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June 24th, 2009: Muscle-Bound Log #8: Dieting Dangers

   We had houseguests for the last two weeks, family I haven’t seen in ages, and my diet was thrown into a bit of turmoil. I didn’t cheat, but something happened that was perhaps worse. I ended up by missing meals here or there out of the six daily meals I’m supposed to eat.

     The result? I went down from 255 last week to 251 this morning. That’s not good. That’s about four pounds in a week, and the body’s reaction to that is to hoard your fat, leading to weight loss plateaus. The body believes it’s in crisis, and it saves fat until the crisis is over. In addition, the body will cannibalize your muscles, meaning I’m in danger of undermining my efforts to be healthier, fitter. And this morning, I was feeling rundown and tired. As someone dieting, my job isn’t to shirk responsibility, but to accept more of it to ensure I lose the weight properly.

     That’s the key that diets should be stressing… the responsibility of losing weight smartly, not quickly or by “any means necessary.”

     I mentioned in the previous Muscle-Bound log how dieting and exercise were normally about the results and not the process. This is one of those times when the process is critical, because how you get from A to B is often more important than just reaching it. Unfortunately, many diets today prey on the results and not on the journey.

     I believe the Cookie Diet is one of these culprits. One of the gym trainers told me about a woman who was on a Cookie Diet; she came into the gym to train and fainted… because the diet she was on barely left her with enough to function. She had no reserves or strength to go through a work-out. The cookies only allot you a maximum of 800 calories a day, followed by a single meal of lean meat and a cup of vegetables. Your minimum is supposed to be 1200 calories a day. There’re also no exercise guidelines for cookie diets because you’re already shocking the body through deprivation. And that could lead to the ever-feared rebound effect that most of us suffer through when losing weight… gaining your pounds back plus interest.

     Diets that promise quick results may sound enticing, and me losing 4 pounds in a week may seem appealing, but it isn’t. I screwed up. It’s a short-term, short-sighted method that does more damage than good. I swore to myself that this change in my lifestyle was a change for the better. I want to hit the point where I can maintain this food program with two cheat meals a week to eat with friends or family. But the minute I swore to make this a lifetime initiative, I had to remove the need for short-term success, and weight loss on its own is a short-term goal. Even if it’s only losing a pound a week, it’s the journey that matters, not the destination.

     The current plan I’m on has worked well, but not if I undermine it. I eat six times a day, with all six including 30 grams of protein, four of them with 50 grams of carbs and two of them with 5 grams of fat. I don’t mix the fat and the carbs, but I can throw in as many vegetables as I want. Excluding, of course, high sugar veggies and fruits like tomatoes, carrots, peas and corn. I eat fruits in the morning after my work out for a quick sugar boost, but that’s it. The diet is designed to feed my lean muscle mass, to help me accelerate my metabolism so that I’m burning fat through activity. More importantly, muscles still burn calories at rest, and today my 8 pounds of added muscle burnt an additional 800 calories while I sat in front of the computer. That’s not even counting the pre-existing muscle mass I’ve strengthened.

     But this works only if I feed my body the proper fuels and combine it with exercise. If I short-change myself on either diet or exercise, I’ve effectively thrown a monkey wrench into the works. Worse, I’m in danger of having taken a step back.

     I spent today eating what I should. Turns out that cutting certain foods isn’t difficult… it’s including the six meals into my day that takes effort. But I have to do better, for my own sake, because I can’t turn back and I won’t fail. That’s all there is to it and I’m tired of starting all over again.

4 Responses to “Muscle-Bound Log #8: Dieting Dangers”

  1. Carrie says:

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE reading your “Muscle Bound” blogs! This one especially hit home, because I felt like you were watching over my shoulder. The same thing happened to me this past week. I lost 3.5lbs due to not getting all my meals in during the day over the course of the week.
    The last time I started on this road, I knew it was only gonna be for about 9 months. My trainer at the time put me through a program that lost me about 60lbs in 9 months. At times I was losing 5-6 lbs a week.
    Now that I’m back in it for life, and doing a more “normal” routine of cardio, “eating” and lifting. my weight loss has been a lot slower, maybe 1 or 2 lbs a week, and sometimes none at all. I reached a point in the last month where I thought I should be losing more weight, and it took pounding the “its for life, not for a competition in 9 months”…over and over and over for me to finally get it.
    Please keep on writing these Muscle Bound blogs, Lucien. I love reading them. :)

  2. Lucien Soulban says:

    Wow, thanks, Carrie. I really appreciate that, especially since I admired your 1) Dedication in becoming a body builder in the first place and 2) Your resolve to maintain a healthy self-image when your weight fluctuated. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one going through this or these issues either. Thanks for that.

  3. Laksmi says:

    I love reading you blog. I wish I was as articulate as you. I sense and feel your frustration. When I was learning about all this last year when I embarked upon my own project, I felt great accomplishment at just learning it. Putting it all into effect was hard and I am frustrated with myself that I wasn’t able to keep it up.

    I am inspired by you, your writing, your trials and tribulations. Please don’t stop, “that’s all there is to it”!

  4. Lucien Soulban says:

    Thanks, Caycee. I hope you can pursue whatever program brings you happiness and fulfillment. Just don’t be so hard on yourself. You wouldn’t scold your daughter when she stumbles, so why would you do it to yourself? Just remember… we fall to learn how to get back up.

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