He ain't heavy, he's my brother...
August 12, 2008 1:17 PM   Subscribe

Low Metabolism Filter: I am coming to the end of a very low calorie diet. I have been careful to be healthy about it, and I have lost 30 (!) lbs. What do I need to know so I don't put it all back on again? Details inside.

I am a 37 yr old 6' male who started off at around 215lbs. After reading a lot (including previous MeFi questions) and at the urging of my doctor, I went on a pretty low calorie diet (doctor recommended - MeMail me and I'll tell you which one). After a month, I had lost 20lbs. About two weeks after that, I reached 187lbs. And I stayed there. After another month, I'm down to about 183. My goal is to get down to 170.
In addition to the eating less, I've been exercising more. I walk about an hour (about 3.5 to 4 miles) pretty vigorously 5 or six times a week. I am planning on trying to do a little running (1-2 miles) and some elliptical training (30 min) a few times a week. I also take a multivitamin at least once a day, to make sure I'm getting all the vitamins and minerals my body needs.
'Kay, here's the question: What do I need to know so that I won't gain all this weight back? Things I do know:

1) My metabolism has slowed WAY down, most likely. Taking in a lot less food does that. My plan is NOT to go back to overeating like I was doing, but to gradually work more calories into my diet. Small meals, and more of them, over a few weeks, until I feel like I'm maintaining my weight at ~170-175.
2) Weight training will put on muscle, which will make me weigh more. I'd like to go back to doing some decent weight workouts. I know this will put on a little more weight, and I'm fine with that. It's really a more toned/less flabby look that I'm after. I'll continue my walking/cardio workouts to help keep the weight off. Although, I'd like to scale it back to more of a maintenance 3-4 times a week, if possible.
3) Healthier foods = better. I already eat a lot of chicken, rice, etc. I'll add in more veggies and fruits as I up my calorie intake. I occasionally splurge and have pizza or pasta or stuff that rhymes with "spice dream", but it's not my regular fare.

So, basically, is there anything that I'm missing? I'm sure there's a lot I don't know, having never done this before. The main goal is that I really REALLY don't want to get fat again, after working hard and being pretty disciplined over the last two months to get here. I now have a LOT more energy (hence the nightly walks) and I look much better, and friends have been very complimentary (like they're supposed to). So what else should I do/know to make this weight loss story a success?! Thanks in advance.
posted by Spyder's Game to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I know this will put on a little more weight, and I'm fine with that.

yeah, less worrying about "weight" and more about fat, plz.

I gained what I had lost 2004-2005 back in 2007-2008, so let me give you the voice of experience.

Backsliding is easy and you haven't had the time over the past 2 months to develop healthy habits going forward. But as long as you avoid the old habits you should be OK.

Work seriously on building your upperbody strength. Muscles are a great way to increase your basal resting metabolism and from what I gather chicks dig them.
posted by yort at 1:36 PM on August 12, 2008

My nutritionist advised me to set a "trigger" weight, which is basically a weight that if you reach or pass it, it should trigger you to knock off whatever behavior is causing you to gain. It's really just a trick to keep you aware of what your body is doing. Just watching weight isn't the answer, but if you use it as a barometer it can be a good indicator that you're getting lax and that you need to focus a bit more.
posted by cabingirl at 1:54 PM on August 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

I haven't tried this myself, but I've read about what the Curves plan calls "The Metabolic Tune Up". Google books has a few of the relevant pages from the book here, and I did a quick search and found this description from a low-carb forum -- the post deals with limiting carbs specifically, but the plan allows you to choose between counting calories or carbs. I also found a handy-dandy chart for tracking the days between the high and low weights that should give you an idea if the plan is working.
posted by amarynth at 2:17 PM on August 12, 2008

I already eat a lot of chicken, rice, etc. I'll add in more veggies and fruits as I up my calorie intake.

God only knows why you are eating rice in lieu of vegetables and fruits. Rice is way, WAY more calorie-dense and will spike your insulin, thus triggering your body to store fat. I'd replace the calories you intake of rice and other carb-heavy foods with vegetables and fruits. Plus they have more nutrients, so you'll get your vitamins from the source instead of a little pill.

Continue keeping track of your calories. If you've been on a very low calorie diet for that long you'll probably find increasing your calories will help you lose MORE weight as your body switches out of starvation mode. But don't go crazy--up it by 200 a day for a week or so and see how things progress.

Buy the book "Starting Strength" for an excellent all-around strength training program. Read the entire book and study the form before starting the program. You will get stronger and put on more muscle faster than you will with any machine-type bodybuilding workout. I would suggest toning back your cardio workouts. Unless you're doing interval training, they really aren't doing much at this point.
posted by schroedinger at 2:21 PM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Congrats on the 180 you've made. It's a big deal. Your body has got to be happier, and not just your heart but your arteries also, and the joints in your knees. And it does feel good to look good, to look healthy, to be trim.

You've embarked upon a lifestyle, not a vacation from bad habits. It has to be seen in that light, that this is how you live now, that adopting and adapting to an intelligent diet and exercising your body isn't something that 'you did for two months' but rather something that you do, and will do.

My first yoga instructor used to laugh about this, that everyone wants to be fit but instead of changing their lives they are watching sportscenter, they're hoping that they can take a supplement (Like the one they just saw advertised!) rather than toss the chips and dip and drag ass off the couch and begin to do the deal.

You're two months in. Your Mission: Find what your body likes to do and do it, find what your body wants to eat and eat it, and keep on keeping on.
posted by dancestoblue at 2:33 PM on August 12, 2008

I'm no nutritional expert, but there are a lot of people like you over at Spark People, and you can set up a nutrition and fitness plan to help you maintain your ideal weight once you've reached it. It's free, and I highly recommend it to go along with any advice your doctor may have for you.
posted by katillathehun at 2:33 PM on August 12, 2008

I like to do a few little blasts during the day. These are not workouts, but are little spurts of activity to get the blood and calories moving:
- run up the stairs,
- park at the far outskirts of the parking lot and speed walk to my destination,
- do wall sits or chair pose in my office while I'm on the phone.

In total maybe (MAYBE) a hundred calories in a day. Spacing them out every few hours keeps the metabolic engine moving a bit.
posted by 26.2 at 7:08 PM on August 12, 2008

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