It’s here. 

I’ve been at yoga teacher training for a week, and will be for another two weeks. 

Here’s my temporary home for this period: 


The program is very intended and challenging, but also just incredible. They tell you in advance that it will change you and my reaction to that was basically, “nah, no thanks, I’m not looking for that.”  But it is changing me, and I love it so I am embracing and not resisting. 

There is so much positive energy and support here. It really inspires me to carry it out into the world. 

And the meditation?  I’m actually really getting something out of it. I resented and resisted the idea at first, but now I’m enjoying it and even craving it a little. 

Oh and my weight dropped 4.5 pounds (!) which does not suck at all. Eating is different here, but also really not that different – just lighter suppers, mainly. That seemed to work for me weight-wise on our last vacation also. Something to think about. 

Have a great week. Namaste. 🕉

Teetering at the edge of stable.

Today I woke up to a weight of 181.4.  I’d been holding steady at 180.0, exactly, for five days solid, and frankly, was anxious to see this weight drop.  Instead, today, a GAIN!

It’s not a surprise, and I’m taking it more seriously than a possible one-day blip, because I truly FEEL fatter.  I’ve noticed clothes fitting differently and even put some clothes away as uncomfortable, ie, too small.  It’s been some years since that has happened, and I really don’t like it.

The gain IS a surprise in the sense that I really don’t know what has caused it.  I’m racking my brain trying to figure out what it is I’m doing or not doing to “justify” this gain.  My eating is honestly, basically unchanged.  I’ve had a few new foods I’ve added that make me wonder if they don’t agree with me, such as B-Up protein bars, and an iced coffee many afternoons with artificial sweetener and half-n-half.  And, or, I’ve added berries in many/most days – could that be it?

The gain is small, I’m still at the top of my de facto maintenance range, but the thing is I FEEL it, which makes it not feel small.  I feel it all over.  I feel my body changing on me.  And I don’t want it to change this way!  While I’ve been just a pound below this weight before (as an average), I didn’t FEEL fatter, so it didn’t bother me as much.

I’m going to take out these foods mentioned above and may start tracking again, though I really don’t want to do that and dread it if I have to.  Getting ready for yoga teacher training is also slightly stressing me, and now I have the added stress of worry about continued gain while I’m away and not weighing daily.  Ugh!

In exercise news, I did step this morning.  Do they even have step classes where you live?  they didn’t where I moved from (NJ), so it feels like a real throwback.  When I did step regularly before, it was in the mid-90’s.  I enjoyed it then, though, so I thought, why not?  Plus I think choosing not to work on cardiovascular fitness may have been a mistake.  I’m thinking I’ll add this (or some other sweaty cardio) at least once a week after yoga teacher training, which starts Monday.

My yoga teacher training reading

It’s a lot, no?  For me it is. 10 books total, with varying degrees of ease/difficulty – some are difficult for me because they are dry, some are difficult because they speak of religion and/or things like “asking for inner guidance from Infinite Mind,” which is not really how I am put together.  (If you can’t see the 10th book, it’s the spiral bound one on the bottom, which is The Yoga Handbook, by Stephanie Keach.)  And, some of the books are enjoyable or otherwise good, and I can already see a lot of value in them, though it’s also clear they provide things to work on that will (should) take some time. Months, maybe years. So, not just something to read once and put away.

So that’s what I’m working on. Two weeks from today will be day 2 of my YTT.

Stable.

My weight’s still not where I’d like it to be – currently averaging 179.6 – but I can’t help but notice that that’s still pretty stable.  You can check out my monthly weight history and see I first hit this weight over a year ago.

Yes, it’s true, when I did OKL last summer, I got my weight down by another 6 pounds (from where I am now), and oh, how we all want our lowest weight to be our REAL weight.  And I do like thinking of that 173.x average as my “real” weight and that I’m just temporarily over it, *for right now*.

But, I notice and have to accept that I’ve been over this weight since November, which is 9 months now.  (Nine months!)  After OKL, I selected a maintenance range of 172-175, but, it turns out?  That was a GOAL maintenance range.  Reality over the last year-plus has revealed that my REAL maintenance range has turned out to be 171-181.

