body image · diets · eating · fat · fitness · running · swimming · weight lifting · yoga

Reflections on Setbacks

Disappointment concept.I had a demoralizing experience at the bod pod earlier this week. The bod pod measures body composition (lean mass to fat ratio).  I went once before, in September.  And since getting leaner is one of the goals I have, the bod pod is a good way to get an objective measure on that.  Tuesday’s result: I’ve lost 2 pounds of lean mass and gained 4 pounds of fat since September.

I had some reservations about going to the bod pod at all. First, I’ve been following the intuitive eating recommendation of staying away from the scale. This has been a great freedom for me and has released me from years of obsession with food and weight. That alone is a great success for me, not one I will trade in, even for a few pounds.

Second, I know for a fact that I’ve fallen out of routine lately, with both my running and my weight training suffering for it.  Backing off of the weight training is likely a key explanation for my loss of lean mass.

Third, I don’t think I’m getting enough protein. As explained in my last post, I’m making an effort to get more.  That post yielded some good advice. I’m tracking protein for a little while anyway, until I get on track. I’ve got some distance to go. Yesterday I fell short of my 100 grams/day goal by 24 grams.

So I have the explanation for why the decline in lean mass and increase in fat.  Today I’m feeling okay about it but I have to say that on Tuesday and yesterday I felt pretty discouraged.  I remember that feeling from when I used to weigh myself regularly.  Given that I’ve fallen out of my routine, I probably didn’t need the bod pod to tell me that my lean mass hasn’t increased and that my fat has increased. In fact, that little voice in the back of my head was telling me to cancel the appointment.

The thing was all made worse by the fact that the bod pod guy assumed that I would feel discouraged and went into a long list of suggestions about what I should or could do about it.  These ranged from relatively sound advice about working with a sports nutritionist or following the Precision Nutrition plan, to eating all of my food within a six hour period each day between 4 p.m and 10 p.m. (!!).  I really just wanted to get out of there at that point, but he’s a nice man and I didn’t want to be rude. At the same time, I wasn’t seeking his input, just the results of the test.

I only enjoy wallowing in the negative for a short time.  So I spent that evening and yesterday feeling discouraged and demoralized, a little bit hopeless and a little bit helpless, frustrated and sorry for myself. I shared my tale of woe with Sam, who is always great at lending an empathetic ear and seeing the positive side of things.

What good can I glean from this setback, if that’s even what it is?  The first question is of course this: is doing a bod pod measurement a useful thing for me to do, given my aspirations to stick with intuitive eating?  I’m not so sure it is. I think for the time being I would do better not to monitor my “progress” in this manner, but instead to stick with a few performance goals that I can feel good about.

To that end, I’m getting back on track with my running now that the weather is a bit better. I start a clinic with a local running group this evening.  It’ll be my first experience running with people and I’m kind of excited about it.

The other issue is my resistance training.  I’m not pushing myself as hard as my trainer used to push me. That’s I guess the main reason we hire trainers, isn’t it? But I’m not interested (at the moment, anyway) in going back to the training studio.  It’s a lot of money and I have enough knowledge to figure out my own workouts. It’s the motivation factor that I need to get back.  I’ve got to mull that one over a bit. I could start training at the Y again. I have a membership already because of the pool, and I have fond memories of the camaraderie of the gym.  Maybe.  If I can’t get my home routine back on track over the month of May, then the Y is an option.

And then there’s the issue of what IS working. Sam reminded me that, for me, getting over the food obsession and letting go of the scale are significant changes.  The bod pod result made me question everything for a short time. I started to think that intuitive eating wasn’t “working.”  I even felt drawn to go on some sort of diet, but then remembered that diets don’t work. The fact is, intuitive eating is working just fine.  Other than that I now feel it’s time to focus a bit more on high protein choices, I’m doing well with the intuitive eating approach.

A brief reflection on “what went wrong” yields that the main issue hasn’t been food (other than that I could get more protein) but training.

Being fixated on the numbers that the bod pod gives me isn’t much different from fixating on the numbers on the scale.  I’ve learned that it’s really difficult for me to react well to a reading that isn’t as “good” as I wanted it to be.  Yes, it’s information, but is it the sort of information that I really need to have in order to achieve my fitness goals?  I’m not so sure about that.

Re-grouping, I plan to stick to my original commitments: running 3 x a week; resistance training 3 x a week; yoga 3 x a week; swimming 2 x a week; leaving the car at home more often, opting to walk or cycle instead.  That’s a good re-start.

Once I have the routine back in place, I can think about upping my performance goals.  I like the strategy of gradual progression, adding just a little bit each day or week.  For example, instead of swimming for 25 minutes, swim for 30; or make a few of the laps sprints. Instead of doing 20 kettlebell swings, do 22.  That sort of thing. Subject matter for a future blog post.

For now, I’ve got to be somewhere soon, and if I’m going to walk instead of drive, I need to hit the road!

[image from Bigstock]