Wednesday, July 1, 2015

RMR Data and Going Forward

179 lbs.

I'll be the first to admit that this year has been a learning experience in my weight loss journey.  After losing 100 pounds in 2014 on a 40 week medically-supervised liquid diet, I've worked hard this year to create a new healthy life.  It has been joyous for the most part, in that I've loved every minute of being mobile, wearing cuter clothes and living without the aches and pains I used to feel on a daily basis when I was obese.

I've enjoyed exercise and being outside, but the eating part of the equation was baffling to me.  Even tracking my calories on MyFitnessPal since the fast, I found myself steadily gaining weight.  Keeping my calories under 1800 for the most part (with a few excursions upward on special occasions), I thought with all of my activity that I could handle those calories.  But I was wrong.

I have some answers now.

On Monday I went into my clinic and had my Resting Metabolic Rate measured, using a somewhat sophisticated machine.  I fasted for 12 hours, then they pinched my nose, and I breathed into a tube for about 20 minutes, while sitting in a chair, relaxing.

What I learned is that my RMR is lower than normal.  My resting energy expenditure is 1310 calories, so that means that to maintain my weight, I'd need to eat about 1310-1703 calories, and for weight loss, between 1000-1310.

I had a hunch about this, based on my weight gain/loss over the past year, but I didn't want to believe it.  It seemed illogically low based on how most people eat, especially those who are active.

But I'm me and these are my numbers.  I was tremendously relieved to know that it wasn't my imagination, and that I really couldn't eat very much without gaining weight.  Even though I've done some strength training since stopping my fast, I haven't gone back to it since I slipped on a hiking trail in late April (I still have a sore rotator cuff).  But this is what I need to do in order to bring that number up.  Building lean muscle mass will be my ticket to easier weight maintenance, not to mention all the wonderful health benefits.

It also has me rethinking my cardio strategy.  I've loved doing my interval running and participating in races big and small.  I'm scheduled for a 10K in August and a half marathon in November.  I'll need to keep up my training.  But I think in the future, I'll do more walking, strength training and group cardio classes.  High Intensity Interval Training will help boost my metabolism along with the strength training.  I'm going to start lifting again, and my plan will be to retest my RMR at the start of next year to see if there are any changes.

Maybe my long, very low calorie diet played a part in lowering my metabolism.  I don't know enough about physiology to know if this is the case.  I also don't know if I've always had this type of slow metabolism.  I've been taking medicine for hypothyroidism for 30 years - but my weight struggles preceded that.  In any event,  if I had it to do all over again, I would certainly do my Optifast program in a heart beat.  My life is so much better now, and it gave me a new beginning point, even though it has been frustrating at times.

In a strange way, this data reinforced my own hunches, and has encouraged me to believe in my hunches more often.  It has also reminded me that I am a unique human being, and while there is a lot of conventional wisdom out there, I can be an n=1, and not be afraid to move on if something isn't working well for me.

So that's the interesting news from me today.  Salad lady signing off and wishing everyone a wonderful holiday weekend if you are in the U.S.!