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mharting

Losing "last 5 lbs"

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Hi, 

So I'm on day 18 of my Whole 30 and so far I love it. I started eating mostly-paleo about a year and a half ago (not always strict-some dairy and occasional weekend treats) so transitioning to the Whole 30 hasn't been difficult for me. I've been weight lifting and running for about 3 years (ran my first half-marathon in October 2011) and I just started training for one in the beginning of April. I lost about 25 pounds when I first started eating better and working out. I stopped using a scale to measure progress when I started lifting more and eating paleo because I could tell I was gaining muscle. However, I still have what feels like 5-6 pounds of fat that I can't seem to get rid of. I'm short- 5 feet tall even and I weigh about 112, maybe 115 pounds. Before I started running longer distances again, I lifted 3-4 days a week (focusing on "push" and "pull" workouts- squats, chest, leg press, lunges/ deadlifts, leg curls, pull ups, rows, etc) and included a couple of short cardio sessions throughout the week (short jogs, 20 min stair interval workouts) with 20-30 minute walks everyday. I've started taking a yoga/pilates class a couple times a week to keep up with strength training even while I'm running a lot more. Also, I've been trying to include more interval work for some possible fat loss. Other than that, I'm still managing to get 3 lifting sessions in a week, but they're shorter and less intense than normal. Basically, I'm looking for any tips on burning off this fat!! I make sure to include good fats in all of my meals (avocado, coconut oil, ghee, cashews occasionally) and my carb intake is still pretty low (sweet potatoes post-workout is a new thing for me, but I've been pretty exhausted from my runs) 

 

Sorry for the abundance of information! Sometimes I get so frustrated because it feels like I'm doing everything right and I'm so close to my goal! 

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I'm short- 5 feet tall even and I weigh about 112, maybe 115 pounds. 

 

Here's the thing: society has given women the impression that it is healthy to be at very low body fat percentages, and that it is desirable to eliminate any noticeable fat/fluf/etc. and be as physically small as possible. The reality is, although you may want to weigh 105lbs, I seriously doubt that 105lbs is a healthy weight for you--even at 5' tall. The whole30 is about making people healthier, so it would likely require some modifications to the plan to get your body to let go of weight that it currently needs to keep your hormones and metabolism intact.

 

If you are not satisfied with how you look, I guess I have two recommendations: one, is to get over it. I know how hard this is and I work hard at it DAILY but, really, in the scope of things these 5lbs "extra" do not have anything to do with your value as a person. You are already awesome, at 112 and you would be at 152 so shush those thoughts if you can. two, seriously consider putting on some lean mass. yup: GAIN some weight in the form of muscle*. If you are really as soft as you think, adding muscle is more likely to give you that "lean, toned" look you desire.

 

*NOTE: doing this will require more nutrition, not less, and probably also a reduction in the amount of cardio you are doing.

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It sounds like you are doing great!  Women's bodies are very smart... and they will hoard fat 'just in case' there is a pregnancy. .. or a draught... or a famine... or a big run.  Preparing for an endurance event - like a half marathon - is exactly when your body will say..."hmmmm she makes me run for over an hour at least once a week and I am exhausted at the end.... I better have one or two more bites of this."

 

Why is 5lbs of 'soft' problematic?  Are you a fitness model?  Do you need to stay within a weight range to succeed at your job?  Does someone have to lift you over their head every day?

 

Not to sound like an old, cranky lady... but celebrate all that you've accomplished - losing 25 pounds / becoming an athlete - and let go of your dance with the scale and your concern about the squishy bits.  Since it sounds like you're eating great, you could work with a trainer to really focus on sculpting your body into its absolute best... but it may still be squishy in places... and you won't get there by focusing on the scale.

 

If my daughter came to me with this question I would tell her to take more yoga classes (not the hyper fitness ones... the Real Yoga classes) because there she would learn to appreciate her body where it is right now and all it does for her.  If there's one thing I have learned for sure, the more you try to control your body - thinking it's a simple machine that responds to logic - the more it will rebel.

 

So I say - change your goal.  Focus on running your race, your athletic performance and improvements and being happy and healthy - not on an acceptable number or a measurement that is almost completely arbitrary and that you cannot sustain over time (because we all get older and our bodies shift).

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In my experience, it is nigh unto impossible to lose weight while training for a half marathon or above. It can be done, but runs suffer, brain function suffers, and I at least become a cranky witch. lol 

 

Running distance is super hard on the body. Fuel it and let it do its thing. Personally I'd much rather run strong than worry about the ounce of fat on my thigh. 

