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Tracking fitness when you can't go by what the scale says anymore

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by Unlucky 13, May 25, 2014.

  1. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team Rosen Staff Member Club Member

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    A little background first. I'm 36 years old, and 5'11" tall. For most of my 20s, I was a yo-yo with my fitness and weight. At my best, when I busted my butt and ate pretty well, I'd weigh about 190, and have about a 36" waist. At my worst, when I was lazy and ate whatever I felt like, I got up to about 225 with a 40" waist. I was never what most people would call "fit" though, and was just average when I was at the top of my game.

    When I was 30, I was as heavy as I'd ever been, and it wasn't a good looking 225 on my body. I decided to make a change, and bought an eliptical machine for my house and started to eat better. I made a little progress, but then I was hit with a bombshell from my doctor. I was a diabetic. Now, I had to get into shape, and change my diet, there wasn't any choice. So I did. I worked harder than ever before, and with the help of medication, was able to get all the way down in to the high 160s at one point, with a 30" waist. I was really proud of my self, but unfortunately the meds gradually stopped helping with weight loss, and I settled into where for the most part, keeping with my diet and exercise, I was around 175-180 lbs with a 33-34" waist.

    Last year, I bought a Bowflex so that I could do weight training in addition to my cardio, but I wasn't able to use it quite as much as I would have liked with a lot of changes in my life at that point. Around this past New Years, I was heavier and more out of shape than I had been in a while, at about 190 and a 36" waist. I had just lost my job, and my wife was due with our second baby in February. So, I used my newfound free time to make sure that I exercised as much as possible.

    Since that point, Ive been doing cardio 5-6 times a week for 30 minutes, and using the Bowflex 3 times a week, while also doing more portion control on my eating habbits (which for me, is the hardest thing of all). I've definately seen results. I got back down from 190 to about 180 and was happy with where things were going when a funny thing happened. Even though I was clearly getting in better shape, with my waist getting smaller and tighter, and my upper body showing positive changes, I was now getting heavier. I realized that I was probably now putting on muscle, and I know that muscle weighs more than fat does.

    Today, based upon how I feel and how I look in the mirror, Id say that I'm probably in the best shape of my life. I'm back into my 32" pants, and I've actually had to quit wearing a few shirts because although they're loose around my belly, they're too tight on my arms and chest (and isn't that a weird feeling). My body feels great, and I'm really happy with how things are going. The only thing is that I'm back over 190 pounds, leading me to guess that I've put on about 10 pounds of muscle.

    Since Ive always been a guy who judges how healthy I am mostly based upon what the scale says, what should I do to try and keep track of where I am? Assuming that I stick with the program, is it just a matter of how I feel and how I fit in my clothes? I have no real goals, so to speak. I just want to be the best that I can, and stay as healthy as possible. I'm one of those people who thrives in a routine though, and likes to see a tangible way to track my progress.
     
  2. Not So Fast

    Not So Fast Well-Known Member

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    I think one thing to keep an eye on is what your body fat percentage is. You can use a calculator like this one: https://www.active.com/fitness/calculators/bodyfat

    You will have to make some measurements. I am sure you could get some a tailor to help you out if you wanted.
     
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  3. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team Rosen Staff Member Club Member

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    Thanks man. That should be useful. My wife has a seamstress tape measurer, so Im sure she can help me. The question Ive always had on those though, is on a man, what do you consider to be your waist? Is it the largest area around the belly button, or the area where I wear my belt?

    I also find it humerous that one of the calculators says that the ideal weight for a man who's my height is between 136-172 lbs. I think that at 136 I'd look like a horribly malnourished work camp inmate!
     
  4. Not So Fast

    Not So Fast Well-Known Member

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    http://www.webmd.com/diet/calculating-your-waist-circumference__
     
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  5. Clark Kent

    Clark Kent Fighter of the Nightman

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    You can't build muscle and lose fat at the same time. It's not possible without steroids. If you're eating in a caloric deficit, you don't gain muscle. It's the laws of physics. And at age 36, you don't have the testosterone to build muscle all that quickly even if you ate in a surplus.

    You're gaining weight because you're either

    A). Over eating and gaining fat
    B). You're saturated with carbs and/or sodium and holding water weight.


    Buy a food scale (digital that measures in grams), download a calorie counter like myfitnesspal, and continue to workout.
     
  6. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team Rosen Staff Member Club Member

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    Thanks for the input. I don't know a lot about body science. I can tell you though, as a type-2 diabetic, I'm very careful with what things that I eat. I'm very, very sure of what carbs I'm eating so that I can take the proper amount of insulin. I also check all labels for fat and calories. And in the last few months, I've absolutely been doing more portion control that I had been before that. Long story short, at least compared to my own self prior, I'm absolutely eating less.

