2014 Recap, Nothing Goes As Planned

This day one year ago I was going to be embarking on the beginning of one and a half to two years of self experimentation in the name of figuring out what works best for my body and documenting the process for any internet passerby to read.  I had just come off of my first marathon and had hoped to get a second one under my belt in 2014.  I had hoped to lean out a little bit, increase my strength fitness and complete my second marathon strong, regardless of how long it took.  I missed the mark by just a little bit…

Of course it is clear to anyone that has read the entries that I was not close to anything like my original goals.  That’s partly life events coming up, partially lack of resolve and partially self sabotage.  While the year had been difficult in many respects, it was still overall a good year.  The inertia, if you will, of things still moves in a positive direction.  Any year that one can say that is a good year.  While I may have totally blown my marathon plan, put on 10-15 pounds of fat and dropped substantially in overall fitness, life is more than just weight and fitness goals.  Good friends, healthy family, a job one enjoys are all equally if not more important.

With that said, I do need to do what I can to start getting my fitness back in check.  While I keep hearing people tell me that I look better with the extra weight on, I wasn’t unnaturally lean in the first place, the lowest point being just under fifteen percent body fat.  At the same time my now twenty-two percent body fat is making me feel not so ideal.  I don’t feel bad yet, but that threshold in the past hasn’t been too far away.  I therefore want to take control of things as best I can in the first half of this year and get on a corrective course.  The question becomes how to do it.

While I stopped exercising last year and didn’t eat so great, minus the three months of the diet experiment, I didn’t eat that much in excess either.  In fact I was almost net neutral calories per day on average, the average calorie balance was 22 extra calories per day.  In 2012 I did the same thing and I held my weight to within half a pound, so I underestimated my weight change a little bit.  This year however not only did I not maintain weight but I actually put on 15 pounds (instead of a little over 2).  A chart of how well I can predict my weight change based on calorie balances is below:

As you can see, I had really good tracking for the first several years.  Due to many years of tracking what I ate for diets, I had many years of practice at visually determining how much food their was, estimating how much I burned based on common formulas and using fitness trackers for measuring exercise.  The chart starts getting a bit wonky in mid-2013 and then starts going completely off the rails by the end of it.  I went out and got a FitBit to estimate my calorie burn more accurately about that time but I simply haven’t been able to track well despite that.  This year I’m adding a Basis Peak to the mix.  The difference between now and before 2013 is pretty start though, and I want to determine what could be going on.  Could I have “broken” my metabolism with my marathon training (the divergence point coincides with me ramping up beyond half marathon training)?  Is this just a plateau that I’m hitting being forty (even though that’s built into the calorie burn estimations)?  Is there something else medically going on?

One thing I’m not going to do is simply starve myself until I get down to the weight I want.  Whereas last year I was going to just change my eating and maintain exercise levels, this year I need to be more proactive.  I need to get back to exercising regularly, not just once a month or so.  I had some success with that in the beginning of December but it all went to pot by the middle of the month.  I’m also going to watch what I’m eating and induce a calorie deficit on 5 days of the week.  On the other two days I’m going to eat a net calorie surplus.  In general I intend to be eating a nutrient rich whole foods based diet, even on the “cheat” days.  I will still use “cheat days” to get me my fixing for dessert, or pizza or whatever cravings build up over that time that I can’t shake.

My objective is to shed about three quarters of a pound of fat per week, for at least the first quarter.  I want to put on some muscle mass due to the extra working out as well.  Hopefully those combined things will get my fitness levels back in check, and my body composition as well.  This isn’t a New Year’s Resolution.  This is just my usual quarterly calorie budgeting, although this time I hope I can actually stick to it (unlike the past year).