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Wow, thank you for all of these great replies! I expected lots of questions about how much I eat and how often I run/how many sets I do at the gym.. I didn't expect so many kind words about body image! It is definitely something I struggle with (one of the reasons I decided to do a Whole 30) I'm going to try really hard to appreciate what my body can do without focusing on losing weight. 

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Hey, I agree with everything already posted (males can ALSO be perfectionist re: body image) and I think it's great advice.

 

Now, this next part is purely a suggestion...but you may want to work out slightly LESS.

 

It sounds like you're bordering on overtraining ("sweet potatoes post-workout is a new thing for me, but I've been pretty exhausted from my runs"). I've had many clients like this (2x per day, CRAZY, intense workouts, eating less than 1200 calories...) and I hate to say that they are almost always women.

 

When was the last time you took a week off? I mean COMPLETELY off. NASM recommends every 8-12 weeks, and I struggle with this myself. You may also try doing what is sometimes referred to as a 're-feed' and/or 'cyclic low carb'. This basically means - eat a few extra sweet potatoes for a day or two. If you're not doing a Whole30, you could even enjoy a treat or two (RxBar - blueberry flavor, NuttZo - crunchy variety, Maranatha's Almond Butter With Coconut - all great choices).

 

Be kind to yourself :) Treat yourself as you would your best friend. Your body is very smart. It won't get lean (you will likely GAIN bodyfat) if you're overtraining and undernourished.

 

Also, I personally connected with this post from Mark Sisson, the other day: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/garcinia-cambogia-ultra-pasteurization-how-much-walking-is-enough/

 

"I'm maybe going to give you the answer you weren't looking for or expecting, but I think it's the right one in this case: you don't. If you're healthy and fit enough to have to rack your brain to come up with some way to improve those facets of your life, you're fast approaching the realm of diminishing returns. In fact, in my experience it's the folks who get overly bogged down in details and micromanage everything that create problems for themselves."
 
Hope this helps :) The 'last 5 pounds' don't matter at all.

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Taking a week off from working out sounds hard, but I will think about it! How about a week of just walking or hiking? That sounds relaxing :) 

That is a really great quote and I'm looking forward to reading Mark's article. Thank you! 

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I would do very low level walking, and MAYBE some hiking. I actually like to do some stretching and just take a nap/bubble bath (yes I'm a guy!) and/or lay down when I would normally be working out. Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and I had to learn that the hard way, with some overtraining and adrenal burnout, unfortunately.

 

This is a really good study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1317287/

 

Let us know how this goes, and good luck! Also, anecdotally, I'm sure you're already doing this, but Robb Wolf always says drop any liqid calories (this includes post-workout shakes) if you're REALLY trying to lean out. This made a difference for me.

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Here's the thing: society has given women the impression that it is healthy to be at very low body fat percentages, and that it is desirable to eliminate any noticeable fat/fluf/etc. and be as physically small as possible. The reality is, although you may want to weigh 105lbs, I seriously doubt that 105lbs is a healthy weight for you--even at 5' tall. The whole30 is about making people healthier, so it would likely require some modifications to the plan to get your body to let go of weight that it currently needs to keep your hormones and metabolism intact.

 

If you are not satisfied with how you look, I guess I have two recommendations: one, is to get over it. I know how hard this is and I work hard at it DAILY but, really, in the scope of things these 5lbs "extra" do not have anything to do with your value as a person. You are already awesome, at 112 and you would be at 152 so shush those thoughts if you can. two, seriously consider putting on some lean mass. yup: GAIN some weight in the form of muscle*. If you are really as soft as you think, adding muscle is more likely to give you that "lean, toned" look you desire.

 

*NOTE: doing this will require more nutrition, not less, and probably also a reduction in the amount of cardio you are doing.

 

MissMary, I just wanted to thank you for posting this. I have come back to it several times during the month and will probably come back to it several times again. I have thought of it of a lot, and will probably think of it a lot going forward. It's really hard to see everything on television and in magazines, even KNOWING, as we all do, that those women are retouched and airbrushed and photoshopped and who knows what else, and not think "that is what I am supposed to look like. It's very hard for me. I think sometimes we all need the confirmation that we are not "supposed" to look like anything. We are just "supposed" to be healthy. Thank you for saying it, for the op, and for me, and for anyone else who needed to hear it.

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You should check out the rest of the site, it's awesome, great community, and lots of people who eat paleo and do whole30's - though not everyone is, there are plenty of people who pound protein shakes and eat tubs of ice cream just to get enough calories to "bulk" for muscle as well. There's also a forum.

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