Day 45: Walking the walk

I committed to avoiding gluten and dairy in my last post with the hopes of improving my overall health, but truthfully, I didn’t start avoiding it right away. Although I said I would do it, and I truly believe I should, I just don’t think I was ready to pull the trigger yet. So, I didn’t; but, I did take some small baby steps to prepare for it.

For example, on Friday after my metabolic assessment appointment, I spoke to the wellness counselor about scheduling a few weekly coaching sessions. Although I understand the value of coaching, I’ve never given it a try. I guess I just didn’t think it could help me or maybe I didn’t know how to make the most of it? Regardless, I decided that with the changes I want to make, now would be an ideal time to give it a try. Food tends to be the area in which I struggle the most, so I’ll take any help I can get. What’s the worst that could happen anyway?

After that was all done and scheduled, I swung by the library and happened to notice they had cookbooks. No duh, right? A library with cookbooks, who would have thought? Anywho, after browsing their selection, I decided to borrow two: Nom Nom Paleo (the yellow one) and The Science of Cooking. I skimmed both books, did a little meal planning, and made my first meal from the Nom Nom Paleo book tonight. I have to say, it was really good. Even my family liked it. I’ll be buying a copy of it for myself.

On Sunday, I decided to make some bone broth – specifically seolleongtang, a Korean bone broth soup my husband really likes. I’ve read on a bunch of blogs and in magazines that bone broth is good for gut health, so I figured I might as well jump on the bandwagon and see if drinking a cup of broth daily has any benefits for me. This is another one of those, “what’s the worst thing that could happen?” things.

Finally, on Tuesday, I took some new progress photos and body measurements. Although I’m making these changes for overall health instead of weight or fat loss, I can’t help but feel curious about what changes might occur if I stick with it. I had my first coaching appointment that day as well, so I decided to consider it my “day 1” of avoiding dairy and gluten.

I’d like to say I’ve been doing great at avoiding it since then, but truthfully, it’s been a bit harder than I expected it to be. I’m not craving breads or cheeses, but I’ve struggled with the “hidden” gluten and dairy in stuff. Especially in a bunch of the common ingredients I use when cooking, like gochujang and soy sauce. So disappointing.

I don’t feel discouraged though. It’s challenging, but in a good way; and I’m really looking forward to seeing how creative I can get with this. Hopefully I can share some fun finds on this blog in future posts. Wish me luck!

Day 23: The results are in!

Day 22

The results are in from my metabolic assessment!

Per my test results, my resting metabolic rate (RMR) is 1,208. Which means, if I were to lay in bed all day without moving, my body would burn 1,208 calories just keeping me alive. This result is actually higher than my previous test result. The test I underwent back in May estimated my RMR at 1,165.

This could mean one of two things, either I’ve somehow managed to increase my metabolic rate, or it’s just a margin of error thing. These tests aren’t 100% accurate, so one or both results could just be off a bit. Either way, both results are close to the estimate most online RMR calculators have given me in the past.

Now that I know my new RMR, I can figure out how many calories I need to eat each day to lose weight – once I’m ready to take that step that is. In order to do that, I need to calculate my total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). My TDEE is my RMR*, plus whatever calories I burn throughout the day through exercise and just going about my daily activities.

Instead of using a lifestyle multiplier like most online TDEE calculators use, the wellness center used the number of calories I burn by taking 15,000 steps a day as my lifestyle calories. During my previous test, we looked up how many calories I burn through exercise on MyFitnessPal, and averaged it out over seven days in order to include it in my TDEE, but since I’m still struggling with working out consistently lately, we decided not to include it.

The example below includes my exercise estimate from my previous test.

RMR: 1,208 calories
Lifestyle calories for 15,000 steps per day: 500
Exercise calories: 114 (7-day average for 6 workouts per week)
TDEE (total of the 3 above): 1,822 calories

Google says that a pound of fat = 3,500 calories, so I need to burn 500 – 1000 calories per day to lose 1 – 2 lbs per week. I can get there by either cutting the amount of calories I consume each day by that amount, or increasing the amount of calories I burn by doing more exercise. Since I’ve already included my exercise in the “equation” above, I have to subtract my desired weight loss calories from my TDEE to get my daily calorie goal for weight loss, like so:

TDEE: 1,822 calories
Calories subtracted for goal of 1 lb of weight loss per week: 500
Daily calorie goal: 1,322 calories

I chose to only subtract 500 calories a day for a goal of 1 lb of weight loss per week because subtracting 1,000 calories for a goal of 2 lbs per week would put me under my RMR – and conventional wisdom says you should never eat less than your RMR each day. Plus, let’s be real, eating 822 calories a day would not only be unrealistic and unhealthy for me, but it would also just plain suck. I love food; I’m not giving it up for a an extra pound a week. I’m in this for the long haul, not a quick fix.

