Worries about weight fluctuations/body composition RE: satiety, proper meal portions


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Ok, I know the W30 advises not to look at the scale, and the reason I did was this: 


I started the program at a healthy weight, but my intention was to sort myself out, as it were, since my diet, while not terrible, included a fair amount of crap, eg, processed grains in the form of white bread, lots of sauces with soy and sugar (I'm in Seoul here so the part about avoiding is is slightly more challenging than I imagine it would be in the US); stuff like that. I didn't eat enough veggies and just wasn't feeling like my optimum self. I did work out somewhat regularly in the form of occasional runs and kickboxing (twice weekly), and had put on what was probably muscle weight, almost ten pounds above my generally stable-since-high school weight of about 130.


I cut back a lot on intensive exercise after reading about rest and recovery techniques, and I have a feeling I'd been overdoing the exercise for probably the past three years, which for me meant 150 miles weekly on the bicycle, mostly commuting, and weekend rides, too; 2-3 hours of kickboxing weekly plus maintenance work at home between classes; running several times weekly, usually on the order of mid-pace (Goldilocks zone? I was never really a quantified person using Strava or counting calories so a lot of these figures are ballpark); that might be a contributing reason for the weight loss, but weight loss wasn't my goal.


Of course the caloric intake that I got from dairy and grains (a substantial portion of my diet prior to the W30) is gone, and I have been following the W30 meal planning rubric. I'm on Day 12, and have mostly gotten past feeling a lack of satiety, though it's still different in the time it takes to feel full, and I don't experience the 'peak and valley' effect of 'must eat now or KILL' between meals, and feel very stable even if it's 5-6 hours between meals. (My teaching schedule basically doesn't allow for time to eat between 1pm-7:30pm, and I used to need to grab a couple of rice balls from the convenience store to make it through, whereas now I'm fine until I can get away for the meal I bring from home)..


That's a general sketch of my present situation. So the question is this: I still feel healthy. I have a better feeling of satiety, though despite my good habits, I did often eat 'because my lips are bored', which is a common saying in Korea so I still feel the draw to snack, and I'm unsure if it's just intermittent cravings or if I need to feed myself more, especially in light of my previous athleticism. I still ride my bike but not nearly as often, I'm doing much lower intensity exercises, eg, walking, slow hiking, so there's no way my body requires the food it did, say, last year. 


But I already have a very low percentage of body fat (this is seriously not a 'humble brag' - I'm worried about balancing the needs of my body against what I'm feeding it), so to lose the weight I have and not be entirely sure if it's because of reduced exercise, especially in such a short time (I was 63kg two weeks ago before I started, now I'm 59kg, and I'm only 168cm - that seems.. like a BIG change in a seriously short period of time, and I've never tried to regular my weight before, either to gain X muscle mass or to lose X weight so frankly I'm kinda in the dark about how to think about this)..


This post is slightly TL;DR but I just wanted to paint a broader picture so I could hopefully get some advice and/or perspective from more experienced athletes on the W30. I wasn't sure whether to put this in 'Troubleshooting' or the W30 athlete section, so I apologize if this is out of place, and I apologize if talk of body weight sets anybody off. It's not something I tend to think about/know how to think about, so I need a little help here. 


Thanks in advance, everyone. (As for meals, yes, three times daily, following the W30 planning rubric, fruit, protein, veggies, fats in every meal, in proportion, plus additional meals either before or after, for example, a bike ride.)

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It is possible that, given your previous diet of highly inflammatory items, that the weight you've lost in the first half has been inflammation rather than actual body weight. It's pretty impossible to tell, of course, but if you are feeling good between meals, sleeping well, performing decently at your chosen activities, mentally clear, emotionally stable then you are probably doing fine and your body will level off.

If you would like to post a few days of typical intake including portion sizes, fluids, stress, exercise and sleep, we can take a look and see if anything stands out.

If you feel that you are losing too much weight you can also google "Whole30 keep weight" and you'll get a link to an article for Whole30ers who need to maintain or gain weight. (Sorry, can't post a link right now).

I do caution you to stay off the scale for the duration....no weighing is actually a rule, not a suggestion, when on Whole30. :)

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Thank you both, I'm in the midst of some work right now but I'll post some example days in a bit. I think staying off the scale will be fine, since the only reason I got on it the once was basically to check whether or not my perceptions were accurate, given how much that perception surprised me, having frankly not expected to lose any weight at all. (Not that I thought it wouldn't happen, it just didn't really enter into my awareness as I was planning the W30 out and didn't factor into my reasons for starting the W30.)

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Ok, a more detailed meal/exertion breakdown.