And while my current weight is frustrating for being over my lowest weight, it’s also very positive that I’ve maintained for quite a long time now, albeit in a slightly higher maintenance range than I intended.

So I’m keeping on keeping on.  Yes, I’d love love love to be 20 pounds thinner.  But, then, I was actually obese (BMI 39) for pretty much my adult life.  Maintaining at this weight range, without real struggle, is simply a huge, real improvement, and I can’t lose sight of that.

Sodium and blood pressure.

I’ve been monitoring my blood pressure daily lately, both due to my last doctor’s visit a month ago, and to monitor any reaction to my adding sodium supplementation to my diet, as recommended for those of us who eat so low-carb (I eat usually <50 grams carbs/day, often much less).  I just started adding sodium last weekend.

Yesterday, I got these crazy low blood pressure readings.  First thing in the morning (even though I slept poorly, which I thought might increase it), I got 94/64!  I re-tested and got a similar number.  Around lunch time I tested and got similar number, and the same reading late in the afternoon.

As fate would have it, I then missed my sodium supplements for the day because I changed up my eating window yesterday to early in the day, stopping with a large, late lunch, and then not eating after that.  This de-railed my new habit of having bone broth with 1/4 tsp Celtic sea salt added, twice a day, which is how I take this added sodium.  Switching my activity up to something new always seems to throw things off, and I’m going to need to be more proactive about working that out.

Anyway, yesterday’s BBP readings were certainly surprising result, when the conventional wisdom is that sodium increases blood pressure.

Today my BP was up a bit but still on the lower side, at 110/77.

My BP is always higher (to much higher) at the doctor’s office.  They get very concerned about it, and I do, too.  I even bring my home monitor to calibrate it with the doctor office readings, and confirm it is still accurate.  With tracking my BP at home daily, and seeing the consistent low to normal readings, I’m starting to think I have honest-to-goodness “white coat hypertension” – ie, blood pressure that shoots up high in the doctor’s office (in the presence of the “white coats”).

In weight news, my weight’s still at 179.x, which I don’t love, but my eating is not excessive or off-plan, so I’m hoping this is temporary and will drift back down on its own.

Have a great weekend!

A little tree pose on the Danube with two other yogis (I'm in the center).  Oct. 2015.

I pulled the trigger on YTT.

After being interested in yoga teacher training (YTT) for over a year now, and mulling it over, and investigating all my various YTT options, and thinking about the cost, and working on my practice, and evaluating (OK, judging) my abilities and sometimes lack of abilities, after doing all this for over a year – I finally pulled the trigger a couple days ago, and I signed up for YTT.

I’ll be doing a 3-week intensive “immersion” training at Asheville Yoga Center, in Asheville, NC, which is a bit more than an hour’s drive from where we live now.

I’m excited, and nervous, and feeling a little inadequate about my abilities but also I realized that feeling of inadequacy may never go away.  I can’t wait for it to subside; it’s basically been with me my entire life :/  Also, though, too, I do feel strong, and able, in many ways.

My training starts 5 weeks from today, and I have homework and fairly significant reading to do in preparation.

But, I’m really doing it!  The money is paid.  Accommodations are (mostly) booked.  Reading has begun.  I’m on my way.

***

As far as weight goes, my weight’s been bouncing around in ways that seem unexplainable to me.  Since my eating hasn’t gone off the rails, I’ve just kind of given up, at least on the daily weigh which feels impotent and often annoying. I’m basically weighing every other day or so these days.  I came back from vacation to a new low of 174.8, but then had a bounce-up two weeks ago or so, to 179-180.  My weight’s basically stayed there, dunno why, and I’m kind of tired of caring (since I’m not really willing to cut back eating right now).  I didn’t weigh yesterday, as I felt bloated, but then weighed today at 178.4, which is better.  Pre-vacation, though, my weight was averaging 176.x.  So, I’m still a bit up; hopefully these gyrations are just hormonal variations beyond real control, and my weight will go down another couple pounds on its own.  I had a similar inexplicable gain happen in late March, and it lasted around a month. Having had that experience, and having seen it go down (also inexplicably) makes me stress about this less.

