My original goal was 180lbs, representing about 30 lbs loss. I am now at 176.8lbs (total loss of 33.4 lbs), well past my college starting weight, and even my OAC high school weight. Crazy. So that is pretty awesome, but I want to push it further. The total change is insane though... a total body weight loss of 16% from my starting weight. I'm really happy with that already. But, of course, I can do more.
As expected, weight loss gotten quite a bit harder since I got to the 180 mark. While on my Peru trip, I lost about 1.5 lbs only (though my eating was completely uncontrolled and not recorded), but I was doing so much exercise every day I suspected I had increased my muscle weight and lost fat at the same time... meaning I may have actually lost MORE "weight" in the fat sense, but the results were being effectively "covered up" by the gain in muscle weight. I.e., I wondered if it made sense to stop trusting the scale as much.
The plateau at 180-ish has continued, roughly since the beginning of May. Since I got back from Peru I've started strength training 2 times per week and have seen an increase in muscle already. I wanted to test this theory out though... was I really just "masking" the fat loss, or was I just not being diligent enough and I really could lose more fat and push to 170 if I just tried harder? The answer: I just need to be more diligent. Here's an excerpt from a mail I sent my friend/fellow hiker/workout buddy Jess, as I was struggling to decide how to change my workout plan to push my fat loss to 170:
I did an experiment this week- I've been frustrated with the plateau a bit but also realize they happen and you have to roll with it. I did a new subcutaneous fat test this week and the answer was not what I expected: effectively, no change. So I've been hovering around 180 for a while and really want to push to 170... I figured it was the muscle gain messing with the numbers on the scale, but it turns out my fat change is not conclusively different- meaning I am just not being diligent enough! This was a good wake-up call. Of course this is all just gravy/pudding (well the healthy versions of those) since I am already exceptionally happy with all of my work up till now... So a "wake up call" is probably way too harsh- more like a "good reminder".So the results from my work this past week show that I should just keep at it, keep motoring, and I'll hit 170 soon enough. Maybe not for a few months, but that's fine. Once I hit 170, I think that'll be an ideal place to start working hard at maintenance only, and not pushing to lose further weight from there. It's gonna be hard to get down these last 7 lbs or so but shouldn't be impossible. It is definitely getting harder than previous weight loss stages though... I can tell I am getting closer to where "I should be" and so in general the weight loss has slowed down a whole lot. I'm finding it's also quite tough to stay under my max calories per day (which is now approx 1660) on days where I don't go to the gym and do a 350-ish calorie workout on the Elliptical for 30 minutes. Jess suggested pushing some Elliptical days to 45 min instead which is a great idea, I've done 30 min now solidly for the past 6 months or so, I can definitely do more comfortably.
Anyway long story short- the fat test was not amazing "congrats you've lost 2 percent more fat!" answer. So this means more diligence in my food choices and getting back to the 30-min per day weight loss cardio plan is my main aim for the next while yet. I tried that all week, made it very diligent, went 5 days... And lost 1.5 lbs this week. Crazy.
So yes to summarize where I'm at after this experiment: definitely I am interested to try new things like classes but in general 4 or 5 days a week I am still keen to keep at it at the cardio which is very measured and seems to work well for my body to keep losing weight. I'm gonna keep pushing at that till I get closer to 170.
When I get to 170 I want to switch to "maintenance mode"- which will be more strength focused and also would be a really good fit for those classes. I think at that point I may make some diet changes that would help me increase muscle mass, and pair that with more lifting and more of those classes - and less straight, every day cardio. At that point it'll be more important to improve muscle and less important if I miss a day here and there due to blasting myself like we do in organized classes. But for now it seems the 30-min elliptical per day is a pretty epic knock-out punch to fat for me. Till I hit 170, I think "stepping it up" should actually probably just be "making sure I go every day and record food more carefully"... As that seems to be working like magic :)
Anyway, I'm definitely still very pleased with this progress and it's insane to think I've lost 16% of my entire body weight since last September, in only the last 10 months. But on the same token, I'm not ready to settle yet and say, "Good enough"... I can still do better. This part - losing that last 5% near the finish line - was always gonna be the hardest part. But I want to push to do it, and then from here I can spend less time worrying about exact scale/fat/weigh-in values, and spend more time just maintaining my food at a reasonable level and also discovering new ways to increase my muscle tone and just general fitness. So that's all pretty fun stuff, and I'm quite excited to get to that stage of leveling-off and maintaining that weight with new and interesting workout and exercises. That'll be fun. I gotta remember to make sure to buy a reward for maintaining the weight too... that's just as hard (if not way harder) than losing the weight in the first place, so I need to make sure I continue to reward my hard work with non-food-based rewards... like more tea :)