I also don’t want to lose more than 1 lb a week, so once I’m ready to commit to my calorie goal, I’ll start tracking my weight and calories in a TDEE spreadsheet I got from r/loseit. My calorie goal is just an estimate, so I’ll likely need to readjust it as I start to lose weight (or not) in order to stay at a 1 lb per week loss. I know it may sound crazy or dumb to not want to lose weight faster than that, but I promise there’s a method to my madness. I’ll share my reasoning in a future post(s).

Final step count: 15,041

Day 23

I cut it way too close “yesterday.” I didn’t reach 15,000 steps until 11:56 pm, after speed-walking for what felt like an hour around the house like a crazy person. I’m still so amped up from trying to beat the clock that I can’t fall asleep.

I refuse to do that again today. No matter what, I have to stay on top of my steps and make sure I’m moving more throughout the day. But first, I need to sleep.

Current step total: 0

Current step goal streak: 10 days
Previous step goal streak: 1 day
Longest step goal streak: 6 days

*Most online calculators will use your basal metabolic rate (BMR) instead of your RMR to calculate your TDEE. It’s no big deal, they’re basically the same thing.

Day 22: Metabolic testing

Day 21

I didn’t make it to the gym yesterday morning despite writing I would go. I did some quick backwards planning from my first appointment and realized I just didn’t have enough time. It was surprisingly nice outside, so I considered going for a short run, but opted to give the dog an extra long walk instead.

I’d like to write that I’ll find another time to fit in my remaining two workouts this week, but I’m a realist – it’s not going to happen. I’ll just have to start over again next week, or maybe pick up where I left off? Either way, working out isn’t one of my goals yet, so I’m not going to beat myself up over it.

Despite the skipped workout, taking the train into Tokyo helped get my step count up. I had to walk to and from, and in and around, the train stations. By the time I got back home, I was close to 13,000 steps. This made it fairly easy for me to hit 15,000 steps before bed, without the need to walk laps again.

I also had another successful meal logging day. My total calories: 1,526. It seems the more I commit to logging my meals, the less I eat overall. Not a bad “side effect.”

Final step count: 16,597

Day 21

Today, I have an appointment for a metabolic test at the wellness center near my home. I’m really lucky to have access to this place. It offers health and fitness-related testing at a price I can afford (free).

I started visiting the wellness center regularly when I finally started to lose weight last year. I had my bodyfat tested monthly in their Bod Pod, took a fitness test or two, and had my metabolism assessed twice. I was really interested in the metabolic assessment results because I have hypothyroidism – basically, my thyroid is slow. I take medication for it every day and I’m at an effective dose, so I feel fine; but I was curious if it was making it more difficult for me to lose weight.

If you’re wondering how a metabolic test works and what it measures, it’s like this: basically, you lay on a table in a dark room for about 10 minutes or so. The intent is to make sure you’re as relaxed as possible. Then, you’re fitted with a breathing mask and for another 10 minutes or so, you continue to lay in this dark room breathing while wearing the mask. After the time’s up, the test is over and you get your results. Oh, and you can’t do any exercise or eat anything for several hours before the test.

The test is supposed to measure your resting metabolic rate (RMR)*. Your RMR is basically the number of calories your body burns at rest. It doesn’t include any calories you might burn throughout the day by walking around, working, eating, or doing anything else other than just laying there. You’ll see some people refer to it as your basal metabolic rate (BMR). They’re sort of almost the same thing, but not really.

The initial test results showed that my metabolism was on the slow end, but the follow-up test a few of months later put me in the normal range. Although I don’t expect to see any changes to my results today, since I haven’t been lifting weights consistently or gained any significant weight, it’ll be fun to have updated results so close to the start of this challenge. Hopefully, as my step goal streak continues and I keep making new habit changes, I’ll be able to see if any of my new behaviors are affecting my metabolism.

Current step total: 1,789

Current step goal streak: 9 days
Previous step goal streak: 1 day
Longest step goal streak: 6 days

*Updated to correct what the metabolic test measures. It measures RMR, not BMR. But, again, they’re basically almost the same thing, so…