I listed to a recent podcast of Livin’ La Vida Low Carb which was a talk by Steve Phinney at Low Carb Down Under conference, and one of many things he mentioned is his own personal sodium supplementation.  He makes sure to add 2 grams of sodium a day, on top of the 3 grams or so he gets in food.

Now, this is basic.  Very, extremely basic.  Even the original Atkins book published in 1972 says that, and just about EVERY version of low-carb or keto mentions this, and discusses how critical it is.  You might be guessing at what is coming… but, yes, I’ve never done this supplementation.

Why?  People always talk about brain fog, or keto flu, or Atkins flu, and the answer is always – sodium supplementation.   Buuuuuut, I never felt any flu or brain fog.  So, I just sort of skipped it.  Also, it’s just laziness I guess.  Also I have a history of hypertension (now mostly controlled) and it’s been drilled into me and the whole culture about how salt is THE WORST for causing high blood pressure.  So honestly I’ve been a little afraid to add it, even though I know current science says the opposite, that lower sodium intakes yield WORSE outcomes and higher sodium intakes yield BETTER outcomes, and that studies show that only a small segment of the population will actually respond to sodium by increasing blood pressure.  Despite knowing this, the cultural messages are so strong, it’s hard to completely abandon them.

Anyway, hearing the podcast and how Dr Phinney discussed it gave me a kick in the pants, and I started adding sodium over the weekend.  Who knows, maybe this is what helped knock a little bloat off.  I know that’s contrary to the conventional wisdom, and that sodium traditionally MAKES you bloat, it doesn’t RELIEVE bloat, traditionally, but then, that’s outside of the low-carb context.  If my body has been sodium-starved for months or longer (I’ve done keto since April 2015, off and on, mostly on), who knows how it might start to react.  This is actually what got me off the dime, feeling like I could somehow cause myself some long-term or even permanent harm just from being too lazy to do something so freaking basic.

So, yeah, now I’m doing it.

And, I’m testing my blood pressure daily with a digital cuff, to monitor if there’s any affect.

I had added some electrolytes recently, due to intense workouts in VERY hot conditions, but really, that’s child’s play, at just 350 mg sodium per dose.  Even if I double that, it doesn’t get anywhere close to the 2 grams (or 2,000 mg) I should be adding.  And honestly, under such hot, intense exercise conditions, I may even need a good deal more.  So, it was a start, but a feeble one.

And, we’ll see how it goes.

Happy Monday!

Back from vaca!

We had such a great time visiting family in Nevada, an aunt and uncle I hadn’t seen in years, and then touring the Grand Canyon and Sedona. Here we are in the Grand Canyon during part of a little bike tour we did:


It was as spectacular as they say it is!

We are and drank like you do on vacation – which for us means mostly sticking to LCHF, but also making more exceptions, and doing more drinking. We had beer a number of times on this trip, which is pretty unusual for us since going LCHF, but we came home to me seeing a lower number on the scale and my hubs buying a pair of jeans a(nother) waist size smaller. So, the beer didn’t hurt us. Nor did the extra carbs I’ve been intentionally allowing.

I really liked not counting my food while on vacation, which made me just see it as FOOD again, not macro numbers, so I’m sticking with that for now. No more food counting!  Counting is so weird, anyway, as well as a major pain in the behind. I feel like it really distorts my perception of food, hunger, satiety, etc.

The day after we got home I weighed 174.8!  This is the the lowest I’ve seen in more than six months, maybe eight. It then bounced back up to 176.0-176.8 ever since then but even so, this means I maintained or ***slightly*** lost while on vaca. While I’d like to be 15-20 lbs skinnier… I also really like maintaining while on vaca!  I’m not sure that’d happen at a lower weight.

