I don’t even know where to begin with sharing and explaining my metabolic testing results except for this. If you have been honestly working and have plateaued and can’t seem to shake it, you may want to consider this testing. The technology is called New Leaf, and their website has a listing of places where you can have the testing done. It is amazing!
Perhaps I will start with a description of what happened and see what happens from there.
The first part of the test involved sitting in a low stimulus room for about 30 minutes by myself breathing into a mask, to get my Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). This number will then tell me how many calories my body burns at rest. This number is how many calories my body needs to have to keep its daily functions going. I.e brain function, organ function, breathing, digestion, etc. This is also the number of calories to consumer if I want to do nothing but lay on the couch all day long.
Once they have this number, they can do some calculations to figure out, based on activity level without exercise, how many calories I burn just going to work and doing what I do every day. I.e cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.
The second part of the test involved putting on a heart rate monitor and a breathing mask and walking then running on a treadmill. After he warmed up my muscles, Mark, had me start out at a walk. He then took me up to my max run speed and from there added incline, all in 1 minute increments until certain numbers show up on his screen indicating that I have reached my anaerobic threshold, which is the point where my body is no longer working aerobically and lactic acid is building in my bloodstream. (I know this all sounds technical, I am trying to explain it as best I can, but I should probably have Coach or Jess do the technical part, since they are super smart about this) Once I reach this point, he backs me down to a walk and then the test is over. The test can last up to 15-20 minutes or at least that is what I was told. I lasted 9.5 minutes.
So what are my numbers and what does all this mean for me and my plan and what has been going on this past year of hard work?
My RMR is 1904
My RMR plus light work activity but no exercise is 2475
To lose weight, I need to eat less than 2475 calories but more than 1904 calories. We picked 2100 so that I will lose .5-.75 lbs/week.
So, a brief history that will put this into perspective. From Jan 2009, until March 2010 when I began seeing Jess, I was eating 1800 calories plus working out with no knowledge of how many calories I was burning, until Christmas when I got a HRM and then began to at least get an idea of what I burned. It doesn’t take an MIT brainiac to realize that for a year, I was eating below my RMR without exercise and even burning a couple hundred more calories at minimum, I was FAR below my RMR.
Since beginning to see Jess, I have increased my calories, first to 1936 based on the nutritionist recommendations on a non workout day. If I worked out, I had to add in an extra 4-500 calories. So basically I was eating between 1900-2400 calories on a given day. However, it was during this time that I was doing SERIOUS running as I trained for the half marathon and then immediately followed that with serious tri training. I was easily burning 1000 calories a day, on a light day. Again, it doesn’t take someone of extreme intelligence to see that even when eating 2500 calories, I was still falling WAY below my RMR number once I added in exercise.
The problem with all this is…while I was eating all the time, my body was still starving. According to the test results, my body had stopped using carbs and fat as fuel and had turned to protein as its primary fuel source and was storing all fat and carbs, because it didn’t know that it had enough to survive. This explains my crazy cravings for protein. Here, I thought I was just battling childhood eating patterns when in reality, my body WANTED food and specifically, protein!
Isn’t it crazy, our bodies are so fearfully and wonderfully and miraculously made…and all it wants to do is LIVE. Man this makes my heart glad, because I want it to live too and I am in awe of our amazing Designer who created our bodies to LIVE.
Now, in addition to all of this fabulous information, I also was able to learn my 5 different heart rate zones and how many calories I burn in each zone. I am sure you have all heard of the generic info that says that to burn the most fat you want to workout at something like 70% of your max heart rate. Well what is your max heart rate? They have some generic calculations out there that can give you a decent idea, but I know EXACTLY what mine is and based on the testing, I know that my body burns FAT and calories most efficiently between 151-161 bpm. I know that my body burns 11.3 calories per minute of running at this HR.
With all this knowledge, I can eat my 2100 calories and then workout and know EXACTLY how many calories I burned based on my heart rate and then eat those too. Ta Da!!!! Problem of starvation solved! Once my body knows it is going to get enough food no matter how much I work out, it will go back to processing the way it is supposed to which is fat and carbs first for fuel and then my protein can go back to doing what it is supposed to do which is feed my muscles(cuz I got at least 2 now!)
So, my 2010 plan of losing 100 lbs this year is shattered. It will not happen. In fact, I will lose at a much slower pace than I would like based on the numbers, but that is ok. My body will lose. It will rest knowing that it will not have to work so hard to live, because I will actually help it out instead of hurt it. It will no longer question my love for it. It will know because I will properly nourish it and exercise it regularly and then nourish it again. I will also not beat myself up for this past year. I didn’t know.
The new plan is for a half to 3/4 lb per week. Mark, from the testing center says he wouldn’t be surprised if I lose more especially at first, but I will be happy with what we are programming me out to be.
I am still on race restriction with exception to Girls Best Friend Triathlon. I train too hard and far too far out of my ideal fat burning zone. Jess wants me to stay in that zone for a bit and just see what happens when I let my body rest and recover from the year and a half of abuse I have unintentionally been heaping on it. I can still swim,bike and run…just not at the intense levels I was. Sigh.
Sessions with Jess will no longer include cardio. It will be strictly strength stuff since her cardio is quick bursts that will take me out of that ideal zone. Cardio is on my own.
Meal plans need to be submitted followed by what I actually did.
Finally, all workouts need to happen in the morning. This way I know how many calories I burned and how many EXTRA I need to eat for the day. If I workout at night, I will end up having to eat an extra 678 calories at 8PM or later. Not good. (678 is how many calories I would burn in an hour of running in “the zone”) I suppose knowing that number I could pre-load those calories into my day, however, what if something comes up and I miss the workout, cuz you know…life happens or I get lazy…then I am left with an over abundance of calories eaten. Also not good!
So that’s it folks. The numbers are fascinating. I feel good knowing that all this time, my worst fear was not at work, and that is a slow backslide into past failure. This time is truly different.
But what fascinates me and amazes me the most is my bodies resiliency. It’s ability to adjust and adapt to extreme circumstances and do what ever it takes to protect LIFE.
All of this “science” just confirms my faith and makes me sit in awe of the Creator and the knowledge of how…