A typical breakfast might be a large bowl of gazpacho with three hard boiled eggs with a handful of fruit, something equivalent of about two nectarines' worth of mass. I've never shied away from fats and am glad to see the advice to perhaps double the fats for a given serving in order to up the overall calories, which I've probably been doing since I started. I do think I started with smaller portions than I should have, which is something I've corrected.


Typical lunch might be a double palm size piece of chicken or fish on a bed of stir fry (lots of mixed onions, mushrooms, dark cruciferous greens eg swiss chard or kale, bell peppers, garlic) with two handfuls of mixed nuts (lately it's been equal thirds of pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and cashews.. fewer cashews because they're so expensive) and a handful of fruit. Always dressed in a thumb portion of olive oil with balsamic or brown rice vinegar.


As for current levels of exertion - I'm really trying to cut down because I've gotten through a long period of over exertion. I've all but stopped the kickboxing because I've recently moved to a different neighborhood and I'm closer to my job, which means more walking but less cycling. I will cycle only about 50 km on most weekends, and I'm trying to go more slowly to get into that 90/10 zone of "low and slow" as per the rest and recovery article you posted, which I frequently refer to. I go for hikes about twice a week, they're about an hour to an hour and a half each, very short distances but lots of vertical climb. Anyone familiar with the topography of Seoul will know what I'm talking about. But slow, yes. Enough to break a light sweat and feel things loosen up, but nothing in the range of lactic burn. 


I've started including more starches including sweet potatoes, and I've basically doubled the protein proportion (palm size, maybe, but much thicker, say an inch-inch and a half) for most meals. Given I'm eating larger portions, though, I would say most meals are still 2/3 vegetables, about 1/3 protein, and I treat fruits and nuts as a supplemental thing, though I've had a fruit plate in the late afternoon once or twice.


As for the rest of things.. sleep, yes, about 8 hours a night. My circadian rhythms a bit messed up though, since I work from 1pm-9pm and will often have my last meal of the day around 10/11pm before sorting out the last of my electronic tasks and reading or writing for at least an hour before bed to get away from the screen. I also use f.lux on my Mac, so I'm at least getting a much warmer spectrum of light that adjusts automatically to reduce blue spectrum light beginning around sunset. I guess there are also other stresses that have remained as constants in my life but hadn't affected my weight or overall wellness for some time, hence my concern about these recent changes.


But I really appreciate the context and perspective you've all provided here, whether it's reduced water retention (I hadn't thought the removal of carbs might affect that) as well as reduced systemic inflammation. 


I'll stay off the scale at least until day 30 rolls around and just try and follow both intuition and the meal rubric guidelines (I appreciate as well seeing that those recommendations are for a minimum portion, and that they can be expanded, as every body has slightly different needs and I've always been a bit of a furnace in terms of metabolism).. This is all very new to me so under-eating is as likely a mistake as over-eating was before I started this. 


I suppose it doesn't help that I just read that Malloy Richards just smoked the Black Hills 100 on a diet of beer and quickie mart sandwiches. XD


Thanks all! I hope to get to the point where I can meaningfully contribute to others trying this out, as this community has been nothing but pure support, and I'm deeply grateful for it. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

So I stepped on the scale a few days ago, day 34 or something, it was (I finished around this time last week!) and everyone was right: I'd held steady from that time. And my energy levels built slowly. And instead of a 'tiger blood' period, I just felt.. more stable. So I started running again, and biking a bit more, and doing a kickboxing maintenance routine I have written down somewhere from my old coach. 


It's hard to know how to take the expectation of feeling "great", since what I feel is more of what I'd less emphatically call, "good". I guess you could liken it to feverish passionate love for someone vs calm, comfortable, emotionally stable love. If I had to put my body state in that kind of comparison, it's more of the latter. I don't feel like I'm bursting with energy, but I can say to myself, let's go do 10k. And I run it, and I feel solid, steady while doing it, and last week I even PR'd at a sub 50 minute 10k, which is a first for me, and frankly I haven't been much of a runner lately. And so far the re-additions are holding steady: occasional soy, a much smaller amount of dairy, and while I haven't gone into wheat yet, steelcut oats and granola have come back nicely with the milk kefir I fermented and stored before I started this whole thing. (I'll probably have to get a new culture, I doubt it survived my first attempt and cold storing kefir grains for which you need powered milk.)


But just checking back in with this. I feel lighter on my feet, I feel much more stable. The absence of hypoglycemia has made a huge difference in my emotional ups and downs, and probably my perceived energy levels as well. My skin seems clearer, and overall I'm eating more veggies, more fish, and cooking everything at home, which is more cost effective and I feel good about it. 


So, good work, W30, good work, me, and good work, all of you out there trying it for the first time, or keeping with it for months or years. 

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