I’m making sure to get daily sunlight, unprotected, and I have to wonder if this is helping me metabolically (and I got a lot of sunlight on vaca, which similarly may have helped).  I also take 5,000 mg of Vit D3 daily, but my reading tells me that’s good but making your own (via sunlight exposure) is better. I am wondering if my gain late last fall was as attributable to diminishing sunlight/ natural seasonal weight variation as anything.

Friday check in   

Lots of random thoughts in my head to blog about but none have quite jelled into a post yet, mentally.

One thought I have: what I’m eating. Here’s my lunch yesterday, which turned out ultra low-carb, despite including fruit, and also very high-satiety:

I ended up very low carb yesterday, under 30 grams net, not really trying but because it’s just a strong habit.  I’ve also had some days of 120-150 grams carbs lately, but not a lot.  It’s hard to do, though I would like to give it an honest try.

Perhaps partially as a result of these carb swings, my weight swings are bigger lately.  More than once I’ve had a 2.5 lb drop overnight, which is highly unusual for me, at least since being low-carb.  Last Saturday night I even had a 3.2 lb GAIN overnight, and not due to a very high-carb day.  Wild hormonal swings, I guess, or perhaps also sodium/fluid retention due to the weather being so warm.

Speaking of, I am now starting to think of my weight re-gain last fall (7-ish lbs) as perhaps being caused by the change in seasons and shortening of days.  Honestly my weight is lower now, not completely (at least not yet) but it is lower and I don’t feel like I’m eating radically differently.  I’m wondering if my weight now is due to more sunlight, longer hours of sunlight, higher ambient temperatures affecting RMR, and that sort of thing.  Then the converse would be true in winter, as well, and obviously has a great historical acknowledgement, winter weight gain.  I think Barbara Berkeley commented that this is true for her patients, too, on her Refuse to Regain blog.

Oh, one update on cortisol: I had a bruise develop last week and disappear quickly, within a week’s time or so.  This is very, very fast for me – typically a bruise takes me weeks to heal.  This prolonged healing was one of my reasons to suspect high cortisol.  So, to see improvement in healing time suggests that maybe my cortisol-reduction efforts are having positive effects.  This was a thrill to see, quite honestly.  One supplement I’ve added to reduce cortisol is Rhodiola Rosea, in case you suspect a cortisol problem and want to try a supplement as part of a multi-prong approach to cortisol reduction.  I can’t know if this supplement has helped me, really, but the improved bruise healing is significant, so I’ll keep going til I’m done with the bottle, and then see how I do.

My weight today is 176, again, a lovely, low number, while my 10-day average is 176.8.  I calculated my averages at my lowest weight last summer, and see I was generally in the 173.2-173.8 range, even though I saw numbers lower than this frequently.  It helps a lot to check into the average, and not just a low number which can get burned in one’s brain – mine, at least – as where you were.  The average is more revealing to me of where I am and where I was.

I’m trying to JERF as much as possible, but am slightly addicted to protein bars.  I have one many days, even most days, some weeks.  It was Quest bars, but lately I found B-UP protein bars and like those a lot.  And, I’ve ordered some Julian Bakery protein bars and am looking forward to trying those.

We’re off on vacation next week, leaving Thursday.  I’m kind of scared and kind of relieved to take a vacation from my scale and my workout schedule.

We are surrounded by the beauty of abundant blooming here in SC: I wish I could give you smell-o-vision for the magnolias around every corner here.  They make it a true, and scented, pleasure just to walk down the street.  Have a great weekend.

Cortisol and low carb/keto (at least, for me)

When I last discussed cortisol, and my feeling that I may have excess amounts of it, I overlooked mentioning the insomnia issue as a reason I suspect high cortisol.  Lack of sleep causes higher cortisol.  Higher cortisol also in turn leads to poorer sleep, or lack of sleep.  Kind of a vicious cycle, and one I’ve been trapped in.  Increased cortisol thus seems like it’s been both a result of my sleep problems, and possibly a factor hurting my sleep, too.

Lately, partly due to focusing on improving my sleep (also by working on actively reducing cortisol), I have had some success.  Happily!  I even had two good nights’ sleep in a row, last night and the night before.  This is big for me!  I feel like I am on the right path, for sleep.

