We are so excited to have a recurring feature on EM2WL, called “The Journey.” We strive to stress the importance of staying consistent, trusting the process, and making EM2WL a lifestyle. In featured “Journey's” we get an inside look at how each person will make the process work for them, as well as demonstrating how this process looks from fresh angles. Journey participants agree to keeping us updated periodically, first sharing their story, then updating as their journey progresses…
Today, Nicole is inviting the EM2WL family to follow her journey from the beginning.
My Journey – The ‘Long Haul’:
I'm a very active 38 year old mother that has been struggling to lose weight for over 20 YEARS. After my first child, I had hit an all-time high of 197 lbs. Through exercise and the Weight Watchers program I lost 60lbs over the course of 4 years (I had child number two in the middle). However, as I got closer and closer to my goal weight, I found that I had to keep lowering my calories and increasing my exercise. When I was at my goal weight of 135 lbs I found that I was doing 2 hours a day of high intensity cardio plus just kept myself constantly moving and my calorie intake was extremely low. (I started to not meet the minimal requirements for weight watchers anymore because I just couldn’t keep the weight from coming back on at that level). Needless to say, it wasn’t long before I found myself exhausted, with constant injuries (I broke my very first bone), on high doses of depression medication and very strong prescription sleeping medication because I had severe insomnia. These helped a bit but I had to keep going back to my dr. to up the medication because after a while, they just weren’t as effective. As well, I continued to gain weight. Over the course of 3 years I had gained back 30 lbs. My doctor was stumped as to my weight gain since my tracking and records showed that I should be LOSING weight and she was positive the meds were more likely to see patients lose than gain on them, so she sent me to a nutritionist/personal trainer. After 6 months with her, she also threw up her hands in despair and said she didn’t know how to help me – I was doing everything they asked…nothing worked. The one common thing that neither did was to ask me what my NET calories were, what my BMR was. They didn’t even think in those terms, and from what I know now – I was nowhere close to getting enough calories to satisfy my BMR requirements.
Finally in a fit of frustration I cold-turkey'd off all the meds (which made my dr. raise her eyebrows at me) and told her to find another solution because this wasn't working for me. I needed to lose weight and feel better, not just medicate and gain more!
1 month later I stumbled onto MFP in my personal search for a solution on the internet and discovered this whole new concept of net calories and eating enough. I found that I was averaging a NET calorie/day of approximately 600-800 because of the crazy exercise I was doing and the VLCD I was using. (around 1200) Often I wasn’t even Netting 0 or above…I had a negative Net. By this time I had also started the p90X exercise program.
At first I slowly started to up my calories after figuring out my BMR (1490) and TDEE (2130-2370) to 1500 Net minimum. This was very scary for me. Thankfully I did not gained tons of weight (about 4 lbs) but within a few days my depression was gone, I was no longer exhausted all the time and I began sleeping like a baby! Those NSV’s in themselves proved to me that no matter what happened, I was doing something good for my body.
I was still scared that I had the numbers wrong, scared that it wouldn’t work, scared that I’d never lose, but for the first time I actually had hope too. This is the ONE thing I had not yet tried so I figured, what the heck…it's worth a shot! I kept rereading the forum for a little bump in encouragement whenever I needed it. I still tended to underestimate calories burned just in case (since I ate those back to stay at my net calorie goal of 1500) and I felt so strange being able to eat a piece of apple pie and still have room to eat some chocolate too at the end of the day! I also found that I had a problem of saving a lot of calories to the end of the day so I would suddenly have to try to eat a huge amount before bed because before, I used to be so hungry at bedtime, I HAD to save most of my calories for then and eat filling foods or I would never sleep! It's a habit I’ve slowly been able to break (not completely yet though).
I managed to get my calorie intake up to TDEE – 15%. After 7 weeks at that level (plus still maintaining a crazy workout schedule from before) I found I was still a bit tired (not exhausted like before though), my weight was up 4lbs and I had gained over 6 inches! I was mortified! However, after speaking with Lucia, she informed me that I needed to reduce the exercise. I had used the wrong activity level and was maintaining too high of a deficit still. So, I listened to her advice and dropped the exercise but kept my calories the same. Within a week I started to feel better. I also started to reread through the forum and discovered that with my diet history, a full reset was likely what I needed to get the weight to stop dropping. So, the next day, I upped my calories to maintenance, maintained my workouts and as of today found that some of the 6 inches I gained have disappeared and I’ve even seen a small reduction in a couple of places (thigh/neck) to lower than start! I’m still bigger in the waist and upper body but I am assuming that is due mainly to water retention and the fact that I am now lifting without being in a caloric deficit.
I am excited for when I will see inches really start dropping or my weight to come down, but for now, I will continue on through my reset (I have gained 1.6 lbs since starting my reset) and give my body the time it requires to heal. I feel better than I have in years (despite my small emotional pity parties over my waist increase that makes my jeans almost un-wearable – I was already maxing them out so they didn’t have much room left).
This road is mentally difficult and tiring. Going against everything society tries to cram down our throats about weight loss, dealing with the looks of pity as people watch me gain weight and eat (usually more than they do), trying to reassure my husband that this IS the right thing to do, and all the time feeling unsure and scared myself, yet believing in it completely at the same time. The research is out there, the testimonies are out there… I know my story will be one of success. I just have to have patience and strength to do it right and see it through. I may not see the quick results that some others have when they started the Eat More plan, but then I did a LOT of damage to my system…it’ll take time to repair that. I’m already 10 weeks in with no loss, just gain and I’m just now starting to get hungry days (a good sign). It’s the long haul for me, but I’m ok with that because I know the destination is worth the trip.
Starting Info (March, 2012):
Eating 1200 cals or less (NET < 1000 – often between 0[or negative value] and 800) Plus some binge days due to special events.
Desk Job: Workout 7 days/week (P90X-lifting/cardio + 1.5 hrs brisk walking daily) I also did anything else I could think of that simply kept me moving.
Current Info (June 6, 2012)
Metabolism Reset: Eating 2584 cals (NET > 1500) 2 weeks into reset
Desk Job: Workout: 6 days/week (3x lifting + 6 days 1 hr brisk walks) I also still try to stay relatively active through my day, but much less intensity.
Remember, EM2WL is a lifestyle, not a quick fix. Featured Journeyers will remind us that we are all a “work-in-progress.” If you are interested in being featured in The Journey, please contact us for more info.