    A part thats different from me than the average person is that I'm on Metformin, a diabetes drug. Its primary purpose is to help control blood sugar, but when I first started taking it, it GREATLY accelerated my weight loss. I think that it certainly could still be having a lesser effect when I do everything right.

    I use the Sparkpeople website for a rough guess at what it all means together too.
     
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  7. Two Tacos

    Two Tacos Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    Not necessarily true. The human body is more complex and individualized than that.


    http://muscleevo.net/calorie-deficit/#.U4SyD8vn8m8






    Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
     
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  8. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team Rosen Staff Member Club Member

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    Thats a cool article. I truely had no idea that most people cannot lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. Then again, I've never been thin either. I'm not someone who's already in good shape and trying to look like an action hero. I'm more the kind of guy who looks at the "before" pictures of guys who have gotten healthier and wishes I could get to that point, lol. I used to have a "bad" body, and I'm working my tail off to become average.

    According to the handy website linked by Not So Fast, I seem to have a body fat % of about 25 right now. I'm guessing it was probably over 27 five months ago when I started my current commitment to working out. I've also never seriously lifted weights before, so I think that maybe I qualify as someone that acticle could refer to as well.

    Thanks for the link and the knowledge.
     
  9. padre31

    padre31 Premium Member Luxury Box

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    Not so, in fact that is exactly what I've done, lost 60 pds and gained 3 inches on my thighs and 2 on my chest.

    The key for me has been upping my protein and fiber intake and reducing carbs and bike commuting along with working out at least 3 times a week

    And I'm in my 40's, never took a steroid in my life, the key is what activity one does every day just going about life.

    Even gained some abs back
     
  10. padre31

    padre31 Premium Member Luxury Box

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    Exactly, there are a lot of myths in this field, I suspect they revolve around what the "Avg" is
     
  11. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team Rosen Staff Member Club Member

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    The next time I see my abs will be my first lol, but my gut is a lot smaller.
     
  12. padre31

    padre31 Premium Member Luxury Box

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    Oh my yes, keep in mind I bike or walk everywhere, never drive (lots and lots of cardio) my job is physically active (unintentional cardio) and work out w/weights.

    For example, if I want a diet coke, it is 1 mile rd trip walk, grocery shopping is a 4 mile rd trip via bike up and down hills. "Avg" is a 30 minute car commute, seated at the office or mostly inactive, then a 30-45 min workout.

    The protein and fiber means there is not as much available glucogen in my body to create fat, in fact those two things metabolize slowly meaning ones body pretty much has to run on fat reserves for quick energy for all of that cardio.

    Carrying 40 pds of groceries up a half mile long hillside is not "Avg" ie, the sort of ppl who are used in most studies.

    I went from a size 40 pants to 34/32 and I'm a bit shredded AND more muscular
     
  13. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team Rosen Staff Member Club Member

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    I'd love to be able to walk or bike to places too, but I live in a somewhat isolated rural area. Closest store is a Wal-Mart 10 miles away. Plus I'm a stay at home dad with small kids. I actually only leave the house once or twice a week mostly.
     
  14. padre31

    padre31 Premium Member Luxury Box

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    Lifestyle is just not conducive to what I'm doing U13, 10 miles via bike in FL..no problem, 10 miles in the mtns is a tremendous amount of effort
     
  15. Clark Kent

    Clark Kent Fighter of the Nightman

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    As you can see there is a technicality with the research. I've discussed it on the forum many times. Untrained beginners have the ability to gain muscle mass simply because they're under developed and gain a baseline amount of muscle mass when they begin lifting. They're called "noob gains." The younger you're, the better and more successful noob gains in a deficit will be, simply because of high test production. Nothing unusual about it.


    As far as gaining inches is concerned, it's likely A). Noob gains. B). Inflammation within the muscle after workout. C). The more weight you lose, the better calories (carbs specifically) are partitioned. More Glycogen can be stored in the muscle and they swell. Certainly good things are happening, so keep it up.


    I hope I didn't come across as negative towards you in my post. It wasn't intended by any means. Congrats on the weight loss. As far as your diabetes is concerned, diabetes can certainly screw things up insofar as fat loss is concerned. Glad you're doing well.

    Keep using your bowflex! Resistance training has no equal in terms of exercise and it can great help with blood sugar because it forces hormone changes, specifically in regards to insulin and testosterone. And don't do cardio the same day as your resistance training. Cardio and lifting on the same day tends to mess with calorie partitioning and testosterone.

    Sparkpeople isn't bad by any means. I think MFP has the largest and most accurate database, but as long as you're tracking with some program, it's all good.
     