Another symptom of high cortisol is storage of body fat on the upper body (called dyslipidemia).  I didn’t mention here, in my prior cortisol post, that this may relate to my not-receding armpit fat.  Yes, fat in my armpits.  I had very high stress for many years, which no doubt contributed to storing fat there and in fact broadly across my upper body.  Now, much of that fat has dissolved but a noticeable amount of armpit fat remains; I wonder if it will ever all go away.  Anyway, I’m just mentioning it as another factor I failed to mention here that makes me suspect lingering high cortisol for myself.

******

So, back in my initial cortisol post, one of my links was to a post on Chris Kresser’s blog, which said that low-carb/keto may increase cortisol for (some) women.  To support that point, that blog post referenced a study of 21 participants.  My bloggy friend Siobhan commented that perhaps this study shouldn’t carry much weight due to its small size.  Fair enough, so I investigated it a little more, and found that Peter Attia also discussed the same study (if you don’t know Attia, he’s a brilliant MD and athlete who has spent a lot of time and effort personally and professionally studying low-carb and ketogenic diets, and who understands the science on what seems like a genius level).  Attia promised a future post to discuss both the raised cortisol findings in that study, and impact on thyroid hormones, TSH and T4.  He even refused to comment on the cortisol and thyroid findings until that later, promised post, but unfortunately, he never wrote that promised post.  So, we don’t have his thoughts on the higher cortisol findings (and lower thyroid activity found) in that study.  But, Attia seemed to actually like and actually champion other results of this study, and I don’t see him saying anything remotely like, “study too small, ignore.”  He even titles his post, “Good Science, Bad Interpretation,” suggesting he actually thinks its a good study.  Check out his post here.

So, there’s a voice I trust (Attia’s) saying that this study is good, along with Chris Kresser’s vote of approval, that this study has credibility.

Siobhan’s other criticism of the study was that its description of the diets as “very low-carb” was inaccurate because they were 2,000 calories/day and 10% carb.  This means 200 calories of carb, which is 50 g carb, which is what I did for basically a year (though for some periods for that year my carb intake was even lower).  I think Siobhan was implying that true “very low carb” should be LESS carbs than this.  But, for me, 50g carb/day matches my own diet pretty precisely.  And, if eating “only” 50 g carb/day can increase cortisol, then surely eating even lower carb than this must also increase cortisol, too.

The Paleo Mom says that cortisol “necessarily” rises on keto/low-carb because that’s the mechanism by which your body makes its own glucose – and of course, making your own glucose internally is necessary when your body isn’t getting the glucose it needs to function from the diet.  No one, not even in LC and keto communities, disputes that your body and brain need at least about 135 g of glucose/day, the only dispute is whether you need to *eat food* for that glucose (what the high-carbers claim) or whether your body makes that glucose itself through gluceneogenesis (what low carbers claim, and which I believe the biochemistry is actually very well-established on).  To my mind, there is no real dispute: eat low to no carb and you’ll find immediately that you do NOT drop dead, which means that your body does indeed make its own glucose.  We can all prove this ourselves inside of 2 days.  But, I never really understand the pathway or mechanism by which the glucose-making process occurred.  Now, it looks like that process involves cortisol.  Check out The Paleo Mom’s explanation why here.  And/or, Amy Berger at Tuit Nutrition, a nutritionist who I highly respect, also points out that yes, it’s cortisol that stimulates gluconeogenesis.

I also found a T-nation article about managing cortisol in the low-carb context, and it explains that exercise-induced cortisol increases are higher when low-carbing, which would of course apply directly to me.  This article suggests managing this by eating carbs around workouts and replacing many/most lost carbs with protein (not just fat).

