Monday, June 9, 2008

Ego Over Matter 2008, Week 1: Weigh In and Random Thoughts

Well, we are one week into my second attempt at Ego Over Matter, and sure enough, I experienced *exactly* the same thing I did the first time last year, from declaration to first week weigh in. This morning, I weighed 216 pounds, which is four pounds down from my starting point of 220 pounds. The first time I did this, I about freaked, since that was double my target rate. However, there’s a few things I’ve come to realize that help to put this into perspective.

There are three steps that take place at the beginning of any weight loss. The first step is usually related to water retention, and making a dietary change of any kind (changing up simple sugar intake for complex carbs, going from processed foods to whole varieties, or making a change that significantly lowers daily sodium intake) causes a change in the amount of water your body retains. Net result is that you can easily drop two to three pounds in a single day. However, this often gets mitigated pretty quickly the next time that you drink a glass or two of water, so these changes should be averaged out over the course of a week.

The second step (pardon the “ick” factor of this) is a clearing of the GI tract. Most people think that eating a meal will be digested and the wastes eliminated in a matter of hours, but this is often not the case. In many people, the process can take anywhere from 48 to 96 hours from point of eating to final elimination. Thus it is very possible to have anywhere from two to six pounds of matter in the GI tract at any given time. More alarming is that, for truly obese people, this process is slower, and they can have several pounds more food in the GI tract at any given time. This was driven home to me when I saw a special on stomach reduction surgery. The person that was going to have to have the surgery had to live on a clear diet for six days. The main purpose was the removal of most food material from the GI tract before the operation. The person in question reported a weight loss of close to 18 pounds, of which more than half was remnants in the GI tract. This is where you hear many dramatic “I lost 15 pounds in seven days” stories; they didn’t *really* lose 15 pounds, but they did clear their systems of excess water and still digesting foodstuffs. Sorry for that mental image. Did you already have breakfast (LOL!)?

After these two potentially big drop off's, it’s now time to hit the third area, which is actual adipose tissue (more commonly called “FAT”). Unfortunately, just as it’s easier to flush away excess water and easily clean out food remnants from a cooking pan, scrubbing away fat that has been left to harden takes a greater amount of elbow grease. Same is true when it come to burning away bodyfat. When you get to the point where all that’s left is to burn fat, I use the analogy of lighting a kerosene lantern and just waiting for the gas to burn down. That’s where the challenge comes in, and that’s where, really, we have to just let time, caloric deficits and our bodies do the work they are set to do. This is why so many people look at the rush of a first week and get excited, then get frustrated when they don’t see the same stellar results carry into the following weeks. It’s because the first week is usually the body recalibrating itself, it’s not a true loss of bodyfat, although the general two pounds worth a week is probably still part of that equation.

For those looking to play this game at home, here are some tips that y’all may find helpful.

Weigh yourself at the same time on the same interval to get a true gauge of where you actually stand. For me, that’s done once a week on Monday morning after I wake up and have my first bowel movement (sorry for the gross imagery, but it is relevant to the discussion). This way, you always start from a similar point and can gauge true progress.

Don’t check things out daily, as the inevitable slides up and down based on activity will give you a false sense of where you are at. Remember, all it takes is a glass or two of water to skew the results up by a pound. Avoid the anxiety and stick to one weigh in at the set time each week.

If you have a manual scale, make sure to recalibrate it each time. No sense getting excited or depressed at the reading if you aren’t starting from true zero to begin with.

Keep a weekly tally so that you can see exactly how much progress you have made (me, I use this blog for that purpose, but you may choose to just put a sheet of paper on the wall and track each week as they come and go.

Well, that’s it for me today. If I don’t post something else during the week, I’ll see y’all again next Monday with results for Week 2.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Keep at it - you are doing great!