MEVRE! DON'T LET ME SEE YOU GIVE UP OR YOU'LL GET A KNUCKLE SANDWHICH!" Or something to that effect.

I too have problems with plateaues so I can understand the frustration, though I'm pretty sure everyone on this site understands your frustration. Alas, we are all here to assist in any manner we can.
Stay strong, Mevre. I look forward to hearing about your progress.

Stay rebellious, Nerds!

Cin vhetin. Ca'nara at am, vod!

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thanks KoL! the viking workout has been a lot of fun so far! and surprisingly, so has the long run program. [and of course i love the climber's workout.] my life is in a weird limbo right now, where i'm sort of poised for change, but the change isn't quite here yet. so that makes it a little tricky to juggle good eating and consistent exercise. but for the most part i'm figuring it out. anyway, yes. thanks again for finding me and giving me some much-needed encouragement!

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level 4 elf ranger
STR | 6    DEX | 5    STA | 6    CON | 4    WIS | 4    CHA | 8

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Catspaw has given some great advice. I'd like to add on, because I'm nosy like that.

 

My opinion (and this is just something to think about) is that you need to make sure your diet is 90-95% on point. To me, this means a diet based around protein and vegetables, filled out with healthy fats. Healthy fats are coconut oil, red palm oil, olive oil, and butter (if dairy tolerant). Carbohydrates are primarily from vegetables and fruit. Eat a lot of vegetables. Fruit is good too, but I'd limit it if weight loss is your goal. 

 

I normally recommend something carb heavy after intense exercise, such as sweet potato (if you're paleo adherent), or white rice (that's what I eat).  That way the body uses the protein you're send down to rebuild the muscle instead of refilling its glycogen stores.  Your workouts look pretty short, and I doubt they deplete your muscle glycogen, so you might be able to skip this. 

 

With HIIT, you still need recovery time.  It doesn't seem like you're allowing yourself any. I understand, I love working out everyday too. You might consider doing HIIT 3x a week, and something else the other.  I personally do light yoga on my off days.  It helps recovery and relaxes me. The program you have isn't the best program for weight loss, if weight loss is your goal.  Barbell training really is the king/queen/Grand Maester there. Your body becomes very efficient at bodyweight stuff over the course of two months or so, and without some type of added stimulus, it becomes more about conditioning. 

 

Finally, IF can be bad for the ladies. I looked for the source of this, but I didn't spend a very long time looking for it, so sorry for no sources.  But I do have distinct memory of Martin Berkhan (the Leangains dude) saying IF sometimes was not as effective with females.  He also recommended a 10 hour feeding window for females. Based on your 9-hour window, you may have already heard this advice. Still, you might consider temporarily dropping it.

 

To put a bow on this, you have a lot of moving parts.  It's hard to nail down where your fat loss might be going wrong because there's so many things that could be doing it.  So, what's the fix? You get back to basics and drop the rest of the s**t, no matter how sacred.  

 

You look at your diet, and you clean it completely up. For now, stop counting calories. For fat loss, you do have to have deficit. But something is going wrong somewhere, so it's time to listen to your body and let it tell you what it needs. The beauty of the paleo-esque diet is the satiety factor means a lot of people don't overeat, so you'll inadvertently be eating at a deficit. Again, I'm not saying that calorie counting might need to come back in the future, but back to basics for now.

 

I'd also get under a bar once or twice a week.  Nothing crazy, just squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, dips.  Those 4 movements will take you a long way, and that program is pretty conservative with regards to time.  

 

I'd also consider dropping IF. It's not sacred, and it can work against you. It can help you too, but right now it's a variable, and you need to eliminate as many variables as you can so you can find what works for you.

 

This got kind of rambly.  Sorry about that. I wish you the best of luck in your goals! I know you can get there, and figuring out how your body works is half the fun of exercising and nutrition!  Hope this was somewhat helpful.

 

 

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hey Legato, thanks for the input!

about a year ago, my first step in my fitness journey was to do a Whole30. as you yourself said, learning what works and what doesn't is hugely important. well, what i learned is that paleo is not for me. the Whole30 ended up being a huge disappointment and didn't do anything as far as weight-loss goes. after that, i counted my calories for a week or two and started seeing results almost immediately. this is something which i've learned that i need to do every once in a while.

my current diet is, in fact, mostly vegetables and protein [veggies are usually a mix of broccoli/cauliflower/carrots, though salads aren't infrequent and have only balsamic vinegar as dressing. protein is eggs, chicken, beef, or lamb, with fish/shrimp thrown in for good measure from time to time - it's not like i'm eating peanut butter for my protein intake haha.] Waldo, a member here on NF, is a great example of a HUGE success story that didn't involve anything remotely paleo. and also he eats chocolate pudding every day. and i know he's not the only one who's done it that way! so i stand firm in my conviction that a caloric deficit is really the only hard and fast rule of weight loss. [as long as said deficit isn't made up of a half-pint of Ben and Jerry's and a can of soda, obviously. you gotta give your body what it needs!] if a dude can look like Waldo and eat pudding every day for lunch, i'm not too worried about the one scone i have on Sunday morning.

some of the moves in my current workouts do involve weight, and i guess i could add some weight to others...will have to think about that. but seriously. i cannot tell you how much i hate lifting. i LOATH it. eugh. it's just not fun for me. at all. and if i had to spend time doing something i hate so entirely in order to get to 19% bodyfat, honestly, i'd rather just keep my love handles and use that time for doing something i enjoy. anyway, i already do pull-ups [rock climber here haha they're kind of my bread and butter], dips, and bodyweight squats, so i could always add a heavy backpack or something to make them weighted and that wouldn't bother me too much. i guess i'll have to take a look at what can be added to/improved upon in my current workout regimen and go from there.

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level 4 elf ranger
STR | 6    DEX | 5    STA | 6    CON | 4    WIS | 4    CHA | 8

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