The article also:

  • Posits that long-term low-carb depletes glycogen and depleted glycogen naturally leads to increased cortisol, as it’s the relevant mechanism to raise blood glucose (echoing what Paleo Mom and Amy Berger say above about cortisol being the trigger for the body making it’s own glucose)
  • Mentions that excess cortisol blocks conversion of T4 to T3, creating thyroid deficiency (something I tested positive for a little over a year ago for the first time in my life).
  • This parallels another reference I found saying that low-carb, being suppressive of insulin, can also suppress thyroid activity because the body needs insulin to convert T4 to T3. So, there may be a double whammy on the thyroid here, at least for susceptible populations?
  • This particular article describes “low carb” as getting 25-30% of one’s calories from carbs. So for a 2,000 calorie diet, this would be 600 carb calories or 150 g carbs.

I located a study that showed that people that more prone to stress (as I am) tend to have a lower cortisol response to stress when eating higher-carb.

I also found a study showing that, people secrete different amounts of cortisol in response to stress.  I suspect my body is an over-achiever on this front🙂

People prone to gain weight around the abdomen (versus the hips and thighs) tend to secrete more cortisol than others.  Yup, that’s me again!  I’ve substantially changed my body shape over the past 2+ years of LCHF and regular exercise, but still the belly fat remains (some of which surely is loose skin but a good bit of it is just plain ole fat).

(This somewhat parallels Dr Joseph Kraft’s findings that different people secrete different amounts of insulin in response to a glucose challenge.  This was true even in young, healthy populations!  See a rundown of his findings here.  So, some people can by hyper-secretors of one or more hormones.  This suggests that people can be hypo-secretors, too?  And that secretion of hormones is, like many things, a spectrum of possible outcomes.  This might explain part of differences in metabolic responses – varying levels of secretion of varying hormones.)

I’ve read (IIRC) Dr Barbara Berkeley of Refuse to Regain mention in her blog posts (though I can’t find the reference now) that those of us with histories of obesity tend to be hyper-secretors of insulin, which is why we must be so careful with going off-plan and why weight re-gain occurs so easily.

I suspect myself of being a hyper-secretor of cortisol, and possibly insulin, given my long history of obesity.

So, in light of all this, I’ve revised how I eat, at least to try it out.  I considered Paleo Mom’s advice for what carbs can be added: for those with history of metabolic dysfunction (like me), she recommends continued to permanent avoidance of fructose.  This resonates for me, since I had my most dramatic success with changing how I eat, just in the first 3 months, where I wasn’t even very low-carb, I just cut most (not even all!) added sugar from my diet, and just cut back (not cut out!) carbs, to 1 serving or portion per meal.  In fact, in those days, I was still having a teaspoon of sugar in my daily coffee!  For me this is shocking, at this stage, to consider putting a spoon of *straight sugar* basically straight into my mouth.  But even doing so, cutting back fructose nearly totally was transformative.  This means I need to consider being careful with fruit going forward, or at least try this approach – more carbs, but maybe not from fruit.

I’ve also tried the T-Nation advice, to add the extra carbs in around workouts, either before, during and/or after.  I have added some fruit around workouts, partly because I just believe that it’s better to eat an unprocessed, whole food than some manufactured “bar” and if those are the choices, I will be choosing fruit at least sometimes.

It’s been tougher to add carbs back than I expected.  I still end up some days around 50 g carbs, but most days, I’m more like 75-85, and some days I even hit 125-135.  These are total carbs, not “net” where fiber has been subtracted.  I initially tried to get these in around workouts, but I also read that carbs at night can help sleep, so that’s empowered me to just have them whenever.  And the results so far?  As I mentioned above, my sleep is improving.  My weight is improving, having gone down a bit.  I can’t report honestly on what that is today, being TOM, but my Happy Scale daily average is down to 177.2, the lowest (or nearly so) that it’s been since I started using it.  I feel like I am hitting a metabolic “zone”, like I am slimmer, and like I am stronger in my workouts.  I expect the “slimmer” part to show up on the scale any day.

I do expect it to take weeks to months to alter hormonal levels and patterns, so I expect my cortisol-reducing action plan to continue.  And, for now, so far, so good.

I’ve read in several places people saying, calories matter, but hormones matter more.  Isn’t this what Gary Taubes has essentially been saying all along?  He really focused on the hormone insulin but obviously there are lot of hormones flowing in all our bodies, and more hormones than just insulin affect body weight.  For me, focusing on cortisol – and reducing it – seems to be helping.

