Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fighting the Psychological Battle

So in the month I've been living my paleo lifestyle and following the plan on hundredpushups.com I've found that it's a good thing I'm taking pictures in addition to watching the scale.  This morning I weighed in at a stalled 233 pounds even.  So since beginning, I'm still down 6 pounds, but I haven't moved much at all recently.


Since beginning, I can now say the following:
  • My pants fit much better
  • I'm in a belt notch
  • I'm now threatening needing a new belt altogether as there's not another notch left on this one
  • My gut (to me at least) has noticeably decreased
  • I'm certainly stronger in my upper body
  • I have way more energy earlier in the day and continuing throughout the day (No "2:30 feeling")
  • More frequent bowel movements (before, typically once every 3-4 days, now once every 1-3 days)
Despite all this improvement, I'm fighting with myself over why the damn scale isn't moving.  The geek in me looks at the statistical side of this and goes "Man, last time I did this I was down 10 pounds in the first month!  What the heck is going on here?"  The answer of course, is that last time I had no workout program and was simply eating better and losing weight because of this.   This time around, I'm building muscle in addition to losing fat and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt these things are counteracting each other when I step on the scale.  Now granted, I know that this isn't what many people would consider a "serious" strength program, but you've got to remember, I've done absolutely nothing for strength short of every day activities that might challenge my muscles.  And that's not much.  Any training at all certainly will be building muscle for me.

I write this post for those out there that may be just beginning because I know I'm struggling a bit with this and I know I'm not the only person ever that will run into this.  In fact, the majority of people will run into this at some point depending on your paleo goals.  Everyone wants instant gratification.  In my case, I want to improve muscle and lose weight at the same time.  The problem is that this strategy won't let me lose weight as fast as someone just going for weight loss.  Even the person out there that just wants weight loss will run into this at some point where the body just wants to be stubborn.  Remember that this is a lifestyle.  Your body will settle into where it's supposed to be over time.  If you do keep stats (and you should!) I guarantee you'll be slowly dropping weight month to month every month (if you stick with it) until you're at a healthy weight even if you aren't dropping as much as at the beginning.

If *both* are stalled, you probably need to re-evaluate your food intake.  If you're following say, 80% paleo, then this may be all you're going to get out of following only 80%.  To progress further toward the goal you've set, your only choices are to either eat more paleo or increase your workout output.  As I'm more than a bit lazy, I'd certainly recommend the "eat more paleo" approach.  For very little effort (you're already 80%!) you can get a big return on investment.  Working out certainly helps in the long term, but the clean diet will return quicker short term results in our instant gratification society.  If you need to see results now then upping your paleo percentage is the solution for you!  If you're already 100% paleo, then it's probably time to work in some more (or begin if that's your situation) strength training.  Yes, this will increase your weight, but you'll be improving your body composition by adding muscle, and at the same time increase your base metabolism since your body will require more energy to simply operate.  This will allow you to drop "fat weight" even as your "scale weight" is maintained or even increases somewhat.

The moral of the story here is that you shouldn't sweat the stats as long as you're seeing other tangible improvements as well. 

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