  16. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team Rosen Staff Member Club Member

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    Thanks for the input. You didn't come across as negative. Just perhaps a bit blunt. I figured that you thought I knew more than I did. In regards to the cardio, the problem is that when I don't use my eliptical machine, my blood sugar is higher the next day. I've been really pushing myself for 30 minutes, five or six days a week. When I do, my fasting sugar the next morning is generally 20-40 points lower, even with the same diet. The Bowflex is absolutely working for me, but it doesn't give me nearly the workout (sweat, exhaustion) that the eliptical does.
     
  17. padre31

    padre31 Premium Member Luxury Box

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    Hmm, not sure what would constitute noob gains (and weight loss), did lift in my 20's and more or less stopped in my 30's started back up in my 40's.

    Basically, once the process started, it took on a life of it's own, lost weight=more energy=more working out as the aches and pains subsided.

    Back problems, elbow problems, bad knee, all rectified via losing weight and becoming more active

    I have heard once fat cells are created, they may deflate, they do not vanish, do you have any information on that one?
     
  18. cuchulainn

    cuchulainn Táin Bó Cúailnge Club Member

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/05/health/research/05fat.html

     
  19. slickj101

    slickj101 Is Water

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    Just no.
     
  20. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team Rosen Staff Member Club Member

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    Just no to what he said, or to my original point? And if no to me, what do you think is going on? No snark, really just curious and doing my best. Appreciate all opinions. The muscles in my arms, legs and chest are absoultely firmer and much more defined, but they could do that without getting "larger" right?
     
  21. slickj101

    slickj101 Is Water

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    What he said that I bolded is absolutely untrue.

    You can put muscle on and lose weight at the same time. Idk why anyone would think otherwise.

    Yes, you can gain strength or firmness or whatever without putting on much mass.
     
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  22. Clark Kent

    Clark Kent Fighter of the Nightman

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    No you can't.

    1). Resistance training tears muscle fibers up. The body must heal itself. How does it do this? Calories (energy). If you're losing weight, your body doesn't have calories to partition to healing the muscle fast enough in time for the next workout. Which means you can't consistently add weight to the bar/add reps AKA progressive overload. PO is the only way to add muscle.

    2). In a caloric deficit, your hormone production drops across the board. Specifically relevant to muscle gain, is testosterone. Testosterone levels drop and the ability to add muscle drops with it.

    Combine 1-2 and no, you cannot lose fat and add muscle simultaneously outside of very specific circumstances. This is bodybuilding 101. Which is why everyone who lifts seriously does cutting and bulking cycles. Cut to lose fat while lifting weights to maintain muscle and bulk to add muscle while lifting weights to gain. Rinse and repeat. Any belief to the contrary isn't based in scientific fact. Adding muscle and losing weight is the holy grail of fitness and no one has ever demonstrated it can be done. Read up on serious literature.
     
  23. MikeHoncho

    MikeHoncho -=| Censored |=- Club Member

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    Charlie Kelly shouldn't be giving training advice
     
  24. Clark Kent

    Clark Kent Fighter of the Nightman

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    [video=youtube;u0hOfT5aQr8]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0hOfT5aQr8[/video]
     
  25. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team Rosen Staff Member Club Member

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    Since this is my thread and there are some new posts, I figured Id give an update, lol.

    Down to 175 lbs, and more importantly, to about 22% body fat. Starting in September, I started using a website and ap called my fitness pal along with my wife, and its been great to help me stay within my goals most of the time - both food and exercise. I wanted to get to 170 by new years, and I may not but I'm definately trending the right way. My waist is as small as its ever been, because I fit into the smallest jeans I bought a few years ago with room to spare.

    I'm not sure how much larger my muscles are, but they're a lot better than they've ever been before. On most exercises, I'm doing double the resistance that I was at the start of the year on my bowflex, and I've gone up three notches on my eliptical (from 11 to 14 out of 20). Twice in the past month, I ran into someone who hadn't seen me in a while, and their jaw dropped at how much better I've gotten, so I'll take that as evidence of progress. My knees, back and other joints feel the best that they have since college, though I'm sure part of that is also not working retail anymore.

    Most importantly, my blood sugars are under the best control that I've ever had them and I feel good. I'm just going to keep plugging away, gradually increasing difficulty and making sure I exercise 20+ days a month. Been working so far. If I can get to 170, I'm going to set my goal for 160 by new years of 2016 and a goal of 18% body fat, as that seems to fall into the range of whats considered healthy for my height and age.
     
  26. MikeHoncho

    MikeHoncho -=| Censored |=- Club Member

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    Hahahahahahahahah what am I saying?

    Sent from my Transformer TF101 using Tapatalk 4
     

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