Don’t abandon all hope.

So, everyone’s talking about that study that came out this week about the wrecked metabolisms of most of the members of Season 8’s The Biggest Loser (“TBL”).  I don’t watch that show, I think the whole concept is a fat-shaming travesty that perpetuates a lot of harmful lies, and reading the study pretty much broke my heart for many of the contestants.  But, I did like the response posted by Dr Barbara Berkeley, an MD who specializes in weight loss and whose focus is always on maintenance, not just loss.  She draws out some excellent successes in that group in the study, and some positive and encouraging messages for all of us weight-losers.  I highly recommend reading it.

By Dr Berkeley’s standard, too, I’ve been measuring my success incompletely.  It’s not just pounds lost, and it’s not even just fat lost, or percent of body weight – it’s percent of EXCESS body weight lost that bariatric physicians use to measure success.  Their gold standard of a successful outcome is 50% of EXCESS weight lost.  So, if you had 100 pounds to lose, and you lose 50 and keep it off, that’s success, by the medical definition.

Applying that to my own numbers, I needed to lose around 90 pounds of “excess” fat (according to my gym), and I did lose and have kept off for nearly a year, about 70 pounds of that.  70 divided by 90 is 78% of my “excess” weight lost and gone.  If 50% lost is successful, I’m killing it! 🙂

Rather than the TBL study, though, my own thoughts have been more on an article I read last week about trying to exercise to increase weight loss.  TL; DR: don’t.  Exercise actually slows down weight loss!  Those who use calorie restriction alone lose more weight (on average) than those who use caloric restriction + exercise.  I think I’ve mentioned this here before, but this article is a great discussion of more than 60 studies showing this.

This last graph in the article sums up that the least weight loss is in the calorie restriction + exercise group:

diet_jama_chart-0

Let me remind you, lest it seem I am dissing exercise, that I have become a huge exerciser over the last 2 1/2 years, and a huge proponent of exercise.  3 years ago, I was a major couch potato, and I was having a harder and harder time hoisting my body weight off said couch.  When I went on vacation I *trained* for it, that’s how out of shape I was, I actually took walks each day just so that I could handle the exertion involved in vacation.  VACATION.  Yet now, with work + time, I am an avid exerciser, with my efforts split between strength training (lately TRX), yoga, cycling and walking, and also some gardening here and there (not exactly intentional exercise, but it can be a real workout, and I didn’t have the physical ability to do it so much before, so it’s worth a mention).

Even so, the most novel and interesting part of the article to me was the mention that there is basically a working theory, now, that your body will only burn a maximum number of calories a day, no matter how much you exercise you do.  This raises the issue of diminishing return to even zero return you do through “excess” exercise – which is of course precisely what they do in and on TBL.

But, still, if you go past that “usable” or “calorie-burn-productive” level of exercise, even if you don’t burn more calories, I feel sure that you can still hormonally change the body, for example by causing your body to secrete more extra cortisol, the “stress hormone” which is, among other things, associated with weight gain, especially in the torso and upper body.

As for these and other hormonal changes one can cause with eating and/or exercise, I recently read a wonderful statement that said, “calories matter but hormones matter more.” This excellently captures where my own thinking has been, and is now evolving to consider other hormones besides insulin, which is admittedly primary.  (For Dr. Berkeley’s short and sweet summation of insulin’s role, check out the first couple paragraphs of this blog post of hers, and recommending 100 g carbs/day as an effective weight loss tool she uses and sees a lot of success with in her practice.

How’s my own journey going?  I’ve had a great week for exercise and have actually eaten a bit more this week, being kind of fatigued with restriction.  But, my weight was down today, to the lowest number I have seen in all 2016, weighing in at 176.0.  I haven’t seen this number since October, 2015.  It’s tantalizingly close to my maintenance range of 172-175.  It’s just a one-day reading – my “Happy Scale” 10 day moving average is still something like 178, I think- but if we keep going in this range, signs point to returning to a lower weight, FINALLY!

Happy weekend!